The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability and workplace safety, and the growing importance of technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and robotics. In the last three years alone, there have been over 248,000 patents filed and granted in the construction industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environmental sustainability in Construction: Environmental barrier coatings.

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 stabilising 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 179,000 patents, there are 80+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, green roofing is a disruptive technology that is in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. HAWT wind turbines, environmental barrier coatings, and vacuum-insulated glazing are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are hybrid electric heavy machinery and energy-efficient HVAC system, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the construction industry

Environmental barrier coatings is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Environmental barrier coatings (EBCs) are protective measures that are used to prevent corrosion of ceramic matrix composites. Early versions of ECBs focused on coatings for corrosion protection, but new generations of coatings enable the usage of such composites in extreme conditions.

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 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of environmental barrier coatings.

Key players in environmental barrier coatings – a disruptive innovation in the construction industry

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

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

Patent volumes related to environmental barrier coatings

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
General Electric 277 Unlock company profile
Safran 83 Unlock company profile
Rolls-Royce Holdings 38 Unlock company profile
IHI 33 Unlock company profile
Aviva 26 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries 24 Unlock company profile
Toto 20 Unlock company profile
JGC Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
Honeywell International 16 Unlock company profile
General Motors 15 Unlock company profile
APPLIED THIN FILMS 9 Unlock company profile
UpStack 9 Unlock company profile
Linde 9 Unlock company profile
Hercules 8 Unlock company profile
MTU Aero Engines 7 Unlock company profile
Boeing 6 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Rolls-Royce Holdings and JGC Holdings are among the leading filers of patents relating to environment barrier coatings. General Electric, via GE Aviation, which is a provider of commercial and military jet engines and components, is also among the leading filers of patents.

In terms of application diversity, Rolls Royce leads the pack. By means of geographic reach, IHI, Japan's leading maker of jet engines, holds the top position.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the construction industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Construction.


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.