Measuring Carbon in Digital Twins


The natural concern among contractors and architects to minimize the carbon content of future buildings and the infrastructure around us requires a variety of data. As digital twin technology grows in value, adding ways to calculate embedded carbon and analyze its long-term impact can be a significant benefit.

To answer that challenge, Bentley Systems, the infrastructure engineering software company, is making available integrated workflows for LCA (lifecycle assessment) and embodied carbon calculation capabilities in the Bentley iTwin platform to support the sustainable-development goals of infrastructure projects. This integration is a result of Bentley’s collaboration with One Click LCA Ltd., a leading construction sector lifecycle assessment and environmental product declaration software. The software can be used for buildings, infrastructure, renovations, construction products and materials, and portfolios.

The One Click LCA platform is used in more than 100 countries by manufacturers, consultants, designers, contractors, and investors to decarbonize the entire construction value chain. The partnership is a natural step in Bentley’s strategy for empowering its users to achieve sustainable development goals, particularly addressing climate action and decarbonizing infrastructure.

Infrastructure digital-twin solutions will be an essential enabler and accelerator of carbon transparency and disclosure use cases, and the adoption of digital twin solutions will help accelerate the transformation of infrastructure performance. With this integration, Bentley’s infrastructure digital twin solutions, powered by iTwin, and third-party applications built on the Bentley iTwin platform can unlock infrastructure lifecycle assessment workflows.

Tracking the environmental impact of an infrastructure project involves a constant stream of design changes coming from various engineering disciplines. By unifying these data streams, users can quickly create a quantity takeoff report at the right aggregation level required for LCA calculations while reducing the lifecycle assessment workflow from weeks to hours.

Designers and sustainability engineers spend a significant amount of time assessing or reporting on the environmental footprint of infrastructure projects. With multiple design tools used in these projects, a typical lifecycle analysis can be time consuming, especially when manually exporting and aggregating data from bills of quantity and bills of material. It can also be error-prone, requiring additional verification of successful ingestion by LCA tools.

The One Click LCA integration creates time savings and improves accuracy. Users can incorporate engineering data created by diverse design tools into a single view using the Bentley iTwin platform, generate a unified report of materials and quantities and share it with One Click LCA via cloud synchronization. This integration gives users the ability to analyze environmental footprints, accelerate environmental reporting, perform project optioneering, and optimize the selection of materials and products.

With the ability to integrate lifecycle assessment workflows with the Bentley iTwin platform, users will be empowered with new opportunities for environmental intelligence around embodied carbon and environmental footprints of linear infrastructure projects.

These requirements are becoming acknowledged around the world. Reliable measurement and accounting of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions is critical to climate accountability and attribution. Today, carbon accounting suffers from data quality issues, measurement and reporting inconsistencies, siloed platforms, and infrastructure challenges. This makes it difficult to compare, combine and share reliable data, particularly for companies.

About 20 leading organizations started an initiative to accelerate the development of reliable and interoperable carbon emissions accounting, necessary to help the world reach net zero by midcentury. Known as the Carbon Call and hosted by ClimateWorks Foundation,  it mobilizes collective action, investment, and resources from scientific, corporate, philanthropic, and intergovernmental organizations to enable access to data and science that is reliable and up to date and can be easily exchanged among carbon accounting systems.

The Carbon Call will work collectively to identify where more accurate information is needed to improve reliability and advance interoperability by design — both in carbon accounting reports (or ledgers) and the data ecosystems that support them. It will uncover and address gaps in existing global carbon accounting systems, focusing on carbon removal and land sector, methane, and indirect emissions.

Signatories to the Carbon Call support the enabling conditions needed for a more reliable global system of interoperable carbon accounting reports (or ledgers). To that end, signatories commit to report GHG emissions and offset information comprehensively, including all scopes and classes of GHG emissions, annually and transparently. Signatories include Capricorn Investment Group, KPMG, Wipro, and Microsoft.

Microsoft has been focused on environmental concerns and recognizes its partners that meet certain levels of awareness and action in similar efforts. For example, Bentley Systems was recognized as the Microsoft Asia Pacific Region Social Impact – Sustainability Changemaker Partner of the Year 2021. The Microsoft Asia Pacific Partner of the Year Award 2021 celebrates and recognizes regional partners who are focused on customer and community success by delivering unique and differentiated solutions built on core technologies across the Microsoft Cloud platform.

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