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6 Innovative Construction Trends that Will Blow your Mind

Trends in commercial construction are constantly evolving.  Advances in technology are leading to projects that can be completed with a sustainable footprint in less time, for less money and in a much safer way than ever before.  At Highlands Master Builders, we get excited about the latest innovative concepts because they have the potential to make a historical impact on the commercial construction industry.

Below are 6 cutting-edge trends that we think will improve construction projects in 2019 and beyond.

Self-Healing Concrete

Concrete is old school. It’s one of the oldest and most commonly used materials in construction. There are many reasons why, such as it’s durability and ability to mold into just about anything.

The down side, though, is that exposure to inclement weather produces cracks and can ultimately jeopardize the integrity of a building. Over time, this can lead to costly maintenance or structural collapse.

In 2015, Dutch scientist Hendrik Jonkers came up with the idea that concrete should be able to fix its own cracks. His inspiration? Jonkers thought of concrete like the human bone and admired how fractured bones heal themselves, naturally, through a process called mineralization. The solution he came up with uses a limestone-producing bacterium to fill cracks when exposed to water and air. The self-healing concrete can be used in new construction and existing structural repairs. This innovation will take modern architecture and commercial construction to a whole new level.

Thermal Bridging

We picked this one because it’s a trend that can increase the value of any construction project, instantly. The effective insulation material is almost becoming a norm in the construction industry today.  Not only does it increase insulation thickness, it also eliminates the risk of surface condensation at cold spots. Condensation, if not managed, can lead to mould growth which can lead to harmful allergens. In short, thermal bridging saves money, time and toxic substances from entering the body.

Photovoltaics

At HMB, we are always looking for building technologies that will add sustainable value to the neighborhoods and environments that we do business. One of the most promising renewable energy technologies is photovoltaics. Also, commonly known as PV, photovoltaics is a way to produce electricity from the sun to a building, essentially running the building envelope into a solar panel.

This type of power system reduces energy consumption, mitigates pollution and reduces all costs associated with traditional non-integrated systems.  Companies, such as Polysolar, provide transparent photovoltaic glass as structural building materials for windows, roofs, and facades.

The technology can generate electricity even when facing north and on vertical walls. Its performance improves at high temperature and can save a lot on electric bills. The cost is ‘pennies’ over traditional glass. This is because construction and framework cost does not change. The only change is in the cladding and shading system.

Kinetic Footfalls

The quest for clean alternative energy sources has found its way into the human foot. By way of kinetic tiles/ smart energy floors, people can generate off-grid electricity just by walking around.  The really interesting thing is that it can be implemented both indoors and outdoors. The technology is most suitable for areas with high traffic, like shopping malls. This technology utilizes an electromagnetic induction process with the aid of a flywheel to store energy.

Pavegen are market leaders in the kinetic paving space and have installed their product in over 150 projects worldwide. These include train stations, shopping centers, airports and numerous public spaces. During the 2012 London Olympic celebrations, there was a People-Powered Walkway, located at West Ham underground station. In 2017, Pavegen found a permanent home on London’s Bird Street in the West End and has been touted as London’s first ‘smart street.’

3D Modeling

Modern 3D modeling is a technological advancement that enables the commercial construction industry to achieve more in less time with a reduced cost. Contractors are no longer having to carry large blueprints and roll them out at presentation time. There is much more flexibility in the design process, making it easier to share designs and get immediate feedback. It’s also a more effective way to visualize what the completed project will look on the inside, as well as the exterior. Changes can be made, in minutes, such as landscaping, lighting, even décor options.

Modular Construction

This method is becoming popular with those looking for a fast, cost-effective alternative to traditional commercial construction methods. The process starts with a design concept, which is then finalized by an architect. After, the construction plans are sent to a factory where the majority of a building will be erected by using prefabricated parts.  While modules are assembled at the factory, sitework can begin at the same time, such as laying the foundation or prepping utility connections. This greatly decreases the time needed for total construction. Modular buildings are often completed 30-50% faster than conventional structures. The various components are then transported in bits and assembled on site. This process aims to limit environmental disruptions. and reduce the amount of waste and vehicles required to move materials.

This building innovation is currently in use in the UK and the US. A Chinese development company, Broad Sustainable Building, has employed this technique. The outcome was simply amazing. It produced a 57-story structure in 19 working days.