“Modern Methods of Construction” (MMC) is a term widely used in the construction industry in the UK to capture more advanced methods of construction, in contrast to traditional methods. Some examples are:
Offsite Construction: Building components are manufactured offsite and then assembled at the construction site, reducing construction time and waste.
Prefabrication: Pre-made components or modules are produced in a factory and transported to the construction site for assembly. This method can enhance precision and speed up construction.
Modular Construction: Buildings are constructed using pre-designed modules that can be combined to create various structures. This approach offers flexibility and can accelerate construction.
Sustainable Materials: The use of environmentally friendly and recycled materials is gaining popularity in modern construction to reduce the environmental impact of building projects.
Smart Technology: Integrating smart technologies into construction, such as IoT devices for monitoring and automation, enhances building efficiency and occupant comfort.
While MMC offer numerous benefits, there are also some challenges associated with their implementation:
Perception and Resistance: Traditional construction methods have deep-rooted traditions, and there can be resistance to adopting new MMC approaches due to unfamiliarity or scepticism.
Initial Costs: Despite potential long-term savings, the upfront costs of implementing MMC can be higher.
Skills and Training: Workers and construction professionals may need training to adapt to new technologies and techniques associated with MMC.
Regulatory Hurdles: Existing building regulations and standards may not always align seamlessly with MMC. For instance, seeking regulatory approvals from local authorities is consistently the most unpredictable and time-intensive part of the building process and this is especially challenging for MMC.
Staying informed about these MMC can benefit construction professionals and those involved in house renovations by improving project efficiency and sustainability.
In the UK, there is a growing emphasis on using eco-friendly materials in construction, and everyday products. Some examples include:
Bamboo: A fast-growing and renewable eco-friendly resource that can be used for flooring, furniture, and even as a building material.
Dirk E. Hebel, an architect and professor of sustainable construction at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany said: “Steel, used as a reinforcement, is mainly placed into concrete to take care of tensile forces, so it was a logical step to ask ‘can we make a material out of bamboo that could replace steel as a reinforcement element in concrete?’” The answer seems to be, yes.
Bamboo has a long tradition of being used as a structural material where it grows natively and is still used as scaffolding and for housing in areas of Asia, Africa, and South America.
“To instigate building with bamboo efficiently and at scale in the UK would require a significant culture shift within the industry,” says architect Maria Smith, co-founder of London practice Interrobang and part of Webb Yates Engineers. “We are enthusiastic about the possibilities of bamboo. However, in addition to the industry’s general lack of familiarity, there are several key barriers to be overcome. UK design codes and regulations are not set up for non-standard materials.”
Simon Corbey MRICS, associate director at the UK’s Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, agrees. “People are always risk averse – they tend to want to use things they know about,” he says. “Bamboo is going to be a slow burn. If I were considering materials to introduce into UK construction, I would be looking at those that we grow here. As an example, we’re looking at rapeseed fiber as a potential product for insulation.”
Recycled Steel: Using recycled steel, an eco-friendly material in construction reduces the demand for new raw materials and energy. It is estimated that around 87% of construction steel in the UK is recycled; around 10% is reused and around 3% goes to landfill.
Recycled Glass: Glass can be recycled and repurposed for countertops, tiles, and insulation. Recycled glass can be processed into glass wool or cellular glass insulation materials, providing energy-efficient insulation solutions for buildings. Also, recycled glass can be transformed into unique and visually appealing tiles and countertops for residential and commercial spaces.
Cork: Harvested from the bark of cork oak trees, cork is a sustainable and eco-friendly material used for flooring, insulation, and furniture. Located in Berkshire, Cork House is the first building in the UK to be made of a simple new form of solid cork and timber construction. Its walls and roof are made of giant dry-jointed interlocking blocks of expanded cork. Cork House was shortlisted in 2019 for the RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building and has received numerous awards.
Recycled Plastic: Materials made from recycled plastics, such as recycled plastic lumber for decking, are eco-friendly alternatives.
Reclaimed Wood: Using reclaimed wood from old buildings or pallets is a sustainable option for furniture and flooring.
Natural Stone: Locally sourced and minimally processed stones, like slate or limestone are environmentally friendly choices for construction.
When planning eco-friendly construction, it is essential to consider the entire life cycle of materials, including production, transportation, and disposal.
More interesting information about eco-friendly materials you can find on https://www.sustainablematerials.org.uk/