How prefabrication can help companies achieve their sustainability goals

The commercial real estate and architecture/engineering/construction sectors want to embrace sustainability, but they often find it easier said than done.

CRE is under increasing pressure from regulators and investors to reduce emissions, but there is little guidance on how to do this. Additionally, homeowners and developers who want to build sustainably are likely struggling to source many of the materials they need for new projects, let alone sustainable, low-carbon materials.

This is not nothing: buildings generate around 40% of the world’s carbon emissions. Their operations alone are responsible for 28% of total global carbon emissions, while building materials and construction activities contribute an additional 11% of emissions.

Reducing a building’s carbon footprint in today’s regulatory and business environment is enough to give a headache, but Geene Alhady, President of Clark Pacific, believes there is a cure available if the industry is ready to rethink the construction process.

“Prefabrication is definitely becoming what I call pain medicine,” he said. “It can help solve the current limited access to materials and labor and concerns about sustainability.”

Clark Pacific’s offsite construction approach allows entire construction units to be fabricated at one of its California facilities and then installed onsite by a small, trained crew. This process, which eschews the traditional design-bid-build model, is less vulnerable to supply chain disruptions, as Clark Pacific orders its materials well in advance to keep pace with its manufacturing operations.

Once the prefabricated panels and components are delivered to the job site, the process generates less carbon than conventional methods that require a large fleet of heavy, diesel-burning equipment. But this is not the only sustainable aspect of the process.

Clark Pacific prioritizes sustainability in its products, including its recently developed NetZERO build platform, Alhady said.

A thermally active concrete floor system combined with a thermally insulated building facade system allows its NetZERO office structures to have a 40% lower carbon footprint than other buildings, according to Clark Pacific. Additionally, the platform uses 100% outdoor air to improve tenant health and comfort while reducing a building’s energy consumption by 30%.

These are attractive statistics for Clark Pacific customers, Alhady noted, especially for developers of large corporate or biomedical campuses in California looking to add buildings.

“As for the product itself, we are able to use low carbon concrete to deliver a design that meets industry standards,” Alhady said. “In addition, more than half of the energy consumed during our prefabrication process at the factory is provided by solar energy.”

The company goes even further in its commitment to renewable energy. In April, Clark Pacific announced that it would work with NewGen Energy to install solar panels at all of its facilities, increasing its energy consumption to nearly 100% renewable energy by the end of this year.

Alhady said the effort reflects Clark Pacific’s commitment to the “fourfold bottom line.” This framework takes the elements of the well-known “triple bottom line” – people, planet and profits – and adds a fourth: purpose.

“The quadruple bottom line takes a holistic view of doing business,” he said. “It allows us to do the right thing and be a successful organization at the same time.”

Alhady said other organizations considering adopting a similar philosophy could consider incorporating prefabrication into their construction strategy.

“Companies developing megacampuses in Silicon Valley are looking to take a standardized approach to construction, but also want to maintain uniqueness at each site,” he said. “These are most likely prefab users.”

Rather than selling them a one-size-fits-all product, Clark Pacific prefers to partner with its customers to help them grow and then achieve their sustainability goals, Alhady said.

“They look to us to help them understand how our methodology will help them get closer to their goals,” he said.

Precast technology has come a long way in recent years, he said, which means customers don’t have to make as many design compromises compared to traditional design and construction methods. In the process, the sustainability of prefabricated buildings has also progressed.

“Prefabrication and durability are very interdependent,” Alhady said. “And you’re most likely to achieve a sustainable building when sustainability goals are built into the product.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Clark Pacific. Bisnow press staff were not involved in the production of this content.

Studio B is Bisnow’s in-house creative and content studio. To learn more about how Studio B can help your team, contact [email protected]

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