Sustainability: The Challenge Confronting Us

| October 30, 2018

by Mike DeLacey

The world’s population will reach 9.7 billion by 2050, a massive increase from 7.3 billion in 2015. As a result of this growth, 66.6% of the population will live in urban environments and the number of buildings in the world will double. This rise in population, accommodated by a surge in construction, can lead to greenhouse gases undoubtedly posing even more of a threat to our environment and our future.

We can’t reverse the damage that the construction industry has already caused as the largest contributor of greenhouse gases to the environment, more so than automobiles. But we can take steps to reduce its future impact by building more responsibly and sustainably moving forward to ensure a livable planet even as the population and urban environment expand.

I realize there is a greater responsibility we as industry experts and leaders have to meet in our professional and personal lives. For us, it starts with implementing building information modeling (BIM) technology from design throughout the entire project life cycle. Leveraging this data with the proper methodology significantly saves time and reduces the costs and risks associated with the designing, planning, construction, and operations of buildings and infrastructure. It is up to us to advocate, educate, and share, using the best tools and smartest approaches going forward.

BIM is a virtual model and process that allows for iterative analysis of carbon footpring and energy efficiency as well as eliminating the need to constantly create and distribute copies of the model as it is updated (digitally or physically). BIM enables effective coordination and planning of design, production, cost planning, and construction, as well as automatic clash detection. Applying this technology will help maximize sustainability, limiting spending on unnecessary materials and equipment and waste and rework, which saves time and, ultimately, increases productivity.

Now is the time to drive these conversations about the future and build further understanding around the implications of using our current design-bid-build processes, which are outdated and inefficient, and unable to meet the demands of urbanization in any manner, let alone sustainably.

We can’t stifle a growing population, therefore we need the infrastructure and resources to support it sustainably.

The projections for the future urban landscape can be daunting. But we have the ability to accommodate urban population growth and decrease the threat of soaring greenhouse gas emissions. We just have to build smarter, more sustainably, and collaboratively and utilize the technology available to us for the greater good of the population and the planet.

Mike DeLacey

Mike DeLacey is the CEO of Microdesk, an Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Operations and Maintenance (AECO) industry consultancy, and a member of the Construction Institute.

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Category: All, Contributor, Green