As sponsor of the World Green Building Council's Advancing Net Zero (ANZ) project, we're delighted to see the release of their annual ANZ Status Report today, June 5th. Progressing with pace, towards a decarbonised built environment is of utmost importance. Our feature article explores how data & digitisation can and will optimise materials specificiation, circularity and the streamlining of construction.
Data and digitisation ultimately prompt circularity in the construction sector.
Kingspan is committed to promoting an envelope-first approach and supporting the industry’s development of innovative solutions towards decarbonisation. This will require systemic change in the way products are manufactured, specified, and transported and the way buildings are designed, built, maintained/operated, and ultimately deconstructed. In turn, it will provide a platform for increased circularity in the built environment, embedding value in materials, facilitating refurbishment, reuse, and better recycling.
In conjunction with providing high performance building envelopes that save more energy and therefore carbon, Kingspan announced Planet Passionate, it’s major 10-year global sustainability programme, at the end of 2019. The strategy – comprising of 12 ambitious targets, focusing on four key areas: Energy, Carbon, Circularity and Water – will make significant advances in the sustainability of Kingspan business operations and products. The strategy also falls in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Science Based Targets.
Providing reliable, accurate data, direct from the manufacturer to feed construction projects and interacting at much earlier stages in the build process – when project outcomes are set – assists in optimising material specification. This can also help to identify future scenarios when a building is repurposed or decommissioned, thus coinciding with generating a more sustainable, circular built environment. Kingspan aspires to lead in capturing, organising and managing building data - ultimately creating accurate and relevant data which matches clients’ real-world assets.
Building information models or modelling (BIM) has been around since the 1980’s but with ever-increasing advancements in computational power and cloud storage it is becoming the backbone for driving productivity, efficiency and traceability. This allows the building design and construction sectors to align their processes, leveraging these technological advancements in Computer Aided Design (CAD) for increased collaboration and communication, project visualisation, enhanced specification, cost-estimation, simulation, improved clash-detection and a host of other benefits.
Within the built environment, BIM models can graduate to become working real-time models of the building: Digital Twins (DTs). An accurate BIM model keeps a 3D and real-time representation of all the materials and components of the structure, giving Facility Managers continuous foresight of when equipment will need replacing or servicing, thus creating greater efficiency in building management.
DTs are enhanced with various types of sensors or connected to the building management system (BMS) creating live working models of actual buildings. Sensors most commonly measure temperature, energy usage, movement, and light levels. DTs offer Facility Managers the opportunity to measure and tailor energy-in-use, noting and fixing any anomalies such as patches of high CO2 or low temperatures, increasing efficiency and reducing carbon emissions.
Data and DTs also contribute to the circular economy because for the first time, those dismantling, refurbishing or improving properties will know exactly what has been installed and how, thereby maximising material recovery. They will make refurbishment a predictable operation rather than an expensive game of roulette and turn demolition sites into places of resource rather than waste.
This process provides the opportunity for every material and component within a building to maintain value, enabling the circular use of materials. A ‘Reuse, Recreate’ design challenge, created and sponsored by the Kingspan Water & Energy division, offered students of NCAD (National College of Art and Design) in Dublin, the opportunity to design an object using pellets from reclaimed Kingspan Oil Tanks, showcasing the opportunity of circularity in plastic use. The winning student - Emily Jennings - utilised the reclaimed plastic pellets to craft dramatic statement jewellery, a far cry from the oil tank the material was 6-months earlier.
Data and digitisation are true enablers of sustainability in the built environment. The availability of accurate, reliable data on building components and performance strengthens sustainable building design, maintenance and deconstruction, facilitating the transition to a circular economy in the built environment. Such an economy will notably reduce the pollution in our environment caused by the extraction of materials, demonstrating there is far more value and opportunity in buildings than we could have imagined.