Reducing carbon emissions is an increasingly important topic spanning many industries, notably aviation and road transport, but also the housebuilding industry. With increased use of, and investment in, MMC we are seeing another step within the housebuilding industry to tackle this important issue. Given the environmental benefits outlined below, the shift towards MMC is understandable.
Amongst the various strategies with which the housebuilding industry is seeking to address the challenge of climate change is Modern Method Construction (MMC) - a technologically advanced form of build where manufacturing can occur both on and offsite. The advantage of this method of construction is a substantial reduction in waste, travel, and site disruption, making MMC an attractive option for environmentally conscious constructers. Homes England have entered into a number of partnerships, including with Sekisui and Ilke Homes, to encourage new, sustainable methods of housebuilding, including MMC.
Project Etopia, a well-known MMC housebuilder, has become the world’s first carbon neutral housebuilder. It has sought to reduce its carbon footprint exponentially over the past few years by reducing energy use and utilising technology to enhance the user experience whilst simultaneously reducing carbon emissions. They have now achieved the Carbon Neutral International Standard, which means that any emissions they make are balanced by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere.
However, carbon neutrality in construction goes beyond the build process. Following the Paris Agreement in November 2016, 189 countries committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 in an effort to combat the effects of global climate change. To achieve this, our buildings themselves must be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Housebuilders are therefore seeking not only new, sustainable methods of construction, but the construction of sustainable properties.
A carbon neutral building is one with significantly reduced energy consumption, combined with the increased use of low carbon energy sources such as solar, wind and heat pumps to meet the remaining demand. It requires the cooperation of all users for a building to be carbon neutral - not only in its design and construction, but in the energy expenditure of the occupier. By way of traditional methods of construction, housebuilders have sought to encourage carbon neutral occupation through uses of energy sources such as solar, wind and heat pumps. Many have modified the design of their builds to ensure maximum energy efficiency - for example, by incorporating light wells to improve the flow of natural light into the building and thus reduce reliance on electric lighting. As such, there are numerous ways in which housebuilders can seek to be carbon neutral.
Could consideration and use of MMC could be a way forward across the whole industry, during construction as well as occupation?
Extreme climate change affects us all. We must seek to build high quality homes that are both economically and environmentally sustainable to help reduce our carbon emissions – not only during the construction of the building, but throughout its life. Project Etopia have shown this is achievable.