Championing the union of digital and sustainability in the first Digital Climate podcast

by BIM Academy | July 30, 2021 |  4 min read

Digital Climate Podcast Episode #1 with Helen Goodland
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This week we launched our Digital Climate podcast series, hosted by our Managing Director, Peter Barker. The theme of this podcast series is to demonstrate the synergy between digital construction and sustainability and, when combined, how they form an powerful connection – in the fight against climate change.

It is important for us to exchange ideas about this subject as it has such a vital role to play in the future of our industry and the societies we serve, not just for our own regions, but on a global scale.

In this series, Peter will cross continents to gain an international perspective on what actions are being taken right now and what more needs to be done. In episode #1 Peter talks to Helen Goodland, Founding Principal and Head of Research and Innovation at Scius Advisory Inc. – a research, consulting and innovation intelligence firm based in Vancouver, Canada that specialises in state-of-the-art technical and policy research, delivering transformative solutions for the construction industry.

Currently, Helen serves on Canada’s National Zero Waste Council’s Construction Taskforce and on the Board of CanBIM – Canada’s voice for the effective deployment of digital technologies and processes in the building and infrastructure industry.

Based in Vancouver, Helen talks about the digital built environment in Canada and what positive steps have been taken within the construction industry for this region to tackle carbon emissions and reduce unnecessary waste.

Peter opened the conversation by stating that two of the world’s largest contributors to global warming are construction and the embodied carbon of building materials. He then commented that before we address how to change this statistic, he asked Helen, “how do we send a clear message to the construction industry things need to change?”

Helen said: “Most people in construction recognise we need to change. We are the last great analogue industry and this is no longer fit for purpose. We need to do more and move quickly.

“In Canada a big theme is efficiency and minimising waste, margins are slim (and getting slimmer) as everyone is seeking more for less. Which is why we need to identify new areas of efficiency and tackling them. Many people get the ‘why’ we need to change, but we should be looking at the ‘how’ to change.”

Is digital adoption more accessible to smaller or larger businesses? To which Helen responded: “The majority of construction businesses in British Columbia have less than 10 employees. For them, digital can prove to be the key to being more agile and competitive. We are operating in a fiercely competitive industry which can be unhealthy, but a ‘rising tide floats many boats’, and digital can be a greater leveller and give smaller organisations a competitive edge.”

One in 10 Canadians work in construction and in British Columbia the population has a close affinity and awareness of environment, with government drivers in this area being very well received.

In particular, British Columbia is a big produce and global exporter of timber products. Businesses within the region therefore understand that 30% of greenhouse gas emissions come from operation of buildings and approximately 11% from embodied carbon, and choosing natural products such as wood significantly reduces these figures.

As well as materials, the region has a good understanding of the value of data and how this contributes to our knowledge or building performance. However, there is still an issue with the performance gap – the differential between how buildings are expected to perform and how they actually do, and users experience of their environments. The predicted versus actual gap is a symptom of an industry that needs to up its game at design stage to enable our assets to perform as they should. A true digital transformation is needed here.

You can listen to the full interview on our podcast page and hear how Peter and Helen discuss what collaborative action is needed across the industry to drive progress in the fight against climate change, and how can we better implement the use of digital tools in the design and build.

Digital Climate Podcast Episode #1 with Helen Goodland

Peter Barker

Podcast Host:
Peter Barker, Managing Director, BIM Academy

BIM Academy Guest and Sustainability Champion:
Helen Goodland, Founding Principal and Head of Research and Innovation at Scius Advisory Inc.