Green building is no longer something that can be ignored. According to the USGBC, green building will account for ⅓ of all construction projects by the year 2018, which is now only 1 short year away. Construction is one of the leading industries in regards to the production of greenhouse gases, most notably due to the production of cement, which produces an estimated 5% of all carbon dioxide emissions alone. There are many companies throughout developing new techniques and building products to help reduce the industry’s impact, so here’s a list of 6 products that caught our eye in 2016.
Can you see your company using any of these products in the future? Tell us in the comments below!
Arup, a design, engineering, and consulting team in the United Kingdom, has been developing a living wall system, which they think can reduce the noise and improve the air quality surrounding ongoing construction projects. Manufactured by the Swedish company, Green Fortune, the living wall is currently being tested on a renovation of the St. Mark’s building in Mayfair, London.
“Living Wall Lite,” as the wall system is being called, is made up of grasses, flowers, and wild strawberries and covers the scaffolding system, which faces the public street. Initial tests of the 861 square foot (80m²) wall have shown that it can reduce noise pollution up to 10 decibels. The test wall in Mayfair has several sensors installed to measure real world impacts of noise reduction, temperature, and air pollution.
Spearheaded by Dutch company VolkerWessels a new innovative solution called Project Plastic Road looks to solve many of the issues that plague our current road infrastructure. Plastic Road's proposed road system will be modular and made out of entirely 100% recycled materials. The idea is to turn recycled plastic into modular prefabricated roads that can be dropped into place. VolkerWessels claims that this system could have a longevity of 3 times more than asphalt, and because the pieces are modular and interchangeable replacing a road could take a fraction of the time it takes now.
Researchers working with ETH Zurich and MIT believe they may have come up with a solution for our constantly evolving world, with a process they call “Rock Print.” The idea is simple, yet hard to believe: A 3D printer precisely places string in layers in between stone, which packs the stone into a strong and stable structure that is able to be formed into irregular shapes. When you’re done with the structure, simply wind up the string and the rocks fall to the ground. Both the string and stones can then be used elsewhere.
ByFusion has come up with a mobile process to be able to turn plastics into usable building blocks that mimic the size and shape of a typical CMU block, which they call RePlast. The company can turn 6 of the 7 types of plastics into the building material, with the exception on #6 plastic, due to lack of structural integrity. The ByFusion machine, which converts the plastic into the blocks is completely mobile and can be hauled by a flatbed truck or as a shipping container. Since it’s mobile, ByFusion hopes to send the machines around the country and allow foremen to operate them themselves after an initial training session. Based on the needs for each jobsite, the unit can be operated by either gas or electric and the shape and density of the block can be fully customized. Even the water that is used for the process is recycled and filtered through the machine and can last up to 10-16 weeks before filters need to be changed.
3. Bamboo Rebar
Swiss Architect Dirk Hebel is working hard to put bamboo on the forefront of building materials. It’s not just any old bamboo you can pull straight out of the forest though, it’s BambooTECH or bamboo composite material, which combines natural bamboo fibers with 10% organic resin. The combination of the resin and fibers allow the bamboo to be molded into any shape and then sawn or sanded.
The specs on bamboo are actually pretty impressive: it has twice the strength of steel (400MPa vs. 820 MPa) and is roughly 5 times lighter. It’s also a fast growing, sustainable resource that does not require re-planting after harvest, unlike timber.
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.
Solar Roadways is a total recreation of the asphalt and concrete roads that we have used in America for the past few decades. Simply put, the roadway system is made up of 70 pound hexagonal panels with solar energy storage built within it. The panels are made of an ultra-strong tempered glass panels, that can withstand the weight of a semi-truck.
It’s proactive, so much so that it’s the only type of roadway system that has a possible positive return on investment. Not only do these panels create energy, they can also melt snow and ice, making roads safer for all drivers. A few other companies have begun testing snow melting roadways, as well, like this one that slowly releasing de-icing salt over time and another that uses electricity to heat the roads. With the capability to be programmed display over 16 million different colors, the roads can also detect possible hazards like animals on the road or other obstructions. The programmable lights would also eliminate the need for costly parking lot and road line painting maintenance.
The US Department of Transportation has given the Idaho tech startup several grants to perfect the concept of solar roads and now cities are giving the concept real world tests. One of the first tests these roads will go up against is a rest stop along historic Route 66 in Conway, Missouri. The rest stop will be testing out the panel’s benefits, as well as its durability, in both a roadway and sidewalk application.