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Living the “American Dream” means consuming the most product while spending the least amount of time and money as possible. With that being said, it is no wonder that modular and pre-fabricated construction has seen exponential increases in popularity over the past few years. Companies in different fields are recognizing the various benefits that modular buildings have to offer.
New York forged the path for modular buildings last year with the construction of the worlds tallest pre-fab building reaching 322-feet in the air (Click here to read more). The architect of a New York City apartment building set in “the hipster capital of the world,” Jim Garrison, has a plan to make a “pod hotel” using modulars (Click here to read more). Even the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has recognized the time-saving and cost-efficient benefits of modular buildings in his “tiny-apartment” initiative. The popularity of modulars in New York has a lot to do with time and money, but also safety and loss prevention. Since modular buildings are constructed in an off site building, the chances of theft are substantially less than a building constructed on-site, in an open area.
Not only are modulars popular in the big cities, but are the top choice when re-building communities after a disaster. After hurricane Sandy hit the east coast in 2012, modulars that met the requirements to withstand harsh weather were built to replace destroyed homes. The quick install time and lower costs makes modulars the perfect choice for helping to re-build homes and lives. Read more about how modular buildings help disaster-stricken communities, here.
The MBICF was established for the purposes of advancing off-site non-residential building construction practices and technologies through research, education, and outreach to architects, engineers, contractors, universities, government agencies, and other for-profit and non-profit entities related to the construction industry. The foundation intends to provide scholarships to individuals with an interest and aptitude for modular construction as well as partnering with other organizations interested in improving construction efficiency and productivity.
“We are excited to have the opportunity through this foundation to educate the public on the many benefits of the modular construction process and how it can improve the overall efficiency and productivity of the construction industry,” said Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of MBI. “We feel this is a great opportunity for the modular construction industry as well as the building community as a whole.”
“We see the newly formed MBICF as playing an instrumental role in the advancement of our industry in general, and in particular, to the benefit of our Canadian membership,” said Laurie Robert, VP of NRB and Chair of the MBICF Board of Directors. “To achieve our goals and secure our future however, we will need the support of the Canadian membership both financially, and through active involvement with our Board and its Committees.”
To make a donation to the MBICF, please contact Wayne Glover at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 416-646-1600. For more information on the MBICF, visit www.modular.org/htmlPage.aspx?name=foundation.
On August, 29, 2011 The Gazette published a response article in defense of modular buildings.
” Re: “Failing grade for trailers” (Gazette, Aug. 6).
The Gazette’s story on emergency classrooms in Haiti called into question the quality and durability of those modular classrooms.
The reporters cited issues such as “incredible heat, unsatisfactory sanitation facilities, lack of ventilation, leaks, mould and, in one case, high levels of formaldehyde,” as well as questioning whether they are, as billed, hurricane-proof.
In 2004, four hurricanes hit Florida, causing over $50 billion in property damage. What went underreported was the fact that 1,600 manufactured homes built to the 1994 wind standards of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development were hit by those hurricanes.
How many were blown off their foundations? None.
How many were destroyed? Zero. Based on reading The Gazette’s story, would readers know that those classrooms, if properly installed, could withstand 140-mile-per-hour hurricane winds?
The story also said that the modular classrooms did not have running water and latrines. Imagine Haiti’s devastation. There are problems with infrastructure, transportation, shortages of materials and a host of other things.
Bathrooms in classrooms require hookups to sewer lines. There is no failure in design or construction if proper utility hookups were not done.
On the reported issues with air quality and mould: no air conditioning was evident in the photos, and it was not mentioned in the story. These modular units were probably designed to have air conditioning installed on site. Without air conditioning in a highly humid climate, mould could form. Blame nature, but not the builder or those who provided humanitarian relief.
Formaldehyde exists in most construction. It is found in building materials, resins and fabrics. It is also part of your body chemistry. Energy-efficient construction is “tighter,” so formaldehyde’s effects on the eyes in hot conditions are more acute. Air conditioning is a solution.
Can we believe that those involved wanted to do a bad job for Haitians? We do not know enough to cast blame on anyone or anything, other than the difficult conditions in Haiti.
Modular and pre-fab construction is used worldwide in commercial, office and residential housing. More than 20 million people in the U.S. and Canada live in factory-built homes.
Hundreds of thousands are employed by the industry and its suppliers. The article does an injustice to builders of manufactured and modular homes and those who dwell in them by using derogatory terms like “trailer.” The media should use proper terminology and avoid outdated stereotypes.
L.A. (Tony) Kovach Publisher, Manufactured Home Marketing Sales Management (MHMSM.com) Chicago
Find a complete version of this article from Qualified Remodeler by visiting this link
The EcoStud Track and Stud System from Calumet, Mich.-based Superior Polymer offers a framing solution for interior, non-load-bearing walls or partitions that support gypsum wallboard construction. Because it is made from 100 percent recycled resins that contain postindustrial and post-consumer content, the system is ideal for moisture-prone environments, such as basements and buildings in wet coastal areas. It can be used in light-commercial and residential renovation projects. EcoStud, which was received the most reader inquiries from the April issue, page 76, also can earn credits in several green-building programs.
The system, which is lightweight and does not have sharp edges, is designed for fast installation using common tools. Pre-punched screw holes in the track provide attachment to overhead joists and foundation flooring while the track’s positioning slots lock each stud at the top and bottom. This provides placement of studs in 8-inch increments along the track without measurement. Each stud can be positioned at 16- or 24-inch on-center intervals without using fastening clips or screws.
EcoStud extruded studs are available in 8- or 10-foot lengths and can be cut and trimmed for framing around windows, ductwork, and stairway tread and risers. The C-channel design can be cut with a chop saw and fastens to other studs using common 1/2-inch needle-point screws.
Because the system is wood-free, it is impervious to water and related issues, such as rot and mold. It also eliminates damage caused by termites, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles and other wood-destroying insects.
The recycled resin studs provide R-values and help prevent rapid heat loss. Resin studs will not promote extreme thermal bridging and will eliminate condensation stripes from forming in cold environments.
The track and studs accept most insulation products, including spray foam, fiberglass batts, blown-in cellulose and rigid foam board.
All EcoStud resin studs include 2-inch-diameter top and bottom conduit holes for routing electrical wires and plumbing. Outlet and switch boxes also can be attached.
Modular Construction News released a great article on how modular units are now being used in the Department of Corrections using steel units for cells. You can find a full version of the article here: www.modularconstructionnews.com
|Modular Units: Construction Method Offers Quick, Inexpensive Solution
By Peter Krasnow, FAIA
By Peter Krasnow, FAIA
|Modular construction is an option that can accommodate program and building needs within a short time frame at a cost that is usually significantly less than conventional construction.
For correctional industry application the construction method has generally been narrowly focused on housing low-security populations in modular buildings, or higher security populations in precast concrete or steel-cell modular units. It is a method that has helped numerous jurisdictions get out of a bind, and decision makers at federal, state and local levels responsible for funding criminal justice building programs regularly consider it. However, modular construction is not always a catchall solution and some key factors must be considered before it is used at a new or existing facility.
Available Units and Systems
Early modular buildings used in the correctional setting were often created by combining12-foot-by-60-foot pre-manufactured units. Several companies manufactured the units — including SpaceMaster, Arthur Industries and Gelco — but the buildings sometimes had trouble enduring the wear-and-tear atmosphere at correctional facilities.
“New Jersey’s Department of Corrections built an entire minimum-security prison with Arthur system in the early 1980s in southern New Jersey,” says Robert T. Goble, AICP, principal at Carter Goble Companies. “I did an assessment of it for NIC after about five years of operation and found it to be deteriorating (as you would expect with wooden member structures in a correctional environment) and questioned whether it would last the entire 15 years the state had expected.”
Another early entry into modular building construction was built in New Jersey in the early 1990s.
“We successfully completed a 42,000 square-foot multi-story, medium-security correctional facility and administrative/visitor center for Hudson County, N.J., using modular unit construction,” syas Mickey Rosenberg, director of Mark Correctional Systems at Kullman Industries.
There are several modular building designs available that address the low-security needs of facility administrators. General Marine Leasing, Sprung Instant Structures, Miller Modular Construction and American Modular Technologies are some of the companies that specialize in modular buildings. They essentially provide large rectangular enclosures with open floor plan configurations that include bunk beds, and in some units, a separate toilet/lavatory/shower area. A few manufacturers have had success providing their products to correctional facilities for temporary use that occasionally result in permanent housing environments.
Manufacturers such as Rotondo/Weirich and Old Castle Precast Modular Group supply concrete modular cells. Kullman Industries specializes in steel-cell modular units.
Modular building and modular cell construction both provide viable solutions. The option that is best for an individual facility is determined by security needs.
Security and Safety
Security will always be an important, if not critical requirement for facilities that house prisoners.
When planning modular buildings, clear lines of sight must be included in the architectural design to enhance an officer’s responsibilities for good management. Although officers are encouraged to walk about the space in a direct supervision environment, it is important that they also have clear observation from a desk position. During planning, it’s a necessity that communication between the manufacturer, facility operator and professional advisor be open and unimpeded.
Modular concrete cells provide a uniform secure holding area for high-security inmates and they also can provide significant savings if the cells are poured and manufactured on-site.
“Precast modular cells provide the security benefit of uniformity in quality, tolerances and finishes for joints, cast-in doors and frames, and fixtures and furnishings,” says Steve Weirich, owner of Rotondo/Weirich Enterprises. “Eliminating possible hiding places for contraband is inherent to their concrete construction. With on-site precast modular construction, modular contractors are pouring quad cell modules with monolithic mezzanine balconies, further reducing joints and adding to the long-term integrity of new facilities.
“When cell modules are cast on prison job sites at dimensions larger than the allowance for road travel, the number of building components decreases, thereby providing a more seamless, secure structure.”
Relative Costs of Modular Units
Prefabricated unit costs vary significantly. Units can be purchased on a square-foot basis or, more typically, on total building size based on typical housing units of 50 to 100 prisoners.
Estimating the cost of a modular unit system against conventional building must consider the amount of time saved with modular construction to obtain the true value for cost comparisons.
Speed of delivery to respond to immediate housing needs may be the primary reason for choosing a modular unit rather than pursuing conventional construction. In some instances, although these temporary structures outlast their life expectancy, they remain in place in lieu of building permanent units requiring a commitment of funds. In other cases, once they have served their purpose on a short-term basis and funding becomes available they can be removed and a permanent facility constructed.
“I have found that although the cost for modular units can parallel conventional construction, depending upon the region of the country, the speed clearly makes the difference,” says Roger Lichtman, AIA, of The Lichtman Associates (see Page 16 for more on Lichtman). “More often than not, time translates directly to money. In one previous experience, utilizing modular technology we were able to design and build, through the toughest weather of the year, a 192-bed permanent facility. These units are not the wood frame trailers of the past. They are built of the same materials used in conventional construction.
“From the time our contract was signed for architectural services until the time that inmates were moved in was a period of less than six months. Conventional design and construction would have taken three times as long. Twelve years later, the facility still houses 192 inmates in the best of conditions with minimal facility maintenance. To this day, the client remains an excellent reference for us.”
Your Project Needs
With budgets running out of control at all levels of government, it may be prudent to consider modular construction for upcoming projects since the method can be more affordable, faster to deliver and the potential procurement pitfalls of conventional contracting processes could be avoided.
In certain jurisdictions, these units can be purchased directly from a manufacturer without the requirement of procurement regulations associated with retaining services through a conventional request-for-proposals solicitation process. The RFP and interview process can often become very time consuming. If overcrowding or another crises at the facility is particularly bad, emergency measures can sometimes be declared to secure funding.
In many jurisdictions throughout the country, there are methods to purchase modular buildings directly from the product provider. Prefabricated units can often be modified to suit a specific program by adjusting the design elements of a unit without time penalties. In fact, the development of “new models” for modular construction seems most appropriate during these stressed economic times.
A modified modular model could be used during an expansion project at the county jail in Johnson County, Kansas.
“We are currently evaluating and conducting research on the various construction approaches and structural systems applicable for our 416-bed jail addition,” says Neal J. Americano, AIA, Johnson County deputy director of facilities. “A modular system is being considered mainly as a means to speed design and construction. Such a system must allow appropriate functionality of the facility while also providing the aesthetic continuity with the AIA award winning original building.”
Although modular units are still being utilized at correctional facilities, manufacturers have remained tied to early concepts and no significantly different new concepts have been released. And new modular systems do not appear to be in development in today’s marketplace.
One wonders why no one has taken up the challenge of new designs suitable for correctional settings, considering that most jurisdictions have an immediate need for additional bed space with limited funding streams available to them. Units that are secure and rapidly deployable and site-specific could fill the gap between need and cost.
Gregory Offner, principal at Jacobs Facilities Inc. outlined a modular unit he would like to see: “Refine the development, manufacturing, shipping and installation so a complete 200-bed housing building in modular, stackable design … fully outfitted, could be readily available to my clients.”
A key issue regarding modular units is their life expectancy. Most modular buildings on the market have a defined length of use based on the type of inmate population housed at the facility and the nature of the materials and structures employed. A product should be secure, easily maintained while simultaneously providing an environment that is suitable for prisoner containment and rehabilitation.
If the corrections community is committed to the rehabilitation of inmates, then environment plays a key element in behavioral change of those incarcerated. Modular units could also include educational, recreational, and socially relevant programs important for reorienting prisoners to return to a normal and productive life in society. n
Peter Krasnow, FAIA, is an Advisory Board Member of Correctional News and the author of “Correctional Facility Design And Detailing” (McGraw-Hill) a 1998 publication. He is a member of the AIA Justice Committee.
Below is an article by Nicole Hemsoth from HPCwire. A full version of this article can be found here
Purdue University made waves last year with its selection of HP’s POD containerized datacenter, which was hauled in to help them cope with a power inefficiencies stemming from an existing brick and mortar datacenter on campus.
The university set the proof point for cost and efficiency of modular datacenters, with their associate VP of Academic Technologies, John Campbell claiming that for 60% of the cost of a collocation facility the university could install a POD.
The selling point for containerized datacenters in general is that they come fully configured (although customizations can be made) with all the cables, power, cooling and racks in place and ready to roll. For Purdue, the savings mounted in the arenas of colo leasing, cutting back on staff to man datacenters, extension of on-campus networks, reduced power costs—which came, in part, because of the university’s own power plant.
UCLA announced this week that it has climbed aboard the containerized datacenter bandwagon with its head of academic technology services and managing director for the Institute of Digital Research and Education, Bill Labate, extolling the benefits of containerized HPC.
Labate’s group is responsible for providing university research cyberinfrastructure via its shared cluster system, which allows researchers who want to build their own clusters to instead buy compute nodes that Labate’s team integrates into the shared cluster. This allows the team to make the cycles available for over 170 research projects, from particle physics to genomcis and beyond.
As the need for cycles grew steadily, Labate saw a need for new equipment. He said that they had an existing datacenter that was a target for retrofitting, but when the team examined the possibility, it was clear there would be power and cooling limitations even though the space itself would have allowed room for growth. Labate’s team was able to secure $4.4 million to retrofit the existing data center, but when they received their final estimate for $7.2 million for the project, the shortfall led Labate down a different path.
Since it was not possible to scale down the potential retrofitted datacenter to remain within budget constraints, the possibilities of modular datacenters entered the picture. Labate said that to scale down to the level needed to suit the allotted funding would not have served even intermediate needs. Furthermore, since the goal of this undertaking was to enhance growth potential for the shared cluster resources, the retrofit would have been a waste of effort and money.
Labate approached UC San Diego for opinions about their experiences with a Sun-Oracle Black Box containerized solution, but found that they faced challenges with the U-shaped layout. UCSD told him that one thing they did not like was that the Black Box required specialized equipment and brought logistical challenges when it came to replacing and maintaining hardware since entire sections needed to be pulled out for fixes. This would not suit UCLA’s needs since, again, their system of buying new hardware was based on price-performance options among vendors, thus requiring flexibility to swap components based on what individual vendors offered. Besides, the Black Box solution was only a 20-foot container, and Labate knew that he needed to be able to power more cycles than the smaller Sun-Oracle solution could provide.
Labate’s team eventually settled on HP due to its high density, which was a good fit for what they were trying to accomplish in terms of providing as many cycles as possible. Other vendors they evaluated offered attractive density but Labate said there was not enough flexibility–that they needed to be able to grow with solutions that weren’t specialized for a particular container environment.
Before choosing the high-density, 40×8 feet POD container from HP, the team also looked at options from Dell, Rackable and as noted previously, the Sun-Oracle Black Box, which Labate says was the first to be struck from the list due to the size and shape limitations. He did not go into detail about the reasons behind abandoning the Dell and Rackable solutions, other than to say that for their specific needs, density was the deciding factor. Still, he noted that there were many similarities between the HP, Dell, IBM, and Rackable solutions—the choice simply came down to price, performance, flexibility of equipment solutions, and density.
The site preparations for the container began in October 2010 and moved swiftly until ending in mid-April of 2011. This entailed extending the university’s existing chilled water, power systems and pumps, fiber networks and laying the solid foundation required to support 110,00 pounds of steel and equipment.
Many modular datacenter makers emphasize the quick installation and set-up of their containers, claiming that it can be humming away in a few short weeks. As Labate says, however, anyone who knows anything about datacenters knows that you “can’t just plunk down a datacenter in your backyard and hook into your garden hose.” All told, from site prep to shared cluster bootup the team was looking at several months.
The shared cluster is distributed across campus with one building housing around 300 nodes, another with roughly 500 and now the POD, which packs in over 1500 nodes. His team ran a wide area InfiniBand network throughout, pulling all the nodes onto the same fabric for efficient management. They connected the Ethernet network for storage traffic, creating what he describes as a “geographic spread out single cluster.”
The team chose to keep the storage resources outside of the POD, in part to protect the valuable applications and results of long runs, but also because the POD has been optimized for compute nodes according to his team’s purpose to deliver shared cluster resources as if it was a single system. He emphasized repeatedly that their needs are specific—they wanted to be able to maximize the number of cycles available for university research.
When asked about usability or performance tradeoffs, Labate was adamant that containers are more efficient and perform for their needs, which again, are focused on providing more compute for the shared HPC cluster. He said that in many ways, the container streamlines their HPC operations by shedding the maintenance and efficiency hassles of brick and mortar. As he noted, “there are no other people in the POD, in fact, we limit our time in there since we want to keep it buttoned up as tight as possible. It’s been freeing, no operators in the pod, no need for anyone to sit in there and monitor—it’s all automated with all the tools we need for monitoring, powering on and off and so forth.”
According to Labate, there were no power and energy consumption problems with their use of POD. He said that compared to one of their brick and mortar datacenters which was operating at 1.5 PUE, the POD was running a steady 1.17 PUE. He claims that this translates into roughly a $200,000 difference in power costs, which represented a secondary but very important consideration as they looked at the POD capabilities.
Despite the lack of wide user adoption of modular datacenters, it was nearly impossible to get Labate to remark on any drawbacks to such solutions. He said that outside of the obvious negative factors, which include working inside small boxes with 36 raging blowers and tight quarters (which his team overcomes by saving fixes inside for once-weekly missions) and the aesthetic problem of having an giant, ugly shipping container fitting in with an artful sense of campus uniformity (an issue he said gave the campus aesthetics folk a few gripes) he can’t imagine traditional datacenters to address growth ever again.
When pressed about what he might warn others about when considering such solutions, Labate said environmental conditions were critical. First, in terms of making sure it is possible to locate the container close to needed power and cooling resources. Also, in terms of actually environment—he said that during a recent conversation with someone in an snow-bound region, he suggested that to avoid preventing access to the container they might need to consider building enclosures or renting indoor space.
Snow might not be a problem for UCLA, but earthquakes certainly are. Labate said this is another important distinction between brick and mortar and containers—while he notes he hasn’t researched his hunch, these massive, solid steel, windowless shipping containers were far likely more structurally sound than any existing traditional datacenter on his campus. Let’s hope he never gets a chance to prove that theory.
Prevost Construction is proud to participate with Modular Building Institute. A brief history can be found on their website: www.modular.org. Founded in 1983, the Modular Building Institute (MBI) is the international non-profit trade association serving non-residential modular construction. Members are manufacturers, contractors, and dealers in two distinct segments of the industry – permanent modular construction (PMC) and relocatable buildings (RB). Associate members are companies supplying building components, services, and financing.
This is a great association to be a part of to get the latest information on modular buildings as well as discuss information with other contractors, manufacturers or dealers. Being that Prevost is a big part of school and modular buildings, education is a big part of this association. Below find an article that can be found here, to learn more about the school system’s involvement with modular buildings.
From single classrooms to complete campuses, permanent modular construction offers public, private, and charter schools what other construction methods cannot: accelerated project timelines, more economical pricing, and less disruption. Permanent modular schools are indistinguishable from other schools and can be constructed to any architectural and customer specifications. MBI members design and build schools of all types and sizes using traditional building materials like wood, steel, and concrete. Virtually any size permanent school can be built, installed, and ready for occupancy, some in as little as 90 days. Perhaps most importantly, by using off-site technology, open construction sites are eliminated while school is in session. Students are safer and teachers compete with less disruption.
High Tech High in Chula Vista, CA by Williams Scotsman. Find case study here.
Millmont School, Reding, PA by Triumph Modular & NRB Inc. Find case study here.
Relocatable buildings have become a critical factor in managing student demographics and increasing enrollments. Relocatable classrooms are also ideal for use during new construction or renovation. Convenient, flexible, cost-effective buildings can be delivered and operational in as little as 24 hours. Relocatable classrooms are measured for quality and code-compliance by state or third-pary agencies through routine and random inspections, testing, and certification services. Single classrooms or multiple buildings can be arranged in clusters to create a campus feel. MBI members supply steps, decks, ramps, and even furniture. Members also offer lease, purchase, and lease-to-purchase financing for a variety of public and private school needs.
Harvard University, Child Care Center by Triumph Modular.
Performance IQ, High Performance Green Modular Classroom design by M Space Holdings LLC.
Dearcroft Montessori School, Oakville, ON by Provincial Partitions Ltd.
Modular classroom design by Perkins+Will.
Case Study-North Andover Early Childhood Center: