More than one in seven banks now uses blockchain technology. American Express and Mastercard filed several patents last year related to the technology and B2B transactions, according to pymnts.com. And by 2022, global spending on blockchain technology by all sectors could hit $11.7 billion, from an estimated $1.5 billion in 2018, according to International Data Corp. (bit.ly/2uOq9qO).
While AEC firms are still trying to figure out where it fits into design and construction management, blockchain technology has grabbed hold of the financial services sector. IDC notes that the distribution and services sector is also latching onto this technology in a bigger way. And the New York Times reported last October that the concept of marrying blockchain to artificial intelligence is attracting entrepreneurs and investors.
For the uninitiated, the simplest explanation of this technology is that blockchain is a digital distributed ledger of transactions or records that exists across multiple participants and computers in a peer-to-peer network. Transactions can be added to the blockchain using a secure digital “signature.” In essence, it eliminates middlemen, and democratizes recordkeeping that is secured by “witnesses” who are incentivized by the blockchain’s digital currency.
Blockchain “is a clumsy little dance that a computer needs to do in order to simulate something that humans have been doing for thousands of years,” quips Dan Robles, CEO of the Integrated Engineering Blockchain Consortium, which has developed a working blockchain that prices infrastructure risk by monetizing data provided and validated by engineers.
Bitcoin is the best-known cryptocurrency that uses this technology for transactional purposes. And over the past decade, innovations from this technology have evolved from cryptocurrency exchanges and blockchain to smart contracts enforced by computer code and what’s known as “proof of stake,” which does away with data processing centers and replaces them with complex financial instruments for a higher level of security. This, according to Vinay Gupta, Founder of Hexayurt Capital, which was instrumental in creating Dubai’s Blockchain Strategy to issue all government documents on blockchain by 2020.
What users like about blockchain is its immutability—once data is recorded (and usually time stamped) on a block, it can’t be changed retroactively without the entire network’s collusion. Tampering with the integrity of the blockchain voids it, and transactions are no longer valid.
“Trust delivered by way of cryptography” is how Ian Church, Senior Projects Director for CBRE Global Workplace Solutions, describes blockchain. He believes the technology could eventually deliver “highly efficient investment valuations” that lead to incremental gains in property values.
In a 2017 paper by Arup Foresight based on a workshop with Deloitte, PwC, Volkswagon Financial Services, and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the engineering firm predicted that blockchain would have “a major impact on the built environment … in the same way the World Wide Web did.”
The paper didn’t stop there. Blockchain, Arup stated, could have a “profound effect on society” because it provides a platform where people, organizations, and even machines can transact “without having to trust each other.”
Building Tech | Mar 14, 2023
Reaping the benefits of offsite construction, with ICC's Ryan Colker
Ryan Colker, VP of Innovation at the International Code Council, discusses how municipal regulations and inspections are keeping up with the expansion of off-site manufacturing for commercial construction. Colker speaks with BD+C's John Caulfield.
Student Housing | Mar 13, 2023
University of Oklahoma, Missouri S&T add storm-safe spaces in student housing buildings for tornado protection
More universities are incorporating reinforced rooms in student housing designs to provide an extra layer of protection for students. Storm shelters have been included in recent KWK Architects-designed university projects in the Great Plains where there is a high incidence of tornadoes. Projects include Headington and Dunham Residential Colleges at the University of Oklahoma and the University Commons residential complex at Missouri S&T.
AEC Innovators | Mar 3, 2023
Meet BD+C's 2023 AEC Innovators
More than ever, AEC firms and their suppliers are wedding innovation with corporate responsibility. How they are addressing climate change usually gets the headlines. But as the following articles in our AEC Innovators package chronicle, companies are attempting to make an impact as well on the integrity of their supply chains, the reduction of construction waste, and answering calls for more affordable housing and homeless shelters. As often as not, these companies are partnering with municipalities and nonprofit interest groups to help guide their production.
Modular Building | Mar 3, 2023
Pallet Shelter is fighting homelessness, one person and modular pod at a time
Everett, Wash.-based Pallet Inc. helped the City of Burlington, Vt., turn a municipal parking lot into an emergency shelter community, complete with 30 modular “sleeping cabins” for the homeless.
Multifamily Housing | Mar 1, 2023
Multifamily construction startup Cassette takes a different approach to modular building
Prefabricated modular design and construction have made notable inroads into such sectors as industrial, residential, hospitality and, more recently, office and healthcare. But Dafna Kaplan thinks that what’s held back the modular building industry from even greater market penetration has been suppliers’ insistence that they do everything: design, manufacture, logistics, land prep, assembly, even onsite construction. Kaplan is CEO and Founder of Cassette, a Los Angeles-based modular building startup.
Sustainability | Feb 8, 2023
A wind energy system—without the blades—can be placed on commercial building rooftops
Aeromine Technologies’ bladeless system captures and amplifies a building’s airflow like airfoils on a race car.
Multifamily Housing | Feb 3, 2023
HUD unveils report to help multifamily housing developers overcome barriers to offsite construction
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the National Institute of Building Sciences and MOD X, has released the Offsite Construction for Housing: Research Roadmap, a strategic report that presents the key knowledge gaps and research needs to overcome the barriers and challenges to offsite construction.
Healthcare Facilities | Jan 31, 2023
How to solve humidity issues in hospitals and healthcare facilities
Humidity control is one of the top mechanical issues healthcare clients face. SSR's Lee Nordholm, PE, LEED AP, offers tips for handling humidity issues in hospitals and healthcare facilities.
AEC Tech | Jan 27, 2023
Key takeaways from Autodesk University 2022
Autodesk laid out its long-term vision to drive digital collaboration through cloud-based solutions and emphasized the importance of connecting people, processes and data.
Mass Timber | Jan 27, 2023
How to set up your next mass timber construction project for success
XL Construction co-founder Dave Beck shares important preconstruction steps for designing and building mass timber buildings.