Exploring Opportunities for Bio-Based Materials: Comparative Case Studies in Modular Housing Construction

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The use of bio-based or natural materials has been indicated to have prospective reductions in energy consumption, emissions, and costs. Their beneficial impacts have been particularly studied in walls, insulation, and façades applications. On the other hand, industrialized construction refers to the adoption of manufacturing methods in the construction industry with eight main principles: prefabrication, embedded technical systems, planning and control, integrated logistics, long-term relationships, ICT utilization, reuse of experience, and market-focused orientation. This way, houses are being produced instead of constructed which leads to better quality, shorter construction time, and less waste generation.
The case studies show that the integration of bio-based material is even more difficult in modular construction. It shows that the adoption revolves around wood products due to their proven quality and reliable supply. While acknowledging the potential and benefits of bio-based materials, construction companies perceive material replacement not as the most cost-effective option, making the adoption of bio-based materials to the existing system a formidable task. Additionally, the study also underlines the insufficiency of bio-based materials' performance and capacity to fulfill larger-scale modular building production.
Strategic pathways for IC companies encompass supply chain integration to scale up production capacity and joint R&D to speed up product development. Together with the regulatory bodies, companies can increase engagement in bio-based construction to attract more players and develop clear regulations to mitigate the potential misuse of IC applications.