Architecture, engineering, construction (AEC) and manufacturing companies across Ireland and the UK are set to invest an average of €800,000 each in sustainability initiatives over the next five years. That’s according to a new report released today by software company Autodesk in partnership with global consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan.
The European research which was conducted among 600 business decision-makers in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) and manufacturing industries, was carried out across the Nordics (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland), Benelux, Ireland and the UK.
Autodesk established its EMEA HQ in Dublin in 2018 where the team, representing 28 different nationalities, supports the company’s EMEA operations, including finance, HR, marketing, and sales operations.
Nordics are leading the way
According to the research, construction companies in the Nordics are leading the way in terms of sustainability, with 91% of companies within the region having a dedicated sustainability team. However, for those within Ireland and the UK, sustainability will be a key area for investment over the next five years.
Today, 95% of companies in Ireland and the UK are investing in improved workflows (reducing waste and energy consumption) as part of their sustainability initiatives. Another area of investment is in technology and software, with over three quarters (77%) of those in the region investing here today.
The report also found that 50% of AEC firms in Ireland and the UK are investing in recruitment and training as part of their sustainability objectives, with 54% planning to invest in the next two years.
For those within the AEC sector, the most important areas for achieving sustainability impact goals in the future include:
- Green building (56%)
- Low carbon innovation (50%)
- Circular design (41%)
- Supporting vulnerable communities affected by climate change (31%)
Overcoming digital challenges to a more sustainable future
When asked why their company was embracing sustainability, 91% of those in Ireland and the UK cited customer retention as the most important factor.
This was followed by customer expectations (83%), competitive advantage (64%), supply chain and partner expectations (54%), attracting talent and employee satisfaction (39%), and investor relations (44%).
Over half (53%) of AEC respondents in the region also believe sustainable practices improve project quality. These findings indicate that the use of renewable energy, better material choices and circularity approaches could lower the environmental impact of projects or products.
Though the benefits of sustainability are clear, firms still face challenges in implementing strategies across both industries, with lack of financial resources (44%)and access to skills and training (36%) the most common challenges.
Mike Pettinella, EMEA Director of Sales, Autodesk Construction Solutions said: “The findings indicate widespread acknowledgement of the need to enhance sustainability across the AEC and manufacturing sectors in Ireland, and it’s clear that companies in the region are on the right path to sustainability.
“In Ireland, empowering people to design, collaborate, build, and fabricate in ways that improve productivity – while also reducing waste, saving money, and staying competitive will play a huge role in achieving the objectives set out under the Government’s national policies including the Project Ireland 2040, Action Plan on Housings and Homelessness and the Climate Action Plan.
“The transformation from physical to digital has brought both the AEC and manufacturing industries closer together to make supply chains shorter, increasing collaboration and boosting resilience. The critical next step is sharing learnings and best practices between industries to meet carbon neutral goals in the next decade and beyond.”
Chris Landsburgh, Environmental and Sustainability Manager, Wills Bros who participated in the research said: “Technology is already an enabler for our sustainability initiatives. Systems like BIM and Carbon Management Programmes help us effectively measure, monitor, and manage assets from pre-construction to de-construction. It is both collaboration and utilisation of data through these platforms, which allow us to engage with all teams involved in the construction process. This enables us to track the performance and efficiency of our work – which in turn give us the fuel necessary to achieve our sustainability goals.”