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Modular Integrated Construction: A Sustainable Shift in Building Practices


In an era where environmental sustainability is paramount, the construction industry seeks innovative methods to reduce its ecological footprint. The study by Loo et al. (2023) brings this issue into focus by comparing two construction methods: traditional cast-in-situ and Modular Integrated Construction (MiC), using an agent-based modeling (ABM) approach to examine their environmental impacts in detail.

The study's ABM analysis, based on two case studies in Hong Kong, provides a comprehensive evaluation of carbon emissions, air pollution, and noise pollution at various construction stages. It found that MiC significantly lowers CO2 emissions by about 20.21%, reduces harmful air emissions by 48.95%, and decreases particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) emissions by 48.95% and 45.09% respectively. These findings are underscored by the comparison of total CO2 emissions, where the MiC project emitted approximately 144.10 million grams of CO2, notably less than the 161.97 million grams emitted by the cast-in-situ project.

Air pollution simulations revealed that the MiC project had a markedly lower impact on neighborhood air quality during its operation compared to the more substantial air pollution generated throughout the cast-in-situ project's construction period. In terms of noise pollution, the MiC project resulted in significantly less noise, especially during periods of high transportation activity, which are typically noisier due to the delivery of modular components.

The application of ABM was pivotal in achieving these insights. By incorporating detailed empirical data and project-specific configurations, the researchers were able to model the environmental impacts with fine spatial and temporal resolutions. This method allowed for a nuanced understanding of the temporal dynamics of carbon emissions and the estimation and comparison of traffic-related air pollution and noise near construction sites.

In conclusion, Loo et al.'s study exemplifies the effective use of ABM in environmental impact assessment of construction methods. The results clearly demonstrate the superior environmental performance of MiC over traditional construction methods, offering valuable insights for decision-makers in the industry. By adopting MiC, construction companies can not only achieve greater environmental sustainability but also contribute to the overall reduction of health risks in surrounding communities.

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