What the Future of Sustainable Construction Looks Like (As It Turns Out, Androids Dream of Cement)

We’ve all seen Blade Runner 2049 by now, right? While those dystopian landscapes obviously decry modern pollution and lifestyle habits — among many other things — they’re not too terribly off-base. Beside and surrounding all that neon: we see cement used for miles. Concrete construction is the way of the future. The sustainable future. And this isn’t any stranger than (science) fiction.

cement blade runner 2049 landscape
The future is heavy with cement — as told by Blade Runner 2049. Image via Warner Bros.

Smart materials are already here.

concretus concrete cement speaker audio
“Concretus” speaker via The Plus Paper.

We love some good concrete design, but maybe we’re not ready for all-concrete-everything just yet. So where we do use it? Let’s be smart about it. Self-healing concrete already exists. Because concrete shouldn’t crumble or crack under pressure (or weather!). It sounds crazy, but supplementing with bacteria can actually prolong the life of concrete and the power of cement. Rebar is strong, but modern technology is taking us yet further. As New Atlas says, “Concrete is one of the most remarkable building materials of the modern age.” And now it’s even more remarkable.

New construction will need to rely on cement and other efficient materials.

Santiago Calatrava’s Auditorium - incredible concrete buildings

Replicants now replicate themselves — or maybe they always have (another question for Ridley Scott!) — and there seems no way to stop it. Humans are in control of the climate, and we can stop its change. But we have to work with the decisions we’ve made in the mean time. Efficient and renewable materials are imperative to our future. As long as we want new structures (and admittedly, need new structures, as old technology and construction continues to fail) we have to turn to the “cleanest” resources we have. That includes concrete-based construction. And making the cement that goes into it better.

Indeed, it’s going to (and must) get even better.

concrete block

While cement is already generally considered efficient, materials engineers are working hard to make it highly efficient. Not to mention all the other products essential to new buildings. The supply of raw materials is not infinite. Recycling programs and environmentally sound production processes are entering the mainstream. LEED certification is a great first step. We are proud to offer construction projects LEED credits with our blocks. But we’re only getting started. And we want to be a part of these changes on the horizon.

Cassie Vu

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