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Modular Construction – The Future is Now

How Modular Construction Reduces Costs and Environmental Impacts.

It is a sad fact that construction results in unbelievable amounts of waste. This stream of waste is not just from new construction, but also from the remodeling and repurposing of existing structures. Moreover, it is reported that the construction industry has experienced a 15% decrease in the productivity of workers in the last 50 years. Statistics like this provide an opportunity to rethink how we look at construction and the best way to accomplish the goals of (1) decreasing environmental impacts and (2) shortening project timelines while, (3) benefiting the bottom line.

Modular construction provides an opportunity to refine the construction method to something akin to a manufacturing floor, where efficiency can be maximized while waste is minimized. Advancements in technology and thought leaders such as David Wallace of FXFOWLE are breaking new ground in modular buildings. It is estimated that, on average, modular construction reduces waste by a minimum of 15% when compared to traditional construction methods. And when you consider the fact that a typical construction project generates almost 4.5 pounds of waste per square foot (more than 21 tons for every 10,000 ft²) it is easy to see the opportunity for reduction.

Although the economic benefits of this construction method are sometimes offset by high transportation costs, the time savings are usually significant enough to result in a net cost reduction. As modular construction becomes more mainstream – especially for larger commercial and residential projects – pricing and logistics will continue to improve and the economic benefits to owners will become even more pronounced than they are today. While the need for thoughtful project planning remains paramount no matter the method of implementation, modular construction is an exciting way for the proactive and thoughtful among us to leverage meticulous project planning for greater economic benefit while reducing our industry’s environmental impact.

Examples of these new and exciting projects are starting to appear across the United States. Recent projects include a 34-story, 340,000 ft² modular residential tower , a multi-family project with 51 Low-Income Units , and the Loblolly House .