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Digital Transformation and Sustainability in the Built Environment

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Green Building".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (8 November 2023) | Viewed by 10210

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering, School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering, Aston University, Birmingham, UK
Interests: disaster resilience in the built environment; sustainable construction; construction cost management; smart and resilient cities

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Guest Editor
Department of Architecture and Built Environment, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Interests: disaster risk reduction and resilience in the built environment; sustainability in the built environment; digital transformation in the construction industry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The way we plan, build and manage our built environment has long been challenged to transform and modernize by embracing digital innovations. Evidence shows that digital innovations associated with the 4th Industrial Revolution such as building information management (BIM), blockchain technology, robotics, wearables, intelligent transport and digital twins are now starting to make an impact on our built environment. Digital transformation has the potential to bring many benefits in terms of productivity, cost-effectiveness, health and safety, customer experience and CO2 emissions, and therefore helps the journey towards a sustainable and resilient built environment. However, this transformation is not free of risks, and may even present new threats to sustainability. For instance, the digital carbon footprint of the transformation is a growing concern and might be a hindrance in achieving other strategic priorities such as tackling climate change. This Special Issue focuses on how digital transformation may affect the sustainability and resilience of the built environment. It will highlight the benefits, opportunities, drawbacks and challenges of digital transformation, and the way forward. We invite colleagues to submit articles or reviews related to areas including (but not limited to) the following in the context of the built environment:

  • Evaluating the impacts of digital transformation on sustainability;
  • Evaluating the impact of digital transformation on resilience;
  • Costs/benefits of digital transformation;
  • Opportunities and challenges for the digital transformation of the built environment;
  • Sustainable digital transformation;
  • Smart and resilient built environment;
  • Tackling the digital carbon footprint;
  • Developing methods and models for assessing the digital carbon footprint;
  • Digital divide and digitalizing construction in the Global South.
  • Digital and electronic waste and sustainability.

Dr. Gayan Wedawatta
Dr. Kanchana Ginige
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • digital footprint
  • digital technologies for resilience
  • digital transformation
  • sustainable construction
  • resilience in the built environment

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

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25 pages, 2687 KiB  
Article
Integrating Circular Economy Principles in Modular Construction to Enhance Sustainability
by Garusinghe Dewa Ayesha Udari Garusinghe, Balasooriya Arachchige Kanchana Shiromi Perera and Umesha Sasanthi Weerapperuma
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11730; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511730 - 29 Jul 2023
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3372
Abstract
Modular construction (MC) has gained attention due to its potential for fast construction, reduced construction waste, and lower environmental impact while having several other issues on stimulating sustainability. The circular economy (CE) focuses on better resource management through a closed-loop system. Even though [...] Read more.
Modular construction (MC) has gained attention due to its potential for fast construction, reduced construction waste, and lower environmental impact while having several other issues on stimulating sustainability. The circular economy (CE) focuses on better resource management through a closed-loop system. Even though MC enhances sustainable practice, several pitfalls barricade sustainability in MC (high initial investment, design consideration, and technology challenges). Nevertheless, the synergy between CE and MC has not been investigated in past studies to address the issues in MC to achieve sustainability. This study investigates the integration of CE principles in MC to enhance sustainability. This study used a qualitative approach via the Delphi technique by conducting three semi-structured expert interview rounds with the use of a purposive sampling method. The collected data were analysed using manual content analysis. This study identified nine notable issues in MC to achieve sustainability, and all CE 9-R (rethink, refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, refurbish, remanufacture, recycle, and recover) principles could address those identified issues. Accordingly, thirty implementation strategies were recognised to fill the gap between the problems in MC and the potential of CE principles to solve the issues. The results provide insights for construction practitioners, policymakers, and researchers on integrating CE principles into MC processes to achieve sustainability goals. Ultimately, this study highlights the significance of a holistic approach by theoretically combining MC and CE principles as a benchmark for future studies. As a contribution, CE strives to make the planet a safe place to live by combatting resource depletion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Sustainability in the Built Environment)
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Review

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23 pages, 1549 KiB  
Review
Digital Data Management Practices for Effective Embodied Carbon Estimation: A Systematic Evaluation of Barriers for Adoption in the Building Sector
by Geeth Jayathilaka, Niraj Thurairajah and Akila Rathnasinghe
Sustainability 2024, 16(1), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/su16010236 - 27 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1027
Abstract
The pervasive impact of industrialisation on our daily existence has precipitated carbon emissions that demand critical attention. Although international conventions and scholarly research have scrutinised carbon emission sources and reduction strategies, the integration of digital tools and databases for estimating embodied carbon emissions [...] Read more.
The pervasive impact of industrialisation on our daily existence has precipitated carbon emissions that demand critical attention. Although international conventions and scholarly research have scrutinised carbon emission sources and reduction strategies, the integration of digital tools and databases for estimating embodied carbon emissions remains in an incipient phase. Consequently, this review study aims to seek to optimise opportunities for digital transformation and sustainable practices while addressing the digital carbon footprint in the building sector. Employing the PRISMA guidelines, we systematically analysed 59 publications amassed from Scopus and Web of Science databases. The study’s search parameters encompassed the analytical dimensions of “embodied carbon”, “emission data”, and “barriers to digital transformation”. Through this rigorous process, 32 salient challenges and barriers were synthesised, encapsulated within four overarching parameters: traceability, accuracy, auditability, and efficiency. At its core, this study’s primary objective resides in the evaluation of existing barriers and challenges within the realm of carbon emission estimation. By doing so, it aspires to proffer a cogent knowledge model capable of catalysing the development of digital methodologies and models that can, with a high degree of accuracy, assess the burgeoning digital carbon footprint within the expansive domain of the building sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Sustainability in the Built Environment)
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25 pages, 991 KiB  
Review
Digital Twin Smart Cities for Disaster Risk Management: A Review of Evolving Concepts
by M. R. Mahendrini Fernando Ariyachandra and Gayan Wedawatta
Sustainability 2023, 15(15), 11910; https://doi.org/10.3390/su151511910 - 2 Aug 2023
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 4977
Abstract
Natural hazard-induced disasters have caused catastrophic damage and loss to buildings, infrastructure, and the affected communities as a whole during the recent decades and their impact is expected to further escalate in the future. Thus, there is a huge demand for disaster risk [...] Read more.
Natural hazard-induced disasters have caused catastrophic damage and loss to buildings, infrastructure, and the affected communities as a whole during the recent decades and their impact is expected to further escalate in the future. Thus, there is a huge demand for disaster risk management using digitalisation as a key enabler for effective and efficient disaster risk management systems. It is widely accepted that digital and intelligence technologies can help solve key aspects of disaster risk management such as disaster prevention and mitigation, and rescue and recovery. Digital Twin (DT) is one of the most promising technologies for multi-stage management which offers significant potential to advance disaster resilience. Smart Cities (SCs) use pervasive information and communications technology to monitor activities in the city. With increasingly large applications of DTs combined with big data generated from sensors in a SC, it is now possible to create Digital Twin Smart Cities (DTSCs). Despite the increasing prevalence of DTSC technologies and their profound impact on disaster risk management, a systematic and longitudinal view of the evolution to the current status of DTSC for disaster risk management does not exist. This review analyses 312 titles and abstracts and 72 full papers. To begin with, a scientific review of DT and SC is undertaken, where the evolution of DTSCs is reviewed. In addition, the intelligence technologies used in DTSCs for disaster risk management are assessed and their benefits are evaluated. Furthermore, the evolution and technical feasibility of DTSC-driven disaster risk management is evaluated by assessing current applications of DTSCs in disaster risk management. It was found that despite the significant potential benefits offered by DTSCs, they also add a new layer of complexities and challenges inherent to these technologies to the already complex web of complexities involved in disaster risk management. These challenges can be addressed by understanding how the process of utilising DTSCs in disaster risk reduction and sustainability is designed, which is essential for comprehending what DTSCs may offer, how it is implemented, and what it means to all involved stakeholders. This paper contributes to the knowledge by improving the understanding of the current status of DTSC technologies and their impact on disaster risk management, and articulating the challenges in implementing DTSC, which inspires the professional community to advance these technologies to address them in future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Digital Transformation and Sustainability in the Built Environment)
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