Adopt digital technology to drive forward net zero

From: techUK
Published: Wed Sep 27 2023

Digital technology is embedded in our daily lives and in every sector. Playing their part, the construction and property sector are unlocking their net zero potential through the adoption of digital technology. Vital, given the built environment is responsible for around 40% of UK carbon emissions.

From retrofitting existing structures to ensuring that new construction generate lower emissions, the use of digital technologies (including digital twin and smart homes) are accelerating the green transition. Indeed, recent data found that up to 15 per cent of the reduction in the UK's total GHG emission between 2019 and 2030 will be attributed to the use of digital technologies.

Below, techUK outline how the sector are already leading the way.

Prioritise a digital-first culture

To optimise digital technologies, organisations must prioritise a digital-first culture. This includes shifting from a process-driven to a data-driven mindset and investing in digital learning. As well as cultural practices such as cross-functional collaboration and experimentation.

Demonstrating their commitment to a digital-first culture, Costain co-developed the ‘Downloading a Digital Mindset' (DDM) programme to improve digital leadership across the construction industry. The programme provides a series of free-to-access learning materials and recognises that the industry must adopt a digital mindset that moves beyond just IT. Costain's programme further tackles the digital and green skills gap across the construction industry.

To date, the programme has seen a 10% improvement in digital leadership capability and 981 individuals from 551 companies have engaged during its initial pilot, over 59% being SMEs. This demonstrates the proven impact of raising productivity, increasing efficiency, and reducing sustainability impacts, and links to Costain's overall goal to achieve net zero emissions by 2035.

Utilise digital twin technologies

A key digital innovation that enables firms to advance their net zero pathways is the digital twin technology supported by AI capabilities. The technology exhibits a virtual working representation of assets and production plants to foster improved decision making and efficiency.

An example of success, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction partnered with Microsoft and Bentley Systems to develop a digital twin of its wind farms. Doosan can now optimise, simulate and visualise all aspects of its infrastructure planning and monitoring. In turn, helping to maximise energy production. This is critical given Doosan's organisational goal to be on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Companies in the World Index by 2025.

Take learnings from others in industry

For success in achieving net zero, industry has recognised the importance of sharing best practice and taking learnings from others. Critical, given the sector involves a broad supply chain.

Showcasing a sharing first approach, Mace's strategy for carbon reduction, ‘Steps without footprints' is designed to work with clients and supply chain to innovate and eliminate the industry's carbon footprint. Mace recognises the importance of collaboration and encourage others in the sector to use and learn about their approach. Sharing has been a central promise to Mace's carbon reduction strategy. Crucially, digital solutions underpin Mace's strategy, and they continue to prioritise trialling and employing systems to deliver a low carbon future. This includes investigating AI and IOT platforms to reduce energy use.

To seize this economic opportunity that net zero can bring, techUK continues to call for the UK government to partner with the tech sector to recognise the full potential of digital technology as a solution to the net zero challenge. But it is clear that industry plays a crucial role in the digital-led green transition. By utilising digital technologies, the construction and property sector can continue to make bold and proactive moves in pursuit of net zero opportunities.

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