New building materials to change the construction industry

The call for innovation in the construction industry involves every relevant player in the construction value chain and that includes those in charge of supplying the building materials for a project.

Lucky for us, at CEMEX Ventures we know a thing or two about the world´s most used construction materials, cement and concrete. The use of this materials dates to ages ago. Yet in CEMEX, we´ve found ways to continuously evolve the material so its features are enhanced, and our clients have the best materials in their class available for their projects. CEMEX currently offers cement, aggregates, ready-mix concrete and other related products to construction professionals.

Yet there is still much to be done in the industry to promote the development and integration of advanced building materials. That´s why, as part of this year´s Constructions Startup Competition, we´ve added this as one of our five categories. We are looking for startups that offer alternatives to traditional materials with better performance and an evolution to materials used nowadays in the sector.

Does this speak directly to you? Read along to get a wider perspective of what we are looking for and apply before June 27 to the biggest competition for Contech startups. Let´s get to work!

Table of Contents

What are new building materials?

When we talk about building materials, we refer to every element that can be used for construction purposes. Back in the pre-historical era, civilizations experienced a transition from wood to stone that allowed for the creation of more robust and durable structures, some even standing today as world renowned attractions.

But this is the 21st century and we are way past the pyramids and Stonehenges of life. New materials and ideas emerge in the construction industry based on the knowledge set by the sector since ages ago, adapting itself to new controls and regulations that come into play, like the urge for more sustainable materials that have a lower impact in the environment.

New building materials can be a very broad list of things, as every structure has its unique features that depend on location, weather, budget, product availability, usage, and the list goes on and on. Innovative building materials must be more efficient, durable, sustainable, and risk-free, will shape the future of construction, and aim to increase efficiency, profitability, and environmental compatibility in the construction industry.

block wall made with advanced building materials

Also, many constructions products go way past the building alone. Other complimentary materials in the construction industry that can benefit from receiving an innovative approach are asphalt, concrete blocks, roof tiles, pipes, precast products, architectural products and specialty blocks, all essential elements across the construction value chain that must not be forgotten when thinking of modernizing how these are made and used.

It´s necessary to make the distinction between new as in “never been done before” and new for “new version” of an existing material. Both are extremely valid and needed in the industry. Yet, as it happens with many new products and prototypes, to create a new building material from scratch naturally requires a lot of time and money to be invested in the creation, testing and validation.

How are they going to improve our lives?

You wouldn´t think of making the next Burj Khalifa following the same methods and using the same materials as the ones used for the Roman Colosseum, right? Just the thought of it alone seems like a joke. But why do we continue using the same materials as 50 or 60 years ago and not challenge ourselves? Is it because of the “if its not broken, why fix it” mentality? Well, it´s not broken, but it can sure be a whole lot better!

For example, construction is fighting the carbon emissions battle. As one of the biggest industries responsible for the emissions of CO2 in the world, the sector must now rethink their materials, processes and even its operations in order to reduce its environmental impact significantly. CEMEX is doing so by managing agreements with other companies and startups to produce carbon capture technologies, and by introducing products like Vertua into its offering, their first net zero C02 concrete solution, already available in markets across the world.

Sustainable Concrete wall

The industry is screaming for innovation. We speak of smart cities and smart buildings, of digitalizing processes and embracing new technologies. But we must not forget that at the core of our industry, we must also look at the building materials and gather all relevant players to rethink how the materials used can be transformed to help us solve the challenges in the sector, like the high cost of materials, environmental impact, and their availability, just to name some examples.

Are we telling you that advanced building materials can help built professional improve their work and furthermore, the industry itself? Absolutely! As materials become more advanced and sophisticated, so too will the structures in which they are used and the methods applied to undergo a project.

Some examples of new building materials

As you may be aware off, new materials have been on the works for some time already, but none have made a wide adoption industry wide, nor have they become the “new standard” for the industry in the recent years.

From translucent wood, self-healing concrete, and bricks that absorb pollution, new materials are always popping up and making their way into the most open minded contractors who are willing to bet on them and use them in their projects.

Yet, we want to focus on the details and benefits new materials in the industry must offer to better understand why they it´s important to incorporate them in the industry:


Older building materials emit higher carbon emissions into the air, making it one of the main concerns to be challenged in the industry. By taking on a sustainable approach when developing materials, this can be highly durable and incorporate different technologies, such as capturing energy, capturing C02 and eliminating pollution. More so, they comply with new regulations set in different region, and benefit the health of the end user who interacts with the building as well as its surroundings.

Also, efforts should be made to develop and use materials which have been formed with waste or by-products from industrial facilities. One example is our effort with Carbon Upcycling Technologies to produce a low CO2 concrete made from this by-products.

Green building materials


It´s commonly known that the construction industry is famous for going overbudget on a regular basis. With new advances in material development, new products can help remove financial burdens from a project and offer lower cost solutions with the same or even better functionality than older materials.

Local Resources

When materials are available locally, delays because of new requirements are reduced significantly. Also, aligned with being sustainable and promote savings, by developing new materials that use locally available resources, the industry plays an important role in booting the local economy of where the project is being worked in, while reducing the emissions and costs that emerge from the transportation of materials.

CEMEX Ventures supporting the development of new construction materials

By looking for startups who are developing advanced building materials and getting them closer to CEMEX, a leader in the building materials category, we shorten the gap between entrepreneurs and a worldwide company in order to promote a wider development and adoption of these materials.

If you are an entrepreneur who´s already hands on and creating the next big thing in the construction materials category, we salute your bravery and can´t wait to see what you are up to so we can help you reach your maximum potential!

But also, bear in mind that existing materials in the sector are also in need of being innovated and repurposed so they are aligned with the industry requirements of today. How can we make them better? How can we leverage on the things that make them great and transform them into something extraordinary? That´s our challenge and we are eager to see solutions that tackle them so we can improve the built sector with these new additions.

We want to see all projects out there that have a solution fit for the “Advanced Building Materials” category. Us, Dysruptek, Ferrovial, GS Futures, Hilti, VINCI Group´s Leonard and NOVA by Saint-Gobain are ready to meet the future legends of the construction industry.

Apply to Construction Startup Competition 2021 today! The application phase will remain open until June 27.

Let’s keep in touch!


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