How digital twins can help achieve sustainability goals in construction | HCLTech

How digital twins can help achieve sustainability goals in construction

Santhosh Jayaram, Global Head of Sustainability, HCL Technologies, talks about how technology can help the building and construction sectors become more sustainable
5.3 min. read
Jaydeep Saha
Jaydeep Saha
Global Reporter, HCLTech
5.3 min. read
sustainability goals in construction

“As climate change continues to affect our daily lives, we urgently need to address the use of fossil fuels in energy production. Businesses and society no longer have a choice but to embrace sustainable approaches. Technology is a key enabler of this, as well as nature-based solutions, which must be developed. Fossil fuels must be replaced with renewable energy sources,” commented Santhosh Jayaram, Global Head, Sustainability, HCLTech.

The building and construction sectors are responsible for 39% of all global carbon emissions. By switching to next-generation technologies, such as digital twins, these sectors can reduce their carbon footprints. Digital twin technology allows developers to improve performance and efficiency without the requirement to build physical protypes.

According to a recent article in The Hindu, the integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) which includes the use of digital twins, with energy performance is vital to achieving sustainability throughout the lifetime of a building. This involves collecting information about energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption, construction waste, and recyclability of building waste. As reporting standards and regulatory compliances for ESG Environmental, Social and Governance) reporting become more stringent, such technology-driven insights will become valuable resources.

Integrating environmental data with digital tools

For the construction sector to embrace sustainability, organizations need to integrate environmental data with digital tools.

Commenting on how the sector can achieve this, Jayaram said: “The way we manage infrastructure will impact the environment. Digital twins are an efficient way to manage infrastructure, as environmental data can easily be integrated into them. For example, in a dam site, digital twin technology can help to improve the sustainability of a dam by enhancing its productivity and efficiency, while ensuring it meets regulatory requirements. A digital twin of such a dam allows data analysis and monitoring systems to understand and target any problem before it occurs.

Digital twin technology can also be leveraged to save trees. The city of Mendoza in Argentina, for example, used drones to collect images of the whole city and its infrastructure. These drones can analyze the trees with a reality mesh model. It can monitor the condition of the trees virtually through their digital twin.

A similar model could save trees even when a dam gets constructed, by mapping the area. The 3D image of the dam could be used to check the exact space required, as well as curb the number of trees felled.

Using the design phase to improve building performance

Jayaram continued: “Although digital twin technology is in the early stages of its maturity cycle in the construction industry, it is gaining traction. Digital twin technology combines data from multiple sources to model the facilities of a building and simulate operations before and after construction. By combining 3D scanned point-cloud data with photorealistic visualizations, process and instrumentation diagram (PNID) data and IoT data, digital models can be produced that can simulate various operations. These simulations can help predict maintenance and replacement of equipment patterns.

“Building owners and managers can now export data and information directly into the life-cycle assessment tools, allowing them to analyze and report carbon emissions. The analysis can also help to establish how structural design changes impact the life cycle of a building.”

HCLTech’s plans

HCLTech is prioritizing sustainable product design, as part of its commitment to reducing waste. By leveraging digital twin, extended reality (XR), and simulations HCLTech is helping reduce it and its customers’ material waste and carbon emission during the design phase of product development.

Looking at the larger sustainability picture, the company aims to be net-zero by 2040. To achieve this goal, the organization plans to move 80% of its operations to renewable energy sources by 2030.

On the path to net-zero, renewables will be HCLTech's top priority.

Energy-efficient buildings will be second, followed by eco-efficiency (water, waste, paper etc.), EV, the reduced emission from purchased goods and services, and nature-based sequestering projects.

For more details on HCLTech’s sustainability ambitions, read here.

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