Gov­ern­ment turns to pre­fab build­ings to save re­sources

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CHI­NADAILY Liang Shuang con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

China is pro­mot­ing pre­fab­ri­cated build­ings as a way to save en­ergy and help re­solve the prob­lem of ex­ces­sive in­dus­trial ca­pac­ity, theMin­istry ofHous­ing andUr­ban-Ru­ral De­vel­op­ment an­nounced on Fri­day.

Pre­fab­ri­cated build­ings are built us­ing man­u­fac­tured com­po­nents that are as­sem­bled at the con­struc­tion site. Based on a guide from the min­istry, 30 per­cent of new­build­ings are to be pre­fab struc­tures.

“Cur­rently, we have a foun­da­tion to pro­mote it, but progress is slow,” said Su Yun­shan, head of the Depart­ment of En­ergy Con­ser­va­tion, Science & Tech­nol­ogy, which is part of the min­istry. “Rough data shows that the cur­rent (pre­fab) rate is about 5 per­cent, but by our cal­cu­la­tions, the goal is achiev­able.”

Build­ing pre­fab houses re­duces con­struc­tion waste as well as dust and noise, com­pared with the tra­di­tional cast-in-place tech­nique, in which con­crete is poured at its per­ma­nent lo­ca­tion, ac­cord­ing to Chen Yim­ing, the min­istry’s chief en­gi­neer. It also short­ens the time needed for con­struc­tion.

“Al­though sit­u­a­tions vary due to types of build­ings, the level of man­age­ment and so on, sta­tis­tics pro­vided by en­ter­prises showed that con­struc­tion time can be cut up to a third in some projects,” Chen said. “Use of con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als such as ce­ment, wa­ter and wood can be re­duced by at least 15 per­cent.”

Pre­fab­ri­cated con­struc­tion is ac­tu­ally a ma­ture ar­chi­tec­tural tech­nol­ogy abroad, Chen said. Canada, for ex­am­ple, has been build­ing an 18-story wooden pre­fab build­ing.

The use of steel in pre­fab build­ings also will help ease ex­ces­sive steel ca­pac­ity, though pub­lic ac­cep­tance may not be im­me­di­ate.

“Like the tran­si­tion from brick to con­crete, it will take some time for peo­ple to ac­cept steel-struc­ture pre­fab build­ings for their houses,” Chen said. “There­fore we have to take things step by step.”

The tech­nique has al­ready been used in China. News re­ports said it took only 19 days to as­sem­ble a 57-story pre­fab build­ing in Chang­sha, in­Hu­nan­province. The builders ex­plained, how­ever, that while the as­sem­bly took 19 days, pre­par­ing the com­po­nents took much longer.

The change is not ex­pected to be an easy one. “We are still at an early age in terms of pre­fab build­ings. The sup­port­ing poli­cies aren’t clear enough and the tech­nol­ogy is still weak in some en­ter­prises, which leads to a lim­ited scale,” said Li­uHaiqun, deputy man­ager of the Cen­tralChina zone for the China Con­struc­tion Steel Struc­ture Corp. Liu spoke in an in­ter­view with China Con­struc­tion News.

Lim­ited use in China means the cost is still higher than tra­di­tional tech­niques, which is one rea­son for a re­luc­tance to try pre­fab, Su said.

“But our model projects have shown that with larger scale, the cost of pre­fab build­ings will be the same or even lower than tra­di­tional ones,” Su said.

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