As pressure on natural resources grows, technology is likely to transform buildings of the future into collectors and storers of energy. Traditional solar panels and solar thermal systems will become integrated into the building fabric, building on current innovations such as thin film solar cells made by depositing layers of photovoltaic material onto a substrate, such as glass, plastic or metal.
According to the recent NHBC Foundation Futurology report, by 2050 many homes will function as mini renewable power plants, able to collect energy from solar and wind and store it in a home battery, used to create electricity, heat and charge electric cars.
The report predicts that controls used to manage systems in homes will become more sophisticated at managing energy usage, calling on different sources such as photovoltaics, batteries, national grid, or heat pumps intelligently and cost effectively.
The rise of smart technologies and the Internet of Things will see buildings transformed into complex sensor networks that give facility managers the ability to track, measure and collect data on virtually any aspect of operations then tweak power, heating or cooling systems to improve performance.
The drive to reduce the carbon impacts associated with materials used in construction is likely to result in an increasing trend for materials that store more carbon than they release during manufacture, and the resulting ‘natural’ aesthetic can have the added benefit of improving the mental wellbeing of occupants.