The digital revolution is transforming our world in the most profound ways and the pace of change is accelerating exponentially. Many companies realize that to ensure business continuity, they must learn to adapt to digital disruption. But knowing how to start and where to navigate is not an easy task. Therefore, the vast opportunities of digitalization are not fully captured yet, which is particularly the case in the construction sector.
Digitalization has the potential to increase efficiency throughout the value chain of the built environment, as well as to reduce resource consumption and CO2 emissions. It offers the possibility to develop new processes, services and markets. It will increasingly transform the way we build, share information and take decisions in the construction sector. If done right, it can bring a multitude of co-benefits for stakeholders spanning the full length of the value chain, such as improving transparency and enabling more efficient and sustainable construction.
In the construction process, digitalization facilitates the rapid sharing and dissemination of information, allowing companies to test ideas, analyze large amounts of information and solve complex problems in a fraction of the time required by traditional methods. In the operational phase, digital tools can provide occupants with more control over the environmental conditions of buildings, while owners and operators can gain efficiencies in managing assets.
Despite the evident benefits, the sector has been slow to fully embrace the emerging digital opportunities. This resistance can be attributed to a handful of key factors: the cost of change, the fragmentation of the industry, inadequate collaboration with suppliers and contractors and insufficient knowledge transfer from project to project.
This report, developed with the contribution of our members, maps how digitalization enables sustainability in the buildings and construction sector. It shows how digital tools can serve to reduce emissions, resource consumption and costs across the value chain, whilst also increasing productivity.
The research also explains how digitalization supports full life-cycle management of buildings, including the time of use (user interface) and end-of-life/circular management. The paper concludes by providing a selection of recommendations for organizational transformation, at both company and sector level.
Digital transformation can be challenging. A considerable shift in organizational culture will be required for many companies, as well as addressing the workforce and labor concerns that digitalization brings with it. However, if correctly applied, digitalization holds huge potential for accelerating the transition toward sustainability within the buildings and construction sector.
Sector characteristics that challenge progress
BOX 1: Digitalization in construction
The future-proof construction sector
BOX 2: On transformations
What has been holding us back?
BOX 3: What can we learn from other sectors?