The Future of Sustainable Building in the Construction Industry

By shakir_williams on 02/21/2018

builders with hard hats in construction industry

Technology is ever changing with one goal in mind: to prepare us for a more sustainable future. Engineers have worked hard to create new and advanced innovations to move infrastructures toward a greener future. From drones, to smart technologies like self-charging roads, electric cars, and smart home automation systems. But these technological changes don’t stop there as they have made their way into the construction industry. And I’m not just talking about nano-bots that can build skyscrapers (although that would be cool). These are innovations that will change the future of the building industry for good. Take a look at some of the neat future technologies happening in construction!

Concrete

missing cement

Did you know that the production of cement results in an alarming amount of greenhouse gases, especially CO2 (Carbon Dioxide)? But in response to a growing environmental consciousness, leaders in the construction world are seeking new and innovative building solutions. And not only to reduce our carbon footprint, but to conserve our non-renewable resources as well.

Concrete is literally used to build everything: the streets you drive on, the sidewalks you walk on, the parking lot you park on, the house you live in, and the building you work in. I’m sure now you can understand the importance of finding a material that is not only environmentally friendly, but sustainable for years to come.

Green Concrete

cleaning cement floor

When people talk about “green” concrete. What exactly do they mean? Green concrete refers to a greener approach to the production process of cement. Due to the substantial amount of CO2 emissions that occur during the production process, green concrete uses recycled materials to reduce them.

They do so by using industrial waste byproducts like ash (from burning coal), and other waste products from iron manufacturing. Not only does using recycled materials help reduce CO2 emissions, but it also prevents million of tons of waste from going to landfills a year. 

If you’re interested in learning how you can join the green building movement, check out our blog:

concrete building

Self- Healing Concrete

Concrete is the single most used construction material in the world. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t seem to last very long. Concrete is extremely susceptible to cracking due to long periods of extreme heat or cold. How many pot holes, and cracks in the road have you encountered in your lifetime? In addition, the costs to repair cracks and deterioration caused by the weather can be expensive. But technology is changing that.

Created in 2010, self-healing concrete is made with of a substance that will harden and fill up any cracks that form. Not only is this concrete cost effective and durable, but it could have huge environmental impacts, as it could reduce concrete production, and ultimately reduce the world’s carbon emissions.

This kind of concrete allows rainfall to dissolve directly into the ground. Traditionally when it rained heavy, it would wash trash, debris, gasoline, and 

cracked cement ground

other pollutants directly into the sewers, ultimately polluting the rivers and streams. The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPAct realized this and have worked with engineers to create a concrete that could help filter the pollutants through the soil. And soil just so happens to be nature’s filter.

Water Permeable Concrete

environmentally friendly permeable eco concrete

Permeable concrete is a great replacement for asphalt especially in parking lots. They are also great for green rooftops because they are so absorbent. In addition to decreasing the amount of rain water run-off, its lighter color makes it cooler during hotter seasons.

Did you know that using sustainable materials scores you points with LEED certification? Learn more about the certification process here!

3-D Printed Houses

I am sure you are familiar with 3D printing, but have you seen it being used on such a large scale, like a house? In the past, these machines have been able to build scaled-down prototypes. But now, a Dutch architecture firm has launched a project to build a large 3D printer that can build a fully functioning Dutch home.

By replacing the plastic material that small-scaled 3D printers use with concrete, this printer can build an entire home in less than 24 hours.

3D house printing

Brick Laying Robots

robot laying bricks

These robots have the ability to build the brick shell of a house in two days. That’s an astounding 1,000 bricks an hour! Similar to a 3D printer, the robot follows cues from a digital model in order to cut the bricks to size, mortar them, and lay them precisely. Does this mean that machines will be able to match humans in every aspect of the building industry?

Carbon Nano Tubes 

bridge

carbon nano tubes

Scientists and engineers have created carbon nano tubes that are flexible enough to fit inside different building materials like wood, glass, metal, concrete, etc. These walls are fascinatingly small, at only one nanometer thick. One sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick, so you can imagine how thin this new material must be.

In addition to their flexibility, when combined, these nano tubes have the highest strength to weight ratio of any material. They are so light and strong, that engineers are embedding them into other building materials with sensors. These sensors can monitor stresses in building materials allowing them to detect fractures before they even occur. Cool huh?

Transparent Aluminum

bullet proof transparent aluminum glass

This cool innovative technology combines the durability and strength of metal with the purity of glass. This material is being used to construct buildings, high towers, aquariums, and more. Already being used by the military on their armored vehicles, transparent aluminum can provide bulletproof protection.

Clear aluminum material can stop a round from an anti-aircraft gun, and it's half as heavy and thick as bullet-resistant glass.

Green Insulation

aerogel green insulation material

Scientists have created a synthetic lightweight material with the ability to insulate and withstand very high temperatures. This material, called Aerogel, was originally manufactured at a 

aerogel green insulation material

size no bigger than the back of an iPad. But now aerogel technologies have become commercially available, and are being marketed to replace plastic.

Aerogel is produced when all of the water is removed from gel, leaving the substance silica. Because the material is 90 to 99% air, Aerogel is practically weightless, and can be an eco-friendly replacement to traditional insulation. 

These are but a few of the newest innovative technologies in the building industry. As the need for efficiency increases, engineers will continue developing new and improved building solutions.

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3D Printed Houses