Call for action: Seizing the decarbonization opportunity in construction. This is the title of a recent report (recommended reading) from McKinsey on the construction industry. It states “As one of the world’s biggest economic ecosystems, the construction industry has a major part to play in achieving global sustainability goals”.
The whole report is available here: Seizing the decarbonization opportunity in construction | McKinsey
As with flying and the aviation industry, a systems approach must be applied. The answer is not one thing but a systems transformation where changes need to happen on a high level as well as in the details. The construction industry is still too fragmented and divided between design/build and operate/maintain. As we are talking about high-value assets and they need to be managed as such. Look at the whole process, the bigger picture and stop wasting energy (and money).
Assets in construction typically have a very long life cycle and according to McKinsey the “GHG emissions from the construction ecosystem are mainly driven by two components: raw-material processing for buildings and infrastructure (about 30 per cent of total construction emissions per year, largely cement and steel) and buildings operations (about 70 per cent)”.
As with any large asset, defence or civil, the bulk of the life cycle cost is post-construction, build and commissioning. McKinsey mentions GHG (Green House Gases) but this applies to cost too and the construction industry is starting to realize this. Also realizing that the system flaw is not solved just because an asset is transferred and handed over to another organization, the owner/operator. It is finally time for a major transformation, industrialization and adoption of digital technologies.
The use of Digital Twins will play an important role in the design, modelling and simulation of any assets, initially to address the fact that design is the most important factor in determining GHG emissions over a building’s lifetime. But once the asset is built and commissioned and the physical twin is born, Digital Twins will be used to optimize the asset given its use and surrounding conditions, including regulations. The Digital Thread should be used not just downstream but also upstream to make sure the intent in earlier phases is understood and implemented. Today, in most cases, it is very hard to demonstrate that all requirements are actually met in the realized asset/building.
The digital transformation will not come easy. Today, point solutions are rapidly adopted in AEC but the value network is seldom addressed. McKinsey says, “Providing incentives for players across the value chain to take joint action is a necessary part of this process. The construction ecosystem is in the midst of a transition that is reshaping all parts of the industry. A further challenge is how to deploy smart technologies across millions of locations in an industry with the second-lowest level of digitalization and relatively low levels of productivity growth”.
Point solutions are not going to take us where we want to be. As in any industry, silos need to open up, be integrated and become part of a bigger picture. McKinsey again: The construction ecosystem is highly fragmented, with many steps along the product life cycle. Although each player in this highly complex ecosystem can make a difference and capture opportunities, collaborative efforts among various stakeholders are likely to yield the best results.
This sounds very similar to what Peter Bilello, President and CEO of CIMdata had to say about why Eurostep and ShareAspace can deliver significant value to the construction industry:
“The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is a very complex industry with many moving parts and changing participants. To be successful, an AEC firm must be able to enable a collaborative environment that supports dozens of disciplines and companies in a very dynamic manner. Typically, AEC firms deal with designing, constructing, and managing high-value assets throughout very long lifecycles. This places an even greater burden on their lifecycle collaboration needs.
To address this, Eurostep is packaging a dedicated ShareAspace AEC and Plant offering. CIMdata is pleased to see Eurostep’s commitment to this market and we believe Eurostep can deliver such a solution successfully in a manner that can deliver significant value. Eurostep and their software ShareAspace have been helping aerospace & defence, machinery, and automotive companies address and solve collaboration challenges across their value chains for more than two decades. As a result, Eurostep is well-positioned to take advantage of its experience and apply it to the AEC and Plant industry.”
ShareAspace is a standards-based, secure, collaboration software with applicability in many industries including AEC&Plant. A great way to dive a bit deeper into what we are doing in industries like defence, manufacturing and AEC&Plant is to watch the June 2021 webinar ShareAspace Forum 2021.