Can offsite construction be the answer to our green ambitions?
Construction 2025, the joint government and industry strategy, outlines some extremely ambitious targets for the UK construction sector
Within the next five years both construction-related emissions and project delivery times must be halved, while construction costs are required to be reduced by a third.
How are we able to achieve this? There may be one solution right in front of us: offsite construction.
Offsite construction is a niche sector within the UK industry, but it actually accounts for about 7% of all construction output in the UK. It is also worth £1.5bn to the UK economy – a figure that is set to grow after investment in recent years.
But how ‘green’ is it?
UK construction overall uses more than 40m tonnes of materials every year, making it the nation’s largest consumer of natural resources.
Offsite construction has the opportunity to be one of the most environmentally conscious processes in the industry, helping to make UK construction as green as it can be, through the conscious specification and use of sustainably produced materials, made locally around the UK and Ireland.
Offsite’s controlled approach to planning and constructing buildings also eliminates room for error and gives opportunity for new eco-friendly process planning, designing and installing within a much-reduced time frame and budget.
More sustainable construction materials: Sustainable production
Sustainable building materials must be an innate part of the offsite construction process, and indeed the first objective when the overall aim is green.
When properly managed, timber is the only 100% sustainable construction material, simply because with sustainable forestry practices there are at least as many new trees planted as harvested; the first step to greener construction products and greener construction overall.
MEDITE SMARTPLY has pioneered the sustainable timber industry in Europe, with all specialised timber panels produced essentially as byproducts of sustainable forest management.
Coillte, the forestry company who created MEDITE SMARTPLY, own and manage 7% of all forests in Ireland, from which all our timber is harvested, guaranteeing the sustainable production of our entire product range.
Specific to the offsite industry, however, its SMARTPLY ULTIMA, an OSB4 panel developed especially for the offsite industry which sets the standard for racking strength, load-bearing capacity, moisture resistance and rigidity in OSB4.
Manufactured in panels of up to 2.8m wide and up to 7.5m long, in a maximum thickness of 40mm, SMARTPLY ULTIMA is ideal for offsite construction, whereby entire sides of an apartment, home or school can be sheathed offsite in a controlled environment, and delivered to site and craned into place.
In this way, it’s an ideal system for hotel and chalet accommodation projects, school buildings, low- and medium-rise housing and apartment blocks.