It doesn’t take much more than a glance out a window to see that our cities are growing. As our buildings continue to rise, so too do our concerns about the impact such construction has on our environment. Luckily for us, innovation within the construction industry is transforming the ways we look at real estate and the environment.

Here’s the rundown on three Canadian companies that are developing impressive green technologies.

Capturing carbon emissions in concrete

Cement is the primary ingredient in concrete, the material that we use to build the foundations of the streets we walk on, the buildings we live in and the bridges we drive over. But here’s something you might not know: Cement is also responsible for 5% of the world’s carbon emissions. This is becoming a significant environmental issue, considering that cement production is growing by 2.5% annually.

CarbonCure Technologies is working to counteract the emissions that concrete creates. The company has developed concrete that absorbs carbon emissions out of the atmosphere, trapping them directly in the concrete. It works by reintroducing the carbon released by the manufacturing of concrete right back into the material itself. Watch this video to learn more about how CarbonCure’s concrete works. The company’s product has been used in a variety of structures, including the recently built Pan Am Games pool in Markham, Ontario, and the Tridel Hullmark Centre in Toronto. The company has recently branched out into ready-mix, offering an alternative to simply selling concrete blocks.

Markham Pan Am Centre, Image source: Bondfield Construction
Markham Pan Am Centre. Photo credit: Bondfield Construction.

Saving water without compromising style

We’ve all heard of singing in the shower, but what about talking in the shower? Kreaate Corp. has invented the Shour, a voice-activated smart showerhead that helps reduce water waste and save money. Environment Canada has reported that showering is responsible for 35% of indoor water waste in Canada, making it the biggest source of water waste in our homes.

The Shour reduces the amount of water wasted via three features.

  • Tracking and analyzing usage statistics: Shour has an army of built-in sensors that wirelessly feed infomation to a smartphone app. The insights gleaned from this information help keep users on track and aware of their shower usage with feedback through audio and visual indications. For users, this means they can track their usage and progress over time, set shower spending goals and receive advice and feedback on how to meet those goals.
  • Preheating the water: Users can now wirelessly tap their phone to “preheat” their shower. Shour automatically runs the cold water and, once it has reached an ideal temperature, the flow is automatically shut off.
  • Regulating flow using voice commands: By using voice commands, Shour eliminates the need to manually adjust shower knobs.
CAD rendering of the Shour showerhead
CAD rendering of the Shour showerhead

Building walls from forest waste

Reforus Wood Systems is a company that is making something from nothing. It is currently focused on commercializing a proprietary wood processing technology called Solid Wood Composite Technology. This process converts small-stem timber and non-merchantable wood into high-quality composite wood products like panels. By using these materials, Reforus is able to maximize the use of forest residue, which would otherwise be considered waste.

The goal is to combine the best attributes of polymer manufacturing processes with the structural integrity of wood. The company has accomplished this by using their process to manufacture BuildPanel, a new proprietary building platform that consists of structural shear panels that are clicked together to form buildings. BuildPanel allows for custom, easy-to-build structures that also provide significant material and labour savings.

Structures made with  BuildPanel can be built in hours oppose to the  days or weeks it would take using conventional building techniques
Structures made with BuildPanel can be completed in hours as opposed to the days or weeks it would take using conventional building techniques

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Sarah Aspler

Sarah Aspler was a Communications Assistant at MaRS. Sarah recently graduated with a bachelor of technology from Ryerson University in Toronto. See more…