Digitisation of the construction industry helps meet net building emissions targets

Miruna Macsim 06/06/2023 | 07:57

The European Union aims to decarbonize the construction sector by 2050, and industry associations in the United States have set the same goal: achieving net zero emissions in the construction sector by 2050.

 

One of the biggest challenges in reducing greenhouse gas emissions results from the low energy efficiency of existing buildings and still too low renovation rates in almost all EU Member States. Reducing the EU’s carbon footprint requires a significant increase in the energy retrofitting of the existing building stock.

Given the growing environmental challenges, it is imperative to rethink the approach to the design and operation of buildings, let alone their retrofitting. Concerned with future trends, priorities, and strategies for architecture and interior design, PlanRadar has compiled a summary of the main measures by which professionals in the field are adapting to change and planning for a sustainable future through architects, property developers, and interior design studios.

 

Customization and hyper localization

Recent research shows that when it comes to creating buildings that are resilient to the impacts of climate change, designers are looking to location, i.e. to respect and reflect the local environment in design and construction. In practice, each project takes into account regional and site-specific characteristics – regional weather patterns, infrastructure, architectural styles. But to prepare buildings for a warming planet with extreme climatic disturbances, architects should consider weather and environmental conditions on a bespoke and locally adapted level.

“A street corner can become a heat island, which means heat-reflecting building materials or landscaping with lots of green space. A block can be affected by flooding in the future because of local infrastructure, which means that superior drainage and elevation solutions need to be designed in at the construction phase, or in the rehabilitation phase. In order to achieve the macro objectives, the local impact of climate change needs to be reduced at the micro level first,” said Sander Van de Rijdt, co-founder PlanRadar.

 

Urban and extra-urban connectivity

Many planners emphasise reducing urban sprawl by promoting denser city development. This strategy plays a crucial role in reducing transport emissions and increasing energy efficiency, but it also presents challenges. Around 80% of the world’s population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050, which means a sustainable approach is needed to avoid crowding more tall buildings into limited space. The solution is to see each new urban project as part of a coherent whole and to work closely with urban planners. This collaboration ensures that transport networks, pedestrian routes, cycle routes and natural spaces are seamlessly integrated into new urban neighbourhoods. In addition, it is essential to ensure easy access to local services and facilities – food shops, entertainment venues and office space – making the future of urban living as efficient, equitable and sustainable as possible.

 

Harnessing local, sustainable materials

The use of locally sourced sustainable materials to construct new buildings ensures minimal environmental impact and provides long-term strength and durability. This reduces transport-related emissions while encouraging local businesses and industries – green steel produced by innovative local foundries, mud (a building material with a history of thousands of years in the world continues to be one of the most sustainable choices), bamboo, copper, granite, etc. By sourcing materials locally, builders can also contribute to local climate change mitigation efforts. For example, in fire-prone regions, the use of smaller trees supports sustainable forest management strategies, thereby addressing local environmental challenges.

 

Promoting sustainable supply chain practices

Construction experts and architects are excelling in supply chain innovation by embracing increased transparency and new technologies that track materials from factory to site such as PlanRadar, which helps reduce the impact of construction or remediation work.  This makes the commitment to ethical labour and production practices crucially important for many construction clients.

PlanRadar digitally connects all team members and provides real-time access to project data, enabling developers and suppliers to act early to reduce costs, resources and time spent on the job.  By connecting the entire team – from project managers to site teams, subcontractors and stakeholders – in real-time, PlanRadar users can dramatically increase their efficiency and profitability in the construction or renovation process and more easily manage the achievement of zero net emissions targets for buildings by 2050.

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Miruna Macsim | 28/06/2024 | 12:25
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