How Does Modular Construction Reduce Material Waste?
Modular construction enables better recycling practices.
Modular construction is a less wasteful way of building homes. Waste reduction is much easier using the modular process than with stick-built homes.
Apex Homes: A Case Study
One of the homebuilders developing outstanding waste reduction best practices is MHBA member Apex Homes. Apex Homes has established a simple but innovative system for reducing construction waste on their modular projects.
The key is recycling. Apex Homes uses scrap materials for a variety of purposes to reduce waste. Lynn Kuhns, President of Apex Homes, describes it as “concentrated effort to recycle what can be recycled.” He shares that many of the materials used in the homebuilding process have recycle potential. Apex Homes uses scrap wood to heat their shop through a biomass boiler. Excess cardboard and copper wiring are baled and resold to local buyers, increasing the company’s revenue. That’s a win-win! Apex ground up its excess drywall, which was then utilized by local farmers.
How does modular construction facilitate better recycling habits? According to Lynn, the key lies in the controlled work environment. Because homes are built in the same space day-after-day, recycling stations can be set up and used consistently.
Another benefit of the controlled environment is that waste from weather-damaged materials is almost completely eliminated. Because the factory is a climate-controlled environment, the building materials are not being rained on or exposed to other weather elements, resulting in fewer discarded materials.
Waste Reduction By the Numbers
Lynn reports strong benefits from the systems employed at Apex Homes. He points out that his team fills two landfill dumpsters per month versus site-built homes which average 1 to 2 dumpsters per home. For context, Apex Homes averages 24 homes built a month. That is a massive reduction!
By creating less waste, the modular homebuilding model is much “greener” than traditional stick-built home construction. Environment-friendly innovations are popular now but for Apex Homes, which has been in business for 30 years, “green” is nothing new.
“Our industry was green before green was green.” Lynn says. Modular construction has long been the less wasteful construction model compared to stick-built homebuilding. Through recycling and protecting building materials in a controlled environment, modular homebuilding reduces waste and offers a “greener” alternative for housing construction.