Europe has answered this question nearly twenty years ago with a resounding “yes.” While most of America and Canada are in the early adoption phase of prefab green building construction, the investment of most of Europe in prefab buildings has already paid off.
In the UK and Ireland, around 30% of newly constructed homes are prefabricated, while in Scotland, a whopping 70% are prefabricated. That’s certainly a lot, considering that in the 1990s, prefabrication accounted for only 1% of the buildings.
In Europe, prefab is known as offsite construction (OSC). Put together using modern methods of construction, more commonly known as MMC, the prefabricated buildings are made in factory-controlled environments. European prefab buildings are made of high-quality construction materials, in the well-founded belief that it results in a positive impact to the environment.
What led Europe to prefab buildings is its commitment to the Kyoto Protocol in 1998, along with its ratification in 2002. According to the Kyoto Protocol, the 15 EU members must commit to reducing carbon emissions by as much as 8% from 1990 to 2012. If not, the member in fault will be named, shamed, and even fined.
This spurred many EU countries to quickly devise and implement policies and plans to build energy-efficient residential structures—which account for 25% of greenhouse gas emissions. In 1990, both UK and Ireland foresaw that there would be a housing boom, as around 22,000 to 90,000 houses would be built in Ireland 10 to 15 years hence. UK, on the other hand, predicted that around 160,000 to 250,000 residential structures would be built in the same number of years starting from 1990.
This caused both Ireland and UK to create laws and raise energy-efficiency standards by as much as 40% in 2008, then 20% in 2010. Offsite construction was also encouraged by their governments. Even public and social housing required carbon-neutral homes!
True to its commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions, every home in Europe is required to have an Energy Performance certificate—a legal document that requires the disclosure of CO2 emissions and annual energy costs of a home.
Unsurprisingly enough, in order to meet all these standards imposed by the government, people turned to prefab buildings. Made of high quality materials and known to be able to withstand even the harshest of weather conditions, prefab structures, such as those from Norsteel, in a manner of speaking, have saved the day.