May 23, 2023
 | Students

Hand in Hand: How Digitization Impacts Sustainability in Construction

Technology and sustainability go hand in hand by streamlining everyone’s efforts. Companies that utilize the latest technological advancements in their industry often improve their work processes and team safety measures. More accessible, affordable technology allows workers to make more informed decisions while minimizing their environmental impact.

The construction industry specifically benefits from the newest tech advancements because they help companies and clients accomplish their goals while helping the planet. These are a few ways digitization impacts sustainability in construction. This information is important to know if you hope to jump into the industry one day as a career.


Key Digital Technologies Driving Sustainability

Any current or future professionals in the construction industry should understand these vital digital technologies that make it more sustainable. They’re valuable tools that will likely impact teams long term because they’re accessible and make every project more eco-friendly.

Building Information Modeling (BIM)

Construction professionals create a digital copy so people can see a model of their finished project. In the past, teams would make real-world models that used natural resources like paper and water for a single-use display. If the client wanted to make changes, more resources went into duplicating the model with the new adjustments.

Building information modeling (BIM) now happens digitally. 3D models are easier to create and don’t require limited natural resources. Any construction team with a computer can utilize this technology for their clients.

Sensors and IoT Devices

Digitization includes advancements in sensors and other devices connected to the internet. Internet of Things (IoT) tools provide instant information, backups and communication resources for teams and their operational headquarters.

Consider the concrete curing process. When pouring and setting concrete foundations, teams used to wait an average of three to seven days before proceeding with the structural building steps. Now they can use curing sensors to detect the exact air temperature and moisture percentage to pinpoint exactly when the concrete is ready. It makes structures safer and can speed up construction timelines if the conditions are perfect.

IoT devices automatically back up data like inventory readings and site security cameras. Management teams can also access the information live from the company headquarters. Real-time data results in more informed decisions like updating site safety efforts and streamlining the estimated timeline.

Drones and Robotics

Construction teams can also use robotics to accomplish tasks that would otherwise pose physical safety risks. Camera-equipped drones can easily provide a birds-eye view of sites and take photos to update management teams and clients. They can also take real-time photos to ensure workers follow safety procedures and carry tools to construction professionals on rooftops or commercial building floors hundreds of feet in the air.


Benefits of Digitization for Sustainable Construction

Technology can make construction sites safer and streamline real-time data, but newer tools can also provide these benefits for crews and the planet.

Resource Optimization

Digitization improves many aspects of construction. It gives teams new computerized systems to create eco-friendly materials like steel-reinforced concrete so they don’t need as many natural resources to make the same high-quality products.

IoT systems also automatically track how many resources teams have used and how many remain in inventory. Companies won’t accidentally overpurchase supplies that use electricity, water and other natural resources during production.

Waste Reduction

Experienced construction crews generally know how many supplies they need for standard projects, but waste can still accumulate. Excess bricks, concrete, wood and insulation materials are just a few examples of construction waste that consumes natural resources during production and frequently ends up in landfills.

Technology like 3D modeling minimizes waste reduction by calculating exactly how much material is necessary to build a site. It determines the exact square footage to make resource procurement more accurate and reduce construction waste.

Enhanced Collaboration and Communication

Computerized communication between sites and construction company headquarters allows for instant access to all team members. Collaboration doesn’t have to end when crews head to their various site locations.

It also makes data more accessible when providing information to lawmakers who want to improve the construction industry and make it more sustainable with their policies. Digitization creates the necessary updates to show whether or not those policies are also making a difference.

Without data, industry experts wouldn’t know that advanced e-permitting systems introduced through U.S. legislation reduced approval times by 30%, making the permitting process faster for residential and commercial construction. Digitization reveals current progress and where the industry can continue to improve.


Challenges and Barriers to Adoption

Some barriers still exist despite the many benefits of digitizing the construction industry. These are a few things current and future industry professionals can watch for as they strive for sustainable progress.

Investment Costs

Software and new tools always require upfront investments. Smaller businesses that don’t want to take out loans may need more time to save for these items. It’s a manageable barrier, especially with small-business grant funding.

Resistance to Change

People may be resistant to industry changes because they prefer their older routines. It’s a natural human instinct that can easily adjust to sustainable updates with more information and a new perspective. After learning how the industry creates 600 million tons of waste annually, management teams might look forward to using recycled materials or investing in new software.

Skill Gaps and Workforce Development

Updating the technological tools within a construction company might seem more challenging if team members don’t receive the same training. Skill gaps are one of the leading barriers to utilizing new technologies like the blockchain. Scheduling recurring training sessions for all team members will help companies overcome this barrier and embrace the latest tools to make their teams more eco-friendly.


Discover How Digitization Impacts Construction Sustainability

The construction sector stands to benefit from sustainable digitization because technology can make it more eco-friendly. Widespread adoption would reduce waste, make sites safer and optimize procedures. People currently in the industry or hoping to join one day can look forward to the benefits of new technologies and feel proud that their work is less impactful on the environment.