The biennial 2019 Batimat just took place at the Parc Des Expositions in Paris, and along with the more than 270,000 other attendees I poured through 2.5 million square feet of building products that represented the current innovative state of the EU-built environment.

While some US politicians continue to argue about the legitimacy of climate change, New York and a few other states have fallen in line with the EU’s and China’s push to decarbonize 100% of buildings and shift their entire electrical grid to renewables. Batimat was the show that highlighted the large segments of the global building industry that is leading that push through innovation.

A few show highlights:

  • The dream of a one-unit-solves-all “Magic Box” has evolved into a single electric heat-pump unit that can now provide 100% of a building’s hot water, heating, and cooling needs, at any project size.
  • Robots are at every level of the building process, even on the site. From LIDAR layout lasers and 3D foundation printers to automated prefab wall assembly machines and AR plan visualizations. The push to empower tradespeople to build faster and better while achieving higher quality has never been greater.
  • Carbon-sequestering mass-timber structures and innovative products that utilize over 85% post-consumer waste as their raw material were everywhere. This solves not only our building efficiency goals, but reduces the impact that human consumption has on the natural world.

As one of the very few show attendees from North America, all I could see everywhere was hope. Hope in that while we argue about the validity of climate change back home, there are millions of people working today on tomorrow’s solutions for all of us. Even if some of us have yet to drink the juice and get on board with our inevitable shared future, entire industries have already begun iterating the solutions we will all need tomorrow.

The future is already happening, we just need to decide to join it.

Innovative electric hot water systems were the trend at Batimat. Pictured above is a newly released Aquarea air-to-water system by Panasonic. Cooling, heating, dehumidification, and hot water all in one combined system using next-generation R32 refrigerant.

The automated wall panel system by MACH Diffusion (above) assembles and nails the pre-cut framing, and then nails and trims the sheathing. It even routs out the window openings. This amazing machine can assemble a prefab wall panel in less than 20 minutes with one person assisting.

This modified construction crane has been fitted with a concrete nozzle, masonry batch feeder, actuators, and a CPU control module turning it into one of the first 3D house-printing robots.

On display at Batimat was the Zero Emissions House by Arteck. A prefab building approach that utilized Passivhaus technology along with innovative details like Respir, a prefab panel design that removes studs from the assembly by locking sandwich wall panels together with timber screws.


Sam McAfee
Sam McAfee
Sam McAfee has been a student of green building ever since buying his first Earthship books back in 1988. Since then, he has received an…

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