Some Modular Data Center vendors would lead you to believe that a modular design is a guarantee to lower cost, less time to build, and reduces waste.
Modular uses Prefab construction ideas. An article written by Postgreen Home's President Chad Ludeman provides some details on what is possible in home construction using Prefab. The perspective given is prefab used in a modern home.
Some nuggets that will get you thinking.
.... Since prefab is built in a factory they claim to create much less waste by setting aside their scrap and reusing it in other projects. What they do not often advertise is that their structures use 20% – 30% more raw materials than stick-built homes in order to withstand transportation. That’s no small figure in my book, especially considering that even if there is waste on-site with stick-built homes you can now easily hire a waste removal company that will recycle 90%+ of your construction waste.ess aste...I recently walked through a delivered prefab with the owner and he offered me pallets of free OSB because he had so much extra and had no idea what he was going to do with it. I’m sure every prefab company is not this sloppy, but it is another indication of waste in an industry claiming extreme efficiency.
Quality Stock Plans
The first place to start when trying to streamline and cut costs from any building project is with high-quality building plans from qualified architects. If every detail down to the last sheet of drywall and bucket of paint is nailed down and proven out in each set of plans, it becomes much easier for a GC to provide the best price from his crew and any subcontractors that are hired for the job. This can not be undervalued, since any uncertainty on the part of those bidding on the project will instantly up the quotes. This is where prefab gets most of the efficiency gains in their process, by building exactly the same home over and over. They know exactly how much material and how much labor goes into each home plan in their library of options.
If you don't agree with this author you can rebuttals here.