AI: 68 ways to sustainable construction

Abstract image for AI sustainable construction story
Image: Mike_kiev |

There are 68 ways in which AI can be deployed to make the built environment more sustainable, according to new research.

And the industry-wide adoption of just four of those ways can cut 5.81 to 6.46 gigatonnes CO2e of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions annually by 2030 from the built environment, according to research from global proptech VC firm Pi Labs. That annual cut in emissions would offset the entire annual carbon footprint of the United States (using 2022 figures), according to Pi Labs’ research.

The four ways in question are:

  • reducing raw material inputs through generative design;
  • preventing construction rework with 3D AI analytics;
  • reducing building energy intensity with AI-enabled smart building technology; and
  • redirecting demolition waste with AI-enabled waste material analysis.

Among the other 64 ways are:

  • localised environmental data and analysis;
  • policy outcome modelling and visualisation;
  • real-time rendering and visualisations of proposed interventions;
  • predictive construction scheduling and waste reduction;
  • semi-automated green finance underwriting;
  • predictive maintenance intelligence; and
  • predictive analytics for building regeneration.

The research, detailed in the Sustainably Intelligent: AI for a Greener Built World report, was conducted by Luke Graham, head of research at Pi Labs. He joined Pi Labs from the University of Oxford’s Future of Real Estate Initiative, where he continues as a lecturer. Last year, Graham was selected to chair the housing minister’s proptech roundtable.

Transformative impact

Graham said: “With the built world already falling behind on climate targets, we are pleased to share that the findings of our report indicate that AI is set to have a transformative impact on carbon reductions.

“According to venture funding data from 2023, there is already significant investor interest in AI-driven green solutions aimed at the built environment. However, there is the potential to drive this figure up yet further with a clearer understanding of the positive climate impact and growth potential of these technologies.

“The good news is that the pace of AI innovation being achieved since the launch of ChatGPT in late 2022 can be put towards significant climate change mitigation by 2030 and, as always, the early adopters within the real estate world are set to benefit the most.”

Pi Labs’ research also suggests that the increased carbon emissions associated with more data centres working more intensively (due to industry-wide adoption of AI tech) do not outweigh the benefit.

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