The building sector is uniquely positioned to respond to the challenges of climate change and energy efficiency. High-tech innovations that enable fast and accurate on-site inspections should streamline the process.
INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGIES DIGITAL ECONOMY
The building generates 9% of the gross domestic product of the EU – GDP – and represents 31% of industrial jobs or 18 million jobs. Despite its essential role, this area is lagging behind in new technologies that would help improve productivity. The Built2Spec project, funded by the EU, intends to remedy this state of affairs.
On land and in the clouds As project coordinator, Germain Adell explains: “Built2Spec combines state-of-the-art breakthrough technologies in self-inspection and quality assurance, which will contribute to achieving the EU’s energy efficiency targets, defining new standards and adapting the ambitions of related policies. “More than just individual high-tech tools for construction and inspections, the overall solution developed by the project includes centralized data storage and real-time information sharing, as well as a cloud-based virtual building management platform (VCMP).
Its fast modelized real estate building system (BIM) uses a 3D scanner technique via a set of devices, including drones, cameras and Microsoft’s HoloLens. On-site, instantaneous and accurate energy efficiency assessments and quality tests can be transferred to the administrative services via the VCMP to streamline the quotation process. The toolbox features portable devices for acoustic, sealing and thermal testing, as well as a unique system for multi-gas evaluation of the most harmful gaseous pollutants.
Intelligent construction materials with built-in sensors or radio identification (RFID sensors) enable real-time monitoring of the physical and thermal behavior of structures. A new day comes up for quick on-site inspections and quality assurance Germain Adell describes what a conventional inspection with Built2Spec technologies would look like. Once at the workplace, the engineer synchronizes the device with the VCMP Built2Spec from a smartphone or tablet. The data collected as part of an aerial thermal study conducted by drone report a problem on a window on the third floor and the engineer goes to the scene to analyze it.
The smartphone RFID reader identifies the window systems used, and the BIM device verifies compliance between the design specifications and the actually installed model. Installation instructions attached to the manufacturer’s specifications, as well as the installation and self-inspection processes, can be viewed on the tablet. The engineer can also know when the task was done, by whom and what the results of the self-inspection tests were.
After concluding that the report is related to an uncompleted task, the engineer may send a message to the subcontractor to understand the reason, document the inspection by including a photo of the installed window, sign the document electronically and send it to the project manager and the quality assurance department. European SMEs take the lead The progress made by Built2Spec will improve the position of the partners in relation to competition in this tight market. A perfect example is Ecofix, an Irish construction SME.
According to Adell, “This company has become the leading Irish market leader for high-performance, low-energy building envelopes.” In the wake of the 59-unit Built2Spec technology demonstration site, Ecofix has signed a contract for the construction of 4,500 homes over the next five to seven years. This should allow him to multiply his income by more than ten.
According to Germain Adell: “Opening new markets for project partners and transferring technology to the building sector is the only way to ensure that your project will have a real impact. And that’s what’s happening today.