In early May, BuiltWorlds released the 2023 Building Tech Report, highlighting the most popular trends in both emerging and legacy technologies that assist in planning & design, construction, and operations & building maintenance. Within this report is aggregated data that was compiled from BuiltWorlds' first-ever Building Technology Survey, which is designed to assess the various solution players that are being implemented within the AEC industry. When analyzing the data within the survey, our team identified multiple trends in relation to general contractors, speciality contractors, and engineering firms’ use of innovative tech and solutions. Three of the most commonly noted categories were: High-Performance Materials, Planning & Design, and Energy Systems & HVAC. In this piece, we will be taking a deeper look into these three solutions, along with noting a common form of application within each category respectively.
To have a more extensive understanding of this content, we encourage you to read the full 2023 Building Tech Report. Another resource to check out and join is BuiltWorlds’ Building Tech Forum. This serves as a space for individuals of all company types to connect, share their expertise within the industry, and discuss occurring innovation.
High-Performance Materials are innovative materials and products used within modern building construction that have an impact on the design and construction of more environmentally-conscious buildings. Some of the most commonly used materials within the built world, such as concrete, steel, and timber, leave a negative impact on the environment and increase CO2 emissions significantly. This is why there is a growing interest for exploring innovative materials to traditional construction methods, while still remaining durable and cost-effective.
Low Carbon Concrete
As its name implies, Low carbon concrete has a lower Global Warming Potential (GWP) compared to standard concrete. This can be produced by reducing the amount of cement or using alternative binders within the concrete. The production of traditional cement releases a significant amount of carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. An example of this is the product ECOPact by Holcim, which can reduce the embodied carbon of buildings, infrastructure, and homes by up to 90%, without relying on offsets. Along with the environmental benefits associated with low carbon concrete, it is important to note the additional benefits that it has to offer. Low carbon concrete also increases the durability of and longevity of structures, heightening the resilience of a structure and reducing maintenance costs overtime. It can also help to meet regulatory requirements to achieve green building certifications, such as LEED or BREEAM.
Planning & Design
Planning & Design is made up of digital tools and software that assist project teams from pre-construction to turnover of a project. These tools empower its users to visualize their projects long before beginning the build and are used for project management, cost estimation, scheduling, and communication. This is a critical component of modern construction that affects all projects and their potential outcomes.
Building Energy Modeling (BEM)
Within the building tech industry, Building Energy Modeling (BEM) has boundless potential despite its low adoption rate. At its core, BEM is a process that is used to evaluate building design options while optimizing energy performance. Users are able to simulate building energy systems and leverage solutions that offer the highest system feasibility for the project, while lowering greenhouse gas emissions and potential costs. By finding the optimized building design, this ensures that the project will adhere to energy codes and regulations. One Click LCA is a solution that offers both BEM and BIM integrations to allow teams to assess the life cycle of their buildings automatically.
Energy Systems & HVAC
Energy Systems/HVAC refers to a range of technologies that seeks to monitor building MEP (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) systems for criteria such as energy consumption, indoor air quality, and overall building performance. These systems have the ability to track energy usage during construction and after project turnover, although contractors and owners/operators often use separate solutions. Energy Systems/HVAC made up of categories including monitoring, modeling, sensor hardware, and geothermal solutions.
Geothermal Heating & Cooling
Geothermal Heating & Cooling technology is one of the oldest types of power, dating back to the discovery of hot springs, and is viewed as a more efficient and sustainable option than traditional HVAC systems. The United States is currently leading the pack in installed geothermal capacity, with over 3.7 GW. A first-of-its-kind geothermal apartment complex project in Brooklyn, developed by LendLease, is set to be complete in 2025 and will be the largest residential apartment complex in the U.S. that will be using geothermal energy for heating and cooling. This project has an immense amount of potential and could be the blueprint for net zero complexes of the future.
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The 2023 Paris Summit will be centered around global companies pushing innovation to disrupt the industry, sustainability initiatives and technology within the built world, venture funds' role within the sector, and much more.