How Digitalization Can Help the Construction Industry Achieve Sustainability

Naveenkumar Naigpogu
August 9, 2021


The Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industry contributes to a huge amount of carbon emission and waste production, also the amount of energy consumption is huge in the AEC industry.

Digitalization and Sustainability are two key areas in the industry that are being talked about by Researchers, Professionals, and Experts considering their enormous contributions to sustainable development.

What is Digitalization

Digitalization refers to enabling or improving processes by leveraging digital technologies and digitized data.

Digitalization increases productivity and efficiency while reducing costs. Digitalization improves an existing business process.

That is to say, it takes a process from a human-driven event or series of events to technology.

Digitalization in the Construction industry

Graphical representation of Digitalization in the Construction industry, image

The early construction practices were dealt with hand-drafted drawings, manual measurements, and loads of paper documentation. Now this industry is entering into the digital age. The industry players are not fully ready, some players are having misconceptions like may digital evolution will cause a threat to human resources. Though wherever this adoption has been done there digital technologies are pushing the boundaries.

Digitalization is already adopted by so many other industries and now the construction industry is also now being digitized faster, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) has been used for many years and now Building Information Modelling (BIM) is changing the way projects are being delivered, creating an efficient and sustainable built environment.

There are several reasons why there is a need to adopt digital technologies in this fragmented and traditional industry. To list a few :

  • Increasing in client expectations
  • Developments and Innovations
  • New technologies and their capabilities
  • New generation professionals
  • Modern and Complex projects
  • Booming start-up environment
  • New legal frameworks etc.

The digital revolution and transformation have already started long ago but this time it is gaining momentum and some industry players are adopting and acting as key promoters.

Digitalization has a considerable impact on all stakeholders of the construction industry. For example Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations and maintenance, Equipment and Material suppliers companies.

Digitalization in Cities

Graphical representation of Digitalization in Cities, image

Cities are playing a vital role in the development of any country through social and economical development. Often cities are most dominant in terms of growth and settlement of people in many forms. More than half of the world's population living in cities and it is expected that by 2050 it is estimated to grow much higher.

Often cities are referred to as concrete jungles but with the proper utilization of resources and digital technologies with strategies, it can transform into green or smart cities. Green cities will lay the path to the sustainable development of cities. Recent studies have shown that citizens are showing huge interest in smart and sustainable cities.

Digitalization supports Sustainability

Hand in digital world, image

Nowadays different developments, innovations, and processes are going on around the world which may cause positive as well as negative effects on the environment. Digitalization has many applications that contribute to sustainability. Digitalization in healthcare, cities, traffic, forest services, and environmental quality are showing a positive impact globally.

When we talk about digitalization in the construction industry then Building Information Modelling / Management (BIM) is acting as the backbone.

Professionals are promoting BIM as a trigger to enable sustainability because of its process, workflow, and well-established digital strategy.

Resources used to construct a project such as manpower, various software, construction methods, drones, and building materials and infrastructure elements all data will be ultimately connected to BIM. Hence BIM acts as an important and primary real central coordination methodology.

The maturity of BIM can be evaluated in the form that BIM is not just a tool for 3D modeling or visualization but is extremely helpful in generating the workflow and delivery procedures of the project through IPD which is in Integrated Project Delivery. IPD promotes interoperability during the entire life cycle of the project This collaboration within BIM helps to integrate all the data related to stakeholders, materials, machines, and planning and enhances better communication by developing a harmonious model.

BIM and sustainable structures are the future of the construction industry.

A lot of research and studies are being conducted to understand the integration of BIM for facilitating the assessment of the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) of a green or sustainable building. BIM also plays an important role in reducing and conserving energy resources.

With the help of BIM, it is possible to decide what type of materials can be used to enhance the sustainability of the building during the design stage itself which has a great impact on the life cycle of the Green Building.

6D BIM - Energy Analysis and Sustainability

Office desk with devices, image

The ability to obtain the energy model of the building using the BIM methodology known as BIM 6D.Buildings where energy efficiency and comfort, oriented towards optimal and efficient lighting, are two fundamental criteria highly appreciated by patients and citizens in general.

The traditional construction industry had focused most on the capital cost of construction. This tradition has been changing and shifting focus towards operations and maintenance (whole life cycle cost ) also. This is laying the foundation stone to plan and take proper decisions related to cost and sustainability aspects. This is where BIM 6D comes into the picture.

The BIM model contains detailed information of building spaces, equipment used, and other operations-related data with Facility Management. Facilitating different components data to the BIM model enables fast decision-making in the earlier stages itself.


With the help of digitalization, the construction industry is benefiting in many ways and contributing to accelerate the journey towards sustainable development and the environment.

Digitalization is already adopted by so many other sectors and is now being adopted by the construction sector.

Most of the Real estate and Developers are showing interest in Green / Sustainable buildings. Because these are beneficial to tenants or for the customers especially in the case of operation & maintenance. Recent studies are stating,

Green buildings are consuming 30% less energy when compared to normal types of buildings and these will enhance asset value profit.

Governments are also focusing on sustainability by bringing in norms for industries as well as domestic markets. Hence we can expect a huge revolution with the help of digitalization in the construction sector as well as in terms of sustainable development.

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