Technology Record - Issue 26: Autumn 2022

66 V I EWPO I NT Cities have always been a benchmark for human achievement. However, new approaches are needed to support green urbanisation and electric mobility, and to counter the causes and effects of climate change. Green urban infrastructure must be increasingly enabled by digital innovation to accelerate global decarbonisation and create a better quality of life for all. Digital technologies could make better use of current budgets. Without these technologies, the path to the net-zero future could get thorny – 40 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions come from buildings according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Climate change is already causing a rising number of extreme weather events around the world, which are the leading cause of disruption to power, water and transport infrastructure in urban environments. According to a book titled Lifelines: The Resilient Infrastructure Opportunity, it takes a $300 billion toll on businesses every year. Cities of the future must drive the mass adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), electrified public transport and smart buildings powered by reliable and renewable sources of energy and new microgrid technologies in order to halt and reverse climate change. Traditionally, we used to build cities based on experience, acquired skills and the fashion of the time. Today’s projects are becoming more ambitious as we rethink urban infrastructure and the role of buildings in the energy system – and they are being delivered with a more complex set of stakeholders over increasingly shorter timeframes. The construction process itself now requires new ways for stakeholders to collaborate while ensuring adherence to stringent environmental guidelines. Software solutions allow us to incorporate sustainability and efficiency into every stage of the building life cycle and simulate what it is going to be like to construct, maintain and operate – making the entire process more efficient, sustainable and issue-proof. It is not a surprise then, that there is a strong link between the level of digitisation and sustainability. A report by the International Energy Agency found that a staggering 90 per cent of projects overrun and labour is used at only around 50 per cent of potential efficiency. This also creates a knock-on effect on sustainability, with at least 10 per cent of materials wasted. The lack of coordination and high volume of material waste amounts to €80 billion ($80.08 billion) of waste each year in Europe alone, according to the European Construction Institute. Digitalisation can help to reduce waste by providing necessary transparency and empowering teams for more efficient decision-making. Digital tools are also vital to improving the industry’s productivity, which has been steadily declining for the past 40 years and is ripe for a digitally enabled boost. Any new buildings today must be built for life and existing ones “Software solutions allow us to incorporate sustainability and efficiency into every stage of the building life cycle ” Going green and digital Uniting digital technologies and sustainability should be at the core of urban infrastructure transformation OL I V I E R B LUM AND MAR C NÉ Z E T : S CHNE I DE R E L E C T R I C