by Emily Newton
It’s no surprise that the growth of digital technologies and the adoption of smart devices are causing significant shifts in the world. Industries across all sectors are eager to take on new projects and work to transform their workplaces. However, new tech allows cities to upgrade and retrofit their existing infrastructure to be more innovative and greener. The result? Smart cities.
Compared to a traditional city, smart cities focus their energy on residents and their data. They are defined as urban areas that utilize the latest and greatest technologies to collect large amounts of information to optimize various operations and processes.
Data can be collected from people and their devices and the buildings that comprise a smart city. Whether it’s placing an intelligent antenna on top of a building or creating a public Wi-Fi network, smart cities are hubs for innovation. Innovative building materials must be used to optimize energy efficiency and create a safer environment.
Below are some examples of traditional construction materials and those used to construct smart cities. Just a few changes and replacements can make a huge difference when it comes to the future of building.
Traditional Building Materials
Here are some of the most common building materials used in construction projects:
The construction industry is responsible for 38% of global carbon emissions, and some of these materials add to this figure. Because carbon emissions harm the Earth, sectors must address this issue. It’s a goal to move toward net-zero building practices to reduce the carbon footprint.
Some materials used for building contribute to the pollution in cities. The use of cement and carbon-intensive concrete is more widespread than one may think and plays a role in emissions. Researchers should aim to use innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of these manufactured materials.
In addition to their use on construction projects, manufacturing these traditional building materials also contributes to the greenhouse effect. Switching to recycled aluminum materials instead of using new materials is greener since scrap uses 5% of the energy to produce. By using more environmentally friendly materials, the industry would succeed in reducing their impact.
Building Materials for Smart Cities
In contrast, intelligent buildings typically consist of more eco-friendly materials. As a result, smart cities help reach the goal of net-zero by simply existing. Some of them may be considered the building materials of the future and serve multiple purposes, such as reducing carbon footprints and saving money in the long run.
Here are examples of building materials that can be used in smart cities:
The construction industry already has strategies to reuse metal materials for other projects and give back to recyclers. However, it’s no simple task to recycle metal. Companies have to follow an intensive process that has multiple steps. Typically, reusable material gets shipped to a material recovery facility (MRF) to be prepared for other uses, such as in the automotive industry.
Bamboo can be made into lumber and can store carbon, which makes it an attractive natural material to use for building. The goal is to transform bamboo, which can be taken from a live plant, into one of the most commonly used construction materials. Using it in a smart city would be majorly beneficial for the environment and make it possible to get creative during the design process.
The process of extracting cork to use for construction is quite simple and may be a solution to the environmental impacts the industry is trying to resolve. Cork can be used to make floor tiles or insulation sheets, to name a few examples. It’s already used to build airplane runways, car engines and dam mechanisms, so why not use it to construct a smart city?
Rather than pour concrete on a construction site, precast concrete can be used instead. It’s made at a different location than where it will be placed. This allows workers to spend more time building than preparing their materials. Large-scale commercial construction projects can utilize precast concrete to maximize efficiency and ensure durable and stable structures.
A building with all glass windows is undoubtedly a sight to be seen. Many modern facilities rely on it as a building material, and creating a smart city is no different. Glass can provide more natural light for a structure, but with new technology, it can also be more durable than initially thought. Adding laminates gives it more strength to be used in large commercial construction projects.
The Future of Urban Life
It will be interesting to track what materials are being used to construct intelligent cities. Industry leaders must make eco-friendly items a priority. Artificial, carbon-intensive products will negatively impact the environment and should be avoided. If not, smart cities won’t be able to thrive in the way they should and will not serve as the beacons of progress they are.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine discussing the latest technologies changing our world.