Almost 10 months after the first industry shutdown in March 2020, the team at Horizon Offsite continue to deliver on ongoing essential projects and a number of new rapid build, pandemic-responsive projects, in the face of unprecedented challenges caused by Covid-19. You can access our essential projects updates, together with photo galleries, here: https://horizonoffsite.ie/news/
Dealing with a changed work environment
Eleven months into this pandemic, there are still many unknowns, however, with all non-essential construction activities closed down, it is clear that housing delivery will continue to be impacted by the delays. According to the Central Bank’s latest outlook report, the “profound societal and economic” effects of the Covid crisis on an already acute housing crisis will lead to 23,000 fewer homes being built than it once thought.
Over the past 10 months, we have seen the traditional sector latch onto previously-existing trends towards modernisation as a result of Covid-19 and its implications, including the need for social distancing on site and enhanced safety protocols. As Horizon Offsite manufacturers its steel framing building system offsite, in a controlled environment, its processes remained largely uninterrupted. Also, when it comes to onsite installation, the Horizon Offsite team have been able make design changes in order to facilitate safe work onsite, in full compliance with the new CIF and HSE guidelines, including fully respecting social distancing measures. Many of these new measures are inherent in the offsite construction process.This is where offsite construction becomes a more appealing and immediate solution as it does not require much in the way of adaptation in order to comply with these new guidelines. The offsite construction process requires fewer people at every step of the project development, from design, build and delivery. In fact, Horizon Office Steel Frame Building System units can be installed with as few as four operatives on site at any given time. This is something we have written about in greater detail here: https://horizonoffsite.ie/offsite-construction-speeding-up-the-process-of-getting-back-on-site/
While we generally advocate for the early involvement of our expert offsite construction team in development projects, the nature of the pandemic has forced many traditional main contractors at more advanced stages of their projects to seek new methods of delivery in order to meet agreed build programmes. This has been a steep learning curve for many. Even those firms that were exploring offsite construction before the pandemic were not quite ready for the rapid adjustment. While it might not feel like it yet, this short-term pain is making way for huge longer-term gains. For example, people turning to offsite construction right now in order to regain momentum on projects and avoid productivity losses of up to 40% will certainly achieve efficiencies on current projects, however, they will also acquire the knowledge, tools and technologies to replicate these efficiencies on subsequent projects.
Prior to Brexit, sustainability was set to be the greatest challenge facing the construction industry in this decade. Until late February/early March 2020, Brexit loomed large as a threat to construction in Ireland and the UK. It is telling that despite the impact of Brexit being felt this month in a very real way, this threat has been overshadowed by the escalating pandemic and the need for urgent action.
But the sustainability issue is becoming increasingly urgent. Might the horrid chaos of Covid-19 actually help the traditional real estate industry take its first big, impactful steps towards more sustainable modern methods of construction? In practical terms, construction is one of the largest consumers of natural resources. And the built environment accounts for 40% of all carbon emissions. Governments all around the world are being called to account on a global scale, so change will need to filter down through every sector in every industry. As one of the principal offenders, this industry will need to make the greatest move towards a more sustainable way of delivering the built environment, with a focus beyond delivery and into the entire lifecycle of the building. Offsite construction has the opportunity to be one of the most environmentally-friendly (or least unfriendly) in this industry. Factories and facilities that manufacture buildings can control energy, emissions and waste is a significantly more efficient way than traditional construction sites. Offsite construction and other modern methods of construction may well be only a part of the solution, however, they are an important part of the solution. The acceleration of broader industry adoption of offsite construction and MMC as a result of the pandemic can and must be built upon in order to drive energy efficiencies the planet demands. If now not, when?
About Horizon Offsite
Horizon Offsite Ltd is one of Europe’s leading players in Offsite Construction and Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), providing a fully accredited structural light gauge steel system to the residential, industrial, commercial, healthcare and educational sectors. Contact the Horizon Offsite team at https://horizonoffsite.ie