Some building materials have been around forever, but as time passes new materials emerge that could shape the future of construction. We’ve taken a closer look at a few that we might see more of in the coming years.
Low emissivity (Low-E) windows have a clear coating of metallic oxide to stop heat escaping through glass when temperatures drop. This comes either through a hard coating applied to the outside of the glass, or a soft coating between the layers.
Costs are about the same as normal windows, but there are savings to be had in the long term for premises with them fitted, as heat loss can be reduced by as much as 50 per cent.
Concrete that can fix its own cracks certainly sounds futuristic, but it’s a concept that’s here thanks to Henk Jonkers, of Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The self-healing occurs when water enters cracks and bacteria begins feeding on calcium lactate to create limestone. Costs may currently prove a drawback for many in the construction sector though, which means repairing cracks in concrete in the traditional way is likely to be around for a good while yet. But could it take off in the future?
There are a number of uses for nanotechnology, but its potential to improve solar panels is perhaps one of the most interesting for those in the construction industry. The technology to convert sunlight to energy has been around for years, and a number of improvements have been made, but it’s thought the biggest leaps forward are yet to come. Nanotechnology reduces the amount of sunlight reflected away from solar panels by filling each square inch of the surface with nano-sized holes. What it should mean is a reduction in costs and an increase in efficiency.
The concept of 3D printing is one that’s attracted plenty of attention, due to the possibility of entire homes being made via the method. One man has even gone as far as printing a castle for his back garden using the technology. 3D printing is the process of objects being printed in There are high hopes it could revolutionise construction and be used for projects such as affordable housing in developing countries.
This lightweight construction breezeblock is made up of cardboard and waste paper that otherwise would have ended up in landfill. It boasts good acoustic and thermal properties and can be used in the same way as a standard concrete block, making it an easy to use and more environmentally friendly option for those who work in construction.
How big an impact do you think the options above will have on the future of construction? Which materials do you think are most likely to change the way we build?