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Construction IT Research - Climate Change Agenda

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Addressing climate change is one of the key technological challenges of the present and
the near future. With about a half of the energy being used in the built environment and
with a huge proportion being used by the transportation sector, the construction
industry will be a very important player. The paper presents the general context of the
climate change discussion. It identifies construction industry as a double winner in this
process, potentially benefiting both from the changes in nature as well as from
governments' measures. There are many things construction industry can accomplish
without much additional research, even more, however, if it moves beyond the current
state of the art, particularly in building automation and the use of ICT throughout the
building's life cycle. The paper concludes by identifying the emerging research and
development agenda in the field constriction informatics.

published in: in B.H.V. Topping, L.F. Costa Neves, R.C. Barros, (Editors), "Trends in Civil and Structural
Engineering Computing", Saxe-Coburg Publications, Computational Science, Engineering & Technology
Series, ISSN 1759-3158; Stirlingshire, UK, Chapter 19, pp 413-423, 2009. doi:10.4203/csets.22.19

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Construction IT Research - Climate Change Agenda

  1. 1. Construction IT Research - Climate Change Agenda1 Ž. Turk Faculty of Civil and Geodetic Engineering, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia & Secretariat of the Reflection Group on the Future of Europe, Brussels, Belgium. Abstract Addressing climate change is one of the key technological challenges of the present and the near future. With about a half of the energy being used in the built environment and with a huge proportion being used by the transportation sector, the construction industry will be a very important player. The paper presents the general context of the climate change discussion. It identifies construction industry as a double winner in this process, potentially benefiting both from the changes in nature as well as from governments' measures. There are many things construction industry can accomplish without much additional research, even more, however, if it moves beyond the current state of the art, particularly in building automation and the use of ICT throughout the building's life cycle. The paper concludes by identifying the emerging research and development agenda in the field constriction informatics. Keywords: climate change, information technology in construction, research agenda. 1 Introduction Researchers have been pointing to the gradual warming of the planet since the late 1980s [1] and most have attributed it to increased concentration of greenhouse gasses resulting from human burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil; Thus the name "anthropogenic global warming" (AGW). The process caught political attention in the late 1990s when a global agreement called the Kyoto protocol [2] was signed by many but not all industrial powers. A series of extremely warm summers in the northern hemisphere as well as continued scientific [3] and public relations activity (such as the Inconvenient Truth movie) lead to renewed interest, at least in Europe. Citation: Ž. Turk, "Construction Information Technology Research: Climate Change Agenda", invited paper in B.H.V. Topping, L.F. Costa Neves, R.C. Barros, (Editors), "Trends in Civil and Structural Engineering Computing", Saxe-Coburg Publications, Computational Science, Engineering & Technology Series, ISSN 1759-3158; Stirlingshire, UK, Chapter 19, pp 413-423, 2009. doi:10.4203/csets.22.19 1
  2. 2. In 2007 the EU agreed on the so called 5x20 plan: By 2020 unilaterally reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, reduce energy consumption in general by 20% and obtain 20% of the energy from renewable sources. With an international agreement reached, the greenhouse gas emissions should be reduced even more ambitiously - down to 30%. Many studies suggest that in order to stabilise the temperatures not higher than about 2C over average values, the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions should be between 50 and 95% by the year 2050 [4]. Given the fact that 80% of the global energy today comes from fossil fuels [5], it is clear that this calls for an industrial and technological revolution that would totally change our current ways of generating and using energy which some call the third industrial revolution [6]. Although the scientific consensus about the AGW is quite strong, the actual relation between the CO2 concentration and temperature is still being investigated [7]. Other good reasons to proceed with reduction of GHG emissions and energy efficiency also include the price of fossil fuels and reliability of delivery. The EU is importing around 55% of its primary energy. Another argument is that even if the chances of a major climate disaster happening is low, the overall risk is still high given what is at stake, and that "the price of inaction is greater than the price of action" [4]. It is hoped that in December 2009 in Copenhagen, a post Kyoto agreement would be reached that would be a basis for a serious step towards drastic reduction of the use of energy in general and the use of fossil fuels in particular. The coming industrial revolution will be profound. The key topic of this paper is how can the research and development in construction and particularly in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in construction contribute to this effort. 2 Responses to climate change The two responses are adaptation to changes (in nature as well as in the political and business environments) and mitigation. Given the future scenarios both will need to take place. 2.1 Adaptation to nature Adaptation means adapting our societies to warmer climates, potentially higher sea levels and more violent weather events. While there is little scientific consensus what extreme events are results of climate changes (such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, storms) generally warmer climate is associated with more extreme events. The construction industry will need to respond by, for example, re-evaluating design loads related to wind, flood water occurrence levels, insulation against warm weather and the expected future sea levels. Much of the infrastructure will need to be adapted or upgraded and many building practices reconsidered. 2.2 Mitigation 2
  3. 3. Mitigation essentially means reducing the CO2 emissions. A widely cited study by McKinsey (Fig.1) shows the costs related to doing so. The vertical dimension of each of the areas in the diagram is the cost of reduction. Some technologies (on the left of the diagram) have a negative cost, meaning, they save money to the investor. Some cost less (centre part) some more (far right of the diagram). The horizontal dimension is the abetment potential - how many million tons of CO2 can one or other technology save. As one can see, the total potential is in line with the 20-20-20 targets and for about one third of the CO2 the price is negative. The diagram provides a very good rule of thumb for the legislators as to have to move the industry and the citizens downwards the reduction of the CO2 emissions.  Solutions on the left hand side of the diagram are likely to be enforced through standards and legislation. For example by prescribing better insulation properties of the building envelope of fuel efficiency of cars. In the field of construction, the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) has been adopted in 2003 and is being used since 2006. Energy efficiency in buildings is also addressed in the Boiler Directive (92/42/EEC), the Construction Products Directive (89/106/EEC) and the buildings provisions in the SAVE Directive 93/76/EEC).  The middle part of the diagram includes technologies that can be assisted by providing tax breaks and subventions for their use, such as the feed-in tariffs for renewable electricity power.  Technology no the far right are expensive and research is needed to make them cheaper. Gas plant CCS retrofit Global GHG abatement cost curve beyond business-as-usual – 2030 Coal CCS retrofit Iron and steel CCS new build Low penetration wind Coal CCS new build 60 Cars plug-in hybrid Power plant biomass co- Residential electronics firing Degraded forest reforestation 50 Reduced intensive Residential appliances Nuclear agriculture 40 Retrofit residential HVAC Pastureland afforestation conversion High penetration wind 30 Tillage and residue mgmt Degraded land restoration Solar PV Abatement cost in € per tCO2e Insulation retrofit (residential) 2nd generation bio-fuels Solar CSP 20 Building efficiency Cars full hybrid new build 10 Waste recycling 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 38 -10 Organic soil restoration Abatement potential -20 Geothermal in GtCO2e per year Grassland management -30 Reduced pastureland conversion -40 Reduced slash and burn agriculture conversion Small hydro -50 1st generation biofuels SOURCE: Global GHG Abatement Cost Curve v2.0 Rice management -60 Efficiency improvements other industry -70 Electricity from landfill gas Clinker substitution by fly ash -80 Cropland nutrient management -90 Motor systems efficiency Insulation retrofit (commercial) -100 Lighting – switch incandescent to LED (residential) legislation, promotion, tax and other research and standards advertising financial incentives development policy measures Figure 1: Technology map for reduction of CO2. 3
  4. 4. In addition to the enforcement of the sustainable practices, habits of the people and their values will play an increasing role [8]. To exercise these beliefs the citizens need information on the sustainability performance of the products. In the filed of construction, the so called Energy Performance Certificate carries the information about the energy performance of a building in a very similar way as household appliances are rated from A to G. Some EU member states have also implemented a "Display Energy Certificate" that publicly displays the energy use of a building and calls for a report outlining measures to improve. 2.3 Adaptation to policies Through taxation, subsidies and regulation one can expect significant government interference into all energy intensive businesses. Energy will become more expensive, together with other raw materials. Resource efficiency of all industries will become a key competitive advantage. Public procurement may stimulate even higher energy efficiency standards. 3 Impact on Construction Industry The built environment is globally responsible for about 40% of global CO2 emissions, 40% of solid waste generation and up to 40% of global energy use [9]. In the EU the figures are similar. Construction industry is a significant user of energy and its products are the places where most of the energy is used - in buildings around 40% and on the roads and railways a further one third. Using better energy efficiency standards about half of the energy used in buildings could be saved. Thus in buildings alone the 20% reduction target could be achieved. But the savings would have to come from refurbishing existing buildings, because only 1% of the European building stock is built new each year. Several countries have already started the national program to develop related strategies [10, 11]. In fact a lot of the low lying fruit of Figure 1 can be picked by the construction industry. Because of all this, the construction industry is one of a key factors of the third industrial revolution and, according to a study of Deutche Bank (Fig. 2) a double winner - change in climate will require construction works and so will the construction of new energy facilities, transportation and building infrastructure. 4
  5. 5. impact of the change of climate Winning and loosing double winners + sectors of climate change construction and associated sectors impact of the change in regulation, mechanical and market, govt. intervention chemical electrical industry renewable engineering energy building - automotive materials, + finance fossil paper, textiles agriculture energy metal and tourism food forestry transportation double losers - Figure 2: Construction and associated sectors (top right) as a double winners of climate change. Although the situation may look encouraging for the construction industry, the investments do not mean business as usual but more of it. The impact that construction products have on the use of energy are so significant, that the industry itself will need to undergo a major change in the years to come. About ¼ of the energy used up in a building during its lifetime amounts to the energy needed to build it - make steel, cement, concrete; do the transportation etc. Given the small proportion of new construction the potential savings in this area are relatively small, given the size of the industry, however, not negligible. The challenge to build with less material has been a centuries long process where more and more precise calculations and simulations allowed for the structures to lighter but safer at the same time. The progress has been immense and little potential is left to those the want to use less concrete and steel - not in the orders of 80-90% anyway. In summary, the biggest potential for energy savings related to the construction sector are related to energy use in existing buildings. Other opportunities are smaller but will need to be tackled as well to meet the ambitious climate change mitigation and adaptation plans. 4 Research agenda for ICT in construction Construction industry will address climate change in the following ways:  retrofitting existing building stock for energy efficiency.  intelligent energy management in existing and new buildings.  resource efficiency of new buildings.  resource efficient building processes.  resource efficiency in materials, focus on renewable materials.  re-thinking the urban planning, settling patterns and transportation grid. 5
  6. 6. Because of this, the industry itself will need to go throug and innovation and learning process. All of these themes have a significant ICT aspect [12]. It will be elaborated in the following subsections. 4.1 Retrofitting existing building stock for energy efficiency This is perhaps the single most important measure to be taken that allows for cheapest and even profitable investments. The challenge is to make such retrofits on big scale, in a cheap and industrialised manner. While the process to do so is ongoing in many cities, innovation of business models as well as technology will be needed to approach the problem in the required scale. ICT in construction has too date been to much focused on the designing of new buildings. We need better tools for rapid digitalisation of 3D buildings, rapid assessment of their energy performance, interoperability with GIS and administrative data bases related to building ownership. An extension of building information modelling (BIM) standards may be in order to allow for the modelling of rough geometries and properties of buildings as well as their locations. The goal would be for the IT to assist in the planning of the retrofits. Automation of window manufacturing is not a construction related issue. But automation of façade reconstruction will be a challenge, in particular with the historic buildings. Interoperability of software for building envelope design and BIM programs will be a desired feature [13, 14, 15]. 4.2 Intelligent energy management in existing and new buildings The goal here is to reach similar levels of occupant comfort with less energy. The vision is that buildings have many more active elements (not just heating, cooling and ventilation, but façade elements, shades, windows etc.) and sensors (temperature, air quality, lighting) that are part of a computerised network. Introduction of IPV6 and related technologies would allow for any electronic device be a part of an Internet Protocol network and have a computerised control of all these active elements, possible without human intervention or at a distance. The underlying information would include building information models that would allow for real time sensing, simulations and control of solutions would be based on real time simulations. Learning from actions of the human occupants of the building and their personal preferences would be made through machine learning algorithms. Links with a smart energy grid could optimise the use of energy by availability and price as well as include any of the potential building's energy generation facilities (e.g. solar panels on the roof or photovoltaic façade) with the grid. Standardisation of sensors and equipment interfaces will be an important issue. Extensive work in these areas has been ongoing and includes the EU project called REEB [16]. 4.3 Energy efficiency of new buildings 6
  7. 7. While the energy use of existing buildings can be rough halved with retrofit, new passive and zero emission residential, office buildings and industrial buildings have been proven possible. The challenge is to make them standard which would also drive down the cost. Authors of integrated building design software such as ArchiCAD and Revit are already incorporating possibilities to design for energy efficiency, but this and similar software still features traditional building blocks. While a purely geometrical CAD system does not limit the designer to a particular technology of a building or a building envelope, an object oriented CAD system does promote the use of the built-in object. The goal of the software developers therefore is to create object based CAD where the objects are from a passive and carbon neutral design. Such design software could do a lot to promote a certain type of a building, thus generate a paradigm shift in building through the use of a design tool. A precondition for that are building models that support this. Studies on the issue are ongoing [17,18] as well as commercial applications [19]. 4.4 Energy efficient building processes Construction is about heavy stuff. Moving around the steel, concrete and other materials uses a lot of transport related energy. Streamlining the process and shortening the logistic pathways would reduce cost and energy use. The "Process and ICT" focus area of the European Construction Technology Platform (ECTP) deals with this issue [20]. 4.5 Renewable materials Currently, construction industry is using material such as steel, brick, cement and glass that are energy non-efficient [21]. Reinforced concrete and steel are also very well supported in a host of software applications. However, in many cases wood could efficiently replace non-renewable materials. Use of wood is not only CO2 neutral, but building the wood into a product captures and stores the CO2 for the life span of a structure which can last for decades, even centuries. Particular structural and envelope wood would require meaningful quantities, however, its use could be promoted with better computational software (to design structural elements, including highway overpasses and smaller bridges) as well 3D modelling software to design buildings (this one with a direct link to manufacturing lines and CNC machines that would cut timber to measure). Building with wood and other highly manufactured not amorphous materials would require a much better interface between design and manufacturing and could be an additional motive to move towards BIM solutions. 4.6 Re-thinking the urban planning Energy use of people lining in single detached houses is higher than that of people living in multi storey apartment blocks. Also, living in the city is more energy efficient 7
  8. 8. than commuting from the suburbs. How much of their lifestyle people would like to sacrifice we do not know. However, a rethinking on how we organise our settlements is emerging [22]. This poses a challenge to the development of the geographical information systems (GIS) and their environmental and transportation impacts. 4.7 Knowledge transfer issues The industrial revolution and the changes in technologies outlined above will require a massive change in building practises, processes, designs, technologies and materials. Therefore this traditionally conservative industry will also need to upgrade its knowledge transfer mechanisms.  Education. The changes will happen faster than the natural replacement of the workforce. Even more than before, life long learning will be important. Self learning using the Internet and other distance learning methods will be vital. There are some good examples of this in the filed of construction, but it is lagging behind many other areas.  Standardisation. Particularly the intelligent building, sensors, controls will need to be standardised in order to be interoperable. Standardisation will also need to proceed in the resource efficiency aspects of the conceptual building models, particularly open access to standards.  Best practise sharing. In traditional construction it has taken centuries for some good practices to spread and become ubiquitous. When there is a technological change, this needs to happen in a faster manner. The internet offers an immense opportunity to share good designs, good practical solutions. A common element in all of the above is openness. By making open courseware, open standards and open libraries of knowledge and best practices, the knowledge would propagate faster and the contributions that construction can make to adaptation and mitigation of climate change can be made more quickly. Supporting this openness would be also a wise spending on public money that will be poured into the climate change polices anyway, particularly because a lot of public buildings will be adapted as well. Just making knowledge related to that publish would get best practise open libraries started. 5 Conclusion A major industrial revolution will be unfolding over the next couple of decades. It will have a profound impact on all industries and on construction in particular. The core products of civil and structural engineers - the load bearing structure and the interface with the ground - will become an even smaller part in the cost structure of a building product. The added value will be increasingly an "environmental added value". Either the construction industry and researchers will seize the opportunity and take the various mechanical, electrical and electronic active elements as a part of their portfolio or it will need to collaborate much more closely with other engineers to provide it. 8
  9. 9. References 1 J.E. Hansen, "Global trends of measured surface air temperature" J. Geophys. Res. 92: 13345-13372. 1987. http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1987/1987_Hansen_Lebedeff.pdf. 2 Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, http://unfccc.int/essential_background/kyoto_protocol/items/1678.php 3 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis - Summary for Policymakers. Table SPM-3." (PDF). http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM2feb07.pdf. (February 2007). 4 Stern Review Report on the Economics of Climate Change, ISBN 0-521-70080-9, Cambridge University Press, 2006. 5 International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2008, ISBN 978-92-64- 04560-6. 6 Jeremy Rifkin, Leading the Way to the Third Industrial Revolution: A New Energy Agenda for the European Union in the 21st Century-The Next Phase of European Integration, 2008, http://www.foet.org/packet/European.pdf 7 D.H. Douglass and J.R.Christy, Limits on CO2 Climate Forcing from Recent Temperature Data of Erath, Energy and Environment, Vol.20, No1&2, 2009. 8 Nico Stehr, The Moralization of the Markets in Europe, Society, Springer New York, ISSN0147-2011 (Print) 1936-4725 (Online), Volume 45, Number 1 / February, 2008. 9 http://www.climateactionprogramme.org/industry_focus/construction 10 C. H. Sanders and M. C. Phillipson, UK adaptation strategy and technical measures: the impacts of climate change on buildings, Building Research & Information, Volume 31, Issue 3 & 4, May 2003, pages 210 - 221. 11 Jean-Luc Salagnac, French perspective on emerging climate change issues, Building Research & Information, Volume 32, Issue 1 January 2004 , pages 67 - 70. 12 Ad-Hoc Advisory Group Report, ICT for Energy Efficiency, DG-Information Society and Media, Brussels, 24.10.2008, http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/sustainable_growth/docs/consul tations/advisory.../ad-hoc_advisory_group_report.pdf 13 E. Hjelseth, Use of BIM and GIS to enable climatic adaptations of buildings, in Zarli & Scherer (eds), eWork and eBusiness in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2009. 14 J. Wong: Base Case Data Exchange Requirements to Support Thermal Analysis of Curtain Walls, in Zarli & Scherer (eds), eWork and eBusiness in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2009. 15 R. Verstraeten : IFC-based calculation of the Flemish Energy Performance Standard, in Zarli & Scherer (eds), eWork and eBusiness in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2009. 16 M. Bourdeau: REEB: a European-led initiative for a strategic research Roadmap to ICT enabled Energy- Efficiency in Construction, in Zarli & Scherer (eds), eWork and eBusiness in Architecture, Engineering and Construction, Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2009. 9
  10. 10. 17 Zhiliang Ma and Yili Zhao, Model of Next Generation Energy-Efficient Design Software for Buildings, Tsinghua Science & Technology Volume 13, Supplement 1, October 2008, Pages 298-304 18 Vladimir Bazjanac, Impact of the U.S. National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS) on Building Energy Performance Simulation, University of California, University of California), Year 2008, Paper LBNL-917E, http://repositories.cdlib.org/lbnl/LBNL-917E 19 AutoDesk, Using BIM for Greener Designs, 2007, http://images.autodesk.com/apac_korea_main/files/bim_green_building_jan07_1_ .pdf 20 European Construction Technology Platform, Processes and ICT, http://www.ectp.org/fa_pict.asp 21 Carbon dioxide emissions and climate change: policy implications for the cement industry, Rehan and M. Nehdi, Environmental Science & Policy, Volume 8, Issue 2, April 2005, Pages 105-114. 22 Nancy B. Grimm, Stanley H. Faeth, Nancy E. Golubiewski, Charles L. Redman, Jianguo Wu, Xuemei Bai, John M. Briggs, Global Change and the Ecology of Cities, Science 8 February 2008: Vol. 319. no. 5864, pp. 756 - 760, DOI: 10.1126/science.1150195 10

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