Topic 3 - Sustainable management of the built environment and smart cities

Theme 3.1 - Characterization, monitoring and integrated analysis of the current and future condition of concrete structures

The aim of this theme is to develop reliable techniques for the diagnosis and prognosis of a structure’s condition (P1 and P2). The CRIB has significantly contributed to the development and use of non-destructive testing methods. Ongoing work seeks to integrate these techniques and efficiently manage the considerable volume of information generated. The combined use of methods based on different physical principles will help improve, through cross-checks, the precision and accuracy of the diagnosis. Approaches based on knowledge management concepts will be used. Artificial intelligence will be used to categorize and process data, as well as to analyze the evolution of information. Wireless and highly autonomous IoT-type (Internet of Things) smart sensors will be studied for continuous monitoring of the state of cementitious materials. The research will also focus on the semi-automated inspection of structures using drones.

Theme 3.2 - State-of-the-art technologies to preserve, restore and upgrade concrete structures

This theme will deal with design tools, materials and techniques to preserve the built environment. It seeks to develop digital design support tools to predict the behaviour of a repaired structure in its environment (P4 and P5). A variety of innovative materials will be subjected to experimental studies on models, namely UHPFC to better use their exceptional mechanical properties and durability, as well as expanding agents, internal curing and healing to eliminate cracking, cathodic protection systems to prevent or neutralize corrosion, and waterproofing systems to prevent water and contaminant infiltration. Accelerated repair techniques (e.g., ultra-fast setting concrete, modular installation and hybrid elements) will be studied to minimize the length of service interruptions, while ensuring the lifespan required by the interventions themselves is achieved.

Theme 3.3 - Advanced decision-making tools to optimize the performance of in-service structures

This theme brings together researchers in engineering, finance and economics to develop analysis methods and tools adapted to managing infrastructure (P1 and P5). Given their social and economic importance, the development of these leading-edge decision-making support tools will help the project manager make informed decisions to address these recurring investments. The simulations and data generated will support the following analyses: Optimal forms of investment for building a new infrastructure - Preventive/regular maintenance strategies vs. major repairs - Extending the life cycle and economic value of a structure - Impact of climate change scenarios on optimal investment in an infrastructure - Economic advantages generated by maintaining infrastructure in proper condition relative to costs. A recently developed prototype (GUI interface) will serve as the basis for developing new tools.

Theme 3.4 - Transdisciplinary design of infrastructure and cities

Simulate and build: transdisciplinary knowledge for the design of tomorrow’s smart buildings and infrastructure. However, this knowledge remains highly fragmented and disciplinary. The theme proposes an innovative design and a parametric construction method for tomorrow’s concrete buildings and infrastructure, by integrating transdisciplinary technological breakthroughs (architecture, engineering and economics). A parametric design methodology based on environmental data flows will generate projects adapted to the context by minimizing the environmental impacts of buildings (P1 and P4). This new 3D design methodology will facilitate the decision-making process for the various public authorities while facilitating participatory processes. The goal of parametric design is to optimize materials used for projects, while contributing to reducing green-house gas emissions.

Theme 3.5 - Sustainable development: carbon footprint, LCA and circular economy

Cutting-edge innovations based on concrete research enable the construction of durable infrastructure with a reduced carbon footprint (P3 and P6). This theme seeks to integrate environmental aspects with economic aspects in decision-making processes relating to concrete infrastructure (construction methods, etc.). So far, this process has mainly been based on cost analysis. Life-cycle analysis (LCA) is a methodological tool that helps evaluate the potential environmental impacts of products over their entire life cycle, from raw material extraction to their end of life. In addition to better informing us about the environmental profile of the concrete developed, results will help build a database representing Québec’s geographical context which, in a circular economy perspective, will help analyze the environmental performance of recycling on construction materials.