In economic terms, the construction industry is a good measure of the country’s prospects and progress. To sustain momentum and ensure growth, it’s important that researchers and decision-makers keep looking for the most innovative ways to cut costs and improve build quality to stave off stagnation during longer periods of austerity. Here’s a few of their recent discoveries.
An exceedingly useful tool for both new builds and existing redevelopment projects, laser scanning allows the user to take pinpoint measurements of objects and the space between them onsite. Using these calculations, a computer can then recreate the space to a near-perfect degree of accuracy. Laser scanning is not only a much faster process than the traditional method of surveying, but it can also save on the cost too. As buildings information modelling (BIM) is set to boost planning and development, laser scanning should become an integral part of the input process, providing a wide variety of data for architects and planners to use in making design decisions.
As we saw with the ‘office of the future’ in Dubai, there’s a great deal of time, energy and money to be saved with the advent of 3D-printed constructions. Many different components, both internal and external, can be produced in specialist facilities and shipped to the site when ready. With less actual construction going on at the site, it allows much better access for the delivery of the components, reducing many a logistical headache. In addition, the cleaner, more efficient build will not only cost less, but provide a safer working environment for contractors. Construction of the Dubai project was completed in just 17 days, while a Chinese firm claims to have built 10 full-size houses in just one day And with the UN prediction that, by the year 2030, three billion people will be in need of a roof over their head, the race is on to provide a clean, sustainable and speedy method for building housing.
One of the most promising developments in sustainable building is the so-called ‘self-healing concrete’. Currently responsible for almost a tenth of the world’s global emissions, concrete not only factors into new builds but also the process of repairing existing structures too. Self-healing concrete is made by adding self-activating bacteria to the mix. It begins its lifespan as robustly as the regular kind, but it benefits from water where normal concrete would suffer. The water allows the bacteria to produce limestone, repairing its own cracks and strengthening the composition. By using it to repair existing structures and to create new ones, this exciting development for concrete should see it remain as the world’s most widely used material without the need to consider a more sustainable replacement. While the material is in limited testing stages, it’s not yet been proven in the field – and it’s costly too – but further work on self-healing concrete could mean an astonishing breakthrough for an industry that’s always looking to up its environmental game.