Canada is experiencing a housing crisis. Currently, the country needs 4.3 million more homes for people with low incomes, students, and those who are unsheltered and will require 199,000 new beds in Long-Term Care facilities by 2035. However, an estimated 700,000 workers in the skilled trades are expected to retire by 2028 and construction costs have risen by 51 per cent in recent years. Policymakers are challenged to build new infrastructure – and quickly – to catch up to rising demand as the population grows and the skilled labour force shrinks. Innovative construction methods need to be explored to address these mounting issues.

CSA Public Policy Centre‘s new report, Seizing the Modular Opportunity, highlights how consideration needs to be given to modular construction – the practice of fabricating building components, or “modules,” in a factory-controlled environment. These modules can range from individual rooms to entire building sections, which are then transported to construction sites and assembled.

“Modular housing is an efficient and cost-effective way to build the additional infrastructure Canada desperately needs,” says Sunil Johal, vice president, Public Policy at CSA Group. “Greater use of modular methods can help address rising demand, particularly within the housing sector.”

“Demand for modular construction is growing significantly, and we need our policies and regulations to keep pace in order to unleash its full potential,” says Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the Modular Building Institute. “We need enabling building codes, efficient approvals, and governments that know how to procure and finance modular projects to reap maximum benefits.”

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Modular construction is also sustainable, an important consideration as Canada continues to work towards its ambitious climate goals. By standardizing components used in the manufacturing process, modular construction has the potential to reduce waste by as much 46 per cent. Due to the controlled production environment, it can also reduce construction emissions by up to 22 per cent.

The benefits of modular housing can only be realized with broader awareness and understanding of modular methods, greater regulatory consistency, and more compatible procurement and financing practices. The CSA Public Policy Centre’s new report outlines five recommendations for government leaders to seize the potential of modular. These include:

  • Address building code gaps and inconsistencies
  • Develop guidance and training for industry and regulators
  • Improve access to financing for modular construction
  • Make it easier to procure modular projects
  • Build up evidence in support of modular construction

“Innovative construction methods are needed as our population grows,” Johal added. “Modular can help fill the construction gap by building new housing that is sustainable, affordable and here to last.”

Featured image: (Selkirk College)

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