Our online forum event “Smart technologies for sustainable construction” on 5 September was covering an interesting topic for CLIB. Although a conservative sector, we learned that there was quite some movement towards sustainability in the construction industry and 63 participants joined us for interesting talks and a lively discussion.
Our first speaker, Dr. Simon Jenniches from KREFELD BUSINESS took the opportunity to present the project “Healthy Building Movement”, a cross-border project between Germany and the Netherlands. It was interesting to hear that sustainability not only includes biobased and recyclable materials but that even leasing concepts for materials and building blocks may be a viable option for the end-of-life management of buildings. The project aims to further develop approaches that include all dimensions of sustainability, which also includes a user centric way to plan and construct architecture.
The positive influence of biotechnology was highlighted in the further talks of the event. First Gabriel Mattos of Evonik presented the concept of self-healing concrete and the product SITREN® Selfheal 445 recently launched as a microbial admixture for concrete durability.
Finally, Denis Grizmann presented mycelium-based, load bearing construction materials developed at the chair of Structures and Structural Design at RWTH Aachen University. Although in the research stage, these building materials show promising properties and functionalities in terms of versatility, resources, and recyclability.
With the insights of the three talks in mind we raised the questions of which hurdles are slowing down sustainable developments in the construction industry. While the price of new technologies was an answer everyone could agree on, the audience also named legislation and regulations, material availability, scalability, and the conservative industry as possible problems. All speakers underlined that especially the latter could be overcome by a growing trust in new materials, as new concepts find their way to the markets.
The impact that bio-based or even biotech solutions can have on the construction sector was nicely demonstrated by the speakers and further underlined when this question was forwarded to the audience as well. Besides obvious benefits for a sustainable development, new materials can create new markets and support new ways for the needed decarbonisation of the sector. In addition, it is the versatility that new materials and processes can offer to create tailor made solutions for the demands of the construction sector.
We are glad to have gained new insights into this topic and thank all speakers and participants for a successful forum event.