This month, the first modules were set at the B2 residential tower at Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn, New York. When complete, at 32 stories, it is expected to be the tallest modular building in the world.

B2 residential towerThough modular construction has been around for more than half a century – and used in everything from homes to schools to health care, hotels and retail – B2 marks the first time that a modular building will ascend this high. Currently the world’s tallest modular building is believed to be a 25-story student dorm in the U.K.

Developed by Forest City Ratner Companies and managed by Skanksa, B2 included consulting from MBI member company XSite Modular.

Amy Marks, President of XSite, said that this project is indicative of the recent growth in enthusiasm for modular construction. “In the last five years, there has been a convergence toward off-site because of many factors, including building information modeling (BIM), acceptance from some major industry players and the larger construction firms, as well as the availability of off-site consultants and builders to guide and enable conventional designers and builders to incorporate and optimize prefabricated components and modules into their build programs,” she said.

Construction on the 348,000 square-foot project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014. To build the modules, Skanska and Forest City created a new company called FC + Skanska Modular. This new company is building B2’s 930 modular components in a 150,000 square-foot factory located in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, one-and-a-half miles from the project site.

Given much of the work will take place off-site, there will be significant reduction in truck traffic, noise and dust in the community surrounding the project site. It is also estimated that modular construction will result in 70 to 90 percent less waste than traditional construction. B2 is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.

Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the Modular Building Institute , agreed that this project is representative of a game change in the construction industry. “Every major industry in the world has advanced in automation, efficiency and productivity. The construction industry has largely been the exception until now,” Hardiman said.

“We are very excited about the prospect of a 32-story modular building. This project proves what savvy investors, developers and contractors already know – that modular construction is safer and more resource efficient, and reduces the construction schedule without sacrificing quality or durability. In short, it’s greener, faster and smarter.