Digital engineering is needed to reach UK zero-carbon goals

It may appear the 2050 zero-carbon deadline is far off in the future. However, if we are to eliminate all carbon-based sources of energy throughout the UK, work must begin now on a whole-system approach, Bryan Palmer, senior civil engineer at Burns & McDonnell explores. Engineering will be key to success as the UK moves towards meeting its zero-carbon goals by 2050, and digital technologies will be at the core of an engineering-led approach. With the right model, we can optimise energy system design at the outset and then work on the truly challenging components of the larger system. Digital engineering will help achieve success. The built environment sector is the major source of the total global CO2 emissions, responsible for approximately 40% worldwide. Carbon emissions are not only released during asset life but also during the manufacture, transportation, construction and demolition; these emissions are referred to as embodied carbon. Capital carbon — emissions during construction, refurbishment and end-of-life treatment of an asset — and operational carbon — emissions produced as a result of operations and maintenance of the asset — each are components of whole life carbon emissions.

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