Offsite construction is becoming increasingly adopted as a way to build sustainably. Previously considered niche, its benefits have made it a popular approach for even the largest of construction projects.
What is offsite construction?
Offsite construction is the process of building elements of a construction project away from the building site. The manufacture, design, fabrication and pre-assembly of building elements take place in a factory environment that is remote from their final, intended location. This includes modular construction and prefab construction.
Robert Whetham Associates are Mechanical and Electrical Services Consulting Engineers. Our building services designs are very much focused on sustainability, with our modern construction methods a natural choice for offsite construction.
What are the benefits of offsite construction?
- Sustainability: offsite construction reduces carbon emissions by reducing travel to and from the site, limiting landfill of waste products, limiting embodied emissions and providing a more sustainable structure.
- Building offsite results in less disruption to a project due to spending less time on site.
- The enhanced quality of offsite builds is well documented. This is due partly to the controlled environment, in-factory quality checks and a lower defect rate.
- Without being at the mercy of weather conditions, offsite construction helps projects to be completed significantly faster
- Earlier occupation results in a faster return on investment
- Offsite construction helps projects to be delivered on budget due to a tighter control on labour and processes.
Offsite construction trends
Sustainability in construction
Offsite construction is aligned with one of the greatest global trends in recent history: sustainability and reducing carbon emissions, factors that greatly influence buying decisions.
According to Sustainability Magazine, offsite construction “comes into its own in the acceleration of meaningful and affordable action to eliminate waste, reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint and improve user experience.” They cite elements such as improved airtightness, reduced embodied carbon and the capacity of innovative modular suppliers to produce net zero-carbon buildings.
The use of innovative materials and techniques
Offsite construction uses a range of innovative materials such as 3D printing technology. The initial stages of offsite construction involve volumetric construction, including modular construction, which facilitates the prefabrication of heavy 3D structures such as rooms.
Panelised construction techniques are increasingly used in offsite construction. The process creates panels for walls, floors and roofs, and is used in modern commercial buildings to install partitions and support structures.
As building services designers, Robert Whetham Associates continuously push boundaries in innovative design and the products used in modern construction methods.
Traditional contractor and modular manufacturer partnerships
Skills shortages are instigating the collaboration of traditional contractors with offsite fabricators as traditional contractors look for ways to reduce their reliance on labour to meet their contractual obligations.
Rather than having to choose between modular construction and conventional construction, this hybrid collaborative approach is having a positive impact on productivity and scheduling.
Standardisation of materials and processes
Offsite construction is encouraging supply chain best practices in the construction industry to manage the complex logistics of moving hundreds of prefabricated components to construction sites. This includes the standardisation of materials and processes using part numbers and inventory.
The factory-like approach of offsite construction is expected to create standardised components with serialised part numbers that can be used in multiple construction projects. This is a world away from a traditional build approach.
Can we help?
For expert help or advice on offsite construction that meets sustainability targets, please get in touch with the team at Robert Whetham Associates. We design and provide building service solutions for traditional and offsite construction projects, and facilitate a reduction in the carbon emissions of existing buildings.