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Manufacturers are innovating building materials to address environmental challenges and to streamline the construction process; a new infographic highlights 18 cutting-edge materials that construction professionals should know about.

Put together by for builders and construction pros to stay competitive and current on materials available, the online equipment rental network says, "buildings crafted with the most modern materials will be more equipped to solve ongoing challenges, reduce their carbon footprint, and make an impact in the industry." Top of the list is self-healing concrete with water-activated bacteria producing calcite to "heal" cracks, used to cut greenhouse gases and reduce infrastructure maintenance. Other innovations include light-generating concrete, 3D graphene, 3D-printed carbon that is 5 percent of the density of steel with up to 200 times the strength; laminated timber, modular bamboo, nanocrystals, pollution-absorbing brick, and spider silk.

To address some of these challenges, many innovative firms are developing a generation of new building materials. Materials are being engineered to be smarter, stronger, self-sustaining, sleeker, and easier on the environment. The BIQ House in Hamburg, Germany provides a perfect glimpse of the future. Built with living algae, the BIQ is able to harness its own electricity. Not only do its aesthetics call to mind impressive sci-fi buildings from pop culture, but its impact on the environment holds much promise for a sustainable future.

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