On June 30 and July 1, 2016, approximately thirty construction and real estate executives from around the world joined a GII Innovation Site Visit to BROAD Group’s BROAD Sustainable Buildings in Changsha, China. The objectives were to explore the following themes:
- Understand the mechanics and benefits of prefabricated, prefinished volumetric construction (PPVC)
- Explore the applicability and constraints of PPVC in other markets
- Quantify the potential benefits for the E&C sector
- Discuss the potential go-to-market strategy in relevant markets
Established in 2009, BROAD Sustainable Building manufactures pre-fabricated modular buildings that are touted as five times more energy efficient (through thermal insulation), 10-30% cheaper to build, and contain 20 times cleaner air (99% PM2.5 filtration). Ninety percent of the construction process takes place in a controlled environment in the factory, resulting in precision quality and only 1% waste. BSB buildings use a steel structure which BSB claims will last 10 times longer than conventional buildings, has been tested to survive a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, and up to 96 percent of the building is recyclable at end of life.
The salient innovations of PPVC technology include:
- Identical construction modules allow for faster fabrication and installation. The Factory fabrication process commences with the manufacturing of the stainless steel panel frame, followed by the installation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing services. The panel is then inverted so its floor can be cast in a smooth steel form providing a much better quality finish. This also allows reassesses for tiles and falls to floor wastes to be cast in the floor finish. After the concrete has cured, the panel is removed from the steel form, then turned floor side up for completion of the ceiling finishes to the underside of the panel.
- Efficient logistics solutions from the factory to site and completely through construction sequencing are designed into the module. All components (including assembled main boards) are designed to neatly fit into a container for long distance transport. Each container can accommodate 120 m2 of structural parts or 90m2 of components like exterior façade or 70 m2 with interior wall doors.
- The timeline from concept to move-in can be radically accelerated. BSB estimates only 9 months for a 30-story 20,000m2 project—allowing 3 months for design and permitting, 4 months for simultaneous foundation construction and component construction, and 2 months for transportation and installation.
- Plotted against height, PPVC changes the cost curve into a linear function. For conventional buildings, the building height would produce an influence on installation efficiency and increase the management cost of the building. Since PPVC is 90% factory-made, it doesn't create a big cost increase while the building height rises. The technology also enjoys distinct cost advantages in the areas where labor cost is high.