The growing effects of climate change have forced many industries to rethink their best practices and find more eco-friendly solutions. The construction sector is no exception, as companies have implemented many new technologies to reduce pollution and waste. Here are some of the most influential additions to construction and how they’ve enabled sustainable building.

1. 3D Printing

3D printing might be the future of the construction industry. You can print entire structures from scratch for just $4,000 apiece with far less energy consumption than traditional building methods. It allows for the easy mass production of simple eco-friendly homes. You can even include custom sustainable features, such as draft-proof windows and solar shingles.

Printing companies and charitable organizations have already collaborated to build 3D-printed neighborhoods. It seems as though it’s only a matter of time before the technology becomes mainstream and the new primary building method of a greener tomorrow.

2. Modular Building

Modular building is another increasingly popular strategy due to its safety and efficiency. Instead of creating a structure on-site, contractors weld and bolt it together in their warehouses and ship the finished product for installation. This process has many advantages:

  • Availability: Larger structures like apartment complexes benefit the most from modular construction, giving more people access to housing options.
  • Safety: Building a home in a controlled environment like a warehouse is safer than doing so on-site with weather delays and other variables.
  • Sustainability: Modular building requires less time, labor, and resources to complete. It also helps reduce construction waste, as contractors can estimate how much material they need and avoid runoff more accurately.

Modular construction can be up to 50% faster than current home construction methods when appropriately implemented. Fully modular neighborhoods could become a reality along with 3D-printed communities in the near future if constructors perfect the process.

3. Green Building Materials

Repurposed and recycled materials for construction have been around for a while, but green options have only recently gained momentum in the industry. Wood, stone, bamboo, recycled plastic, and other products make for more sustainable construction. Even shipping containers have emerged as creative eco-friendly homes.

Aside from their green qualities, these natural resources are better options because they last longer than cheap artificial materials, and you can locally source them. Contractors can purchase these materials from local suppliers instead of ordering shipments from a factory across the country. This enables them to complete their projects on time with a smaller carbon footprint and lower shipping costs.

Construction Technology Enabling Sustainable Building - A house built with recyclable materials
Sustainable building: A house built with recyclable materials. Photo: Christoph Rupprecht on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

4. On-Site Wearables

Wearable technology has changed the way laborers navigate construction sites. Traditional gear like hardhats and vests now have built-in monitoring systems that encourage safety and productivity. Heart-rate monitors, activity trackers, and other sensors can detect poor air quality and hazardous materials, keeping the site safe and eco-friendly.

This technology simplifies a project’s day-to-day operations, ensuring it gets completed on time with minimal injuries or technical setbacks. Wearables do much of the micromanaging that humans previously did, giving you more schedule flexibility and better-finished products.

5. Construction Robots

Companies have also introduced small robots for specific jobs, including digging, drilling, painting, welding, and many others. Construction workers work extremely hard, but these robots are faster and more precise than humans. They help strengthen buildings’ infrastructures by optimizing every detail.

Most importantly for the environment, these robots avoid logistical errors and thus contribute to less wasteful construction. They generate fewer defective materials, use only as much as necessary, and save precious time and effort.

6. Electric Vehicles

Hybrid and electric cars are growing in popularity, so it’s only a matter of time before they get introduced to the construction industry. Electric bulldozers and lift trucks will be a big adjustment for laborers and manufacturers, but the environmental benefits are worth it.

The construction industry is responsible for about 39% of carbon emissions, and EVs could remove a significant chunk of that percentage. They would also eliminate noise pollution, which can cause hearing problems and contribute to high-stress levels.

Clean and quiet work sites are unheard of, but EVs can make it possible. They’re also better for indoor construction and thus pair nicely with modular building practices.

7. Risk Assessment Technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology could enable contractors to implement more effective risk assessment devices on their sites. For example, AI security software can analyze drone footage and detect suspicious or unsafe activity, allowing project managers to identify all threats and create plans to address them.

Blockchain technology also encrypts project data and tracks every transaction. This helps you optimize resource usage, reduce wasteful practices and establish accountability. This new technology lets you ensure environmental and worker safety.

Construction Technology is Enabling Sustainability

Construction practices have been highly destructive to the environment in recent decades. Humans can’t take back the harm they’ve caused but can seek more eco-friendly solutions as technology advances. These seven methods could play key roles in helping build a better future where humanity and nature peacefully coexist.

Evelyn Long

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