Construction and project management can’t lag behind when it comes to sustainability

Many factors have impacted our present and are certainly affecting our future and our planet, from soaring inflation to the threat to food security and compressed supply chains. Climate change tops the list.

To slow and potentially reverse its impact, digital transformation across industries can facilitate sustainable operations through the adoption of digital processes while meeting ever-increasing demands on the environment.

With the many risks facing the global economy, participants at this year’s World Economic Forum summit had their work cut out for them. Business leaders have recognized the need to act, broaden their view of corporate responsibilities, leverage technology to adopt greener practices, and develop long-term funding strategies to optimize growth paths and climate in which we engage.

This is, in part, reinforced by a secular shift in consumer expectations. Business leaders face a growing demand to do good for people and the planet. Consumers have power with their wallets and are increasingly driven by purpose. Employees choose jobs in organizations that prioritize diversity and are aware of their impact on the environment.

Investors also favor companies concerned with sustainable development. There is a push for the corporate world to have greater accountability and awareness, and companies are beginning to rise to this challenge.

Firstcomers Coalition

This year we also saw the formation of the First Movers Coalition. Its aim is to stimulate demand for green versions of materials that have proven difficult to manufacture without significant carbon dioxide emissions. The group now has 50 signatories, including Ford Motor Company and Volvo Group, which have both committed to making 10% of their primary aluminum purchases with low or no carbon emissions by 2030.

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, Microsoft and Salesforce have pledged to invest $500 million in technology to capture and store carbon emissions. Autodesk, which recently shared its FY22 Impact Report, outlined its approach and performance on important environmental, social and governance issues.

In particular, it neutralized greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across all operations and the entire value chain for a second consecutive year. In October 2021, Autodesk issued its first sustainability bond, totaling $1 billion, to further align its financial and impact strategies.

The United Arab Emirates is among the countries prioritizing sustainability initiatives. It has charted its course with a focus on achieving net zero emissions by 2050. This starts with coordinating efforts at the national level of all relevant stakeholders who will plan and implement strategies and policies to achieve the ambitious goal.

The United Arab Emirates aims for clear objectives

One of the pillars of the effort is renewable energy, with the UAE seeing a significant increase in its renewable energy capacity to reach 14 GW by 2030, up from around 100 MW in 2015 and 2.4 GW in 2020. The UAE is making a real difference, firmly establishing itself as a global leader on one of the most critical socio-economic topics in recorded history: climate change.

To take meaningful climate action, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) and manufacturing industries are a great place to start. According to UN Environment’s 2021 Global Status of Buildings and Construction Report, the sector accounted for 36% of global final energy consumption and 37% of energy-related CO2 emissions. 40% of total GHGs come from the built environment. While it represents 13% of global GDP, construction consumes more than half of the raw materials extracted in the world.

The manufacturing sector has benefited from a broader digital transformation, but it still accounts for 19% of global GHG emissions. It is estimated that due to population growth and the associated increase in demand, the manufacturing sector will need at least twice as much energy and material by 2050.

As this global sustainability transition gathers momentum, digital transformation is accelerating in AEC and manufacturing. As a result, companies are not only becoming greener through efficiencies and reduced waste, but they are also saving money and improving their business model.

When AEC companies embrace digitalization and manufacturers integrate Industry 4.0 tools and practices, they are well on their way to delivering better projects for the world and improving their bottom line in the process.

How do we accomplish all of this?

A very impactful next step is to create a public-private collaboration where decision-makers engage with businesses to understand their needs and develop policy that rewards digital transformation milestones ultimately leading to net zero.

Autodesk remains committed to advancing sustainable business practices as a zero-carbon company. We have an even more vital role in enabling our customers and other innovators to better understand the impact of design and make decisions about energy and materials used.

Digital transformation, done right, is part of a larger solution to measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve global health and resilience, and empower tomorrow’s talent. opportunities for engagement, growth and learning.

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