Advantages of prefabricated house construction: the future is here – The study concludes that prefabrication is an opportunity to reduce costs and environmental impacts in the construction sector.
Prefabrication can contribute to achieving the European Union (EU) environmental goals and reduce construction costs, thus increasing the sector’s competitiveness and sustainability. This is one of the conclusions to be drawn from a study by the University of Coimbra (UC), with the collaboration of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the USA.
The study in question, which aimed to assess the potential of prefabricated buildings to reduce costs and contribute to the fulfillment of the EU’s environmental objectives – the decarbonization of buildings by 2050 -, was carried out as part of the doctoral thesis on sustainable energy systems. by researcher Vanessa Tavares, supervised by Professor Fausto Freire, from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra (FCTUC).
An investigation that lasted three years, reveals in a statement to UC, noting that “prefabricated construction was compared with conventional construction, not only in terms of costs but also in terms of the environment, in Lisbon, Berlin, and Stockholm, three cities with different climates and different costs of living”.
Cited in the document, Vanessa Tavares adds that “two types of prefabricated construction were studied (one in light steel and the other in wood) and, in opposition, the conventional construction (in the city of Lisbon), usually based on concrete”. “To this end, we developed a life cycle assessment model for the different types of housing construction (single-family homes and medium and high-rise apartment buildings) and services, especially offices. The results were then scaled to represent the entire EU building stock,” she explains.
Benefits of prefabricated construction
The study allows us to conclude, among other things, that prefabrication can reduce the impacts of the construction and demolition of buildings.
“If we choose to build a prefabricated and climate-adapted building, we can reduce 40% of impacts incorporated in buildings and up to 90% less at the end of the life cycle, with similar energy consumption in its use. We are comparing conventional construction, which is heavy, with prefabricated construction, which is light. Traditional construction uses five times more materials than prefabricated lightweight construction. Furthermore, at the end of life, waste from prefabricated construction is more easily recyclable and reusable”, clarified Vanessa Tavares and Fausto Freire.
Fewer carbon emissions
In terms of global impacts across the EU, considering the period between 2020 and 2050 (EU targets), the study reveals that prefabrication can reduce carbon emissions from buildings by 6% and construction costs by 10%. %.
“The future passes through this type of construction, although currently it still represents a niche. With automation, digitization and robotization processes, there are good reasons – cost savings and environmental impacts – to increase the adoption of prefabrication-based systems.”
Vanessa Tavares, author of the study
“The results show that prefabrication alone cannot achieve the EU’s environmental objectives, but it can, in addition to energy efficiency measures and building rehabilitation, make a relevant contribution. Thus, prefabrication presents an opportunity to reduce construction costs and increase the sector’s competitiveness and sustainability”, conclude the study authors.
“Future passes through this type of construction”
About the evolution of prefabricated construction in Portugal, Vanessa Tavares leaves a clear message: “The future involves this type of construction, although currently it still represents a niche. With automation, digitization and robotization processes, there are good reasons – cost savings and environmental impacts – to increase the adoption of prefabrication-based systems. And there are other measures that can be associated, for example, investing in the rehabilitation of current buildings with prefabricated parts”.
It should be noted that the study in question was funded by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) under the MIT Portugal Programme. The scientific article is available at this link.
Source: Espaço Arquitectura