Unleash information and technology to drive sustainable development

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16 February 2017

Arcadis: Following the European Parliament’s backing of the ratification of the Paris climate deal, a historic global agreement for curbing emissions has been approved. The deal, which went live in November 2016, aims to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperature increases this century "well below" 2 degrees Celsius.

"Acting now means we can seek to provide future generations with the same quality of life we are currently benefiting from"

The impact of this agreement will be considerable. Many governments will be forced to re-design existing, or introduce new, sustainability regulation to ensure businesses, sectors and households respond swiftly to the new challenges. The built environment, forecasted to grow globally by 70% by 2025, will have an important role to play. We need to transform what we build, what we build it with and how it is built, moving away from a short-term focus and the ‘make-use-dispose’ linear economy. On top of this, we will also start to see enormous pressure to improve the energy performance on our existing building stock.

Positively, leaders in environment, social and good governance policies are financially outperforming their less sustainable peers. The World Business Council shows that businesses who embrace the UN Sustainable Development Goals enjoy an 18% higher return on investment. And the number of organisations transitioning to a more sustainable and low carbon world is growing. The CPD (Carbon Disclosure Project) reported businesses are slowly moving towards sustainability as a driver of competitive advantage; 40% of their members reported savings from emission reduction activities through new revenue streams or reduced supply chain costs.


The Construction Leadership Council embarked in 2014 on a journey to reduce greenhouse emission in the built environment by 50% by 2025. Clients, including governmental departments, have a critical role to play in transforming the industry to ensure they challenge new and innovative value for money solutions from their supply chain. Greater clarity and certainty from governments around emerging low-carbon construction opportunities and future work prospects will increase confidence and attract private investments to accelerate the development of ideas and supporting technology.


The appropriate use of Big Data and intelligent technology offers a massive opportunity for organisations to respond to the Paris treaty by reducing their impact on the environment. At a high level, we find three main areas of sustainability benefits and cost reductions in the built environment using digital technology and Big Data:

In 2016 the Government mandated the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) Level 2, with the aim to accelerate the use of digital data and technology to deliver more sustainable built assets, more quickly and efficiently. BIM and its new ways of delivering and operating assets are already disrupting the built environment and its traditional ways of working, offering a range of new opportunities and revenue streams which need to be taken advantage of. This so-called ‘BIM revolution’ offers businesses in the built environment the ability to lessen their impact on the environment by reducing life cycle costs and construction waste and ensuring a more balanced use of finite resources.

However you visualise or measure it, the world is not infinite. Acting now means we can seek to provide future generations with the same quality of life we are currently benefiting from.

 

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Source:  Arcadis - www.arcadis.com

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