The construction industry is one of the world’s biggest users of non-renewable resources. It’s also the second largest waste producer (next to manufacturing), generating around 16 per cent of all the country’s waste each year. Thankfully, most construction companies already adopt various sustainable approaches, as mandated by law, to further minimise consumption and waste. As a result, around 76 per cent of all construction waste is now recycled.
Of course, recycling and reusing construction materials are just some methods that have helped boost construction sustainability over the years. The increasing popularity of green building construction using alternative materials, such as structural insulated panels, engineered wood, and plastic-based concrete, has also played a pivotal role.
In addition to physical tactics, many construction companies have also started integrating data-driven digital solutions into their processes to upgrade their material utilisation and waste management. Digital twins, initially developed for manufacturing and aerospace, is now a key driver of sustainable construction.
A digital twin (or virtual twin) is simply a virtual representation of an object. In construction, it’s the digital version of the architectural plan. But unlike traditional architectural plans, it consists of scalable, adjustable, and interactive multi-layer images and illustrations of the building to be constructed.
Virtual twins, also known as digital twins, are virtual replicas of physical assets used by construction firms to improve their productivity and sustainability. By leveraging virtual data sets in real-time, organizations can detect operational problems before they occur, optimize their design processes, and better manage their environmental footprint.
Understanding the distinctions between BIM model software and virtual twin software allows construction companies to maximise these software’s capabilities for their sustainable building projects. Builders use BIM to better visualise the construction project from beginning to end.
Unlike typical architectural and engineering drawings, a BIM model is a three-dimensional design with layers of information that can be added, removed, or altered when necessary. As a result, it enables team collaboration, including data transaction and interoperation, for seamless task executions.
Virtual twins, on the other hand, are more focused on human interaction within the structure being built. They utilise the information provided by the BIM model but capture real-time data to provide insights into the site operation. They use sensors and IoTs to detect, record, report, and analyse instantaneous occurrences within the site or facility.
Using virtual twins in construction projects allows organizations to make better decisions, reduce the strain on resources, and stay ahead of ever-changing customer demands in a highly competitive industry. This can lead to tangible cost savings and increased efficiency.
Through digital twins, construction firms are able to monitor the lifecycle of their assets from preconstruction through commissioning. They can assess sustainability compliance, such as energy efficiency, air pollution reduction, and waste management. They can also optimize their performance by tracking asset health, energy consumption levels, and usage patterns.
Additionally, virtual twins enable virtual simulations to be used in the early stages of construction projects. This allows designers to identify potential risks and problems before they occur while testing different designs through virtual scenarios. As a result, virtual twins reduce the need for costly physical prototypes while ensuring design accuracy.
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