Saturday, August 25, 2012

LEED and the Modular Home Factory

Builders are joining the push toward LEED certification for single family homes and there doesn’t seem to be a better place for LEED to take root than the modular home factory.  If there is one thing that modular factories know, it’s how to conserve and reuse building materials.  Conservation and green building techniques are some of the hardest things to teach a site builder.  The factories have been doing it for years.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and promotes energy savings, water efficiency, reduction in carbon emissions, reduction in waste sent to landfills, improved air quality and protection of natural resources.  The LEED certification programs for commercial and public buildings get most of the publicity but single family residences can also earn a certification.  136 is the maximum number of points any home can earn.

A home that earns 90 to 136 points gets a Platinum Certification.  75 to 89 points earns Gold; 60 to 74 points earns Silver; and 45 to 59 is simply certified.  To be certified a home has to be inspected by a third party rater.  The process is quite involved and paperwork intensive.

Building a home in a modular factory, even the older East Coast ones that I like, will put you well on the way to being certified.  The process begins with the different ways the factory can insulate the home and the way the fastening is done on the line.  Foam is applied in areas that site builders cannot reach such as behind electrical receptacles, water lines and duct work.  This is because the factory builds the house from the inside out with all drywall, electric lines and plumbing exposed before the insulation and exterior sheathing is attached. 

When it comes to the carbon footprint, factories have advantages over site building.  No gas burning generators in the factory and fewer trucks delivering materials to a single job site. 

Recycling is huge for the modular home factory.  If you want to see proof, just look in their dumpsters.  Very little is tossed.  Drywall is recycled within the home or sold to recyclers. Plastic, paper, metal banding, cardboard and glass is recycled.  In a lot of factories the end cuts from the lumber is ground up and used for heating or sold to farmers for bedding. I know one factory that allows hobbyists to go through the wood scraps.  It ends up being made into wooden toys and building materials for model railroad layouts and dollhouses.

LEED allows only 8.3% of building materials budgeted for a home to be classified as waste.  Only 5% of all studs used can be wasted and no roof sheathing.  The modular factory has traditionally been less than that even before LEED was a thought in some tree hugger’s mind.

If you are a sales manager for a modular home factory and don’t yet understand how to compete with the LEED site builders, maybe it’s time to learn what your factory is already doing and start a teaching program for both your sales reps and your builders.

1 comment:

Bria Reus said...

I think this new concept of architecture towards sustainability is a very promising idea. Through green building we can protect our environment in order to provide resources to future generation.