Home » Modular construction can cut embodied carbon by 45%, study finds

Modular construction can cut embodied carbon by 45%, study finds

by Sion Geschwindt
Modular construction can cut embodied carbon by 45%, study finds

Homes constructed using volumetric modular systems can produce 41-45% less carbon dioxide emissions than traditional methods, according to new research by the University of Cambridge and Edinburgh Napier University.

The study found that two modular housing schemes designed by HTA Design, consisting of a total of nearly 900 homes, saved a combined 28,000 tonnes of carbon.

The two schemes studied were the 44 and 38-storey Ten Degrees towers in Croydon – the world’s tallest completed modular scheme – and The Valentine, a 10-storey student accommodation block in Redbridge. Both were built by Tide Construction and Vision Modular Systems in 2020.

The report said these developments achieved embodied carbon savings of 41% and 45% respectively when compared to traditional construction methods, significantly lower than RIBA-set industry targets.

Tim Forman, University of Cambridge senior research associate, said the study “underscores the fundamental importance of quantifying carbon in construction and across a building’s life cycle”.

Francesco Pomponi, Napier University professor, added that the report’s conclusions were based on “conservative assumptions”, and that the results make a “compelling case for the embodied carbon-saving benefits of modular construction.”

Last month, an influential parliamentary committee urged the government to embed whole-life carbon assessments of construction schemes into building regulations.

The proposed bill aims to make it mandatory to calculate and reduce the embodied carbon footprint of new buildings for the first time.

Rory Bergin, HTA Design sustainable futures partner, said: “The report by Cambridge and Napier Universities shows that factory-built homes are the future of housebuilding.

“Two of the biggest challenges our country faces are tackling the climate crisis and the acute shortage of housing. 

“This research shows that only through modular construction, which can deliver low carbon homes quickly and at scale, do we have any chance of meeting both these challenges together.”

Image: the 44 and 38-storey Ten Degrees towers in Croydon

Read next: Planners approve ‘world’s tallest residential modular building’ in London

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