Assessing the Environmental Implications of Industrialized Housing: a Systematic Literature Review
AbstractIndustrialized Housing (IH), also referred to as prefabrication, preassembly, modularization, and/or off-site fabrication, is a growing strategy for constructing housing. IH offers potential for significant reduction of environmental impact in comparison to traditional housing construction. Past research used methods such as environmental impact assessment on given case study buildings or expert’s opinions to identify the benefits and drawbacks present on the lifecycle of houses constructed partially or fully using IH methods. Nevertheless, this literature is scattered across several sources and units of analysis. The specific factors of IH that contribute to environmental impact reduction have not been comprehensively reviewed and summarized from design considerations up to the end of life possibilities. In this paper, a systematic literature review is performed on the environmental implications of the industrialized way of constructing residential buildings. From a review of 49 journal publications, this paper identifies 18 key factors that influence the environmental performance of such residential buildings. These factors are categorized into the following lifecycle phases of the IH process: a) system design, b) material design, c) manufacturing and logistics, d) transportation and assembly, e) Operational phase, and f) end of life. Findings reveal the importance of decisions made in design phases such as choice of materials, which in turn show a snowball effect throughout the phases. A final category – g) support and hindrance of IH - includes a discussion of external factors such as building codes and regulatory policies and their impact on IH performance.
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