Residential Engineering

Technology, Efficiency & Sustainability in Modern Construction

Technology, Efficiency & Sustainability in Modern Construction

From the homeowner to the builder, technology is influencing the way we create homes, the way we function within our homes and the environmental ramifications that our homes produce.

In a fast-paced world like ours, we place extreme value on two things – technology and efficiency. We rely on technology to assist in almost every aspect of our lives, and we rely on that technology to be functional and efficient so we can work at the high speed that is now demanded of us.

But when technology meets efficiency, in most cases there is an unintentional by-product – sustainability. Sustainability is currently just as valued as efficiency and is a highly sought-after feature and marketable consumer feature. Technologies designed to improve efficiency, aim to cut corners, reduce human efforts and regulate energy use – all features which have ramifications on technology’s sustainability and environmental impact.

Take for example the ‘Smart Home’ – defined as a house containing a communication network that connects different appliances and allows them to be remotely controlled, monitored and accessed. Despite dwelling approvals consistently falling in previous months, the demand for smart homes has never been higher. The integration of fuzzy interference systems with key pre-fabricated sustainability features such as the 53kW PV solar panels provides homeowners the opportunity to make smarter choices about energy consumption with greater ease and promotes the automation of reduced energy consumption through AI learning technologies.

These are technologies which are now being integrated within the design stages of homes and are marketed as being the most sustainable home available. However, this is final stage efficiency and sustainability. We are seeing this melding of technology and efficiency within the construction industry, with exceptional environmental ramifications. With energy demand in buildings predicted to rise by almost 50% between 2010 and 2050, and the Australian construction sector generating between 20 to 30% of all waste entering landfills, environmental sustainability has never been a more vital issue to address.

Falling project productivity, the rising cost of raw material and equipment and keeping up with regulatory changes are productivity and environmental issues facing the construction industry. Like with smart homes, technologies designed to improve the efficiency of their work also have sustainability implications. Modular construction has been commended for its energy efficiency and its minimisation of waste in comparison to traditional construction. As these pre-fabricated parts are factory mass produced, modular construction is a more accurate forms of construction which reduces overall construction time and minimises raw material cost and project productivity.

Biomimicry is also lessening our need for raw materials and further reducing the environmental impacts of raw material mining. This, complimentary with the use of nanotechnologies, is allowing engineers to experiment with smart materials to be mixed into concrete to monitor building energy performance and create advanced paints that have the ability to clean themselves, improve insulation properties of buildings, and absorb air pollutants. These technologies are improving the efficiency of the construction industry while supporting sustainable practices and there is only room for more improvement.

There is huge potential for future pursuits in technology, efficiency and sustainability and we are only now seeing the start of these developments. From the homeowner to the builder, sustainability is being observed and achieved in all levels of home construction, and it is evident that this is something that can be interweaved into all aspects of home creation and design.

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