What Will The Next 10 Years Look Like?

Big question. I know. While construction as we know it will continue, things must and will inevitably change. However, as unfortunate that improvement on a systemic level takes a long time, interruptions and problems take hold immediately. (But isn't solving problems the best part of the job?)

It's in this moment of flux where I'd like to spend some attention by highlighting a few ideas that might just mark some interesting trends. 

I had the opportunity to speak with Alquista 3D concrete construction contractor based out of Virginia. He says that "at the moment, according to the National Home Builders Association, and others, we are anywhere from five to 7 million homes short, nationally, right now." Factor in the material and labor shortages, they see cost savings with the 3D concrete printing in three ways: time, labor, and material. Once you start to consider what concrete can do for R rating, there's a good chance thatwhile not a solution for everyone and every situationthese constructions could very well be a solid option in the future. These printers apparently can be run by two skilled workers but like drones and other robotic solutions, that's not to say they are aimed at 'taking people's jobs.' 

Researchers have been working on how to store electricity in concrete, effectively turning a building into a battery. It's still in the experimental stage, but the journal Buildings, published a paper (March 2021, Advanced Concrete Materials in Construction) describing a prototype that has the potential to hold a significant increase in stored charge (as compared with previous iterations of the concept, note that we are talking milliamps still). But if we are to reach the Net-Zero goal of 2050, could advancement in this area not only bring concrete to carbon-neutral but negative by providing a way to store energy? Maybe. As quoted in the paper, "The concept of using structures and buildings as energy source and storage could be revolutionary, because it offers an alternative solution to solve the energy crisis by providing a large amount of energy storage." 

Speaking of the 2050 Net-Zero goal for the world's cement and concrete industry, we did recently have a great conversation with the folks over at the Portland Cement Association. Their roadmap on reaching the goal is said to be due by the end of this year. Personally, I'm excited to see the innovations developed in lessening the carbon footprint, even more so in taking part in being able to share the story as the industry progresses. 

I've only been with you for a little under a year now, but I thank you for letting me be a part of it and look forward to the months  - and years - ahead.

What do you think? Will robotics soon help out with finishing work? Will a Roomba suddenly feature floor polishing pads? Will low-carbon concrete homes be able to address the housing shortage? Let's find out; together.

Stay safe out there.