Global Construction Magazine published a grouping of new building trends that will pique the interest of even the most informed industry subject matter expert. Although they’re not quite widely-adopted and perfected, these trends are something to look out for in the near future.
1. Self-Healing Concrete
Although concrete is a strong building material, with time comes cracks and damage that can sacrifice structural integrity. Researchers have found that adding a fungus to the concrete mixture can help extend its lifecycle dramatically. This creates an opportunity to continue research with an end goal of concrete that would self-heal when any crack or weakness arises.
2. Aerogel Insulation
The somewhat unusual properties of aerogel present a nice opportunity for the built-environment through a cost-effective means to insulation. What’s especially unique about this material is its composition of 99% air and scientific-make up that removes all liquid. This offers favorable circumstances for insulating, while also allowing for cost savings due to reduced loss of heat/cold air. It’s also pretty environmentally friendly and recyclable.
3. Thermochromic Roofing
With popularity in eco-friendly buildings rising, the desire for this type of tile and roof panel has been brought back into the spotlight. It functions through changing color as it is exposed to sunlight. Basically, when the sun shines on roof tiles that are covered in the material, it will turn white and reflect the light, keeping the building beneath cooler. This represents some dramatic cost savings in the summer with a drop in the need for straining an HVAC system.
4. Virtual Reality
This may come as less of a surprise to many, as the applications of VR/AR have become an exciting, well-discussed topic across the construction community. The power of being able to put on a pair of glasses and visualize a project prior to completion is a pretty appealing notion—especially to those involved in the design, modeling and pre-construction processes.
5. Wearable Tech
The JH Greene has seen tons of benefit from this technology in Apple watches and portable devices, however Global Construction covered some other applications of wearable technology that seemed to have some influential enhancement potential on the job site. The article states that, “Although relatively new, devices such as smart vests and helmets could transform the industry by boosting productivity, efficiency and effectiveness. Daqri’s smart helmet, for example, connects people, data and machines with its pull-down smart visor.”
6. 3D Printing
Think about the impact on the industry of being able to print a full building in 24 hours—pretty major. One of the greatest advantages of 3D printing applications is that less construction is needed, it’s a way to reduce the actual costs of labor. A previous JH Greene blog covers many of the recent in’s and out’s: http://jhgreene.com/the-possibilities-of-3d-printing-in-construction/.
7. Bricklaying robots
In comparison to humans, robots are capable of laying six times as many bricks per day. A company out of New York, Construction Robotics, recently made a robot named SAM (semi-automated mason), that has output potential of laying 3,000 bricks per day. Although the robot has the ability to help projects move along rapidly, it still requires some intense supervision to make sure it’s properly set up, compliant with OSHA, and ready for complex angles.
8. Machine Learning
Many experts make the argument that machine learning will be the basis of how all work will be performed in the future. For construction in particular, teams are able to operate safer and more efficiently through streamlined activities that don’t have downtime or error. If any component of the process has an error, systems alert the operator and it can be resolved much quicker. AI-driven solutions are powering heavy equipment on-site in real time, and it’s creating better project timelines and outcomes.
9. Predictive Analytics
Risk management is a big consideration for the average construction firm. Assessing the competitive landscape of each opportunity is a forethought that racks the minds of estimating teams every day. What if this determination could be reached by a software? This seemingly far-fetched notion isn’t actually too off from reality. These tools take in data from subcontractors, material suppliers, architectural plans, and the location of a project itself to take a look at the risk factors and potential issues.
10. Internet of Things
With all the network-connectivity available through the devices we use frequently to exchange data, the opportunity for the IoT (or Internet of Things) to use embedded sensors to collate information and make future decisions is pretty impressive. In construction, there is a ton of supply replenishment information, equipment repair requirements, and remote monitoring needs that are all made apparent through the IoT. This allows us to be more responsive and informed in the construction process. Overall, the possibility for achievement from this technology is undeniable.