The construction industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by an increased focus on environmental sustainability, workplace safety and circular construction, and the growing importance of technologies such as robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT). 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: Photovoltaic roof tiles.

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

Photovoltaic roof tiles are a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Photovoltaic (PV), or solar, roof tiles are photovoltaic modules that resemble conventional roof tiles, providing both a roof covering and an energy generating system. The energy generated by the system can be used to satisfy the building's energy consumption, with any excess possibly being fed back into the national grid. Typically, PV roof tiles would be used when a conventional rooftop solar system is either unviable or aesthetically unsuited.

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 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of photovoltaic roof tiles.

Key players in photovoltaic roof tiles – 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 photovoltaic roof tiles

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Compagnie de Saint-Gobain 136 Unlock company profile
LG 65 Unlock company profile
CEA 56 Unlock company profile
Bouygues 51 Unlock company profile
ArcelorMittal 26 Unlock company profile
Kingspan Group 24 Unlock company profile
KGIC Merger 20 Unlock company profile
HeidelbergCement 19 Unlock company profile
Beijing Apollo Ding Rong Solar Technology 18 Unlock company profile
Kaneka 16 Unlock company profile
Vinci 15 Unlock company profile
State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council 14 Unlock company profile
Tesla 14 Unlock company profile
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP 13 Unlock company profile
Innova Patent 13 Unlock company profile
Physee Group 12 Unlock company profile
Strategic Solar Energy 12 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Mitsui Construction 11 Unlock company profile
ClearVue Technologies 10 Unlock company profile
Hyundai Motor Group 10 Unlock company profile
Tenex Capital Management 10 Unlock company profile
LIXIL 9 Unlock company profile
Roto Frank 9 Unlock company profile
Zinniatek 8 Unlock company profile
Holcim 8 Unlock company profile
Magna International 8 Unlock company profile
Fischerwerke 8 Unlock company profile
Nordwest Industrie Group 8 Unlock company profile
VKR Holding 7 Unlock company profile
MR Innovation 7 Unlock company profile
Sekisui House 6 Unlock company profile
Flex 6 Unlock company profile
Ultraframe (UK) 6 Unlock company profile
China State Construction Engineering 6 Unlock company profile
Gode Holding 6 Unlock company profile
REHAU 6 Unlock company profile
Power Construction Corporation of China 5 Unlock company profile
Sekisui Chemical 5 Unlock company profile
Siemens 5 Unlock company profile
Otto Fuchs 5 Unlock company profile
Ecojoule 5 Unlock company profile
Somfy 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Leading innovators in the development of photovoltaic roof tiles include Compagnie de Saint-Gobain, a manufacturer of construction and building products. Key innovations in the space by Compagnie de Saint-Gobain include a photovoltaic module with an encapsulated photovoltaic element and an infrared-transmissive decorative overlay simulating conventional roofing. Further key patents include a photovoltaic roofing panel comprising a roofing panel substrate and at least six discrete photovoltaic elements affixed to the roofing panel substrate with their photovoltaically-active areas exposed at the top surface of the roofing panel.

In terms of application diversity, leading companies in the development of photovoltaic roof tiles include MR Innovation, Holcim, and Ultraframe. In terms of geographic reach, leading companies include ArcelorMittal, Innova Patent, and Sumitomo Mitsui Construction.

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.