Earlier this month, Autodesk released its 10th annual Sustainability Report which tracks the company’s record as a sustainability leader and the progress of its customers in redefining their organizations to align with the urgency of sustainable development and climate change.
As you can imagine, the report contains mixed news. First, lets look at the highlights.
Today, 100% of Autodesk facilities and data centers run on renewable energy and the company has reduced its emissions by 41% since 2009. Autodesk has also donated over $100 million in software to entrepreneurs and is investing in low carbon solutions, resilient communities, and workforce development.
Its customers are also working hard on sustainability initiatives. A study of Autodesk AEC customers showed that approximately 47% have commitments to implementing sustainable practices such as net-zero buildings, implementing low-waste and industrialized construction, and developing smart and sustainable cities.
Here are a few fast facts about the AEC industry’s negative impact on the world:
- 32% of energy use and 19% of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions globally come from operational energy use in buildings
- It’s not uncommon for energy use to account for up to 90% of a building’s environmental impacts
- 30% of construction material is wasted on-site, costing time, money, and natural resources
With demand for more buildings expected to grow – 60% of urban areas anticipated to exist in 2030 have yet to be built – the need for solutions that enable architects, engineers, and contractors to support this rapid growth more sustainably by improving energy and materials productivity will also rise.
Providing automation tools to support these objectives affordably and at scale is central to Autodesk’s sustainability efforts. The Autodesk® Architecture, Engineering & Construction Collection and its cloud platform help enable customers to achieve these outcomes.
A commitment to sustainable practices is also gained substantial traction in product design and manufacturing. 52% of Autodesk customers have commitments to smarter and more efficient design and manufacturing approaches and are using its software to improve materials efficiency and circularity, increase energy efficiency and promote smart manufacturing, and support a responsible supply chain.
Time is of the essence
Despite the inroads, time is not on our side. The UN 2030 Climate Report warns that our pace of progress is massively insufficient, says Autodesk’s VP of Sustainability, Lynelle Cameron.
“In a matter of years, not decades, we need to overhaul and transform our economies to be sustainable and circular. This alone is ambitious. But at the same time, we need to aggressively prepare for a climate that is already changing – readying infrastructure, economies, and communities for more frequent and more severe weather events, global shifts in agriculture and food production, severe diseases and health crises, massive human migrations, and the accompanying rise in inequality and social unrest.”
The impact of technology
Cameron remains hopeful, and notes that technology, when used intentionally and steered in the right direction, can do both good and be the co-creator that humans need. “A few short years ago when we published our first sustainability report, cloud computing was a nascent concept, clean technology an emerging industry, and generative design a far-off vision. We were wildly excited about 3D modeling and the power of visualization, simulation, and analysis.”
But technology is not enough. As Autodesk CEO, Andrew Anagnost, says “The challenges we face as a global community – from rising inequality to a changing climate – demand more from us as leaders – more intention, more ambition, more courage.”
Read more in the Autodesk 2019 Sustainability Report.