Green building is not just a trend anymore, it is making huge impacts all across the construction industry, whether by government regulation or market shifts. According to the US Green Building Council, the Green Construction Industry will account for 1/3 of all construction projects by the year 2018. That’s certainly something to pay attention to. But it’s not just building practices that are affected by green building trends, products are affected, as well. A startup company in Raleigh, North Carolina has a solution for the high carbon dioxide emissions created by firing bricks in kilns: growing them in a plant with bacteria and water.
BioMASON was founded by Ginger Krieg Dosier in 2012 after she took a deep look at how coral was formed, which is a very hard cement-like material grown strictly by nature. A standard brick used across the construction industry today is heated in a kiln at roughly 2000 °F (1090 °C) and most commonly use natural gas as fuel. This process has a huge impact on the environment, with some estimating up to 8% of all global carbon emissions.
Dosier’s bricks, however, require no heat to harden the material, only sand, bacteria, and water. After sand is packed into rectangular brick molds, bacteria is added, which begins a reaction that forms calcium carbonate crystals. As nutrient water is sprayed onto the molds, the crystals continue to grow, further hardening the brick. The entire process takes 4 days right now, but that is much faster than the naturally occurring process in nature.
After winning an international design award and earning a large prize for winning Richard Branson’s Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, the next big hurdle for bioMASON to pass will be the minds of construction professionals around the world. It’s not easy to get people to change from using products they’ve been using for decades, but they’re certainly going to give it a shot. In February, bioMASON is moving to a much larger facility, which will allow them to produce upwards of 5,000 bricks per day.
What would it take you to switch to using these bricks on your next job?
Full story: How This Startup Is Using Bacteria to Grow Bricks From Scratch | Inc
The USGBC recently released their 2017 data for the Top 10 US States for LEED construction, which is sorted by Gross Square Footage per Capita. That ranking system allows them to get a fair comparison of states, despite differences in population and number of buildings.
As the world not only becomes more familiar with green products, but also starts demanding them, researchers and contractors alike need to be ready to embrace the ever-changing world and meet their customer’s demands. Each year, new products are released that hoping to reduce waste or harness renewable energy sources, but only some of them reach the mass market.
Below are 8 green products, processes, and stories that we found most interesting in 2017:
Wood construction has typically been used for purely residential products in the past few decades and especially after fire protection standards became more stringent. Besides fire rating, concrete and metal has several other benefits over wood, including overall strength, resistance to insects, and resistance to rot. Wood, however, does have some advantages over concrete and steel, like its relative light weight and it’s much less harmful to the environment.
The Netherlands has a ton of bridges, especially pedestrian and biking bridges, thanks to its abundant system of canals. Perhaps because of that, they have become a leader in 3D printing technology when it comes to bridges.
Concrete is an extremely strong building material, but has a notoriously weak tensile strength. In order to resist tension, bending, and shear forces, steel rebar or other reinforcement materials are added either prior to the placement or into the mix. Even with reinforcement, concrete is still extremely rigid and prone to cracking. In the event of a major earthquake, the uneven and horizontal forces can cause structures to crack and, in the worst case, cause failure.
Concrete can adapt to any shape its formwork calls for while it’s being placed. While it’s POSSIBLE to make intricate designs with the material, it’s not always easy or practical to do so. Researchers from ETH Zurich have designed a new method of forming and placing an ultra-thin, curved concrete roof system that they plan on installing on a construction project next year.
As electric vehicles are becoming more and more popular around the world, researchers are trying to find ways to adapt the technology to heavier duty applications. Due to the large size of projects and amount of money in the industry, the mining industry has seen its fair share of technological advancement. Several manufacturers, like Komatsu, have developed and released driverless dump trucks for mining operations in the past few years. A team of companies in Switzerland is now working on a gigantic battery powered dump truck that will be tested for 10 years.
Rapid growth and the industrialization are the major contributors to China’s noted air quality issues. 4 years ago, the Chinese government issued a “war on pollution” aiming to improve air quality and reduce other environmental hazards, such as land and water contamination. Air quality is at its worst in the winter months across the country, due to households relying more on coal power to heat residents’ homes.
Asphalt is one of the world’s most popular pavement materials. Because of that, researchers and scientists are constantly looking for ways to improve upon it. Additives have been included in some asphalt mixes for years to improve strength, but recently researchers have been getting pretty clever with the types of additives they’re testing.
As great as a product as asphalt is, there’s no doubt that there is room for improvement. Scientists all over the world are trying to solve its most common issues, such as potholes, cracking, ice build-up, and storm water drainage. Los Angeles is now tackling another issue with the material: heat island effect.