—— Yannick Renaud, project engineer for simulation and energy technology, explains the potential of the new technology.

Mr. Renaud, can buildings be cloned?
———— Perhaps not cloned, but with so-called digital twins we can comprehensively model an office building—and can do so much faster than before. This allows us to see how we can save as much energy as possible early in the design phase of a new building, thus also reducing carbon-dioxide emissions.
What’s new about this?
———— First and foremost it’s how we deal with data. Let’s look at the construction industry. Previously, for a heat calculation you had to gather data from a wide variety of sources, all in different formats. Everyone involved used different software programs and datasets. Sifting through and processing all this data took a lot of time. Today we work with uniform data and pool it in one platform. Particularly in the era of big data, this allows us to simulate buildings much faster and more accurately—and to create a digital twin.
That probably sounds easier than it is.
———— One of the real challenges is getting all the participants to work in one model throughout the entire construction phase instead of working with ten digital information channels. We have consultants whose only job is to make sure that the planners, designers and engineers reconcile their data and save it in one location. That can be on a special platform, like in the construction industry, or in the cloud. This saves a lot of time and effort, especially for larger projects.
What possibilities will the future bring?
———— With the help of big data and digital twin technology, we can continually optimize buildings. We can also enhance them with virtual reality and augmented reality to gain even more insights. This has rarely been the case thus far. As soon as a building is finished, people often stop paying attention to it. That’s a big mistake, since buildings can continually be made more efficient when you’ve collected the relevant data over several decades and can network that data in a meaningful way.