More Cities Explore Modular Construction

Another Pacific Northwest city is exploring modular design as an option for supplying affordable, green housing.

The Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) in Tacoma, Washington, is in the conceptual design phase with its 110-unit modular housing community known as Hillsdale Heights. The complex will be located on a 7.3 acre site formerly occupied by the Hillsdale Lumber sawmill; 60 of the units will be low-income rentals, and the remaining 50 will be affordable townhomes. The project was designed by Seattle firm GGLO, who has experience in creating mixed-use, multi-family, sustainable developments.

Modular building construction allows for greater quality control than traditional construction, and is more efficient due to its factory assembly. On-site work is accomplished more quickly than it is with traditional construction, and the modular process generates less construction waste and causes fewer disruptions to the existing neighborhood. Sitework at Hillsdale Heights (up through the laying of foundations) will proceed the same way that it would for a traditional project. After that, the units will be shipped in sections from the manufacturer, Guerdon Enterprises in Boise, and set into place. According to THA Executive Director Michael Mirra, “The modular housing is built to a higher construction standard.  We also will save enough money to do a project that we could not do otherwise.”

THA is working with the Eastside Neighborhood Advisory Council of Tacoma to ensure that the development fits in well with the surrounding community. Hillsdale Heights will include trails and green space, as well as a small community center. The THA has set a goal of obtaining LEED Silver certification and meeting Evergreen Sustainable Development Standard criteria for the project.

For more info on modular construction, read up on Seattle’s Inhabit on Green Building Elements.