25 Apr 2018
Alternative Energy Practices for Modular Construction
Modular construction is generally regarded as a greener and more environmentally friendly way of building, due to its controlled manufacturing process. Companies looking to promote the general welfare of the environment often prefer modular construction due to the reduction of waste and reuse of materials. In order to help promote this way of thinking, Panel Built, Inc. has actively worked to implement greener amenities to allow these companies to take it a step further.
According to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, buildings across the world use an estimated 40% of all energy consumed. In fact, the WBCSD projects that, if companies started using the current best practices and technologies, the energy consumption from buildings could be reduced by 50% in the next 12 years (a 20% drop in TOTAL energy consumption).
Overall, there are three main ways companies can look to reduce the overall energy cost/consumption of their new and current buildings: lowering the amount of energy consumed overall, producing energy locally, and sharing already produced energy. While certain energy types have a less harmful impact on the environment, the only way to ensure that will be the source of your energy is if you provide it yourself. Similar to reducing waste in construction materials through modular construction, one energy efficiency helps all companies not only reduce waste, helping the environment but helps keep energy costs to a minimum.
Upgrade to LED Lighting
Recently, Panel Built, Inc. has made a push to exclusively utilize LED in all of our building systems. When comparing LED to conventional light bulbs, LEDs will outperform most all other commercially available lighting. One of the biggest benefits the end customer will see is that LEDs have a much longer life-span than many other bulbs on the market, lasting up to 10 times longer than fluorescent lights. Additionally, they are one of the most efficient lighting types on the market. In large facilities, the energy reduction can be substantial. Plus, the maintenance involved in keeping an LED light is practically non-existent.
Additionally, the design and materials that make up the modular structure will have a great effect on the energy consumption needed to keep the building usable. There are a variety of options that allow for added insulation. Overall, the core of Panel Built’s panel system will typically be made of polystyrene which provides a high insulating value even when used in relatively low thickness, but the panels themselves can be altered in material or increased in thickness to adhere to higher energy efficiency standards. However, always consider that heat is not just lost through walls. Specialized window systems can be provided to ensure minimal heat loss, allowing you to save as much as possible on heating the building. The building envelope should also integrate a variety of variable into its design including orientation to the sunlight, available shade, ventilation systems, and specialized materials if needed.
Well Understood Energy Conservation Plan
Even with all of the design and material thought put into a newly constructed modular building, the most a company can do to reduce energy consumption is to lay out a full energy conservation plan. These plans will set rules in place that outline when to turn off lights, accessories, and HVAC. Setting the thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature, turning off lights and heating while the building is unoccupied, etc. these are just some of the things that can be done to lower energy consumptions and costs. If consistently used over a long period of time with employee participation, companies can save a lot of money over the course of a year.
The other way that companies can increase their conservation and energy cost efforts is creating their energy locally. When companies are looking for the green alternative to power their company, they are looking are a couple of well-known options: solar power or wind power. Looking at wind power first, there are a couple of main issues that many companies will run into. First, the wind turbines needed to cover a company’s power consumption will take up a good amount of area, especially for large or quickly growing companies. Also, the company will need to be located in an area that has consistent and decently strong winds. And these turbine systems can sometimes be seen as unsightly and disturbing the landscape, although this aspect is strictly subjective.
So, why is solar often the more popular option?
Well, if we compare the issues of local wind energy to that of local solar, we can see why solar will often be the more popular choice. First, solar panels can take up a decent amount of area as well. However, unlike wind turbines, solar panels can be placed atop already existing structures in order to not take up any additional space. For instance, in a large manufacturing facility, the facility can take up acres and acres of land, but the roofing of the facility can be retrofitted with these panels.
In the case of modular construction, a newly added exterior building or guard booth can be built specifically to accommodate these panel systems on their roofs, so that new building can potentially provide enough energy to power itself. Panel Built also constructs prefabricated canopy systems that utilize these same solar panel systems. In this case, the canopy system will be used as a parking shelter across parking lots. So, while the car shelter will provide a function of protecting cars from sun damage and people from the weather, the canopy itself can provide the company with solar energy.
The solar panel systems will not fully depend on the climate of the area to work properly. Oftentimes, people will assume that canopy systems will only work well in warm to hot climates. However, in winter months the solar panels will work, as usual, only seeing decreases in energy outputs when covered with a layer of snow.
Finally, the presences of solar panels are far less noticeable on the aesthetics of a facility. When thinking of solar energy, people will often picture large solar farms off in the desert or plains, but when utilized locally, these panels are integrated into the roofing systems of new or pre-existing structures, making them virtually unnoticeable to all.
Overall, Panel Built, Inc. fully supports the effort of companies to combine the environmental efforts of modular construction and green energy practices. Through, practical modular building designs, and local green energy generation, modular buildings can be easily implemented into almost any facility with small environmental footprints. Not to mention the green energy investment, can easily be earned back with your future cost savings.With more and more facilities adopting these green energy practices, buildings will be able to achieve WBCSD’s goal of 50% less energy consumption quickly, and we will all see the benefits much sooner.
If you have any questions on how modular construction can help you on your energy efficiency mission, send us an email to info@Panelbuilt.com, or if you’re looking to start on your own modular building project, Request a Quote! We are more than happy to answer any and all of your questions.