Home Innovation Insights

Factory-built construction can position projects to meet quality and sustainability goals.

Cindy Wasser, MBA
October 28, 2022

Streamlining Green Verification for Factory Construction

Traditional home construction is subject to many variables that can influence construction quality and a team’s ability to meet sustainable construction goals. There are myriad product inputs and parties involved, and production is often impacted by weather.

In comparison, factory-built construction is getting a lot of positive attention right now due to the benefits that come from constructing homes in a controlled environment.

  • Time savings – home construction and site work can occur simultaneously.
  • No weather challenges – this means fewer delays, improved worker safety, and less moisture and weather damage to construction materials.
  • More consistent labor – skilled workers can remain in place with controlled and safer conditions; modular plants can be located to attract competitive workers.
  • Less waste and maximized recycling – with components made in-house with skilled labor and precision technology, there are fewer mistakes, and recycling can be maximized. A study by UK-based Waste and Resource Action Program found that prefabricated construction can eliminate up to 90% of construction waste.

According to the Modular Building Institute, the multifamily housing market has been a fast-growing sector of the modular industry. Between 2017 and 2018, the total production of modular multifamily housing units more than doubled, with 2,314 modules built. The multifamily market accounted for nearly 9% of all industry production in 2018, up from 5% in the year prior.

Permanent modular construction market share

Source: MBI Permanent Modular Construction Report, reproduced within Fannie Mae’s Multifamily Modular Construction Toolkit

Due to the level of quality control and manufacturing precision available with factory-built construction, modular and panelized homes may have an advantage in achieving above-code green building certifications, like NGBS Green.

However, the verification process requirements for green building certification can be more difficult to address. The production speed and multi-tasking afforded by factory construction presents a double-edge sword. The frequency of on-site visits by an independent third-party NGBS Green Verifier have made green certification logistically difficult and cost prohibitive.

To better accommodate the growing number of partners seeking NGBS Green certification for their panelized and modular homes and multifamily buildings, Home Innovation is piloting a new streamlined process.

Project teams are encouraged to coordinate with an NGBS Green Verifier upfront and establish a plan for aligning the plant’s processes to meet NGBS Green program requirements. A verification plan should be submitted to Home Innovation for review and approval that addresses compliance with selected NGBS practices, quality assurance activities, and a schedule and plan for performance testing and visual inspection. For visual inspection, proposals that include a combination of in-person, virtual inspection, and sampling are acceptable.

Our hope is that this new flexible and streamline process will better accommodate new and existing partners working with panelized and modular construction.

Read the updated information about Modular Buildings in the Builder’s Resource Guide (starting on page 11) and contact us with any questions or feedback.

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