In the 1950s, less than 30 percent of the world’s population lived in urban environments. By 2040, experts predict this figure will rise to 65 percent. Each week, more than 1.3 million people move into major cities. Over 500 cities now have a million people or even more.y. With these trends in urbanization, a push for developing “smart cities” for the future exists. It involves an array of considerations that focus on sustainability and safety.
Transportation, building construction, and urban energy use are obvious areas of concern for smart cities. At the heart of all of these areas are building products and materials. But what impact do building products and their suppliers having on smart cities? The following offers a bold look at the role building suppliers and distributors have on these ecosystems in the future.
Smart Cities and Sustainability
In regard to smart cities, the capacity to maintain high levels of sustainability is important. However, sustainability refers to much more than environmental issues. Economic, social, health, as well as environmental sustainability, will be critical for smart cities of the future.
A significant part of smart cities of the future will involve networks and social engagement. Wireless connectivity, web-based systems, and mobile devices will enhance data and information analytics. These will drive sustainability in a variety of areas as well as safety. But at the same time, the materials used to construct our smart cities will play a significant role. The smart cities of tomorrow will require anything from built-in sensors to enhanced durability, and innovations in building products.
Innovative Building Products of the Future
As we move into an era of urbanization and sustainability, several new building products offer exciting opportunities for progress. Consider concrete for example. It remains one of the most popular building products on the planet. It’s durable, hardens in normal climates, and is inexpensive. However, concrete production accounts for five percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Recent innovations have introduced a new product called “zerocrete.” This building product is not only free from zero carbon dioxide emissions, but it is resistant to corrosive decay as well.
Other innovative building products include shape metal alloys, which retain their shape. Composed of nickel and titanium, shape metal alloys are more stable, weigh less, and are highly durable. These building products are ideal for buildings and bridges as well as construction needs in space. Other innovative building products include electric sensors made of piezo-ceramic materials used to monitor structural integrity. Likewise, fiberoptic monitors are finding increased applications is monitoring metal corrosion. Notably, these building products offer both economic and environmental sustainability for smart cities of the future.
Supplying Smart Cities of the Future
As smart cities evolve, a key part of the sustainability ecosystem will involve building products and their suppliers. Building supplier and distribution companies adopting sustainability practices today will likely be those well aligned to meet these needs. It does not only involve improving existing operations but also investing in new technologies moving forward. Considering this, here are a few of today’s top building suppliers who appear to be moving in that direction.
- Bluelinx Holdings Inc. – In addition to being a Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) certified supplier of building products, Bluelinx is committed to sustainability. The Atlanta based company actively researches new ways of pursuing an eco-conscious materials and distribution processes. Bluelinx is recognized as a major supplier of roofing, insulation, lumber, vinyl and other building products. Bluelinx’s annual revenues of $2.4 billion put it in a good position to be a major player in smart cities construction. They recently completed an acquisition of Cedar Creek, a leading building products wholesale distributor that will create one of the largest wholesale distributor companies in the world with combined revenues exceeding $3.2B.
- ABC Supply Co. Inc. – Despite being a family-owned business, ABC Supply Co. has estimated annual revenues in excess of $7.2 billion. Likewise, the company is committed to sustainable building products with a focus on durability, energy efficiency, and environmentally-friendly practices. ABC Supply boasts over 700 branches throughout the country and is one of the largest wholesale distributors of building products and largest of roofing supplies. These building products include roofing, windows, gutters, doors and more. They are also the owners of the Verizon Indy Series AJ Foyt ABC Supply Racing team, driven by Tony Kanaan, which they have sponsored for 14 years.
- Builders FirstSource – Operating in 40 states, Builders FirstSource offers a vast number of sustainable building products. These include trusses, lumber, energy-efficient windows as well as dozens of other building products. The Dallas based company has $7.4 billion in revenues with more than 15,000 associates in 40+ states. In fact, Builders First Choice is one of the largest U.S suppliers of building products with a focus on new residential construction, repair, and remodeling.
The Essential Role of Sustainable Building Product Suppliers
Smart cities of the future must not only meet urban population trends, but they must also invest in sustainable efforts. This includes building products that focus on innovations and offer economic and environmental sustainability. It also requires building suppliers that support socially responsible behaviors from its customers. Building products that are inherently more durable and utilize fewer resources will be essential in this regard. Likewise, the value will also be given to building products that advance the Internet of Things (IoT), safety, and monitoring of decay. Building suppliers who make these building products accessible will be those with a competitive advantage over time. And they will be the ones that become entrenched as part of the ecosystem advancing smart city development.