Skip to main content

LUP Student Papers

LUND UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES

Evaluating the Embodied Carbon Impact of Modular Construction through the Application of Zero-Loss Yield

Neuman-Beer, Eduardo LU (2021) AEBM01 20211
Energy and Building Design
Department of Architecture and Built Environment
Abstract
Modular construction has recently become a renowned method of building. Many studies have been conducted on the benefits of modular construction; however, the available literature on its potential downsides is scarce. This study aims to evaluate the sources of potential embodied carbon inefficiencies of a modular multifamily residential building in San Diego, California. Quantity takeoffs and lifecycle analysis procedures were applied to collect data for the primary case study. Other similar projects were analyzed and compared to the primary case study. The results indicate that modular construction may experience an increase of embodied carbon of up to 10% compared to an identical, conventionally built project. A key driver of this... (More)
Modular construction has recently become a renowned method of building. Many studies have been conducted on the benefits of modular construction; however, the available literature on its potential downsides is scarce. This study aims to evaluate the sources of potential embodied carbon inefficiencies of a modular multifamily residential building in San Diego, California. Quantity takeoffs and lifecycle analysis procedures were applied to collect data for the primary case study. Other similar projects were analyzed and compared to the primary case study. The results indicate that modular construction may experience an increase of embodied carbon of up to 10% compared to an identical, conventionally built project. A key driver of this embodied carbon inefficiency is an increase in structural material required to resist transport and placement stresses. Another primary driver is the doubling of walls that comes with the selection of highly standardized unit modules. Finally, the most significant driver of embodied carbon increases in this case study was the inefficiency of transporting fully assembled modules from the modular unit assembly factory to the construction site. If these sources of embodied carbon inefficiency can be mitigated, modular construction companies will be able to offer even more sustainable solutions to clients in addition to possible economic benefits and time savings often attainable from prefabrication. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Modular construction has been extensively regarded as an innovative and green method of building. Numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of modular construction; however, the available literature on its potential downsides is quite limited. This project evaluates the sources of potential embodied carbon inefficiencies of a modular multifamily residential building in San Diego, California – The Quilt Project. Quantity takeoffs and lifecycle analysis procedures were applied to collect data for the primary case study. Other similar projects were analyzed and compared to the primary case study.
The analyses and methods involved evaluations of the material, transport, and space efficiencies of the Quilt building compared to other... (More)
Modular construction has been extensively regarded as an innovative and green method of building. Numerous studies have been conducted on the benefits of modular construction; however, the available literature on its potential downsides is quite limited. This project evaluates the sources of potential embodied carbon inefficiencies of a modular multifamily residential building in San Diego, California – The Quilt Project. Quantity takeoffs and lifecycle analysis procedures were applied to collect data for the primary case study. Other similar projects were analyzed and compared to the primary case study.
The analyses and methods involved evaluations of the material, transport, and space efficiencies of the Quilt building compared to other similar case studies. The comparison of these efficiencies focused on discrepancies that existed due to the nature of modular construction and its requirements. For example, modular construction requires an increase in structural material quantity due to the stresses the modules experience during transport and crane placement. Another example that was studied is the inherent decrease in transport efficiency due to the fact that built-up modules yield a lower truck loading factor when hauled. Limitations of these comparison methods were also deliberated.
The results indicate that modular construction may experience an increase of embodied carbon of up to 10% compared to an identical, conventionally built project. A key driver of this embodied carbon inefficiency is an increase in structural material required to resist transport and placement stresses. Another primary driver is the doubling of walls that comes with the selection of highly standardized unit modules. Finally, the most significant driver of embodied carbon increases in this case study was the inefficiency of transporting fully assembled modules from the modular unit assembly factory to the construction site.
Discussions and potential future works to supplement this project should be geared towards amplifying and deepening our understanding of these sources of carbon inefficiencies along with other sources that were not included in this project, such as fuel efficiency and differing machinery. Among these recommendations, a follow-up and post-construction audit of the Quilt Project is of chief importance as it will clarify the degree to which the estimates of this study were accurate and dependable. Collaboration with industry partners will be vital in obtaining the information needed for insightful academic studies.
If these sources of embodied carbon inefficiency can be mitigated, modular construction companies will be able to offer even more sustainable solutions to clients in addition to possible economic benefits and time savings often attainable from prefabrication.
This project was conducted in cooperation with The Quilt Group and under the supervision of the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction at the University of Cambridge. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Neuman-Beer, Eduardo LU
supervisor
organization
course
AEBM01 20211
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
embodied carbon, modular construction, carbon efficiency
language
English
id
9057619
date added to LUP
2021-06-28 10:19:57
date last changed
2021-06-28 10:19:57
@misc{9057619,
  abstract     = {{Modular construction has recently become a renowned method of building. Many studies have been conducted on the benefits of modular construction; however, the available literature on its potential downsides is scarce. This study aims to evaluate the sources of potential embodied carbon inefficiencies of a modular multifamily residential building in San Diego, California. Quantity takeoffs and lifecycle analysis procedures were applied to collect data for the primary case study. Other similar projects were analyzed and compared to the primary case study. The results indicate that modular construction may experience an increase of embodied carbon of up to 10% compared to an identical, conventionally built project. A key driver of this embodied carbon inefficiency is an increase in structural material required to resist transport and placement stresses. Another primary driver is the doubling of walls that comes with the selection of highly standardized unit modules. Finally, the most significant driver of embodied carbon increases in this case study was the inefficiency of transporting fully assembled modules from the modular unit assembly factory to the construction site. If these sources of embodied carbon inefficiency can be mitigated, modular construction companies will be able to offer even more sustainable solutions to clients in addition to possible economic benefits and time savings often attainable from prefabrication.}},
  author       = {{Neuman-Beer, Eduardo}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  note         = {{Student Paper}},
  title        = {{Evaluating the Embodied Carbon Impact of Modular Construction through the Application of Zero-Loss Yield}},
  year         = {{2021}},
}