In the quest to lead more sustainable and cleaner lives, as architects and engineers we must always ask ourselves – which innovations can aid us in limiting or negating our impact on the planet? How can the digitization of the construction sector be useful here and how far have scientists come?
Answers to these and other questions were sought in September at the Advanced Construction and Architecture 2020 (ACA 2020) international conference organized by Kaunas University of Technology’s Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture together with Tallinn Technical University and Riga University of Technology. ACA 2020 was hosted by speakers from 9 countries and attended by participants from over 30 countries. During the 3-day conference, over 60 presentations were delivered by researchers from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, Luxembourg, India, the Czech Republic and other countries.
ACA2020 is the first in a series of travelling international conferences, and is built on the work done previously by KTU Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture – it is a result of two separate but parallel conferences (Advanced Construction (6 conferences) and Ecological Architecture (4 conferences)). In order to bring together specialists and scientists from various fields, it was decided to combine these conferences and organize them together with partners from Riga and Tallinn. ACA2020 itself was planned in a way to minimise the carbon footprint – the conference had a “no paper” policy and was held entirely online.
EIT RawMaterials, the largest raw materials-related consortium comprising well over 120 companies worldwide, is a major ACA2020 conference partner. The conference was therefore joined by two entrepreneurs from the EIT RawMaterials network – Viezo (Donat Ponamariov) and Nanopow (Sivakanesar Luxsacumar) – who spoke on the network’s innovative power and wide financing opportunities.
Furthermore, the EIT RawMaterials Baltics Hub representative Lukas Bartusevicius (KTU) introduced the activities in the Baltic region and explained the goals to promote the circular economy, more efficient use of raw materials, accelerate the market entry of new sustainable products and encourage collaboration between researchers, academia and industry. KTU, together with RTU and TalTech are the founding partners of the EIT RawMaterials Baltic hub.
These announcements were followed by the main event, which lasted a couple more days. 5 different sections were organized, according to the topics of the presentations ranged from air conditioning, building construction, smart architecture, digitization to research on new materials. The Conference sparked discussions among both researchers and students.
Danish researcher Gabriel Bekö looked at how changes in technology are changing the sources of pollution in homes and offices and what new actions need to be taken to improve their health. The researcher also singled out the problem of polluted urban air.
“In order to keep the house clean, it is necessary to ventilate the premises well. However, it must be admitted that there are a number of cities where the air outside is dangerously polluted and we cannot usually ventilate the window here, it is necessary to use various filters and air purifiers” assured G. Bekö.
There is much to be said the benefits of digitalisation of the construction industry and how it can significantly reduce the need for resources and help combat climate change. However, difficulties arise to change the mindset of the construction and real estate sectors. That is what Vishal Singh, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science, said.
Paris Fokaides, Principal Investigator at KTU Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture, presented the Smart Readiness Indicator developed by the European Union, which will help to further develop smart buildings and realize their potential. According to the researcher, by making buildings smarter, we can save a lot of resources, ensure the comfort of living or working in them and improve our health.
More interesting and useful presentations were also waiting for the conference participants. According to the organizers, the new remote format was a real challenge, but it is considered a success. Next year the conference will travel to TalTech and it is hoped that participants will already be able to gather in person.