The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 425,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in construction: eco-friendly HVACs. Buy the report here.

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However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

80+ innovations will shape the construction industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the construction industry using innovation intensity models built on over 232,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, self-healing concrete, atmospheric water harvesting, and recycled concrete fillers are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Vacuum insulated glazing (VIG), eco-friendly HVACs and recycled waste-based cements are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas is wall surface temperature controls, which is now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the construction industry

Eco-friendly HVACs is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Amid growing environmental concerns, and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the need for more energy efficient and eco-friendly heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVACs) is paramount. These improved HVAC systems use environmentally friendly refrigerants to reduce their environmental impact, and also have more efficient control mechanisms.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 510 companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of eco-friendly HVACs.

Key players in eco-friendly HVACs – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to eco-friendly HVACs

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Midea Group 1055 Unlock Company Profile
Haier Group 646 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Electric 641 Unlock Company Profile
Gree Electric Appliances 521 Unlock Company Profile
LG 415 Unlock Company Profile
Daikin Industries 377 Unlock Company Profile
Ningbo Aux Electric 342 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 249 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 212 Unlock Company Profile
Haier Smart Home 153 Unlock Company Profile
Qingdao Haier Air Conditioner 151 Unlock Company Profile
Lennox International 146 Unlock Company Profile
Koninklijke Philips 138 Unlock Company Profile
Johnson Controls International 136 Unlock Company Profile
Oaks Air Conditioning 129 Unlock Company Profile
Emerson Electric 121 Unlock Company Profile
AUX Group 106 Unlock Company Profile
Honeywell International 104 Unlock Company Profile
Xiaomi 97 Unlock Company Profile
Dyson 73 Unlock Company Profile
RTX 73 Unlock Company Profile
Raytheon Technologies 73 Unlock Company Profile
Ingersoll Rand 67 Unlock Company Profile
Munters Group 63 Unlock Company Profile
Hisense Home Appliances Group 61 Unlock Company Profile
Fujitsu General 58 Unlock Company Profile
Delta-T 56 Unlock Company Profile
Carrier Global 54 Unlock Company Profile
Hitachi 54 Unlock Company Profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 53 Unlock Company Profile
Siemens 52 Unlock Company Profile
Sharp 45 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 45 Unlock Company Profile
Melrose Industries 40 Unlock Company Profile
Madison Industries 35 Unlock Company Profile
3M 34 Unlock Company Profile
Oy Halton Group 34 Unlock Company Profile
Schneider Electric 33 Unlock Company Profile
Delta T 33 Unlock Company Profile
Resideo Technologies 32 Unlock Company Profile
Southwire 28 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Electronics 26 Unlock Company Profile
MicroJet Technology 25 Unlock Company Profile
CSR 24 Unlock Company Profile
International Business Machines 24 Unlock Company Profile
Hyundai Motor 24 Unlock Company Profile
Regal Rexnord 24 Unlock Company Profile
Aircuity 23 Unlock Company Profile
Navien 23 Unlock Company Profile
Somfy 22 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Midea Group is the leading patent filer in eco-friendly HVACs. The Chinese company is one of the leading air-conditioning manufacturers in the world. Among its recent improvements, the company is developing systems that target waste heat from air-conditioners and recycle it for hot-water supply. According to the company, the new technology especially benefits users living in areas where air conditioners operate for a significant amount of time. In addition to its heat recovery system, CirQ, Midea’s “green” solutions also include the energy-saving technology Tesseraction, and a new eco-friendly split air conditioner Breezeless E. Among other key patent filers are Haier Group, Mitsubishi Electric, and LG.

In terms of application diversity, Mitsubishi Electric is among the leaders of the pack, slightly ahead of LG. By means of geographic reach, Mitsubishi Electric also holds a leading position among the major players in this area, ahead of Daikin Industries and Samsung Group.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in Construction.

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.