MMC unlocks Net Zero

The UK Government’s 2019 mandate for all buildings to be net zero carbon by 2050 means that the design and delivery of buildings will require a fundamental step change, rather than a side step, given the built environment is directly responsible for around 25% of the UK’s carbon emissions.

Traditional construction (bricks and mortar) has long held an honorary place in the UK’s construction rulebook, but this method doesn’t necessarily sit well against the net zero mandate. The very nature of building ‘brick by brick’ in the UK’s temperate climate creates numerous challenges, with reported leaky, draughty buildings that fight against the Building Regulation transformation for Net Zero. Furthermore, embodied carbon within traditional cement and concrete products is significantly higher, when compared to alternative materials such as timber and lightweight steel, adding to the argument about the shift towards MMC. 

Modern methods of construction (MMC) may loosely be defined as off or near site manufacturing but can involve on-site manufacturing techniques that reduce labour, such as tunnel form and 3D printing. MMC uses attributes of mass production deploying innovative technologies. This is not a recent development. Records show this method being used in buildings as far back as 1837, with mass production as a result of WWII and its housing boom post 1940s. Since that time, technology and modern materials have transformed the landscape for MMC. Countries like Germany, Sweden and Japan currently lead the global effort on MMC, with up to 80% of single residential homes using offsite construction in these countries. 

We’re also seeing a rise in the procurement of MMC buildings within the marketplace. The recent LHC framework, acting on behalf of contracting authorities throughout England, Wales and Scotland, has seen a record number of MMC related businesses be awarded under this £600m scheme, facilitating the public sector’s transition towards Net Zero. 

The construction sector needs to respond to this by ensuring our skillsets complement the upturn in MMC and sustainable building methods. Some significant steps towards this have been made, with professional bodies and Further Education entering into joint ventures to ensure our existing and next generation workforce have the necessary skills and training, but there is much more improvement and opportunity in this space.

At VOLOCO we’re able to bring a wealth of experience in relation to MMC and sustainable building methods, working with industry partners and contractors in this sector. Speak to us about how we can support you.

Image of a house made of 3 cuboids.

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