A Holistic Approach to Building Sustainability

A Whole Systems Approach to Decarbonization Across the Building Lifecycle

Using a holistic approach to building sustainability is vitally important to reducing the greenhouse gas impact of the built environment. Buildings are a major contributor to carbon emissions. The numbers are astonishing: in the U.S., the built environment sector accounts for 36% of global energy consumption, 37% of energy related CO2 emissions, and 41% of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, industry leaders have set their sights on reversing the trend. However, meeting the sustainability needs of stakeholders in the construction and the built environment sector will demand a shift in practice, mindset, and culture.

In the spirit of enabling this through collaboration, today the DTC published “A Whole Systems Approach to Decarbonization Across the Building Lifecycle,” the 3rd in our series of five users guides for smart buildings stakeholders. The authors explain that, to reduce (and eventually reverse) the damage, we need to re-imagine our buildings, cities, and infrastructures.

According to the guide, we need to approach buildings holistically; that is, as indivisible components of a larger, constantly regenerating, and self-sustaining system. The authors propose that we embed sustainability and high energy performance into our buildings, starting early on with the design phase all the way through to daily operation.

Digital twins play a significant role in this endeavor. Embedding operational performance evaluation from the beginning is a key aspect. For the built environment, the guide defines:

  • Performance digital twins, for use throughout the entire building development lifecycle,
  • Asset digital twins, which are used for building operation, and
  • Project digital twins, which create dynamic versions of static Building Information Models.

The user guides are a compendium to the white paper Decarbonizing the Built World: A Call to Action, published earlier this year by the DTC’s AECO Tiger Team. They were created to provide owners with an understanding of the capabilities and potential impact of digital twins at all stages of the building decarbonization lifecycle. In this user guide, digital twins enable the holistic approach to building sustainability.

Download the paper below.