The way in which we live and work is rapidly changing. For those of us who regularly spend time on job sites‚ the push towards adopting greener practices and materials is a big one. That said‚ while everyone acknowledges that going green is the future‚ there’s often the perception that it will be a while yet before we really see a green revolution kick off.
But what if we told you it’s already begun? There are tons of sustainable building practices and materials already available and in use – innovations that are laying the foundations of a cleaner and greener construction industry for the future. Here’s a look at 5 of the most exciting innovations on the scene today.
1. Grid Parity in the Solar Industry
Recent years have seen costs plummet within the solar industry as a result of a number of innovations — like Jinko Solar’s recent world record-breaking feat surrounding its bifacial solar modules — as well as the growing popularity of solar. This directly benefits the construction industry and its uptake of solar tech in many ways (more on that in a moment).
Put simply, we’re fast approaching a milestone where solar will be the same price as (if not cheaper than) energy from fossil fuel sources around the world. This shift is one that won’t just generate a number of new jobs in construction, but also make it easy for Aussies to go green and shift to using renewable energy in the years ahead.
2. Portable Solar Panels
Australia is among the world’s leading adopters of solar panels, and this is only set to increase going forward. If there was one limitation for the construction industry regarding this trend, it was that construction sites by their nature will always be in the business of building new sites – and rarely, if ever, was there an existing solar power source nearby the team could tap into for their energy needs. However, it’s now possible to use portable solar panels to power job sites wherever they are under a sunny sky. Right now, many sites make use of portable solar panels for some small and basic energy needs, but we can certainly expect to see panels become a common sight alongside construction equipment and building materials sitting on site.
3. Recycled Concrete
The recent increase in the use of recycled
concrete is a great example of innovation making the old new again. Once a
building is demolished, rubble from the site is inspected to ensure the
concrete is suitable for reuse. It’s then transported to a crushing machine
where it’s broken up and condensed into smaller pieces. Those pieces are then
ready to go, and this process can produce recycled concrete to be dispatched
for use in a variety of projects like road building, beach protection, and even
4. Vertical Axis Wind Turbines
The ‘traditional’ wind turbine (that looks like an indoor fan) will remain an important part of the renewable energy industry going forward, but it’s clear that different designs will be needed as current ones are sometimes unsuitable for certain locations. That’s why Iceland’s innovative vertical axis wind turbines are so exciting. They’re able to generate power in extreme and low wind environments, and because of their compact design, they do not pose the same issues to local wildlife that traditional wind turbines can.
5. Recycled Plastic
Most Aussies are pretty familiar with campaigns to recycle plastic in our community. From efforts by Clean Up Australia to get single-use plastic bags banned to sustainability enthusiasts showing us ways we can reuse plastic bags around our home, it’s common knowledge that finding new ways to use old plastic is eco-friendly. When it comes to construction, recycled plastic is increasingly being used in building – and there’s certainly plenty of plastic out there available for reuse!
So many Aussies are keen to see the transition to using green materials in construction. It’s no secret there remain some hurdles in place to getting this done as fast as many of us would like.
However, even if the current rate of change isn’t as fast as desired, there has been some really strong momentum in this area. The World Green Building Trends 2018 SmartMarket Report is proof positive of this, where industry respondents said they expected that by 2021, more than 60% of their building projects would be green.
And ultimately, the materials profiled here are just a select few of many out there. The future is sure to hold a number of new innovations in this space as existing materials find new uses in construction.
What’s most exciting about this new era is the way in which it’s seeing old materials finding new use alongside brand new cutting-edge technology. All up, there’s never been a more exciting time to work in the construction industry given all the advances we’re seeing across the sector. Sure there have been some challenges to navigate recently, but alongside the innovations in sustainability, we’re seeing a lot of exciting new developments arise. From new careers to new materials and new technology, the months and years ahead are sure to deliver a lot of fantastic fun to our daily work.
What other exciting building innovations do you know of? Let us know in the comments below.