Digital transformation should be helping you deliver on your sustainability goals

With the world facing increasingly dire environmental crises, construction is one of the most significant contributors to global emissions, around 39% of carbon emissions globally, out of which 28% is from energy consumption and 11% from construction materials, also known as Embodied Carbon. Construction must be transformed to create greener, more sustainable solutions throughout the lifecycle of all assets. 

At Diatec group (part of NTI) we work with clients to build digital solutions that form part of the solution to achieve sustainability change. We have a significant track record in implementing these changes with a large cross-section of clients.

What is digital transformation?

Before we look in detail at how digital transformation supports sustainability efforts it is useful to define digital transformation as it is a much-abused term. Digital transformation is simply a catch-all for any activities an organisation undertakes to achieve its business goals utilising digital tools and processes. It is critical to note that if your digital transformation strategy is not aligned with your business goals, it is nothing more than a vanity project that will waste time and resource. In the context of sustainability, your digital transformation strategy needs to be aligned with your sustainability goals as well.  

Aligning your sustainability goals with digital transformation 

Every organisation we talk to is taking sustainability seriously, we see less green washing in our sector than others. We see contractors using net-zero concrete, recycling materials wherever possible. Lots of us have been using Carbon calculators on projects for many years. Architects and Engineers are looking to bring sustainability solutions into their designs, their offices are going paperless and working from home common place. 

Where we are seeing the most progress and the most successful sustainability programs are organisations that have an overall strategy that is broken down into small, achievable goals, bringing the employees along with them and celebrating the wins – big and small. The small steps are typically focused on increasing efficiency or reducing environmental impact though better design. 

Whilst we are seeing some great successes, we do see some failures. To qualify what is meant by failure here is that the activity didn’t deliver the benefits set out at project inception, rather than no benefit delivered at all. There are several causes of these failures, we have seen the most common being lack of organisational change management strategy, lack of expertise, internal resistance to change, budget constraints, upskilling, and recruitment.

As stated earlier digital transformation is the use of digital tools to achieve business goals (very simply). Similarly digital transformation should be aligned with your sustainability goals. 

As an example of this, ISO19650 the international BIM mandate started life as BS1192 which was the united Kingdom’s BIM standard, which in turn was a result of the ‘Construction 2025 Strategy’ whose main targets were a 50% reduction in construction emissions and a 33% reduction in construction waste. With just under a year to go on this, it will be interesting to see how close they come to hitting the target. Current estimates suggest it has had a positive impact but not nearly close to achieve those ambitious goals. There are numerous other examples around the globe of these attempts at achieving sustainability targets with Digital transformation. Thankfully at a more micro-level success is more prevalent. Individual organisations have implemented changes to analogue working methods, many organisations now work with a digital Common Data Environment, sharing, commenting, and distributing construction data without resorting to paper methods. Sustainability reviews at early design stages create greater scope for significant impact on project outcomes and are happening more and more often. 

Implementing digital transformation with Diatec

All this is a lot to take in, let alone understand what this means for your organisation. The good news is that your business goals, sustainability goals and digital transformation are more than likely very aligned in overall aspirations. Less waste, higher efficiency are common targets for all of the activities. The ‘magic’ is in consciously aligning all three to really achieve remarkable results. 

At Diatec group we work with many organisations in the Construction sector, supporting them in getting the right solutions to meet their business goals and drive their digital transformation and sustainability strategies. We help train staff and implement workflows to achieve these goals and provide the right digital solution for you. 

We understand the pressures & difficulties industry faces & believe in an honest & open dialogue about what practical steps we can take together to reach those goals. 

We work hard to understand Macrotrends in your industry, such as Sustainability, Digital Transformation and can translate these into tangible actions we can take together. 

About the author:

Robert Lakey has over 35 years’ experience working firstly in the Construction Industry for over 30 years and more recently in Asset Management and Information Technology. Robert has worked on wide range of construction projects, from roads and bridges, flood defences, factories, ports and harbours. He has also been involved in BIM implementation, software restructuring, and digital transformation for several multi-national consulting businesses. 

To discuss how we can help you or to find out more please feel free to contact Diatec at