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 the 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 Innovation in construction: thermal bridging. 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, waterproof floor drains, and construction 3D printing are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Smart glazing, regeneration control hydraulics, and floating breakwaters are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are wall surface temperature controls and embossed floor panels, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the construction industry

Thermal bridging is a key innovation area in construction

Thermal bridging occurs when there is a direct pathway for heat transfer through building materials connecting the indoor and outdoor environments. This phenomenon, often caused by materials with high thermal conductivity such as metal or concrete, results in energy loss, heat imbalances, and increased energy expenses. In a building envelope, which functions like a protective blanket insulating the interior from the external surroundings, thermal bridging creates localized areas of heightened thermal conductivity. These act as openings or weak points in the "blanket," facilitating easier heat escape and potentially leading to energy inefficiency, discomfort, and condensation problems. Employing continuous insulation, especially around structural elements and openings, minimizes thermal bridges, enhancing overall insulation effectiveness. Introducing thermal breaks, such as non-metallic spacers, in metal framing disrupts the thermal path, reducing heat transfer. Sealing gaps around windows, doors, penetrations, and intersections prevents air leakage, further mitigating thermal bridging. Thoughtful building design and material selection can effectively minimize thermal bridges, improving the overall thermal performance of the building envelope.

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 290+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established construction companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of thermal bridging.

Key players in thermal bridging – 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 thermal bridging

Company Total patents (2010 - 2022) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Assaloy 76 Unlock Company Profile
LG 31 Unlock Company Profile
Haier Group 23 Unlock Company Profile
Midea Group 17 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Corporation of China 16 Unlock Company Profile
GEZE 13 Unlock Company Profile
China State Construction Engineering 11 Unlock Company Profile
Hawa 10 Unlock Company Profile
Vision Industries 9 Unlock Company Profile
Beijing Huomujia Doors and Windows Building Materials Sales 7 Unlock Company Profile
Foshan Nanhai Educe Windows and Doors 7 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Gold Mantis Construction Decoration 6 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 6 Unlock Company Profile
Qingdao Haier Air Conditioner 6 Unlock Company Profile
NISSO 6 Unlock Company Profile
Chongqing ofan Door Industry 6 Unlock Company Profile
Dujiangyan Kaixin Automatic Door Technology 6 Unlock Company Profile
DIRTT 6 Unlock Company Profile
Lite-On Technology 5 Unlock Company Profile
Lite-On Electronics 5 Unlock Company Profile
China Southern Power Grid 5 Unlock Company Profile
Zurn Elkay Water Solutions 5 Unlock Company Profile
Nitto Denko 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hebei Orient Sundar Window 5 Unlock Company Profile
China State Shipbuilding 4 Unlock Company Profile
Uni-President China 4 Unlock Company Profile
Taishan Ping An Hardware Goods 4 Unlock Company Profile
Guangdong Weiye Aluminium Factory 4 Unlock Company Profile
Otto Fuchs 4 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Zhongxinchang Technology 4 Unlock Company Profile
CISDI Engineering 4 Unlock Company Profile
Roto Frank 4 Unlock Company Profile 3 Unlock Company Profile
LIXIL 3 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Jiangshan Xupai Doors 3 Unlock Company Profile
Sound Seal 3 Unlock Company Profile
Truking Technology 3 Unlock Company Profile
Marvin Lumber & Cedar 3 Unlock Company Profile
Nanjing Aitasi Intelligent Technology 3 Unlock Company Profile
Amogreentech 3 Unlock Company Profile
China Railway Group 3 Unlock Company Profile
Dujiangyan Xindingshun Doors and Windows 3 Unlock Company Profile
Dehua TB New Decoration Material 3 Unlock Company Profile
Conch (Anhui) Energy Saving and Environment Protection New Material 3 Unlock Company Profile
Tangshan Caofeidian Wood Industry 3 Unlock Company Profile
L&K ENGINEERING (SUZHOU) 3 Unlock Company Profile
State Grid Shanghai Municipal Electric Power 3 Unlock Company Profile
Zhejiang Xiaoshan Hospital 2 Unlock Company Profile
CRRC Group 2 Unlock Company Profile
Suzhou Xingya Purification Engineering 2 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Assa Abloy is the leading patent filer in thermal bridging, followed by LG and Haier Group. Assa Abloy is a global leader in door products and solutions. Specializing in mechanical, electromechanical, and electronic locks, the company offers a comprehensive range of door solutions, including digital locks, security hardware, and entrance automation. Assa Abloy caters to institutional, residential, and commercial markets, with a focus on enhancing energy efficiency and reducing heat loss through innovative research and development. By optimizing door frame materials, evaluating seals, and developing integrated solutions, Assa Abloy is at the forefront of minimizing thermal bridging in door assemblies. The company's commitment to quantifying energy savings contributes to a more sustainable and energy-efficient built environment.

In terms of application diversity, Vision Industries leads the pack, while Nitto Denko and Alphabet stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Assa Abloy held the top position, followed by Alphabet and NISSO.

Vision Industries, established in 2021 by Abunayyan and Al Muhaidib Group, aims to lead the renewable energy sector in Saudi Arabia, aligning with Vision 2030 and the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP). With a focus on decarbonization and climate change mitigation, Vision Industries is committed to advancing alternative energy solutions. The NREP seeks to increase the Kingdom's renewable energy production, achieve energy source balance, and attain net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Through strategic initiatives and regulatory frameworks, the expansion of renewable energy offers a unique opportunity for technological advancements and the development of a clean technology industry in Saudi Arabia. Vision Industries, known for its innovative history, is actively involved in research and development, particularly in the area of thermal bridging. The company aims to create an industry platform that fosters sustainable and competitive local content development in solar PV, wind, and green hydrogen sectors. By partnering with industry leaders and leveraging stakeholder experience, Vision Industries aims to drive innovation across the value chain, ultimately contributing to a sustainable and competitive industry base. Specifically, Vision Industries is at the forefront of research on thermal bridging in window and door assemblies. Recognizing the importance of minimizing thermal bridging for improved energy efficiency and reduced heat loss, the company's efforts focus on optimizing frame materials, evaluating glazing options, and developing integrated solutions. Through these initiatives, Vision Industries is advancing the field of thermal bridging reduction, contributing to a more sustainable built environment.

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