How sustainable innovations are changing the way we build

Since the Stone Age, and up until now, we have witnessed phenomenal feats in the realm of construction in terms of speed, efficiency, and aesthetics. Two and a half million years ago, people lived in huts that had walls made of mud and wood. Then came the era of mechanization, which introduced machines and automation to the act of real estate construction. The advent of these machines drastically reduced the time and labor involved in construction projects. In the 20th century, structures began to build with computer-aided design (CAD) that allowed architects to create 2D and 3D illustrations of structures. Soon after, the construction ecosystem started following the digital trends to ideate, design, and execute projects.

One such sophisticated and innovative trend that allowed the construction landscape to reinvent, streamline, and optimize its work practices was the ERP system. The construction authorities were quick to realize ERP systems as the key enabler for performance excellence and shoot in productivity. Fast forward to today, design professionals are now aiming beyond efficiency and aesthetics. The latest (and most concrete) step in this direction is building greener and energy-efficient architectures using sustainable building materials that not only look appealing but also take our planet towards sustainability and environment protection. Here are a few most noteworthy sustainable innovations that are changing the way we build:

Low carbon buildings

Low carbon buildings are structures that emit little-to-no hazardous gases during their lifespan. Designers are constructing low carbon buildings, explicitly engineered with the aim to reduce greenhouse emissions. Steps that are mandatorily considered by design experts while building such energy-efficient architectures are:

  • Use of sustainable building materials, like clay and mud, that release little-to-no emissions,

  • Recycling construction waste to avoid landfills, and

  • Switching to geothermal energy for power generation.

More London Building is one such example of low carbon buildings, designed in a way to meet sustainability as the prime objective. The building uses “80 % recycling waste, recycles wasted heat to maintain the temperature of the building, reuses cooking oil, and makes use of solar thermal panels on the rooftop. “

Construction waste recycling

Construction waste abandoned into the landfills comprises of surfeit products left from the site, refurbishment, demolition, and other chemically treated materials that harm the environment, causing air and water pollution. To fix this issue, designers are embracing construction waste recycling. Construction waste recycling is nothing but reusing the waste products for the development of the same product or for other useful purposes. By recycling construction waste and using recyclable material, architects are not only saving our environment but are also ensuring higher profits. For example, mushrooms are emerging as a useful material in the construction sector, serving as excellent insulators. Needless to say that in addition to insulation, economic benefits through power and cost savings are being realized as well. A New York based biomaterials company that specializes in green technologies made use of mushrooms to build a tiny house, the Mushroom Tiny House.

Energy efficient architecture

Energy efficient architecture includes designs that pay heed to resource usage, take care of energy generation and consumption patterns, and also quash the need for unsustainable energy supplies. The ultimate aim is to cause minimal negative environmental impact. One such thoughtful product that is built to support environmental sustainability from ThinkPhi is helping architects and designers create energy efficient architecture. The company has introduced the world’s smartest canopy, designed to serve purposes that go beyond a canopy’s primary function of offering shade. Along with impressive aesthetics, the company has designed the product in a way that makes rainwater harvesting and solar energy utilization possible too. The inverted canopy not only accumulates rainwater and filters it but also taps into solar energy, stores it in Li-ion batteries and utilizes it for various needs including device charging and ambient lighting.

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing or 3D printing is basically joining materials layer-by-layer immediately, one after another, to create 3D models. With the ability to create 3D models without using hazardous chemical materials, 3D printing is helping manufacturers to cut down fuel emissions and reduce waste to a large extent. Besides, 3D printing has the potential of reusing plastic waste, which allows manufacturers not only to save money but also minimize any adverse environmental impact. Realizing the potential of additive manufacturing, Singapore bolsters the construction of 3D printing to achieve mass design production while not compromising on sustainability.

Sustainable development of buildings will transcend the definition of space, taking it beyond a place to live or work. Sustainably built spaces will contribute to the quality of our environment, our ecosystem, and our day-to-day life.

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