Environmental Benefits of Steel Construction


Whilst traditionally the areas of manufacturing and construction have been looked at as separate processes, Niche Modular has developed a system to combine the two. Termed “Manustructuring”, not only does this provide for improved systems, but there are also tremendous environmental benefits.


When talking environmental impact, one could easily decide it’s as simple as timber vs steel. However, there is much more to deliberate to fully understand the overall environmental impact. The collection of processes must also be considered. 


Niche Modular buildings have predominantly achieved 7+ scores on the New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) scale for Homestar. This is achieved through a combination of factors.


Manufacturing and Construction


Manufacturing and construction are completed in the Niche Modular factory in Lower Hutt. OSM processes ensure all activities are practiced under a controlled environment with waste management, recycling, noise reduction and general site waste a high priority.


Building off-site brings tremendous environmental benefits. Construction work has traditionally been a dirty activity with many pollutants left on-site. Noise issues are prominent and huge amounts of water is often used. The processes used in the Niche Modular factory means water usage is nominal. As all manufacturing and construction is completed in the factory, a cleaning system is implemented to ensure is less waste and impact on the environment.


On-site Considerations


Minimal disruption on-site is achieved as the buildings are transported to the site after being produced in the factory. Considerations such as workers on-site for long periods of time are removed as installation is done in a matter of days. One building requires 0.5 days to install on-site. As there is no manufacturing and construction on-site, rubbish is not an issue as you find with traditional building sites.


Furthermore, construction considerations such as port-a-loos for workers are not needed. Surrounding residential streets are not impacted either. Parking issues due to workers, which can go on for months and even years with traditional building sites, are negligible.


Soil disturbance is minimal with Niche Modular installation on-site. Generally, ground works can be minimised by using screw piles or propriety foundation products which are less intrusive on-site. In turn, after the lifespan of the building is completed, the site can be left as it was with little effort. 


Additionally, on-site sound pollution is not a problem as the construction is completed in the factory. Installation is quick, and all heavy or strong acoustic activities are carried out in the factory. Sound levels are monitored at all stages of the manufacturing and construction processes.




Waste management is a key component in the environmental considerations. The steel used for Niche Modular buildings is 100% recyclable for both the light gage steel and construction steel. A strong recycling system is in place in the factory for all materials. Steel has considerable durability and strength. The entire building can be repurposed/recycled at a future date up to 50 years. 


All steel used can be traced back to the source origins.  Steel does not require chemical treatments as timber does, instead using coating systems that do not provide residue after rain or environmental leaching over periods of time. Termites and pests are not attracted to steel therefore these are not a problem.


Backing their commitment to use steel for its many positive benefits, including environmental, Niche Modular will become a member of the Sustainable Steel Council in 2021.