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Building Quality, Convenience & Cost Certainty into Schools & Hospitals with Modular Construction

The popularity of modular construction is growing year on year, with significant investment in developing new modular construction factories in response to the ongoing increases in demand. We’ve discussed the benefits of modular construction and the reasons for this growth in a previous Firestone blog, What Makes the RubberGard™ EPDM Roofing System the Ideal Choice for Modular Builds? This article will focus in on public sector buildings and why modular is the ideal solution for:

- Hospitals

- Schools

- Universities

Consistency & Cost Certainty in Healthcare Construction

The NHS owns a property asset base that’s more extensive and diverse than any other. Many healthcare estates include both legacy buildings and new build extensions and the past 20 years has seen a massive asset replacement programme through PFI and, latterly, PPP programmes.

Managing the challenges of an estate that is often no longer suited to purpose, operationally efficient or flexible enough to cope with changing needs is quite a challenge for the NHS, but the organisation is using those challenges to inform the build programmes of the future and create a template for construction models that are consistent in both design and cost.

In this way, the NHS can roll out build programmes for facilities with proven adaptability and operational efficiency, while ensuring that costs are not allowed to escalate and the principles of best value are delivered.

Procure 21+, a national framework agreement with six Principal Supply Chain Partners (PSCPs), has become the vehicle for sharing best practice models and achieving improved consistency, cost management and quality assurance in healthcare construction. Modular building is playing a considerable role in achieving those goals too, offering an ideal solution for the need for more flexible and future-friendly healthcare assets.

It’s a trend we’re seeing more frequently here at Firestone, and it’s easy to understand why. By building new facilities and additions to existing estates using a modular approach, NHS Trusts can:

• Gain cost certainty over the build programme

• Replicate proven models with a high degree of consistency and quality assurance

• Reduce on-site build programmes to minimise disruption for patients, staff and service users

• Futureproof their investment in new property assets with buildings that can be refurbished and reconfigured more easily

• Adopt a repeatable standard for rooms and facilities that can be measured against specification criteria and NHS requirements

The NHS has to plan for changing patterns of patient demand, treatment pathways and new technologies. The use of modular construction in the healthcare sector answers this imperative by providing durable and adaptable buildings with cost certainty during the initial build phase and reduced cost of modifications throughout their service life.

A Lesson in Faster, More Convenient Construction

Many of the drivers that are prompting increased use of modular construction in the healthcare sector are also evident in the way that the education sector has embraced modular projects.

Like the healthcare sector, the education sector must:

• Adapt to changing needs with an agile estate that can be tailored to meet those requirements in the future

• Reduce the cost of build programmes and achieve cost certainty to fit within limited and fixed budgets

• Manage health & safety and operational requirements of existing occupied buildings while additions or improvements are made to their estate

• Fast track build programmes to ensure the new asset is available within a fixed time frame

• Consider the future operational costs of new buildings or extensions and the financial impact of any modifications or maintenance that may be required in the future

• Be confident of consistency, quality assurance and service life across the new build assets

Just as modular construction is playing a key role in transforming how property assets are built and managed in the healthcare sector, offsite fabrication of school buildings is transforming how schools are built. With the clear operational downtime windows of the school holidays already in place, there is now an opportunity to plan projects around this fixed timetable and erect entire buildings over just a few days.

Similarly, college, university and student accommodation buildings can also benefit from the consistency, quality assurance, cost management and rapid installation benefits of modular construction to fit around their budgetary and operational requirements.

The Advantages of EPDM Roofing Systems for Modular Buildings

The trend towards modular construction in both healthcare and education sectors is also prompting a need to consider the materials used in off-site fabrication and determine how appropriate they are during both the build phase and the operational phase of the asset.

Firestone’s RubberGard™ EPDM roofing system has been proven to offer distinct advantages during fabrication and installation, and throughout the lifecycle of the building.

Within the modular building factory environment, RubberGard EPDM:

• Offers virtually odour-free, solvent-free and heat/flame free installation, supporting excellent health and safety

• Enables each module to be covered using a single sheet of EPDM membrane, which has been cut to size to enable faster installation with no time-consuming seams

• Improves installation integrity and long-term performance by complete, joint-free encapsulation of each module’s roof with a single sheet of EPDM membrane

• Avoids waste by having each sheet of EPDM membrane cut to size prior to delivery, preventing any offcuts

We have developed a virtually odour-free water-based adhesive specifically for modular construction environments and our RubberGard EPDM system includes a full warm roof build up for factory installation.

During the installation phase, the RubberGard EPDM system:

• Offers excellent elongation, maintaining its flexibility in temperatures as low as -450C, ensuring it does not crack or tear during storage of transportation

• Provides superior weatherability

• Makes installation faster and easier with a full range of accessories for fixing modules together on site

• Ensures a watertight seal at the connecting point of each module thanks to QuickSeam FormFlash and Coverstrip accessories

During the operational phase, The RubberGard EPDM system:

• Offers a 50-year life expectancy

• Provides a high performance, low maintenance roofing solution

• Is BBA-accredited for a minimum service life of 30 years


Firestone’s RubberGard EPDM roofing system is used widely on both traditional and modular build projects in the healthcare and education sectors. As both sectors continue to adapt to changing needs, our EPDM technology is similarly adaptable.