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Construction startups: embracing innovation and sustainability

The hectic world of start-ups isn’t all about computers and ingenious web-based applications. Perhaps unexpectedly, construction was labeled as one of the hottest growth areas for start-ups by the Wall Street Journal as early as 2012.


Since then, the industry has kept growing and more and more entrepreneurs have been setting up construction start-ups each month. The construction world has particularly benefited from the arrival of a new crop of entrepreneurs and focusing much of its attention on developing new materials as well as sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.

Much of the investments in the construction start-up environment these days are being directed towards new housing technologies, so here are a few great examples for you to get inspired and perhaps find your own way in the construction start-up world.

New material pioneers

The use of more energy efficient and greener construction materials in both commercial buildings and houses has been one of the greatest improvement over the last few years.

Electrochromic windows, sea balls, self-reinforced thermoplastics, construction adhesives and self-healing bio concrete: some of these new materials might sound more sci-fi than real, but they have all been been developed over the last few years with great results.

This year, it’s the self-healing bio concrete that’s been making the headlines. Its creator, Henk Jonkers from Delft University in the Netherlands, has been working on the revolutionary material since 2006.

He developed a new type of concrete with a healing agent made of bacteria which allows it to repair its own cracks, making it extremely durable. Its popularity is very likely to inspire a trend in biological construction materials start-ups, so watch this space!

Going green

Environmental and energy efficiency concerns are growing around the world, and these trends have been echoed by a rising number of green building start-ups.

The green approach is expanding through the building industry in general: according to a study led by the World Green Building Council, 51% of interviewed construction firms around the world are planning on more than 60% of their overall activity to be green by the end of 2015.

As well as the aforementioned new technologies and materials, more organic and traditional materials are currently regaining interest as firms are looking to employ more renewable materials in order to lower embodied carbon rates.

Zero energy building technologies also constitute a hot investment sector. The ultimate goal is to design a building that can function relying solely on renewable sources of energy thanks to solar and wind power.

This can already be obtained with solar panels, wind turbines and biofuels, but more solutions are being developed. Solar polymers are one recent invention: these molecules will soon be implemented onto devices to produce electricity.

3D modeling

It wasn’t long before 3D printing was picked up by construction start-ups. It’s only just starting but with 3D modeling, construction costs and times will be greatly reduced.

It might sound ambitious but 3D construction projects are already popping up all around the globe, the most talked about being 10 houses in less than 24 hours in China and a university building in France.
How does it work? A 3D printer is connected to a concrete supply and should be able to build an entire house in less than 24 hours, enabling complex geometric shapes and greater flexibility in the use of materials.

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