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How blockchain could boost pre-fab and green buildings

EXCLUSIVE: Blockchain might be the missing ingredient that prefabricated homes need to go mainstream.

According to Aurecon’s fourth Buildings of the Future report, provided exclusively to The Fifth Estate, “leapfrog” technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies have the potential to dramatically change how buildings are designed, constructed and managed. 

The report said that blockchain, a decentralised database that chronologically and securely records transactions, could help streamline the supply chain and design documentation needed to build prefabricated homes and offices.

Blockchain will make connecting up the supply chain – including planning processes, construction contracts, and landlords – easier and more secure.

“There is a growing trend for homes and offices to be printed from scratch in warehouses, with parts clipped together like LEGO, similar to car factories
and IKEA warehouses,” the report states. 

“This will require an increase in the accuracy and robustness of the design data documentation.”

What this means for sustainability

Blockchain technology could help improve take up of prefabricated homes and offices, which could drive up the green credentials of Australia’s building stock.

If well designed, prefabricated homes can be easier to maintain at a comfortable temperature because they leak less air than conventional homes. This means there is less need for mechanical heating and cooling in these buildings.  

Building in this manner also vastly reduces the amount of construction waste generated.

What else will blockchain do for buildings?

Buildings of the future will become increasing integrated, with items such as transportation or energy utility infrastructure built in.

Blockchain could be used for commercial arrangements between all partners in a building, according to the report, helping to “evenly and automatically distribute payment for different channel usage”. 

The technology has already been used by US-based startup LO3 Energy to  revolutionise how people manage renewable energy though microgrids.

The company’s peer to peer microgrid ecosystems allows households, businesses, schools and other organisations to buy, sell and share energy locally. It allows users to obtain the energy needed from renewable sources and sell excess electricity credits, effectively bypassing electricity suppliers.

Blockchain could also introduce an error-free process to build and monitor building contracts, which could stop outside interference and fraudulent behaviour. 

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