The Modular Building Institute (MBI) has been the trade association representing the commercial modular building industry since 1983. Throughout the years, MBI has helped its members in a number of ways but the greatest contribution has been MBI’s involvement in state and federal legislative matters. As stated by the MBI, “the government affairs efforts give our members the opportunity to help shape the rules that govern their business, and do so in a cost effective and coordinated manner.” The following information is from the MBI’s June 2012 Government Affairs Committee Report as reported by Tom Hardiman, Executive Director of the MBI.
Department of Veterans Affairs – In 2010, the Modular Building Institute had the opportunity to testify in front of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee to discuss construction practices within the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. The MBI believed the Department of Veterans’ Affairs could greatly increase efficiency and reduce construction costs by adopting changes to their construction practices, specifically by incorporating a Design-Build process vs. a Design-Bid-Build process. Due to pressure by MBI and DBIA, the Government Accountability Office announced that they will review the construction policies of the VA. MBI was also able to get the following language included in the MilCon Report which accompanies the FY 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act:
“Military Construction Project Delivery. — the Committee is aware that the design-build project delivery method is conducted under one guaranteed contract, offers fast track aspects, cost savings, and decreased litigation claims. The Design-Build method reduces construction costs, speeds up construction time and guarantees quality in all measured categories. Therefore, the Committee encourages the use of this method, when appropriate, in order to provide greater efficiency, lower life cycle costs, and expedite construction, repairs and alterations of Federal buildings.”
As a direct result of this lobbying effort, Dennis Milsten Deputy Director for Programs and Planning Service at the Office of Construction and Facilities for Veterans’ Affairs asked the industry to identify language in their Construction Specification Guides that would preclude modular construction. His intention is to change their Construction Specifications so both traditional and modular construction can bid on a building. Additionally, Jay Sztuk, Director of Cost Estimating Service at the Office of Construction and Facilities has asked for MBI’s help with his initiative to develop standard modular specifications that would be the building blocks for VA medical clinics.
PMC Language Included in MilCon Appropriations Report – MBI worked with several members of Congress including Representative John Carter of Texas and Marlin Stutzman of Indiana, to ensure that permanent modular construction and other alternative forms of construction were given equal opportunity as traditional construction. As a result, the following language was included on page 16 of the FY 2013 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act:
“Facilities management, life-cycle costs, and construction method alternatives.—The Committee believes that the military construction program best serves both our military personnel and the taxpayers when projects are open to competitive bidding from contractors representing the widest possible range of construction methods. To that end, the Committee urges the Department of Defense and the execution agents for military construction, principally the Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, to ensure that requests for proposals or qualifications do not arbitrarily foreclose, discourage, or privilege any type of construction method. The Committee continues to encourage a level playing field for both traditional construction methods and alternative methods such as permanent modular construction.”
ICC Guideline for Relocatable Buildings –MBI continues to work with the ICC’s Guideline team on the beginning phases of a new guideline. Tentatively, the document is titled “ICC Guideline for the Administration of Relocatable Buildings”. This document will serve as a best practices guide for states with administrative programs and possibly serve as a template for states without a program but considering one. Before the ink dries on the 2012 International Green Construction Code (IgCC), it will be open again for possible changes to be considered to the 2015 edition. This process begins anew in October 2012, with comments due by January 3, 2013. The MBI will be seeking the building size exemption that we were not able to get in the first edition.
It is certainly true that the MBI has contributed to the commercial modular industry in many ways, however, none are as valuable as the contribution in the legislative areas for both federal and state issues. As a modular manufacturing and construction company, Ramtech Building Systems, Inc. has been active in the MBI’s legislative activity for permanent modular construction since 1984, and two of the most pressing issues involve the restrictions that Federal Agencies put on the use of permanent modular buildings and the ICC legislation regarding relocatable buildings.