The BIM files @ #SustainablePublicAffairs – meeting EU construction goals
By Camille Vachet, Senior Consultant @ Sustainable Public Affairs
Construction digitalisation is crucial for meeting EU renovation and sustainability goals
#SustainablePublicAffairs is the world’s most sustainable public affairs agency. This agency fosters policy-driven growth for sustainable business cases. They service sustainable frontrunners to ensure their practices become the market norm through EU regulation and that these get translated into a competitive advantage. Their high standard of market-led sustainability and continued advocacy for regulatory conditions to support this made them the very first B corp certified PA consultancy. One of their advisors is Camille Vachet, a senior consultant focused on smart cities. Her work includes integrating renewable energy in cities and the twin (green and digital) transition. The perfect candidate for a new guest blog contribution in our “The BIM files @…” series.
There is no ignoring it: twin transition is a very hot topic this year. It is also the focus of the 2022 Strategic Foresight report issued by the European Commission, entitled: “Twinning the green and digital transitions in the new geopolitical context.”
Digitisation and sustainability, combined with the EU’s focus on renovation, clearly affect the construction industry.
In this blog post, I intend to shed some light onto the current state of digitalisation of this industry today and what lies ahead.
Digitalisation supports recovery and climate neutrality
Part of the EU’s long-term spending plans, known as multiannual financial frameworks (MFFs), has been allocated toward creating a cohesion policy that reduces development gaps throughout different fields in the EU. When it comes to the construction market, investments are directed towards renovation, building performance, and energy savings. The EU “Renovation wave” is part of the Green Deal and is a dedicated renovation plan.
The aforementioned investments follow the top priorities of the Renovation Wave strategy:
- Tackling energy poverty and worst-performing buildings,
- Renovation of public buildings, incl. schools, hospitals, public administrative offices,
- Decarbonisation of heating and cooling.
In addition to the MFF, the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility is a temporary recovery instrument created to mitigate the economic and social impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Part of this program calls for doubling the renovation rate by 2025. It encourages a deep renovation of buildings to improve the energy efficiency of public and private buildings – creating a renovation wave!
The Recovery and Resilience Facility’s top priorities:
- To power up (clean technologies and renewables),
- Improve energy efficiency of buildings,
- Reskill and upskill (education and training to support digital skills).
Digitalising the entire building lifecycle is critical to supporting the Renovation Wave and achieving the sustainability goals for buildings in the EU. By increasing efficiency, reducing fragmentation, and improving communication, digitalisation is an enabler for resilience and the green transition.
The role of BIM in the Green Transition
I define BIM as linking people, technology, and processes to improve outcomes in building and construction. BIM is more than a tool; it is a process that keeps essential information safe while sharing it with the entire value chain.
BIM enables a robust planning approach throughout the entire planning life cycle – from the concept phase through the construction and operation phases. In addition, BIM simulates, evaluates, and optimises the lifecycle carbon emissions and energy performance of new buildings at each step.
BIM is a strategic tool that the entire construction value chain can use. Its benefits include cost reduction, productivity, the efficiency of operations, and better environmental performance of buildings.
In the near future, stakeholders expect the EU Commission to propose a data-sharing framework with common rules on trust, reliability, and a safe environment. In addition, national and regional authorities are expected to implement EU-level recommendations, especially regarding BIM, digital building logbooks, and permit systems. Finally, SMEs are asking for more support for acquiring tools and software and upskilling their labour.
The use of digital tools – proven technology like BIM or a less widespread technology such as Digital Twins – also supports the goal of climate neutrality. These technologies maximise the reuse of major structural building components and keep a high level of handling of construction and demolition waste, which is critical in a carbon-rich industry like construction.
Digital Twin – circular and collaborative
The Digital Twin is another essential part of the green and digital transition.
A digital twin of a building enables better ongoing reporting and operation of the building’s energy consumption. A digital twin is like a digital “as-built” representation of a building connected to operational data. The Digital Twin receives and structures relevant information for building operations and upkeep in a digital format, and a 3D model contextualises all that data. In addition, a digital twin allows the correlation of operations data on building performance to the intended objective. This analysis provides critical insight across traditionally siloed building systems.
When combined with additional technologies that leverage the digital twin (like AR in the GenieVision app) underperforming or faulty elements can easily be located and remedied at a minimum cost. That too is sustainability at its finest.
Given the value that Digital Twin brings to the reporting and operation of a building’s energy consumption, we support legislators to push Digital Twin technology forward and facilitate its adoption by the market.
European focus on integrated collaboration efforts – what’s next?
Achieving the goals of the “Renovation Wave” is top priority. Right now, we are waiting for the adoption of the Energy Performance of Building Directive by the co-legislators (European Parliament and Council) and the communication on a transition pathway for resilient, innovative, sustainable, and digital proximity and social economy of the European Commission.
In addition, the European Commission’s website has just launched a range of resources supporting SMEs in the digitalisation of construction projects. The co-legislators are working on a proposal for Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation and a proposal for a Construction Products Regulation.
There is also an ongoing series of studies currently in development. EU Member States carried out a scoping survey to collect information on EU, national, and private construction databases. Another consultation survey was launched to understand how and to what extent different actors in the construction industry ecosystem are applying circular approaches.
A call for best practices is collecting case studies detailing how construction SMEs use digital technologies. These case studies will be used to develop supporting actions for the digitalisation of construction SMEs.
Ongoing industry events are delving into these topics in more detail and provide attendees with the opportunity to learn how to put these ideas into practice.
The outcome of these studies and events are bound to be industry movers and shakers over the coming weeks and months. I am committed to collate the key insights and see how these will shape the industry as a whole and the technology destined to contribute, and hopefully overhaul outdated construction practices.
Discover the value BIM brings to your next project?
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By enhancing the overall collaboration through data sharing and BIM knowledge transfer, construction professionals can keep rework tasks and waste under control.
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