Oct 18, 2007

MBI Green

I attended the MBI Green Building Conference in Indianapolis a couple of weeks back. A few thoughts…

Modular construction has some inherent sustainable qualities including: waste reduction, increased job-site recycling, improved working environment, minimizing transportation, reduced site disturbance, building longevity (sometimes), ease of material recovery, facility to incorporate technology, improved thermal performance, greater economic incentive to do energy and thermal modeling, etc. I went to the conference to find out if anyone has quantified any of this stuff….apparently not. I think the mod industry would be wise to do a Life Cycle Assessment of some modular projects and then do the same for equivalent in-situ projects as a point of comparison. The two best resources out there seem to be the Steel Construction Institute and the book from Michele Kaufman Design; however, neither of these are a rigorous formal study.

The impression I got from many of the companies at the conference was that right now they are only willing to make marginal improvements on their otherwise totally unsustainable products. They don’t realize that there is an emerging market for sustainable modular products at the complete other end of the design spectrum. They should really step-up with some top notch sustainable designs.

A few of the good products I discovered at the conference:

Bard – These guys have been the standard for modular HVAC wall units. In the past, their products have not been energy hogs; however, they have totally re-engineered their system working with Lawrence Berkley National Laboratories and I think that the new system should be equal (or maybe even better) than a good system you might find in in-situ construction.

Quantuum Energy Products – They make IP-based HVAC controllers and I must admit I don’t know as much about these guys. We’re ordering their binder to check them out. Check in later.

Mule-Hide – They make roofing products and the same as the above…check in later for more details.