Sustainability in a holistic perspective
A sustainable building cannot be characterized solely by looking at the materials used and the energy consumption associated with daily operations. Even the most environmentally friendly choice of materials will have a very limited effect if the building does not subsequently allow residents to live a healthy and sustainable life. This holistic perspective is the core of our concept. We use healthy and clean materials as a starting point, with absolutely no risk of harmful emissions, mold, damage to the site, etc., and we build with steel, glass, and concrete in a modular system that can be reused again and again. All materials that residents come into contact with are indoor climate-labeled and all materials in the building are environmentally-labeled materials.
More than certifications
We have deliberately chosen not to develop the WFH concept with the narrow aim of being able to obtain many points in a certification scheme, such as DGNB, since these certifications operate with too short and limited time frames – according to our philosophy. That being said, it will be relatively simple to carry out the certification, which will be able to meet the DGNB Gold requirements as a minimum, if this is in the client’s interest.
Instead, we are focused on ensuring that all measures can, to the greatest extent possible, be part of a future circular construction industry, where waste, landfill, and large losses of value are replaced by industrial efficiency, full reusability, and the least possible loss of value during use and from one generation to the next. Here, the possibility of reusing the entire structural module from construction to construction will play a major role.
A true circular building system
WFH modules are exclusively assembled with mechanical joints and can therefore be completely disassembled and reused as whole modules, or further disassembled so that walls can be renovated or changed. After the end of the life stage of the construction, the modules can be dismantled and used on-site in a new configuration or used for a completely different construction. This is precisely the long-term perspective on sustainability where WFH stands out from all other modular building systems. Other systems are typically made of lighter materials, CLT, or the like. WFH differs significantly from traditional construction, where it is typically only possible to recycle the load-bearing constructions, surfaces, and technology as raw resources and not reused them as entire, complete building parts. All components of WFH can be reused directly.
As a result, the final material investment is far less than, for example, in pure timber constructions, which have a shorter lifespan, require more maintenance, and have far less potential for reuse as building components. WFH has no lightweight plaster walls or vapor barriers, which lose quality and function over time. WFH modules can be built to a height without introducing various chemicals for fire-proofing of flammable materials, which must be re-impregnated.
The WFH modules are produced in an optimized process at the factory, where all surfaces, joints, and technical installations are mounted, tested, and documented. The modules have completely uniform technical shafts, where all components are carefully selected and optimized in terms of space, function, repair, and recycling. Everything is pre-assembled and on the construction site, only the assembly between shafts must be carried out.
At the factory, work can be done with far smaller tolerances, so that the need for adjustments and adaptations on-site is eliminated. The modules leave the factory with far higher quality than what can be achieved through work on the construction site. In the same way, the subsequent facade assembly will be carried out from components that have already been manufactured with the correct module dimensions and tolerances, so that waste and processing on-site will be minimal.
WFH – a sustainable building system
The WFH concept has been developed based on the idea that we must both limit the resource consumption for construction, but also build to a much higher quality than what we see in conventional construction. The WFH concept is therefore made up of modules in concrete and steel construction, with a very long life and the possibility of recycling. The challenge with what we have built over the past 60 years, and continue to build, is that we weld and glue components and materials together. This practically means that the challenge we have today in reusing, even only 50-year-old buildings, gives future generations the same challenge with the buildings we are constructing now, 50 years into the future. The WFH concept solves this challenge. Future generations can dismantle the light facades, segment all components and materials from each other, or renovate the components and reuse them for new WFH buildings. The raw, structural modules can be sent to the factory, where they are renovated and can possibly be reconfigured into new modules so that they can be included in other housing types. With this, you can build a 2nd Generation residential building. The illustration shows an example of identical residential buildings: a conventional building and a WFH concept residential building. The consumption of resources for the construction is fixed to be identical, to be able to compare future differences. When the 1st Generation is no longer relevant at the specific location, the conventional construction must be demolished without the possibility of reusing the building’s raw material. The WFH building will be dismantled and reused for a 2nd Generation residential building, where only new resources for climate protection and internal accommodation must be added to the building. This means that the 2nd Generation construction can be built with less than half of the climate footprint compared to new conventional housing construction. If you consider the economic side of the WFH concept, you can transfer the CO2 figures to economic value, which will benefit future generations. This is due to the structural module being reused, which actually represents more than 50% of the construction costs for a new building. That is why future generations can build at half the price. We thus create added value by building in the WFH concept – a form of a mortgage for society. In the future, conventional construction is only an additional expense because financial resources must be used to break down and clean up after the irrational construction of the past.