Leading European companies have recently announced their participation in the European Green Digital Coalition. One such company, French-based Dassault Systemes, has joined as a founding member. This group seeks to unite technology companies under a common mission of supporting the green and digital transformation of the economy globally.
The company is dedicated to using virtual worlds (via virtual twins) and models in place of real-world resources in designing new products and processes to reduce environmental impact. In fact, a new report found that the use of virtual twins could reduce global CO2 emissions by 7.5 gigatons between now and 2030, which is roughly equivalent to the global emissions of the transportation industry every year.
To learn about the coalition’s goal to support the green and digital transformation of the economy both inside and outside of Europe, Design News talked with Alice Steenland, Chief Sustainability Officer, Dassault Systemes. What follows is a portion of the interview.
Design News: How will this coalition’s mission affect engineers in their design, testing, and manufacturing work?
Alice Steenland: The coalition’s objective is to make digital become green and help make the economy greener thanks to digital. This means that digital technology will not only make strides in improving its own footprint, such as energy consumption of cloud servers but also be a key enabler to help businesses improve their operations and the way their products are developed and used in service. For example, the company’s virtual twin enables wind turbines to be digitally certified with no physical prototypes and continuously monitored with unusual events (ex. strong gusts of wind) re-simulated to guarantee longevity and maintenance intervals while in service. During the development of products, the selection of raw materials, the manufacturing processes, packaging, transport, use, & recycling can all have environmental key performance indicators (KPIs) assigned and monitored to ensure Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are met.
Design News: How might it impact the global supply chain for technical products and systems?
Alice Steenland: Resilient supply chain management is essential, especially during these current unstable times, but this is just the beginning. Soon the supply chain management will be under more pressure to improve, for example, CO2 emissions in logistics as well as being held accountable for their overall impact on the environment as any other company that produces products. Given the growing environmental and human rights challenges associated with the rise in electronic waste, this issue is particularly relevant now for producers of hardware and electronic equipment. Software systems such as virtual twin technology can help to map this hugely complex puzzle and simulate different scenarios to solve it.
Design News: Will it align with the green infrastructure platform that President Biden recently announced?
Alice Steenland: The Coalition includes leaders from across the technology sector, working on everything from AI to IoT to virtual twins. One of the three commitments made by Coalition members is to work with other sectors – especially those hard to abate sectors like transportation and construction – to better leverage technology to green their operations in order for the entire economy to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050. The Biden infrastructure plan has the same priorities: greening mobility systems and the built environment. New technologies will be at the heart of this “greening” on both sides of the Atlantic.
John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.