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The past year brought significant technological advances in renewable energy, AI, robotics, sustainable building construction, and alternative material resources—and 2023 portends further developments in these areas. Here are five technological trends to watch in the coming year, with representative new building products and processes for each

The goal to decarbonize construction will intensify as we approach 2030 and other sustainability milestones. Concrete, the building product with the largest CO2 footprint, is situated in the crosshairs of this effort. Many initiatives involve increasing concrete’s environmental performance by modifying its ingredients, such as replacing portland cement with supplementary cementitious materials. In addition, significant gains can be made by simply minimizing the quantity of material used. Researchers at Bath, Cambridge, and Dundee Universities are working together to develop new, structurally sophisticated concrete building systems that significantly reduce the volume of required material for a given application. According to the team, nearly half the concrete currently utilized in buildings is unneeded based on the use of planar formwork, suggesting that new configurations and casting techniques can achieve measurable improvements. Their joint effort, entitled ACORN (an acronym for automated concrete construction), utilizes robotically driven prefabricated construction methods to optimize structural forms. According to ACORN’s project summary, “Something as simple as allowing beams, columns and floor-slabs to have the shape they need to do their job, rather than the shape they need to be easily formed, allows a complete rethink of the way material is used in our buildings.”.

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