How Modscape Creates Liveable, Energy-Efficient Homes And Buildings
Design. Materials. Systems. Operation.
These are the key considerations that guide Modscape in its quest to deliver sustainable homes and commercial buildings. It is a quest that began when owner Jan Gyrn identified a gap in the market for houses that are sustainably designed in 2006. Since then Modscape has delivered numerous low-energy, comfortable, long-lasting buildings all over Australia.
Now the growing company employs 40 people. About half the work comprises homes with the remainder being commercial buildings.
“Right from the start the product was very well received,” says Jan. He cites the individuality of designs as the main reason why people engage Modscape. “Despite being modular and prefabricated in a factory, our buildings are all individually designed,” he says. “Each site is different and each client has their own space requirements. On top of that, we estimate that about half of our clients are also driven by sustainability considerations.”
Aside from the visual aspects, Modscape’s designs also take account of building orientation to provide passive heating and cooling. High thermal insulation and thermal mass are also key inclusions. “Our buildings achieve a minimum six-star energy rating,” says Jan, “but typically we aim for seven.”
A number of criteria are considered for materials selection. Steel frames clad with structural insulated panels provide for strength and longevity as well as high levels of insulation. Plantation timbers are just one of the low embodied energy materials used, and sealants, paints and adhesives are chosen for their low volatile organic content.
Systems & Operation
The systems approach applies to both the construction phase and how the building performs when occupied. Buildings are constructed in a factory environment using a modular design approach that takes account of standard sized materials. This reduces waste and maximises recycling. Out in the big wide world rainwater collection, grey water recycling and energy efficiency are key considerations. Not surprisingly, many Modscape clients also opt for solar photovoltaic and solar hot water systems.
Modscape’s interest in a building doesn’t end with its construction. “Feedback from clients is an important driver of innovation,” says Jan. “Steady improvements in the performance of materials and of the passive design itself increase the sustainability of the product, and lead to greater customer satisfaction.”
Speed and efficiency
Well-honed processes and the factory build allow for short construction times and quick installation. Without weather delays, building takes just 12 weeks and installation usually requires just one day!
Modscape buildings sit on screw piles so installation involves minimal site disturbance. That can leave more vegetation intact and reduce the muddy runoff into storm water drains (and ultimately waterways) that is a common feature of conventional building sites.
Modscape’s attitude to sustainability and attention to detail has another payoff. It attracts a higher calibre of employee and a more motivated workforce that leads to higher staff retention rates.
It’s a recipe for continued growth that will only be constrained when Modscape outgrows its current manufacturing facilities. And naturally, the factory incorporates many of the features that characterise the buildings they create for clients. “Our office is also modular,” says Jan. “It features LED lighting, double glazing, energy efficient appliances and high levels of thermal insulation.”
Add in green power, rainwater harvesting and a recycling rate of 95% for both factory and office, and it is clear that Modscape is a business that practices what it preaches.