Materials for Aesthetic, Energy-Efficient, and Self-Diagnostic Buildings

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Science  30 Mar 2007:
Vol. 315, Issue 5820, pp. 1807-1810
DOI: 10.1126/science.1137542

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It has become desirable to reduce the nonrenewable content and energy footprint of the built environment and to develop “smart buildings” that allow for inexpensive monitoring and self-diagnostic capabilities. Latest-generation embedded sensors, self-healing composites, and nanoscale and responsive materials may augur a time when buildings can substantially adjust to changing environmental and functional demands. However, faced with the legal liability resulting from unknown lifetime performance, designers and engineers have had little incentive to incorporate new material technologies into building designs. As efficiency issues become more acute, the potential for improvement in performance from new materials, together with partnerships between the materials science community and those entrusted with the design and engineering of the built environment, may offer real breakthroughs for the future.

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