Some of the most innovative young minds in architecture are finding inspiration in modular construction. That’s one lesson learned from U.S. and China Solar Decathalons, where the winners used the power of modular to bring their projects to life.
Two Competitions, One Solution
In China’s first-ever Solar Decathlon, Asia-Pacific teams placed first and second over 19 competitors by applying modular construction to solar applications. The first-place team (from Australia’s University of Wollongong) used off-the-shelf solutions for the exterior of their solar-powered home. The second-place students (from South China University of Technology) used native materials like sugar cane and bamboo to create insulated wall panels.
Teams competing in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon also looked to modular. The Alberta, Canada team built a modular home that combined energy efficiency with affordability. Their goal was to create an eco-friendly home that was affordable for struggling Canadians. The project took two years to complete and tapped the creative talents of 150 students in several disciplines.
Modular In the Green Scheme of Things
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) estimates that half of all commercial construction will be green by 2016. Modular construction can play a key role in green building, since panels are factory-built and easily movable. The result is a smaller, more eco-friendly carbon footprint.
As a new generation of builders adopts modular construction, we’re betting that greater building efficiency and cost savings will be evident in places other than national school competitions.