Digital sustainability also crucial

Chronicle by Anneli Kouthoofd

Sustainability in the construction materials industry naturally focuses on the function, robustness, durability and design of the material. But these days sustainability is just as much about zeros and ones, digital data and the rules and conditions that encourage innovation. Climate and sustainability goals drive the whole construction industry, and the construction materials industry is putting a great deal of money and energy into research and development. Globally, within the EU and nationally, the ultimate aim is for a green and circular transition, and this will demand innovations not only in the field of construction materials, but also sustainable digital information.

We need a circular strategy. The Swedish government’s national strategy has been set out in principle, but it requires concrete action plans to back it up, as well as good synchronisation within the EU. This in turn requires close collaboration with all of us in the business world. The construction materials industry and other industries are developing strategies that allow us to combine a non-toxic environment with the ability to recycle more.

Sustainable information, documentation of relevant data that can be shared while ensuring the continued security and development of the building materials companies, is essential for the future of innovation. Construction material manufacturers are working to establish an industry-wide system/platform with a standardised language, which makes it possible for companies to share product and environmental data securely and efficiently, and draw on the expertise of the different companies.

This digitalisation work is progressing within a number of joint industry projects. Swedish Wood, for example, is conducting particularly pragmatic and forward-thinking work on the production of digital data. We need to agree on identifiers (GTIN, GMN) so the data can be used across borders, and we need to standardise the steps in the construction process. Essentially, we need to jointly meet everyone’s needs, including the construction materials industry’s need for systems to register and produce relevant product and environmental data, and the property owner’s needs regarding management and renovation.

An attitude of trust between the various actors in the construction process, the right regulatory system, the right approach to relevant data and digitalised platforms for the sustainable exchange of information are key factors for the exciting and intensive work moving forward.

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