The global focus on smart, future-ready and sustainable cities corresponds to the need for innovative construction materials.
Conforming to the need for intelligent urbanization and energy-resource efficiency, while taking into account buildings and users, an integrated and holistic approach for planning and practical solutions is an imperative.
At the recently concluded BAU 2015, at Munich, Germany, the focus was on improving buildings and interiors along with a new trend in energy conservation, ´Efficiency House Plus´, or a house that produces more energy than it consumes. CW reports on the latest building materials, innovations and trends featured at the event.
So much steel!
For roofs and façades, lightweight insulating components with a distinctive look are in demand. Trapezoidal profiles also offer top performance in terms of stability and thermal or sound and weather protection. Cassette profiles can be tailor-made to suit specific requirements with regard to noise and fire protection, and they are particularly economical thanks to their high structural strength. Salzgitter insulated panels (SIP) offer high-quality surfaces and outstanding thermal insulation properties, as well as fast, uncomplicated assembly. Another new development is galvanizing of steel and composite bridges. Fire protection with intumescents is effective, attractive and economical and can be used across a range of projects, from individual structures to highly complex steel buildings. New coatings that give better weathering performance and improved consumption, as the required layer thickness is reduced, are now available. Newly developed water-based or solvent-free intumescents are especially useful in green buildings.
There are lightweight building systems with energy-efficient building envelopes that make use of innovative lightweight building systems in steel. The system can be used in commercial and high-quality multi-storey buildings, saving resources and protecting the environment. New products for roofs and façades of different shapes, with a variety of surface finishes, offer a range of applications.
Cassette façade systems are popular for prestigious office and hotel buildings. The steel cassettes or sidings are flat, panel-shaped components made of steel sheet, fitted in a modular arrangement, either horizontally or vertically. These components, insulated or un-insulated, are relatively simple to slot onto the support frame, without the need for bolting. Variable module sizes and different colour compositions open up options for a finely structured façade.
Also, in vogue are façade systems in weathering steel, a material that protects itself through a ´rusty´ patina, and extensive expanded metal components. Such products can be used on semi-transparent façades in multi-storey car parks. Lightweight construction systems in steel offer virtually unlimited design scope for building skins. The differently structured surfaces give long-term performance over many decades. Attention is increasingly focusing on outside space in relation to buildings. For transport structures, urban furniture and art objects, stainless steel is a popular choice for its aesthetics and ability to withstand the rigours of busy urban spaces. Modern technology ensures smooth surface finishes that shrug off dirt and even withstand graffiti. The outer envelope of the buildings is also attracting more attention. Solar-shading systems of stainless-steel mesh, of wire-ring mesh or expanded metal protect against noise and ensure good ventilation. Prefabricatedfaçade systems of stainless steel are light and cost-effective to fit, and unusual design effects can be achieved with electrolytic-coloured free-form panels and high-resolution media façades in woven stainless steel. Stainless steel also offers many options for greening façades and roofs, including even roll seam-welded flat roofs.
The broad spectrum of products and components available in stainless steel - wall claddings, railings, doors - also help enhance quality of life in building interiors in a sustainable way. Fixing systems in stainless steel ensure the lasting safety of railings, staircases, bridges, tunnels and façades. And stainless-steel rebars are ideal for use in highly corrosive environments.
Now let´s look at some other key materials.
Aluminum: Long lasting and low-in-maintenance aluminum with highly insulating systems can be efficient as multi-chamber plastic windows, along with slim profile widths increasing the proportion of glazing aluminum profiles that offer design scope beyond conventional powder-coating, e.g. anodizing and self-cleaning surfaces. Concrete: In future, special attention will be paid to the latest developments in sustainability, energy-efficiency, design and innovation: Ways of thermo-activating the concrete core and visual concrete with different surface finishes. Another focus will be on open-pore water-permeable concrete that is suited to use as a top layer in road building. Unlike asphalt or other paving surfaces, this permeable concrete does not seal the surface; therefore, it guards against overloading the drainage network and reduces the risk of flooding.
Glass: Pressure-equalised multi-pane insulating glass offers interesting options in the form of reduced glass thickness, simpler and more efficient integration of light-deflecting and solar-shading systems, and improved sound and thermal insulation. In plus-energy houses in particular, modern glass façades are increasingly being exploited for energy-generation purposes.
Bricks or tiles: Medium-format tiles - 10 to 12 per sq m - are growing in popularity. This size is ideal not only for new buildings but for re-roofing on top of an existing roof frame. Without any major financial input, this easy-to-handle format is therefore a simple solution for R&M projects, which account for over 70 per cent of the entire turnover of tile manufacturers. Tiles with dark colours and matt surfaces are also increasingly in demand. Matt and satin-finished tiles reduce light reflection by over 90 per cent and offer excellent protection against mechanical and environmental influences. Another appealing factor is their dirt-repellent property.
Solar technology is becoming increasingly important in building systems. As a result, many new surfaces and options are being considered for generating electricity from solar energy. Smart-home technology, as it is known, is designed for optimum coordination of own-generated electricity and overall electricity consumption. The devices that consume electricity are linked in an intelligent system controlled by an ´energy manager´. The central control unit decides on just which devices will use the electricity being generated at any one particular time, in line with the consumption profile of the household. Through an Internet connection, the system can even be controlled remotely by a smart phone. Particular attention is being paid to solar energy in the context of insulation, and the generation and storage of renewable energy.
The IT imperative
The major trends in the sector are themes such as building information modelling (BIM) and mobile solutions. There are new evaluation and calculation tools to support planners through the concept and implementation phases as well as software tools for design planning, along with a broad spectrum of IT solutions in the areas of measurement technology, tenders, awarding of contracts, billing, project planning, project management and controlling.
Many energy-efficiency improvements in research and monitoring (R&M), sustainability and energy-efficiency are prompted by national and international legislation. Environmental and health aspects are shaping the development, production and application of chemical building products. This includes the latest solutions for waterproofing the outside of buildings (bituminous products) and for the inside (compound seals in rooms affected by damp) as well as new products (special plaster systems for direct application to the affected areas of the building). In all these systems, priority is given to technically safe implementation and shortest possible application times. To increase the resistance of buildings, manufacturers are also working on optimizing building materials - in the case of concrete additives, for example - to make them ever more efficient and usable in a wider range of applications.
Smart thinking, smart technology, smart materials - in all, a smart way to build.
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