Skip to main content
Book cover

WCFS2020 pp 43–66Cite as

Floating Modular Housing to Address Demand and Affordability

  • 776 Accesses

Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE,volume 158)


Increasing population, urbanization, and desire for coastal living creates an annual demand for housing units in coastal cities around the world that is not currently being met. The United States alone needs approximately 5 million new apartments by 2030, and the problems of housing availability and affordability are greatest in the coastal cities. These are also some of the most expensive cities in which to build housing due to limited land and constraints on materials and labor. The rate that housing must be produced in coastal cities is challenged with current construction and land use practices. Globally, a few companies are producing floating housing; none appear to be focusing on permanent, large-scale floating housing. Black & Veatch proposes developing floating housing communities constructed using innovative modular approaches to provide affordable and climate resilient housing. Housing construction costs can be significantly reduced compared to traditional, land based, “stick built” construction methods. Housing built in low-cost locations on floating platforms can be moved to urban areas and moored at shore or in open water to provide thousands of new housing units at affordable costs. Although similar solutions have been successfully deployed by others, no one appears to be addressing the affordable housing need at the scale proposed here.


  • Modular
  • Housing
  • Coastal
  • Affordable
  • Resilient

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-16-2256-4_3
  • Chapter length: 24 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   149.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-16-2256-4
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   199.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   279.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12
Fig. 13
Fig. 14
Fig. 15


  1. 1.

    Average Median Income is a metric calculated by the Unites States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to determine the income eligibility requirements of federal housing programs. The value calculation is based on the estimated area median family income.

  2. 2.

    Calculated based on Regional Housing Needs Allocations for Very Low and Low Income. Total housing required for the cycle divided by number of years in cycle.

  3. 3.

    Social vulnerability refers to the resilience of communities when confronted by external stresses on human health, stresses such as natural or human-caused disasters or disease outbreaks. Reducing social vulnerability can decrease both human suffering and economic loss.

  4. 4.

    HBG is a California based firm that designs, manufactures, and builds modular affordable housing.

  5. 5.

    A microgrid is a group of interconnected loads and distributed energy resources within clearly defined electrical boundaries that acts as a single controllable entity with respect to the grid. A microgrid can connect and disconnect from the grid to enable it to operate in both grid-connected or island-mode.

  6. 6.

    Advanced waste water treatment process used by cruise ships provide a level of treatment similar to municipal treatment plants [15]. Smaller systems of 200,000 gallons per day (equivalent to 730 units respectably using per capita approach) can cost up to 35% more depending on the nitrogen removal than a small central wastewater treatment of 1.5 million gallons per day [16, 17].

  7. 7.

    Steam desalination or reverse osmosis is used to produce potable water, in addition to cruise ships, both technologies are also used to provide water for communities with limited water supplies. Historically the cost for reverse osmosis has been high compared with traditional processes but they are becoming more prevalent as cities have no choice as their water supply shifts to sources with increased saline content (brackish aquifers, seawater) and other pollutants that require more advanced treatment to meet the required quality standards [18, 19]. Sandia National Laboratories and the United States Department of Interior, Bureau of Reclamation identified cost reduction and decentralization of the potable water supply as components of the Desalination and Water Purification Technology Roadmap [19]. The increased use desalination in lieu of the traditional method and the move towards decentralized supply will mean that the cost to produce potable water for floating housing will not be higher than land-based housing.


  1. LeRoy S, Wiles R et al (2019) High tide tax: the price to protect coastal communities from rising seas. Cent Clim Integrity Resilient Anal. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  2. First Street Foundation (2020) The first national flood risk assessment: defining America’s growing risk. First Street Foundation. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  3. Walter C (2017) Apartment demand: national multifamily housing council vision for 2030. In: Paper presented at the National Multifamily Housing Council OPTECH conference & exposition, Las Vegas, NV, 25–27 Oct 2017

    Google Scholar 

  4. Aurand A et al (2019) The gap: a shortage of affordable homes. National Low Income Housing Coalition. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  5. Titus JG et al (2009) Coastal sensitivity to sea-level rise: a focus on the mid-atlantic region. U.S. climate change science program synthesis and assessment product 4.1. U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  6. Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER) (2020) The council for community and economic research. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  7. California Department of Housing and Community Development (2020) Regional housing needs allocation and housing elements. Available via Accessed 20 Aug 2020

  8. Bretz L (2017) Climate change and homes: who would lose the most to a rising tide? Zillow. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  9. Kulp SA, Strauss BH (2019) New elevation data triple estimates of global vulnerability to sea-level rise and coastal flooding. Nat Commun 10:4844. Available via Accessed 01 Sept 2020

  10. Green LR (1977) Fuelbreaks and other fuel modification for wildland fire control. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Agricultural Handbook No. 499

    Google Scholar 

  11. Hecht J (1997) The environmental effects of freight. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Available via Accessed 01 July 2020

  12. Garcia VY, Dufo-Lopez R, Bernal-Agustin J (2019) Energy management in microgrids with renewable energy sources: a literature review. Dig J Mol Med.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  13. Azevedo de Almeida B, Mostafavi A (2016) Resilience of infrastructure systems to sea-level rise in coastal areas: impacts, adaption measures, and implementation challenges. Dig J Mol Med.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  14. Woetzel J, Ram S, Mischke J, Garemo N, Sankhe S (2014) A blueprint for addressing the global affordable housing challenge. McKinsey Global Institute, MicKinsey & Company. Available via Accessed 10 Sept 2020

  15. King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks Wastewater Treatment Division (2007) Cruise Ship Wastewater Management Report. Available via Accessed 09 Sept 2020

  16. Benefield LA (2002) Rule development committee issue research report draft: residential flow rates. Washington State Department of Health wastewater management program. Available via Accessed 10 Sept 2020

  17. Barnstable County Wastewater Cost Task Force (2010) Comparison of costs for wastewater management systems applicable to cape cod: guidance to cape cod towns undertaking comprehensive wastewater management planning. Available via Accessed 09 Sept 2020

  18. Luthy RG, Wolfand JM, Bradshaw JL (2020) Urban water revolution: sustainable water futures for California Cities. J Environ Eng 146(7):04020065

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  19. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Sandia National Laboratories (2003) Desalination and water purification technology roadmap: a report of the executive committee. Desalination & Water Purification Research & Development Program Report #95. Available via Accessed 05 Sept 2020

  20. Reid C (2020) The costs of affordable housing production: insights for California’s 9% low-income housing tax credit program. Terner Center for Housing Innovation. Available via Accessed 08 Sept 2020

  21. Li R (2019) SF is one of the most expensive places in the world to build housing. Here’s why. San Francisco Chronical. Available via Accessed 07 Sept 2020

  22. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (2019) The State of the Nation’s Housing 2019. Available via Accessed 06 Sept 2020

  23. Burnside OH, Pomerening DJ (1984) Survey of experience using reinforced concrete in floating marine structures. Ship Structure Committee report SSC-321. Available via Accessed 07 Sept 2020

  24. San Francisco Public Works (2016) San Francisco fire department: earthquake safety and emergency response (ESER) 2014 Fire Station 35-Boathouse Presentation to Port Commission, 12 July 2016. Available via Accessed 05 Sept 2020

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jagmeet Khangura .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this paper

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this paper

Khangura, J., Haney, J. (2022). Floating Modular Housing to Address Demand and Affordability. In: Piątek, Ł., Lim, S.H., Wang, C.M., de Graaf-van Dinther, R. (eds) WCFS2020. Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering, vol 158. Springer, Singapore.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-16-2255-7

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-16-2256-4

  • eBook Packages: EngineeringEngineering (R0)