Digital Tools for a Clean Future  

Digitization initiatives and digital solutions are becoming the key to net-zero carbon emissions reduction across the world.  

The World Economic Forum has even come out and endorsed the use of digital for reaching net-zero carbon emissions in manufacturing and industries. This comes after industries are all turning to systems and tools that make it easier to innovate and track their use and lower their carbon footprint. 

Now this begs the question; what does fully digital portfolio management look like? 

Why Digital is Important 

Keeping things efficient while making sure they are meeting their goals all while remaining sustainable takes some maneuvering.  

Digital platforms and software that shoulder the burden of CO2 emissions and help reach net zero emissions are a necessity for improving sustainability. Accurate and in-depth reporting over time is the best way to reach net zero or know if you’re on the way towards reaching it.  

Making sure the rest of your portfolio practices are based in sustainable processes with accurate reporting of data is going to make improving and benchmarking easier over the long term. 

Portfolio management software, especially ones that focus sustainability, provide efficient and accessible data reports across a range of areas, highlighting where there may be deficiencies in practices or investment.  

Having this presented in formats that showcase data over time means that KPIs can be developed for areas of priority like sustainability or maintenance to improve operations. 

Digital for All? 

Since we were sent home to work, digital transformation was placed on the fast track for most organizations. The need for accessible, sustainable digital infrastructure to keep us connected at work is growing to improve efficiency in areas like asset and portfolio management using automation. This takes paper-based, repetitive workloads and reduces them to digital reports that can be accessed via application.  

Digital portfolio solutions can be used across almost every industry, even finding prevalence in the healthcare field. Here, keeping facilities and assets running at an optimal level without extended downtime is crucial while chasing sustainable energy use. 

Digital twins are an emerging tool for digital transformation that uses 3D modelling of assets and systems inside a built environment to measure and collect data. From manufacturing and construction to facilities managers of large portfolios, this allows for accurate reporting on systems maintenance and emissions tracking for the building. 

The more digital solutions that are integrated across industries and businesses with the intent of measuring energy analytics, the closer our cities come to being carbon neutral.

Why sustainability matters

Why sustainability? The core focus is to improve the relationship with our carbon footprint and reach net-zero carbon emissions while creating functional and capable environments.  

Sustainable buildings are rising in popularity and their role in creating the net-zero cities that we so often point to as the “end goal” of sustainable infrastructure. Reaching this point requires facilities and portfolio managers to apply management solutions for real estate and have aligned, intentional action in their process.  

Truly sustainable action, however, comes from long-term solutions that are going to be repeatable, definable, and can be adjusted based on external or internal factors that may affect them.  

Sustainability over several years is how net-zero is reached, with consistency in our building operations and management practices.   

Real Property and Portfolio Management  

Real estate portfolios and the management of these assets is the foundation of green buildings. Green buildings make green portfolios; these can be built with sustainable architecture combining the benefits of sustainable materials, how the building uses energy, and various waste disposal methods. 

Now what about those who don’t have the opportunity to have a ready-made new green building? Transitioning an existing portfolio to more sustainable practices is going to take initial investment, but the ROI for green buildings that use technology such as BIM and digital twins is incentive when it is tied to green certification. 

Some areas of the world, namely Australia, have become a hotbed for sustainable architecture. Receiving awards for most sustainable architecture in the world in 2022, their use of materials along with carbon-neutral practices is a lead-by-example approach for the rest of the world. 

Emissions & performance management 

Measuring facilities and systems over time is the best way to improve emissions and meet targets on the road to net-zero. Real property giants like QuadReal out of Vancouver, BC have pledged to reach net-zero for their global portfolio by 2050. Changing entire systems like lighting fixtures and heat recovery systems.  

Managing performance over time means consistent action with respect to data analytics and adjustments to facilities to be in line with long-term goals. It’s been found that 85% of emissions reduction can be done with technologies currently in the demo stage.  

This means that the technology needed to effectively manage emissions and energy use is coming, but that does not mean we wait for it. Using tools like BIM modelling that can display energy use across entire systems and campuses. Here, they can see where the most demand is coming from can highlight areas of importance in emissions management.  

If a system or asset is a large source of emissions or energy use, then performance management is a key part of finding a way to turn this to a sustainable, future-friendly solution. Sustainability isn’t just about the environment but ensuring that an asset can last into the future while keeping up it’s role in reaching net-zero. A short term solution isn’t as effective as one that is built to last.

Measuring where you’ve been is the best way to reach where you’re going by learning from the data. Portfolio and real estate management is now moving to include a focus on emissions and sustainability as built environments make up nearly half of all CO2 emissions. 

The Future of Digital Energy Solutions 

Sustainable action and steps towards net-zero portfolios is always forward-facing. We see commitments by organizations and companies to be net-zero in their portfolio or their processes by a certain date.  

Surveys have shown that the focus for organizations energy practices is on reducing energy consumption and improving conservation. They’re accomplishing this with building management in areas such as HVAC and other operational systems. Less energy use means less overall cost as well, which certainly is never a bad thing to businesses. 

Technology wise? Tools are being developed like one out of the University of Central Florida, that calculates greenhouse gas emissions coming from buildings for comparison. Measuring output with the intent of comparison to other buildings to make sure decarbonization is successful or not by seeing how impactful certain practices are on reducing emissions.  

The future of emissions reduction and portfolio management are intertwined, with built environments posing an opportunity to correct mistakes made with unsustainable infrastructure and practices. Leveraging existing and up and coming tools for emissions reduction and managing energy use like BIM and digital twins while setting long-term goals appears to be the best course of action moving forward. 

Digitization is here to stay, and harnessing it to solve problems like emissions and energy use is our best bet at achieving a net-zero world.