Sustainability in Construction - Emerging Tech Trends & Future Prospects
Construction in India has been relatively slow in embracing modernization and industrialization techniques, with a predominant reliance on traditional in-situ casting methods for building structures. While precast construction methods have gained substantial traction in the construction of infrastructure elements like bridges and tunnels over the past three decades, there is a growing trend of adoption of precast techniques for stormwater drains, cable trenches, box culverts, and boundary walls. Interestingly, the real estate construction sector lags behind in this transformation, as it still heavily relies on on-site construction even in the era of the fourth industrial revolution.
Precast construction solutions have emerged as a catalyst for revolutionizing the construction industry in India primarily due to the numerous advantages they offer. Not only do precast methods expedite construction timelines, but they also enhance overall quality, safety, productivity, and sustainability. Also, the construction materials industry is poised to make a remarkable recovery during the ongoing financial cycle. Historically, this sector has heavily relied on manual labour. However, recent years have witnessed an increasing shift towards technological integration to enhance product quality, longevity, employee efficiency, and overall output.
Latest Tech Disruptions
The construction industry is presently experiencing a profound transformation driven by the integration of new technologies, materials and methodologies that are revolutionizing the way we plan and construct buildings and structures. These advancements are not only accelerating the construction process and enhancing efficiency, but are also contributing to greater sustainability and environmental responsibility. From modular construction to intelligent buildings and sustainable materials, the industry is eagerly adopting innovative solutions that promise to shape the future of construction in exciting and impactful ways. The adoption of next-generation wall construction technologies such as AAC (Autoclaved Aerated Concrete) blocks and wall panels is gaining momentum within the industry due to benefits such as lightweight, energy efficient, durable, provide excellent insulation, and possess high fire resistance while being resilient to pests and mold.
By embracing sustainability, the real estate industry can become a catalyst for substantial environmental change
On the other hand, 3D printing has already made a significant impact on the construction industry by enabling the creation of intricate shapes and structures that were once challenging or impossible to achieve using traditional construction methods. With the advent of IoT, buildings are becoming increasingly interconnected and intelligent, wherein smart buildings allow for efficient energy use, enhanced security features and precise control over building systems. Also, augmented reality is being employed in construction to enhance design and visualization processes to enable architects and builders gain a deeper understanding of how various elements will fit together and identify potential issues before construction commences. Lastly, robotic technology is being utilized for tasks such as bricklaying, demolition, and even painting to reduce dependence on human labour, improve efficiency and enhancs safety on construction sites.
Sustainable Practices in Construction
The construction and operation of buildings alone account for ~40 percent of global carbon emissions. By embracing sustainability, the real estate industry can become a catalyst for substantial environmental change. Incorporating energy-efficient designs, renewable energy sources and green building materials can significantly lower energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. As per a recent remark by Housing and Urban Affairs Minister, Shri Hardeep Singh Puri, about 43.3 lakh houses were constructed under the PMAY-U mission using sustainable building materials such as fly ash based bricks and AAC blocks, contributing to a reduction of nine million tons of CO2 emissions by the year end. In the commercial and industrial sectors, green buildings with features like energy-efficient HVAC systems, LED lighting, and advanced insulation not only reduce operational costs, but also provide healthier and more productive work environments.
The Indian government’s push for the utilization of fly ash and directives from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) further bolstered the adoption of AAC Blocks. The number of factories producing AAC Blocks surged from just three in 2008 to over 150 in 2022, with a cumulative capacity exceeding 25 million cubic meters per year. This remarkable growth, a 25x increase in AAC production capacity over approximately 15 years, is set to continue as both existing and new players in the industry expand their capacities, gradually replacing the age-old red clay brick industry.
As innovation continues to drive advancements in building materials and construction techniques, the future of sustainable construction looks very promising. Innovative materials like Magicrete’s 3D modular precast structures and AAC wall panels are at the forefront of sustainable construction by offering energy efficiency, reduced waste and shorter construction timelines. Not just limited to the primary building materials, sustainable construction also involves the use of construction chemicals like tile adhesives that enhance efficiency and reduce resource consumption. Certification systems like LEED and BREEAM will remain influential in encouraging sustainable building practices, and energy-efficient designs & technologies will become standard in construction projects. Also, construction projects will increasingly embrace the principles of a circular economy, focusing on reducing waste, reusing materials and recycling construction debris. Lastly, BIM and digitalization will continue to streamline the construction process, improving efficiency and reducing errors. This technology will also aid in better design for sustainability.