This Demonstrations Initiative helps vulnerable populations, including those who are homeless and residents of Indigenous and northern communities.
See why modular housing is an effective and innovative solution for vulnerable groups, including residents of Indigenous and northern communities and people experiencing homelessness.
Key Findings / Key Goals
Modular construction is an innovative solution to build energy-efficient, affordable housing quickly in rural and northern communities.
Modular construction is a cost-effective way to provide affordable, transitional housing to help lift people out of homelessness in urban areas.
Weather conditions and short seasons create challenges to build sustainable housing
Building sustainable, affordable housing in rural or remote communities in British Columbia and Nunavut is a challenge. This is partly due to short construction seasons and harsh weather conditions. These factors makes it difficult to serve many vulnerable populations.
Modular housing offers a solution
Modular housing is built in environment-controlled factories. Once the factory work is done, the homes can be quickly assembled on site. Modular construction can also be used in urban areas to create temporary housing to help address homelessness.
This demonstration provides 3 case studies that studied 3 modular housing projects:
Bella Bella, British Columbia
This case study shows how modular housing was used to build energy-efficient, affordable housing quickly in rural communities like Bella Bella, British Columbia.
This community needed an energy-efficient staff housing facility. Known for its wet weather and beach only access, this was a challenge.
Modular housing sections were built off-site in a controlled, indoor, environment. It allowed the teams to achieve the required energy efficiency and airtightness. The sections were then shipped in by barge for fast assembly on site, minimizing disruptions to residents.
A similar case study done in Iqaluit, Nunavut provides similar results to Bella Bella, only using energy-efficient, affordable modular housing in northern communities.
Iqaluit required a hotel and temporary housing for local residents. With a short construction season and high labour rates, modular construction was used to help save time and money.
The site was prepared while the modules were built in the factory.
Once the modules shipped to Iqualuit, the pieces were put together in just 9 days. This left time to complete the building exterior, plumbing, mechanical, electrical and other finishing work.
Abbotsford, British Columbia
The last case study features the use of modular construction to provide transitional housing to help tackle homelessness in urban areas – in this case Abbotsford, British Columbia.
The City of Abbotsford used a modular construction to build a structure to serve as a transitional residence. The rapid construction helped the city quickly create affordable housing to respond to the homelessness problem.
This temporary housing also provides flexibility. It can easily be relocated at any time to meet changing needs and demographics.
In all cases, engagement with housing providers, communities and other stakeholders was essential.
Modular construction helped achieve or even exceed energy performance targets. This is always an important consideration, especially in rural and Northern communities.
Modular building addresses many aspects of sustainable building, including thermal bridging, water entry prevention, moisture control and proper heating, ventilation and air conditioning design.
Housing providers are always looking for fast, low-cost solutions to provide energy-efficient affordable housing in underserved communities.
This project shares lessons learned and strategies for extending the use of modular construction across Canada. Promoting the benefits of modular construction, such as lower costs and energy efficiency, will encourage its use by organizations across Canada.
Project Team: RDH Building Science Inc.
Location: Bella Bella and Abbottsford, British Columbia; Iqaluit, Nunavut
Project Collaborators / Partners:
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