Ecological, Sustainable Technology, Futuristic: The Construction Industry is Changing

 

ECOLOGICAL, SUSTAINABLE, FUTURISTIC: THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY IS CHANGING

In the construction industry, digitalization is a megatrend leading to fascinating innovations. The latest technologies, tools and building materials are to be used to build faster, more resource-efficiently and digitally in the future. The associated complex transformations and challenges of digital upheaval are also in the foreground. The Swiss investment analytics company ALPORA gives an insight into the dynamic change in the construction industry.

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1. INNOVATIVE BUILDING TECHNOLOGIES OF THE FUTURE

DIGITAL CONSTRUCTION: A TREND THAT YOU CANNOT PASS!

The construction sector is facing enormous challenges in view of the rapidly increasing world population, labor shortages and global megatrends. New building technologies and materials are being researched and developed at an incredible rate. This acceleration in technology is leading to a fundamental digital transformation in the construction industry.

Which factors lead to a significant change in the traditional building and construction landscape?

Nowadays, customers are aware of the rapidly changing markets and so there are more and more rapidly changing customer expectations and constantly increasing customer requirements, which prompt companies to act quickly. However, not only has customer behavior changed, but also advanced technologies are changing the construction industry significantly. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can compensate for existing inefficiencies and low productivity rates. Falling costs for sensors, software and hardware and the associated increase in efficiency offer the construction industry new and valuable opportunities. The support of robotics , additive printing , augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are also among the powerful technologies of today. Then there are the up-and-coming start-up companies that use technology trends to develop helpful solutions and offer new potential market opportunities. On the basis of these factors, environmental impacts in the construction industry can be minimized with digitalization. In addition, stricter legal regulations with regard to CO² emissions and energy efficiency can be complied with at the same time. 

THESE TOP TRENDS INFLUENCE AND MOVE CONSTRUCTION TECHNOLOGY

THE BIM METHOD IS CURRENTLY THE MOST IMPORTANT CONSTRUCTION TREND TOPIC

Building Information Modeling (BIM) in German " Building Information Modeling " is an intelligent process based on a 3D model that provides information and tools for the planning, construction, coordination and management of a building using software. This planning method allows architects, engineers and general contractors to map the entire life cycle of a building with virtual and digital building information. This holistic approach conceals an important success factor for sustainable construction projects. The implementation of BIM and its use has continued to increase in recent years and is gaining acceptance in Europe. Nevertheless, the digital transformation remains a multidimensional challenge for many companies. In Germany, for example, the institute supports Fraunhofer-Allianz Bau digital change and provides innovative solutions for the construction industry. In particular, to pave the way to digitalization for small and medium-sized construction companies so that they can also benefit from the far-reaching advantages.

 

THE 3D CONCRETE PRINTING BOD2 AS A NEWCOMER OF THE SECOND GENERATION

The PERI company uses its BOD2, the world's only printer, 3D concrete second-generation primarily for residential construction and prints the walls of a building. Already fully CE-certified, it is also ideally suited for the production of specific precast concrete parts. With a high level of planning security and printing speed, the coordination efforts and thus the project times of a building are greatly reduced. In addition, quick and easy integration of other trades such as insulation material or cable ducts can be offered. It has a tangential control, which makes it possible to print extremely smooth surfaces. In addition, normal concrete and mortar up to a grain size of 8 mm can be used and therefore the use of special 3D printing material is no longer required. Another advantage of the BOD2 compared to other 3D printers is the considerable time savings, since the robot arm printer has been replaced with a portal system, which means that the calibration process is no longer necessary. In addition, the BOD2 from 2.5 m modules can be flexibly configured in all 3 dimensions, i.e. the printer can also be easily expanded.

AEROGEL - THE ALL-ROUND MATERIAL IN FOCUS

The interdisciplinary research institute of the ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) for materials science and technology development (EMPA) developed the micro-building material airgel, which opens up numerous new application possibilities in the high-tech industry. EMPA researchers were able to successfully produce 3D printed parts from silica aerogels and silica composite materials. Consisting of light and porous foams, the silica airgel is used as an excellent thermal insulation material in the areas of microelectronics, robotics and sensor technology. The micro-building material of the future has improved mechanical properties and can now be drilled and milled without breaking and enables 3D-printed airgel molded parts to be reworked. The can also nanomaterial withstand fires at high temperatures, and the new, stable microstructure allows the smallest electronic components to be thermally isolated from one another. The demand for airgel is increasing in the automotive, oil and gas industries. According to Allied Market Research generated $ 701 million in global Airgel market in 2019 and is believed to reach $ 1.39 billion by 2027.


SELF-HEALING CONCRETE - Crack SEALING USING BACTERIA

Concrete is known as the most widely used mass building material of our time with far-reaching advantages. However, concrete has one serious flaw: it breaks easily under tension, causing cracks and these can endanger the mechanical properties of the construction. Year after year, there are billions in maintenance costs due to cracks in the concrete. With the invention of a self-healing bio-concrete , the Dutch scientist Hendrik Jonkers has succeeded in counteracting this problem. The inventor was inspired by living organisms that have nature's self-healing powers. From bionic research, crystalline systems and limestone-producing bacteria are used that will reliably and safely seal cracks in the future. Self-healing concrete can be used as preventive protection for fresh concrete or for crack repair.

MODERN CONSTRUCTION WITH SMART GRID AND SMART METER

Technologies today are able productivity and reliability with sensors and NFC devices to monitor (Near Field Communication) . IoT can, for example, allow machines and devices to communicate with a central data platform. Such technologies are also an intelligent city " Smart City asked." As is well known, in a smart city the quality of life of the residents and the sustainability of the city should be improved with technologies from the areas of communication, energy, mobility, urban planning and administration. In the long term, synergies should be created by networking infrastructure with digital technology, mobility and energy. Various futuristic concepts or urban city projects of the Smart City are already being developed and implemented.

A smart city also includes an intelligent power grid, the so-called “ smart grid ”. In this power grid, advanced communication technologies connect energy generation and energy consumption. Both are now intelligently coordinated with one another. A smart grid is a device that is able to interconnect all devices within a building via a communication network. Energy flows can thus be ideally controlled. As a result, renewable energy can be more easily integrated into the power grid and the grid can be utilized to an excellent degree. With the help of intelligent electricity meters, “ Smart Meters ”, real-time data on consumption can be recorded and transmitted to energy providers. In doing so, they contribute to energy efficiency and energy saving.



THE NEW WORLD OF WORK REQUIRES NEW BUILDINGS

In times of digitization, the Covid-19 pandemic and globalization, nine-to-five jobs are continuously decreasing and flexible working time models are required. This is where New Work , translated as “ New Work ”, provides a remedy for freelancers, digital nomads and creative minds. You share co-working spaces in order to take advantage of working together in an open office with flexible workplaces or work from the home office. This also means that more and more flexibility is required of the workers as well as their apartments and buildings in order to redesign rooms or buildings as quickly as possible and thus satisfy the changing needs. Necessity makes inventive and new forms of work such as agile work, crowdworking, work-life blending and knowledge workers lead to a more independent way of working, more freedom and a better work-life balance. These new forms of work have long been practiced at employers such as Microsoft and IBM in Austria or Google in Switzerland, but also at start-ups that dictate a modern way of thinking and working. With this concept from Frithjof Bergmann, companies have to adapt to adapt in order to be able to keep up with the market in the long term. 

 

 2. THE RESEARCH FIELD OF ENERGY-SAVING CONSTRUCTION

Energy-saving construction is getting more and more positive feedback because it means saving energy and using it optimally, i.e. increasing energy efficiency. In the long run, money is saved, the environment is protected and the formation of dangerous thermal bridges is prevented. In the meantime, you no longer have to do without comfort. Decisive for the construction planning is the choice of the appropriate building shape and construction method, taking into account building physics considerations, the insulation material and the heat generation. In order to create the most energy-saving building possible, one should also deal with masonry, pumps, ventilation systems including renewable energies for the utilization of passive solar generation.

GOOD INSULATION OF THE BUILDING ENVELOPE IS A BASIC REQUIREMENT

If the building envelope leaks due to leaks, this can lead to a wide variety of structural damage and very high costs. Energy and heat losses should therefore be avoided as far as possible. With the help of an airtight construction method , cold outside air is to be prevented from entering the building in an uncontrolled manner, warm room air from escaping unintentionally and moist, warm room air from penetrating into insulated components. Basically, it can be said that the transmission heat losses depend on the quality of the thermal insulation.

THE BUILDING SHAPE IS NOT TO BE NEGLECTED

The choice of the building shape is also crucial and should definitely be taken into account during construction planning. Compact building shapes that keep the external surface of the building as small as possible are advantageous.

SAVE ENERGY WITH A MONOLITHIC DESIGN

The monolithic construction is also called solid construction or single-shell construction. Here the individual walls consist solely of one building material and only need to be supplemented by an external or internal layer of plaster. Since there is no mixing of several building materials, this homogeneity leads to an evident energy efficiency while adhering to a target-oriented concept and a uniform style.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the construction industry must pay more attention to ecological influencing factors in order to be able to operate profitably in the long term. With energy-saving houses or Minergie houses (Swiss construction standard with low energy requirements), energetic and ecological construction methods can be promoted and the potential for energy savings can be used. 

HOLCIM (SCHWEIZ) AG

LafargeHolcim Ltd. based in Switzerland is one of the world's largest manufacturers of building materials and develops sustainable building solutions in its six research and innovation centers. The subsidiary Holcim (Schweiz) AG deals intensively with ecological, sustainable and intelligent construction methods. 

LEGRAND SA

Legrand is a global French company that focuses on the optimization of electrical and digital building infrastructures. The group also provides solutions for ecological construction methods such as green and clean building

 


3. NEW RECYCLING TECHNOLOGIES IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

With the latest recycling technologies , the construction industry can make a significant contribution to lowering environmental pollution and the use of raw materials can be optimized. In this way, the global consumption and extraction of resources in this industry should be sustainably reduced, because energy-efficient and low-emission solutions for building use alone are not enough to effectively protect the climate. In addition, resource-saving construction methods and the use of sustainable building materials and structures are required. The entire life cycle through to disposal and recycling must be taken into account as early as the product development of the required materials, especially for composite materials.

The so-called cradle-to-cradle approach was developed by the German chemist Michael Braungart and the American architect William McDonough and stands for a continuous and consistent recycling economy. Biological cycles leave no waste behind and so this system is based on the cycle of nature. By processing waste materials, higher quality products (upcycling), but also lower quality products (downcycling) can be produced and used in a variety of ways.

In summary, it can be said that an intelligent circular economy requires innovative and sustainable solutions for recycling construction waste and material leftovers. This excess construction waste has enormous potential in high-quality raw materials that can be recovered inexpensively and refined and reprocessed without any loss of quality.

Newtecpoly Pty Ltd.

Newtecpoly is an Australian start-up that developed a plastic recycling technology called PolyWaste Technology. With the help of this innovative technology, a large number of diverse plastics from industrial, commercial, agricultural or household waste can be recycled and converted into valuable materials that would otherwise have ended up in already overcrowded landfills.

Novoloop

The California-based company develops novel recycling technologies using chemical processes to use sustainable materials for the planet. With the low-carbon Accelerated Thermal Oxidative Decomposition (ATOD ™) production process, packaging waste is transformed into new high-performance material and is used in cars, houses and shoes, among other things. 

 


4. NEW SYNTHETIC BUILDING MATERIALS & CONSTRUCTIONS

In order to meet the complex ecological and economic requirements of the 21st century, the construction industry needs not only high-tech building materials but also future-oriented building materials and building structures such as innovative facade materials. The raw material crude oil is known as an energy source for heating and as a fuel for vehicles. In addition, this valuable raw material is versatile and serves as the base material for most plastics. We encounter petroleum in almost every area of ​​daily life, be it packaging material, clothing, tablets, computers or vegetables. If you take a look at petroleum-based products in the construction industry, you will see that oil is used here in its most economical form and particularly often in the construction of composite thermal systems.

NEW BUILDING MATERIALS CHANGE THE CONSTRUCTION WORLD

In general, synthetic insulation materials are particularly durable, inexpensive, robust, flexible to process, and resistant to moisture and pressure. The low weight makes it easier to transport and install rigid foam panels made of synthetic insulation materials. These materials are particularly resistant to the effects of the weather and prevent the risk of moisture, mold or other pests. Due to their physical properties, plastics are divided into three large groups: thermoplastics, thermosets and elastomers. By processing them into rigid foam, plastics such as polystyrene (thermoplastics) and polyurethane (thermosets) are used as insulation. The most widely used synthetic insulation material is expanded polystyrene rigid foam (EPS), commonly known as Styrofoam. Here, too, as with all insulation materials, the insulating effect is created by the enclosed air.

Even if the synthetic petroleum-based building materials have a bad reputation, the modern, panel-shaped EPS insulation materials according to a study by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg and the Natureplus association surprisingly performed best, . This positive ecological balance shows the future potential of the material and was created under the point of view and the assumption that the latest EPS panels are free of the environmentally harmful flame retardant HBCD and that they are recycled after the insulation material has reached the end of its life.

CARBON CONCRETE AS A CONSTRUCTION MATERIAL OF THE FUTURE

Synthetic concrete is also known as fiber or textile concrete and has many advantages. For example, it is water-repellent, resistant to atmospheric conditions and acid, not fragile, and has an unchanged shape. New types of concrete composite materials should be more durable, more resistant, more resource-saving and as versatile as possible. For example, carbon concrete is compared to reinforced concrete rust-free , it is more resistant and it can be extracted from rocks, plants and air. A reduction of almost 50% in energy requirements and CO² emissions can be achieved in the manufacture and repair of carbon concrete. The material is highly flexible for designing building geometries, has a significantly higher tensile strength than steel and the pure carbon fibers are more temperature-resistant than conventional textile fibers. According to the current state of research, the components carbon and concrete can be separated with a purity of 98 percent and thus easily recycled.

BASF SE

With its Neopor® facade insulation panels enriched with graphite particles, the globally active chemical company BASF is launching new synthetic high-performance insulation materials on the market. These are not only more efficient than conventional white EPS, but also offer improved product properties and are HBCD-free.

SCHWENK Zement GmbH & Co. KG

SCHWENK Zement is a cement manufacturer from southern Germany and strives to continuously develop new building structures such as cement, concrete and special building materials. Their product innovations currently include new types of insulating and lightweight concretes as well as cements, acid-resistant concretes, alternative processes for old concrete recycling and 3D printing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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