Research Proposal: New Material Methods and Equipment for Construction

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¶ … New Construction Methods, Materials, and Equipment

What is Happening in the Industry?

Innovations in Concrete Foundations

Innovations Inside the Building

Recycling of Construction Materials

New Uses for Old Materials

Why is it Happening?

How Can These New Innovations Impact a Career in the Construction Industry?

Trends in New Construction Methods, Materials, and Equipment

In a constant race to meet society's demands, the construction industry has relied on technology to provide the means to accomplish this task. Now society continues to place these same demands on the industry, but they now want it done in a way that is friendly to the environment. The most important challenge that the construction industry faces today is the need to develop more environmentally friendly materials and methods.

In our quest to build more energy efficient, environmentally friendly buildings, we have created many new challenges. For instance, more tightly sealed buildings now often result in increased humidity within structures. This called for new techniques to mitigate this problem. Installing a moisture vapor on top of the ground to protect concrete slabs has become the most common solution to the problem.

Innovations in the industry include more fuel-efficient equipment to cut our dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gases. Contractors are now using polymers instead of wood, creating a long-lasting material and reducing destruction of our forests. The latest trend in environmentally responsible construction is to recycle as much waste as possible and to use recycled materials as much as possible.

Aside from the innovations present in the industry, the construction industry is changing in a way that reflects a new way of thinking. It is now no longer acceptable to think only about the end of the project. The construction manager must keep the footprint that he leaves on the environment as small as possible. This new paradigm shift in the industry will be a driving for in the business in the future.

Introduction

Since ancient times, the construction industry has struggled to develop new methods, materials, and equipment to keep up with the growing demand for buildings. The construction industry has endeavored to develop ways to build the society faster and better than it did in the past. The most current hot topic in the construction industry that outweighs any other is the topic of "green construction." Society not only demands that the construction industry build it bigger, better, and faster, they now want it done without harm to the environment. Now let us examine some of these new greener methods, materials and equipment.

Discussion

What is Happening in the Industry?

Innovations in Concrete Foundations

Energy efficiency is the new mantra of the construction industry. Buildings must waste less energy through heat and cooling loss. New techniques in the past focused on how to make buildings tighter and more energy efficient. However new levels of energy efficiency also created new problems with humidity inside the buildings as well. This called for new strategies to attempt to control moisture within new buildings.

Increasing humidity can have many negative impacts inside the building. It can lead to problems with sensitive electronics. It can create an atmosphere that is harsh for those that are sensitive and it can even lead to unhealthy conditions such as mold growth. It is a common misconception that concrete is waterproof (Nasvik, 2008). Foundations eventually leach moisture that can create problems.

To solve this problem, many buildings are being installed on top of a polymer moisture barrier. This system is being used for on grade floor slabs to prevent water vapor from traveling from the ground through the concrete. In the past, ventilation was present through leaky windows and other components. However, newer construction has eliminated these natural ventilation channels through tighter, more energy efficient construction (Nasvik, 2008). These membranes come in several thicknesses and classes according to intended use. One of the most difficult problems associated with the installation of membranes is preventing damage during the early construction phase (Nasvik, 2008).

Innovations Inside the Building

Green innovations are not only being reserved for the structural portions of the building, Contractors must be aware the newest innovations for the home, including low-flow faucets that can result in a reduction in water consumption of approximately 20% from the previous year (Weber, 2008). These new fixtures not only conserve water, but they are introducing many new lines and artistic innovations in them as well.

Experts agree that of all of the kitchen appliances, the refrigerator uses the most energy, as it is on all the time (Baccinelli, 2008). Currently new ideas are under development to improve compressor technology to make it more efficient. They are also working on better insulation to retain the cold better. Manufacturers such as Whirlpool, Liebherr, GE and Thermadore are racing to produce the products with the right features to attract the new green consumer (Baccinelli, 2008).

Grey water systems for toilet flushing and incandescent bulbs have been on the market for quite some time. However, the construction industry will have to take a leadership role in making them the norm in homes around the world. Consumers need to be educated on all of the options available to them in green construction. Not everyone will be knowledgeable about the newest innovations for their new home. This is where the project manager can serve as an educator and help the homeowners make the best decision for themselves.

Recycling of Construction Materials

The construction industry is one of the biggest producers of waste among all of the business sectors. A representative of the Associated General contractors of America recently attempted to get the U.S. government to offer incentives to construction companies that worked to reduce their own waste and to use a larger percentage of recycled building materials where appropriate (AGC, 2009). The construction industry may be guilty of being one of the biggest waste generators, but this also translates into one of the biggest opportunities to reduce, reuse, and recycle as well. The proposed incentive would provide a tax credit incentive for construction companies to reuse as much as possible (AGC, 2009).

Many materials can be recycled and reused on the construction site. These include concrete, asphalt, soil and construction debris (AGC, 2009). In addition to saving on materials costs, this also reduces transportation costs and lowers energy use at every point of contact in the landfill process (AGC, 2009). Recycling of wood materials also has a positive impact on reducing destruction of our forests as well.

New Uses for Old Materials

Green construction is quickly becoming the new norm. Companies that still do things the old way will soon become outdated. The quest for greener construction has led to the need to look at old materials in a new way. Concrete is one of the oldest building materials known to man. Concrete has found its way into green construction, largely due to many of its inherent properties (Palmer, 2007). Concrete can make rooms quieter due to its acoustic qualities. It is durable, and contributes to the thermal mass of the building, helping it to increase the energy efficiency of the building (Palmer, 2007).

Concrete is expected to find many new uses in the greening of the construction industry. It can be locally produced with minimal disruption of the site (Palmer, 2007). It is recyclable, resource efficient, is durable, and disaster resistant. Concrete is finding many new artistic applications in the building. Concrete is expected continually to find new applications in the construction industry of the future. Its versatility and natural characteristic make it an excellent candidate for the green construction industry.

Sustainable construction does not stop when the building is finished and occupied. It considers the entire life cycle of the building. There are many systems and phases that must be considered in the design of the building. These phases and considerations are summarized in the following chart.

Source: Sustainable Construction http://www.sustainableconstruction.co.uk/history.htm

As one can see, the issue of sustainability does not stop with the design process, but continues throughout the lifecycle of the building. This chart demonstrates the number of contractors and services that must be involved in a green project. Everyone of them must choose the more green options for the project in order to achieve a truly sustainable building in the end.

Targeting and benchmarking are an important part of the green building process. Record keeping also plays an important role. The project manager must get together with the building owner and occupants to decide what levels of sustainability are reasonable considering the use and function of the building. These goals and benchmarks will be different for every building. The job sustainability represents an ongoing process that extends throughout the life cycle of the building.

Why is it Happening?

Several factors are contributing the expansion of the newer, greener construction industry. The first is social pressure. The American public is pressuring the U.S. government to place new controls and measures on the construction industry to make kinder and friendlier to the environment. They… [END OF PREVIEW]

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