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The Offsite Construction Summit Returns to Berkeley Bringing Industry Leadership & Education

An exclusive article from the Offsite Construction Network

Offsite construction industry stakeholders and potential end-users from around California gathered again in Berkeley for the latest Offsite Construction Summit, presented by the Offsite Construction Network and the Modular Building Institute. Hosted by the University of California - Berkeley on June 5, this first Summit of 2024 offered a full day of invaluable networking and discussion about the potential—and urgent need—for modular and offsite construction in California, around the West Coast, and even Hawai’i.

Understanding the Offsite Construction Landscape in California and Beyond

The Offsite Construction Summit started with Lynn von Kock-Liebert, Executive Director of the California Strategic Growth Council, and Tyler Pullen, Senior Technical Advisor at Terner Housing Innovation Labs. Together, they presented “Inside California’s Climate-Conscious Push to Expand Factory-Built Construction: Optimizing for Affordability.” Their session set the stage for the day as it underscored the State’s efforts to expand offsite construction factories to help meet its goal of 2.5 million housing units, as well as detailing the regulatory headwinds groups like the Strategic Growth Council face when pushing for the greater adoption of offsite construction.

The next speaker, Stuart Emmons of Oregon-based Emmons Design, discussed how to put together a successful, replicable modular affordable housing project. His presentation—grounded in case studies from successful projects in California, Oregon, and Georgia—covered standardization, regulatory constraints, MEP systems integration, panelization, constructability, transport/set, site/factory responsibilities and coordination, and other aspects of modular building delivery.

After one of several networking breaks, Stack Modular president Jim Dunn took the stage and dove into the finer details of modular pre-construction, outlining critical steps to successful project team communication and planning.

Three additional presentations took place in the afternoon. During the first, Autovol co-founder and CEO Rick Murdock spoke about his company’s work with automation and the evolving state of automation within the offsite construction industry.

“It was a positive experience,” said Murdock. “I enjoyed the collaboration between others who have similar interests and who work to benefit the industry.”

And for Murdock, the value of attending went beyond being able to present. “I believe the value to Autovol is the connectivity we receive with others and the ongoing education of what is happening in the industry.”

The day was capped by two final presentations from Randall Thompson, senior preconstruction manager at NibbiPrefab, and Timothy Nguyen, architect at Modulux Homes. Thompson spoke about the success Nibbi Bros., a large general contractor in California, has had with offsite construction and benefits they’re seeing from incorporating industrialized methods. Nguyen then presented his company’s work using offsite construction to help the residents of Maui recover from the devastating wildfires in 2023.

Meeting the Offsite Industry

Besides the speakers, the Offsite Construction Summit also offered a variety of industry exhibitors. One exhibitor in Berkeley, modular manufacturer Guerdon, has a long history with the Offsite Construction Summits. “[These Summits offer] plenty of opportunity to have meaningful discussions and connect with these industry leaders,” said Guerdon’s director of marketing, Paul Dille. “If you are a developer or general contractor wanting to explore modular construction, this is the place to be.”

In addition, the Offsite Construction Network’s 2024 Berkeley Summit featured nearly two dozen additional exhibitors, including All Weather Architectural Aluminum, Bernards, Cadet Heating, Copperfit Industries, Domatic, Guerdon, Huff Construction Company, ICC NTA, Irontown Homes, McFly Materials, MiTek, ModCribs, Nashua Builders, Phoenix Modular Elevator, ROC Modular, ROCKWOOL, Roman Products, Roof and Realm, Service Partners, Soukup, Stack Modular, Synergy Modular, UrbanBloc, and US-Offsite.

"ROC Modular had a booth so I was able to have lots of great conversations with people stopping by," said Rhys Kane, director of business development for ROC Modular. "I met with architects, developers, modular industry friends, MBI folks... It was great to meet the team from the California Strategic Growth Council and learn about the amazing initiative they have for the State’s housing and climate goals."

“I’m very happy with this event. We’ve gotten great feedback so far, and I’ve seen lots of good conversations taking place,” said executive director Tom Hardiman. “I’m always encouraged when we can grow an event like this, and it’s definitely bigger than last year. And that wasn’t even nine months ago!"

More Offsite Construction Summits to Come in 2024

Three more Offsite Construction Summits are planned for 2024, with the next taking place on June 20 in Minneapolis, MN.

“It’ll be the first time for us in Minneapolis,” said Hardiman. “There’s a tremendous amount of interest in modular and offsite construction there, a great new modular factory about to be built, tons of talent…I think it’s going to be great event.”

And then, in September, the Offsite Construction Network returns to Denver for one of its biggest events of the year. “Next up for us is the Summit in Denver,” said Guerdon’s Paul Dille. “It’s always well attended, and it has become a must-attend event with a solidified place on our calendar.”

Learn more about the upcoming Offsite Construction Summit in Minneapolis—and the other Summits planned for Denver and Atlanta—at offsiteconstructionnetwork.com/events.

photo from the Offsite Construction Summit in Berkeley, CA, on June 5, 2024
Randall Thompson from NibbiPrefab spoke about the inherent advantages of project standardization
photo from the Offsite Construction Summit in Berkeley, CA, on June 5, 2024
Architect Timothy Nguyen spoke about Modulux Homes' involvement in the rebuilding of Maui using offsite construction following its recent wildfires
photo from the Offsite Construction Summit in Berkeley, CA, on June 5, 2024
The Summit not only offered education, but multiple opportuniies for connection and networking
photo from the Offsite Construction Summit in Berkeley, CA, on June 5, 2024
ROC Modular and the International Code Council are two frequent exhibitors at the Offsite Construction Summit

About the Author: John McMullen, PCM, is the marketing director for the Offsite Construction Network. You can reach him at mcmullen@hardimanwilliams.com.

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