Christian, industry, science, and the real estate sector are seeing double – digital twins are ubiquitous and promise a great many advantages, such as in terms of sustainability. However, a digital twin alone does not make a real estate project sustainable. What else does it take? A digital twin alone does not make a real estate project sustainable. What else does it include?
Christian Schunicht: It is true that digital twins on their own are not sufficient in order to construct and refurbish buildings in a truly sustainable, circular, and climate-friendly way going forward. The prerequisite in order for buildings to be truly sustainable is transparency.
For example, regarding what a building’s footprint actually is in terms of factors such as carbon emissions, the circularity potential of the building, and the materials used, based on a specific design.
Is this the point where TWINGINE comes in?
Exactly; with TWINGINEwe take this particular design of a building in digital form and analyze it in terms of various sustainability aspects, making it possible to transparently illustrate how much energy a building will consume, for example – before it has been built, of course.
That knowledge makes it possible to optimize the building, taking every single construction component into account.
How are building developers supposed to know what’s good and what’s better regarding the sustainability of their buildings?
That depends entirely on the requirements of the particular project. TWINGINE gives building developers the opportunity to measure the draft design of their building in terms of standards.
Which standards are these typically?
The German Sustainable Building Council (DGNB) has defined standard values and criteria for assessing the sustainability of new buildings, such as, in particular, the ecological, economical, and social quality of real estate. However, building developers can also use their own company standards as a guideline.
Are these kinds of sustainability goals already the norm for companies today?
In future, more and more companies will have to determine concrete goals regarding energy consumption and carbon footprint in their building projects. Siemens, for example, already does so intensively. Siemens, for example, already does so intensively.
“In future, more and more companies will have to determine concrete goals regarding energy consumption and carbon footprint in their building projects.”
Christian Schunicht, Managing Director of TWINGINE
The real estate sector is not exactly considered a digital pioneer, and tools and methods such as BIM are still not in widespread use. What are the reasons for that?
Basically, Building Information Modeling is only seen as justified if it is capable of adding value to a company’s business operations. However, under the buzzword of digitalization, the method has often not progressed beyond the status of a fancy idea and only been seen as an end in itself.
That is now changing with TWINGINE.
Yes, with TWINGINE we are giving what is seen by many building developers as an abstract topic a concrete benefit. We are using BIM as a means to an end. BIM is becoming the central database for providing building developers with crucial information regarding their project – both quickly and in a clickable form. We are talking about information on costs, carbon emissions, space efficiency and the like.
That’s why BIM for building developers is finally making sense – not because it’s fancy, but because via TWINGINE it can deliver key answers to the major questions that building developers face. Their advantage is that TWINGINE enables them to plan their buildings even more efficiently, sustainably, and cost-efficiently.
Which projects can building developers implement using TWINGINE and the BIM database?
We are currently focusing on private and public-sector construction projects. However, we are also talking to developers of social buildings, for example. Demographic change is leaving its mark not only on sectors such as healthcare and education, but also on the real estate market, where demand for nursing care properties and senior-friendly accommodation is growing.
We also plan to serve international markets in the long term, as topics such as efficiency and sustainability are not only mega-trends in Germany, but key criteria for building developers worldwide, of course.
As you mention trends and sectors, what impacted the real estate sector in particular in 2021 in your opinion?
The pandemic, of course, had an impact on every sector. Nevertheless, construction activity continues to be huge and it has also been responsible for positive developments in the sector. The phenomenon of working from home has greatly helped to embed the topic of digitalization even more firmly in the real estate sector.
Many stakeholders have suddenly become far more concerned with how they can store and process data in the cloud and how processes can be digitalized. The real estate sector therefore developed a certain affinity for digital processes in 2021.
“The pandemic has also been responsible for positive developments in the sector. The phenomenon of working from home
has greatly helped to embed the topic of digitalization
even more firmly in the real estate sector.”
Christian Schunicht, Managing Director of TWINGINE
What were the highlights for you personally in 2021?
A positive highlight for me was the fact that a number of trade shows such as the Expo Real and the BIM World were held again, which was also incredibly important for TWINGINE. We were present at both of those events and had a number of interesting discussions.
It is generally noticeable that the sector is becoming increasingly open to digital solutions and also wants to leverage these in a concrete manner.
If you had to provide an outlook for the real estate sector as a whole in 2022, which topics would be the top three for building owners and developers?
The three top subjects for 2022 would be sustainability, sustainability, and sustainability. The ability to improve circularity and more accurately estimate the impact of a building on the environment are topics that will continue to impact the entire sector for a long time to come.
There is also the question of how building developers can get a grip on ever-increasing construction costs and make the most efficient use of their space.
Last but not least, digital building models will play an increasingly important role in planning phases and in the operation of buildings.