Of all known sciences, engineering is the only study that converts physical creations into new ones. Consequently, engineering, and especially one that concentrates on the building environment leads to creativity and innovation among engineers, as well as to the development of new and more beautiful structures. Engineering and the building environment study focuses on teaching students on how to construct various structures in the most effective and efficient manner. In order to equip students with all essential skills, engineering and building environment delves deep into training on various scientific and analytical concepts.
The construction industry is the branch of civil engineering that deals with building, repair, and maintenance of structures. Generally, concrete and bricks are the most used materials in the construction industry. Concrete is a compound material that comprises of rough aggregate joined with fluid cement. During construction, the two harden over time to make concrete. The most common type of concretes are usually lime based such as those made using Portland or hydraulic cement. Bricks are materials used for making walls, pavements as well as other elements in building construction. Normally, bricks comprise of either concrete materials or clay moldings that are usually a mixture of soil, lime, and sand. Additionally, the quality of bricks varies depending on the period, region, and quantity produced (Moran et al.). Generally, there are two types of bricks, the fired and the non-fired bricks. The fired bricks are hard while the unfired are soft.
Innovation in the Construction Industry
Due to advancement in digital technology, design approaches, energy, as well as the development of new materials, there has been a rapid rise in innovations in the construction industry. These innovations include the self-healing concretes, thermal bridging, photovoltaic glazing, kinetic footfall, modular construction, cloud collaboration, and asset mapping. Overly, these innovations have simplified and increased efficiencies in the construction industry.
The Self-Healing Concretes
In some cases, cracking usually occurs in structures made of cement due to exposure to water and chemicals. To solve this problem, scientists have developed a self-healing concrete. Basically, the self-healing concrete is made with a mix that contains bacteria composed inside microcapsules. According to Arditi et al., this mixture germinates and produces limestone when water enters through a crack in the concrete (371). Effectively, the limestone seals the crack and prevents air and water from corroding the concrete reinforcement.
The use of efficient and effective insulation material is increasingly becoming significant in the construction industry. To come up with efficient insulation material, thermal bridging is the most recommended solution. In this innovation, heat transmissions through concrete walls are passed through the building envelope to the internal fascia such as the drywall (Moran et al.). On a general scale, thermal bridging is considered the most efficient way of enhancing effective thermal insulation.
In this innovation, the use of building integrated photovoltaic known as the BIPV glazing enables buildings to generate their own electricity. Essentially, BIPV glazing makes the whole building envelope to work as a solar panel. Some companies such as those in the poly solar industry usually provide structural building material to be a transparent photovoltaic glass that forms windows and roofs. The poly solar technology is effective in producing electricity even on vertical walls. As a result, photovoltaic glazing technology helps in saving electricity cost and promoting green technology (Hill and Bowen 223-239). Importantly, the cost of implementing this innovation is marginal since the overall framework and the structure of the building does not change. It is only the shading system and cladding costs that are substituted with the BIPV glazing cost.
Kinetic footfalls harness on the kinetic energy created by moving objects. In it, pavegen is used to provide flooring technology that harnesses the footsteps energy. This innovation can be employed in high traffic and congested areas. Basically, it generates electricity from the footfall of a person through the use of electromagnetic induction and the flywheel energy storage (Moran et al.). This technology can be utilized in transport hubs and areas where there are crowds.
This innovation is employed where a building is constructed off-site using similar material and the design as those of similar conventional structures in the on-site. Importantly, this innovation limits environmental disruptions, delivers components when needed, and turns the construction activity into a logistic exercise (Arditi et al. 374-378). Consequently, this innovation is beneficial and sustainable since there are few movements of machinery and less overall wastes. Modular construction can be employed in areas that require minimal silence such as in hospitals and schools. Therefore, this innovation has many benefits to the society.
Through cloud collaboration, engineers are able to use a computerized system known as the base stone which facilitates real-time remote sharing of data on the site that is under construction. Therefore, cloud collaboration serves as a review tool used by architects and engineers to digitize the entire construction process. Essentially, this incorporates the design, construction, and analysis of the final structure. In order to carry out this procedure, the cloud-based collaboration tool focuses on the installation of all construction materials such as the steel beams and the light fittings (Arditi et al. 371-378). In normal circumstances, the system is used to add snags issues that occur at the time of construction on to pdfs so that users can add or mark notes through the base stone. Effectively, this facilitates a good review and follow-up of the construction procedures.
Asset mapping mainly focuses on equipment’s that are used for operation, heating, air conditioning, engineer notes, and firmware. Importantly, asset mapping combines this data in one coherent collection that shows a more detailed view of the overall construction. Ideally, the system shows the engineers the specific equipment that is supposed to be installed in various sections of the construction (Arditi et al.). This innovation is vital in proactive building maintenance since engineers are able to identify specific areas of concern in the building. Moreover, since this system enables engineers to carry out a detailed analysis of the building, it ensures that the building is properly constructed and in effect, it reduces the building’s insurance costs.
Need for a Sustainable Approach to Projects in Within the Construction Industry
According to Hill and Bowen, sustainable approach to a project in construction aims at meeting the present day needs of the users of the house as well as the surrounding infrastructure (223).Notably, this should be done without compromising on the needs of future generations (Hill and Bowen 223). Generally, sustainable construction incorporates elements such as economic efficiency, social responsibility, and environmental performance. On the same breath, it also includes issues that are related to management, design, material performance, resource and energy efficiency, operation and maintenance, and occupational health and safety conditions at the construction site.
In sustainable construction, projects must demonstrate approaches that are innovative, spur creativity in engineering, and explore new technological advancements. These approaches include innovative concepts regarding design, mechanical systems, integration of building materials, outstanding contribution on technologies used in construction, and building processes and maintenance. Similarly, other innovative concepts may include advancements in architectural disciplines, landscape and urban design, environmental engineering, and other subjects related to production in the building environment.
Generally, projects in sustainable construction should adhere to highest ethical standards that promote social inclusion in each and every stage of construction. This should range from planning, constructing, as well as servicing so that the construction has a sustainable positive impact on the community (Hill and Bowen 223-231). Further, proposals used in the construction should demonstrate how they will improve the communities overall welfare. In this regard, the developers of new buildings should adhere to ethical standards, contribute to the formation of socially viable environments, and involve various stakeholders such as NGO’s in the construction process.
Finally, projects should prove that they are economically feasible and compatible with changes in demand that may arise during construction. In light of this, projects should integrate with large economic framework both locally and globally. Moreover, projects should have a positive impact on both the society and the economy. Similarly, projects should be affordable and have a positive return on investments to the investors.
From the discussions above, proper engineering and building environment are important for both the engineers and occupants of the building. The use of proper engineering techniques protects the construction workers from fatalities at the construction site. In addition to this, the construction of buildings using proper engineering methods ensures that structures are safe, sustainable, and reliable for occupation. In light of this, buildings should always be constructed using the required engineering methods.
Arditi, David, Serdar Kale, and Martino Tangkar. “Innovation in construction equipment and its flow into the construction industry.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management 123.4 (1997): 371-378. Print.
Hill, Richard, and Paul A. Bowen. “Sustainable construction: principles and a framework for attainment.” Construction Management & Economics 15.3 (1997): 223-239. Print.
Moran, Michael et al. Fundamentals of Engineering Thermodynamics (8th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Publishers, 2014. Print.