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The future of smart building materials: How technology is revolutionizing construction

The Future of Smart Building Materials: How Technology Is Revolutionizing Construction

Published By : Rebecca Scott

Technology has positively influenced the construction industry, touching everything from design to safety and cost-effectiveness to project efficiency.

In this article, we will examine the emergence of smart building materials and how the technology behind them is revolutionizing construction. Before you know it, it may soon be available at your local building materials store.

What are smart building materials?

Smart building materials leverage technological advancements that create responsive smart structures that adapt to conditional and environmental changes.

Future use in the construction industry will build lower maintenance building envelopes that can stand up to the threats of climate change while providing cost savings and creating safer, more efficient buildings.

As a result, buildings of the future will be poised to offer improved interior comfort with low-maintenance envelopes primed for complete energy efficiency.

What are the different types of building materials?

There is a growing list of building material capabilities, which include the following:

Self-Healing Coatings

These coatings include sealants and adhesives commonly used to prolong the life of building envelopes. Today, these specialty coatings repair marine-based structures using polymers with self-healing mechanisms that respond when ruptured.

In construction, the coatings would respond to issues such as prolonged exposure to UV rays, filling cracks and fractures by expanding to self-heal wear and damage.

Smart Concrete

Smart concrete contains bacteria that turn into limestone when in contact with elements such as water or wind. The bacteria also respond to stress and pressure, creating a self-healing process that fills cracks caused by common threats.

Although one of the most commonly used materials in construction, concrete is vulnerable to the elements, especially water.

The bacteria lie dormant until water triggers the limestone to fill cracks and provide ongoing strength to the concrete. It will greatly reduce costs by as much as 50% over the life of the concrete by eliminating maintenance and repairs.

Shape-Shifting Metals

Also known as shape-memory alloys or SMAs, these metals can return to their original shape after responding to something like the cold. Metal is another construction material that is highly durable, but constantly changes shape due to the environment.

The “memory” of the metal allows it to remember and return to its former shape, preventing permanent alteration. This is an important advancement, providing more resistance for structures such as bridges to stand up to increasing threats of catastrophic weather events from hurricanes and tornadoes to earthquakes.

The applications in building construction will also create structures that can withstand natural events with limited or zero damage.

Transparent Metals

These metals are similar to the gold plating on astronaut helmets, allowing them to breathe oxygen and see through the faceplate.

When applied to buildings and structures, the metal can create extra-strong windows ideal for withstanding extreme environments, including the extremes related to climate change, such as increasingly stronger winds.

However, as we run out of space to build homes and other structures, transparent metal introduces new possibilities, such as underwater buildings for the future.

Transparent Wood

Wood functions like transparent metal and is stronger than glass, offering improved insulation. This combination presents excellent possibilities for future construction, with a more biodegradable, sustainable option than conventional window materials, including glass panes and plastic framing.


Aerogels provide opportunities for lighter, stronger, and thinner insulating materials. They can also be adapted to manage common structural challenges, including effective reinforcement, fire prevention, and reduction of noise transference.

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology uses nanoparticles to produce nanomaterials. “Nano” refers to a size that is one billionth of a metre. To put that size into perspective, this is about 1/80,000 of a strand of human hair.

Manipulating materials using nanoscale materials can significantly change their makeup and improve strength in a wide variety of construction materials. Using nanoparticles such as clay nanoparticles, as well as silica, alumina, magnesium, and calcium, allows manufacturers to create products such as the following:

  • Concrete: Nanoparticles like silica can improve durability while also making concrete easier to use, including self-levelling and self-healing concrete.
  • Steel: Modifying the grain size in the refinement process can help prevent steel building materials from cracking, reduce the weight to make labour easier, decrease fatigue to prolong its life, and improve performance.
  • Coatings: Adding nanoparticles to paints and coatings enhances durability using properties that prevent condensation, mould growth, corrosion, and wear. It also creates a more attractive, smoother finish. A few examples of nanomaterials in coatings would be carbon nanotubes used for fire protection or nano silica particles to improve flexibility and water/scratch resistance.
  • Glass: From antifogging agents to self-cleaning glass, nanotechnology will also improve overall window function to control solar and energy absorption, reduce noise, and enhance fire safety.

These are just a few examples of how nanotechnology will continue to contribute to advancements in the construction industry. Taking conventional construction materials and making them stronger, more sustainable, and more resilient provides building materials stores with opportunities to experiment with nanomaterials.

As a result, they achieve the desired function and properties for practically any element used in the building process. These developments will address common building and maintenance challenges to help reduce production time, thereby realizing construction efficiencies and higher wearing materials that will decrease maintenance and replacement costs.

Modular Construction

Modular construction shifts the building process from construction sites to off-site controlled environments to reduce costs, save time, and limit waste. Through this new building process, building materials consist of modular components constructed on an assembly line.

The modules are then delivered to the site where the entire structure is assembled. This process helps streamline the transport of materials, reducing the impact on greenhouse gas emissions. The working environment at assembly sites is also safer and not impacted by weather, which helps keep projects on schedule.

Additionally, modular construction reduces costs in the change management process, often leveraging technology such as virtual reality in the design and approval process as well as Building Information Modeling (BMI) to decrease errors and improve productivity.

Contact the Building Materials Supply Experts

Smart building materials will revolutionize the construction process, while creating buildings with significantly reduced maintenance and repair costs.

Sustainability of both materials and the buildings themselves will also offer environmental benefits throughout the entire building material supply chain, from manufacturers to construction sites and building materials stores.

Yvon Building Supply is your local building materials store, delivering high-quality materials to your construction site. Contact us here to speak to our team of experts.

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