Using tech to drive a more sustainable building industry

Sustainable Construction

From initial design through to construction, technology can help the construction sector to move away from its heavy contribution to carbon emissions.

It is imperative to act now. Energy costs are rising rapidly, extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and there is a legal commitment to net zero.

For the building industry, it offers a huge opportunity, with green jobs key to its next stage of development. This growth will need technology to succeed.

Using technology to drive change

There are many technologies available to improve building performance and reduce carbon emissions in construction and operation. However, for clients and end users, it can be hard to distinguish between what is available and see what the true benefits are.

An important first step before choosing a solution is to focus on tools that can bring everyone together at the project-inception stage so that outcomes can be determined and agreed up front. Early engagement at the design stage makes the likelihood of a more sustainable project greater, with relevant experts brought together to collaborate, and a more accurate reflection on what different design methods and materials have on final building performance. Working in this way is more efficient, too, increasing the opportunities to remove wastage from the process.

Building methods are changing 

Modern methods of construction promise a more efficient, low-carbon future as well. Greater use of offsite manufacturing can embed sustainability from the start. The Construction Innovation Hub’s Product Platform Rulebook calls for the use of standardised components produced in a factory-based environment that are part of an interoperable, platform-based approach. This will mean that the most efficient and accurate production methods will be used, improving quality and reducing waste. It will help building elements to be recycled and reused in the future, too.

Manufacturing also lends itself to continuous improvement with more effective processes or materials substituted as and when appropriate. It means that as new, more energy efficient or eco-friendly products become available, production can easily follow suit.

Monitoring performance to improve the future

Tracking life-cycle information via operational dashboards and regular reporting, which compares the original brief, design approach and ‘in use’ performance, provides building operators with a greater understanding of their assets. This should lead to better decisions about our built environment when planning new projects, reducing both the financial and carbon cost, and should see more innovation in materials and processes.

This data should be made centrally available and fed back into the design process to allow good practice to be repeated elsewhere. In theory, we will then see accurate, updated digital records of buildings that start at the design stage and go right through to construction, operation and maintenance. Software is perfectly placed to make this happen, by building audit trails, spotting risks, ensuring compliance and ultimately driving better value in projects.

Guidance to help

Understanding how technology can help address these issues is more important than ever. That is why we have worked on a guide with the Chartered Institute of Building to outline where technology can be introduced to drive a more sustainable built environment.

The guide is divided into three sections – planning and design, construction, and occupation and ongoing management – to help people along every step of the way. Our aim is to give clients the understanding of how technology can be effectively harnessed so that they can achieve the outcomes that they desire. 

Check out the guide here: