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Climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time and is, therefore, currently attracting a lot of attention in the field of resource conservation. Therefore, it is inevitable to deal with the issue of sustainability from a business perspective. One approach is to convert existing products into more sustainable alternatives that emit fewer emissions into the atmosphere. This transformation often happens through the increasing digitization of companies.
In the construction and real estate industry, there are several approaches and among them is Building Information Modelling as well as the associated Digital Twin. These two solutions also make use of digital transformation and thus have less environmental impact. How and to what extent the digital twin helps to advance climate protection is presented here.
The digital twin and climate protection: Worldwide and in Germany
The energy supply of buildings within Germany accounts for 35 % of the total energy consumption and also causes 30 % of the general emissions emanating from Germany. The federal government has drafted a climate protection plan for 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Germany by at least 55 % by 2030, as required by the 2015 climate conference in Paris. For greenhouse gas reduction, all sectors (energy, buildings, industry, transport and agriculture) must meet specific targets by 2030. The construction sector in Germany produces an average of about 206.1 million tonnes of mineral construction waste annually, making it one of the most resource-intensive economic sectors in the country. In contrast, however, just under 88.5 % of this waste is recycled and reused.
At the international level, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) has found that the building sector is responsible for 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Energy efficiency is the key strategy to reduce CO2 emissions from buildings. The responsibility for a change towards sustainability can therefore hardly be denied.
Climate protection through the digital twin?
The digital twin is a detailed representation of the actual state of a building. This can also be used for various simulations and is, thus, intended to ensure greater efficiency of a building. The what-if scenarios can be mapped and analyzed for their efficiency. The mixture of IoT (Internet of Things), AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning) and data analysis helps to digitally map individual buildings. The level of detail, including visual representations, can save a lot of (environmental) costs. For example, the efficiency of the heating system can be measured with the help of a compatible sensor and any problems can be detected and remedied directly. With the help of the visual representation of the digital twin, tradespeople can also easily be sent a location within the model, so that they know directly where which problem needs to be solved. This saves time, money and unnecessary travel costs for missing tools or materials.
In the digital twin model, additional information about individual objects can be entered, such as a particularly efficient light bulb model or the color of the wall for painting work. With regard to sustainability, many things can be listed here, but the short communication channels in the management of a building are one of the biggest plus points. In large properties, particularly, it is important to know which devices are located at which site. An example from one of our orders at Deutsche Bahn made it possible to make the large warehouses digitally available thanks to the digital twin, and thus to find machines and tools more quickly. This can also be recorded with the help of special sensors, so that every employee knows in which hall the drill is before it is reported missing, and a new one is bought.
All these advantages of the digital twin relate to the efficiency of everyday work and thus to the efficiency of the building. In this context, efficiency means saving resources in the form of time, money and materials. Saving resources and avoiding waste is one of the most important approaches in the sustainability debate.
Climate Protection through the Digital Twin: An Example
The Polarstern is a large research vessel that explores the Arctic and conducts various research there regarding our climate on Earth. Numerous researchers from all over the world are on board this ship. To carry out certain measurements, they need their very own measuring instruments. DiConneX created a digital twin of the ship so that the researchers would not have to travel to the ship, specifically, and possibly not fit into their cabins with their measuring instruments. With the help of 3D measurements, it was possible to scan 80% of the Polarstern in three days.
With this, all researchers could now measure their assigned cabin online and knew which devices fit in and which do not. This saved emissions that would have been caused by flying back and forth. You can find out more about our project on Polarstern here.
The Digital Twin and Climate Protection in the Future: An Outlook
Due to its many advantages, the digital twin will continue to be highly relevant in the future. Particularly with regard to the advancing climate change, every industry will be examined and to what extent it is responsible for it. The construction and real estate industry will increasingly rely on digital solutions. In the future, the digital twin will be able to record more parameters with the help of technological progress and thus retrieve even more information. This also ensures more efficient facility management and can make the operation of a building more efficient.
We, at DiConneX, offer you long-term support with consulting, surveying and the creation of the digital twin. If you want to operate your building more efficiently and thus protect the climate, make an appointment with us here!