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Performance of Modular Prefabricated Architecture: Case Study-Based Review and Future Pathways

Boafo, Fred Edmond, Kim, Jin-Hee, Kim, Jun-Tae
Sustainability 2016 v.8 no.6
acoustics, building construction, buildings, energy efficiency, engineers, environmental impact, experts, geophysics, greenhouse gas emissions, life cycle assessment, occupational health and safety, primary energy, thermal properties
Even though tightened building energy efficiency standards are implemented periodically in many countries, existing buildings continually consume a momentous quota of the total primary energy. Energy efficiency solutions range from material components to bulk systems. A technique of building construction, referred to as prefabricated architecture (prefab), is increasing in reputation. Prefab encompasses the offsite fabrication of building components to a greater degree of finish as bulk building structures and systems, and their assembly on-site. In this context, prefab improves the speed of construction, quality of architecture, efficiency of materials, and worker safety, while limiting environmental impacts of construction, as compared to conventional site-built construction practices. Quite recently, a 57 story skyscraper was built in 19 days using prefabricated modules. From the building physics point of view, the bulk systems and tighter integration method of prefab minimizes thermal bridges. This study seeks to clearly characterize the levels of prefab and to investigate the performance of modular prefab; considering acoustic constrain, seismic resistance, thermal behavior, energy consumption, and life cycle analysis of existing prefab cases and, thus, provides a dynamic case study-based review. Generally, prefab can be categorized into components, panels (2D), modules (3D), hybrids, and unitized whole buildings. On average, greenhouse gas emissions from conventional construction were higher than for modular construction, not discounting some individual discrepancies. Few studies have focused on monitored data on prefab and occupants’ comfort but additional studies are required to understand the public’s perception of the technology. The scope of the work examined will be of interest to building engineers, manufacturers, and energy experts, as well as serve as a foundational reference for future study.