IPCC Report: Science-based climate problems call for science-based solutions

Date Published

9th Aug 2021

Suzanne Wallace
Media & Communications Manager, IES

Today’s headlines are a flood with stark warnings following the release of the latest IPCC report. Phrases like ‘code-red’, ‘wake up call’, ‘deeds not words’ are all plastered across the channels of major world media outlets. At long last the world appears to be listening to the scientists. However, it’s all well and good to be listening and reporting as the drama unfolds, to raise awareness and increase understanding amongst the many still uninformed, but sadly this won’t matter if we don’t turn that awareness into concrete action.

As Greta Thunberg pointed out, the report tells us nothing that has not already been widely reported. Yet, the report’s call for absolute urgent action, to avoid catastrophe, is deafening. Perhaps even more so are the tragic extreme weather disasters that are happening more frequently around the globe. As the report pointed out – every region in the world is now feeling the effects of climate change.

This report is an ‘as clear as it gets’ wake up call to Governments, Businesses, and Citizens to start doing their bit. If we don’t? Well the consequences are clear as well – climate disasters will get worse and worse and our lives will be affected much worse than it has been by the pandemic over the past year and a half. The report has stated that to stay below the absolute maximum temperature threshold of 2 degrees, the world must be at zero-carbon by 2050.

The good news is that the scientists that produced this report still believe we can do this. It is in our hands to take action and make this happen. It will take a collective action across governments, industries, business and citizens but together we can reach the targets required to keep us and our world safe.

But what exactly will that collective action look like? Here, the science tells us, loud and clear, what the issue is, but it doesn’t exactly tell us how to address it. A science-based problem calls for a science-based solution. And fortunately, some of these already exist…

Here at IES, we believe a good place to start is with what you know. We specialise in making built environments as energy efficient as possible. We have been developing the technology to do this for over 25 years and we know that it is capable of decarbonising every building in the world, with the backing of our world-leading physics simulation engine underpinning everything that we do.

The built environment is well known as being one of the most significant contributors to carbon emissions worldwide, but it is also an area where practically everyone has the chance to make an impact, whether you are a building or portfolio owner, an energy or facilities manager, a city planner, or citizen.

It is being ever more widely reported that to decarbonise our buildings, we need to use digital tools and performance-based analytics for design, construction, operation and refurbishment. However, the built environment is one area where we know we are inherently adverse to change. Fossil fuels provide an energy source with which the construction industry has trust and knows how to work with, and the uptake of digital solutions, while gathering pace now, has been historically slow. This is proven in the latest Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction’s Global Status report which showed that in 2019 CO2 emissions from the building sector were the highest ever recorded. With emissions from the operation of buildings driving this, they increased to their highest level yet at around 10 GtCO2, or 28% of total global energy-related CO2 emissions.

This must change. And through use of the right technologies and digital tools, all rooted in the relevant climate science, it absolutely can.

Digital Twins for the Built Environment are vital to this. Working off shared knowledge and data, and underpinned by powerful physics simulation intelligence, these tools can empower everyone, regardless of their connection or role in the use of a building, to make climate-wise decisions and improvements. Not only can they provide dashboards and tools to drive operational efficiencies, track progress towards targets, measure and verify results, and test which retrofit or improvement investments are the best in any given situation. They can also be used to engage with building occupants and citizens to guide action and inspire change, gather feedback on proposals, policies and targets, and inform on progress made.

In a recent article, Lead Researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Real Estate Innovation Lab, James Scott, pointed to the digital twin IES produced for the NTU EcoCampus in Singapore as “one of the best examples” currently available of “digital twins delivering measurable environmental and cost improvements on a large scale.” The project succeeded in uncovering 31% energy savings, S$4.7 million in cost savings and 9.6 kilotons of carbon savings as part of the university’s ambition to become the greenest campus in the world. 

The good news is there are more success stories like this, more and more companies and industry professionals are grasping the need to use digital tools like ours and seeing real tangible results. Action breeds more action. If the problem seems too big, take it step by step. That’s why at IES we have a proven route-map to net-zero using our Digital Twin tech which we can adapt to your projects to ensure you get the best possible results.

If you are reading this thinking I know I need to take action, but where do I start? Start by contacting us for a chat to see how we – backed by the power of science - can help get your building or buildings on the path to net-zero. 

For more information visit www.iesve.com/zero-carbon

Latest from DiscoverIES