Autodesk’s newest research report surveys companies across architecture, engineering, construction, design and manufacturing (AEC and D&M) industries to determine current factors driving sustainability across Asia Pacific.
The report, carried out in collaboration with Frost & Sullivan, is titled: Enabling a Sustainable Future through Digitalisation: Trends driving the Design & Manufacturing and Architecture, Engineering and Construction Industries in APAC.
Across the region, more than half (53 per cent) of companies surveyed indicated sustainability was an important part or cornerstone of their business strategy. In Australia and New Zealand the market is more mature, with 66 per cent of companies surveyed mentioning sustainability is an important part of the strategy or even a cornerstone.
The findings also show sustainability initiatives are gathering pace in the region, with the key drivers being regulation and market forces (92 per cent), investor relations (87 per cent), and competitive advantage (80 per cent).
APAC is a significant contributor to climate change
The massive impact on climate change, driven by the increasing consumption in energy and materials, is accelerating the demand for sustainability across the AEC and D&M sectors.
APAC now contributes 53 per cent of global GHG emissions, producing 18.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2020 – more than the cumulative emissions from the rest of the world. Manufacturing and construction, and the building industry account for 17 per cent and 4 per cent GHG emissions in APAC respectively.
According to research released at the recent COP26 climate summit, Australia leads the world in GHG emissions from coal per capita. In addition, about 28 per cent of electricity production in Australia in 2020 was from renewable energy sources, far below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s average of 40 per cent. For the world to progress towards the net zero goal, it is necessary for these sectors in APAC to change how they approach sustainability.
Governments across the region are pledging to contribute to sustainability while balancing the imperative of economic growth. Initiatives such as the Green Building Council of Australia’s voluntary sustainability rating system for green buildings in Australian fit-outs and communities is also a growing trend.
In Australia, waste products like construction debris, slag from steel plants, etc. are being utilised for building roads. Australia’s waste policy 2018 has been developed for managing trends across states and territories. However, progress has been uneven with the region struggling to suppress the increase of GHG emissions driven by high economic growth.
Digital adoption is a critical enabler for sustainability
Increasing requirements for compliance with mandates and regulations related to energy consumption and emissions reductions requires increased monitoring, measuring, reporting and verification – which data can provide.
According to Andy Cunningham, Regional Director, Autodesk Australia and New Zealand, efficient and structured management of data is important to achieving sustainability goals, highlighting the need for increased digital adoption. Technology can support businesses to reduce GHG emissions and waste, and accelerate the design and make of safer, healthier and more resilient products and places.
“Digital technologies are providing a bridge to approach sustainability challenges in a new way. For example, key environmental issues such as climate change, resource depletion, and environmental protection are being addressed through digital solutions such as digital twin and lean construction – major trends that are driving sustainability in Australia and New Zealand.”
“Two major challenges organisations face in their journey towards sustainability is the lack of skills and resources, which are being compounded by the ageing of assets. Digital adoption is the key to overcoming these challenges and is a critical enabler for sustainability, but it is still massively underleveraged,” said Mr Cunningham.
According to Mr Cunningham, APAC presents a massive growth potential but is also the region with the least technology adoption. “In order to sustain the growth and the scale, it is now imperative for the public and the private sector in the region to be more aggressive in adopting technologies to capitalise on the potential and also achieve the common sustainability goals,” he said.
Large economies in the region have already committed more than $US250 billion ($347.4 billion) in investment towards sustainability and indicated timelines to become carbon neutral. Yet only two countries from the region appear in the top 25 in the Global Sustainability Index 2021.
According to Ravi Krishnaswamy, Senior Vice President, Energy and Environment, Industrial, APAC, Frostand Sullivan, “With increasing focus on adopting sustainable development goals and gaining a competitive advantage, digital technologies are driving the convergence necessary for achieving a balanced growth between business and environment. Digitalisation has emerged as one of the top strategy agendas for many corporations worldwide.
“As a result companies are increasingly adopting digital solutions for compliance related data measurement and reporting, easy collaboration with supply-chain partners, data on low-carbon materials, and machine-learning and artificial-intelligence capabilities for improving their sustainability quotient.”
Action must now be taken to embrace digitalisation as an enabling pillar and increase the commitment towards sustainability, contributing to the global cause while upholding often divergent stakeholder interests. To learn more about Autodesk’s commitment to sustainability, visit www.autodesk.com/impactreport.
 Critical insights for the study have been obtained through quantitative survey and qualitative discussions with private sector AEC and D&M companies across six regions within APAC – Japan, China, South Korea, India, ANZ and ASEAN. A total of 566 quantitative and 39 qualitative discussions have been carried out across these regions.