Architecture Engineering & ConstructionMarch 22, 2022

Why virtual twin technology holds the key to sustainable cities

The world’s cities may only occupy around 3% of the Earth’s land,…
Avatar Rebecca Lambert

The world’s cities may only occupy around 3% of the Earth’s land, yet they account for up to 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. Experts like Roland Hunziker, director of sustainable buildings and cities at the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, refer to them as sleeping giants because, he told Compass magazine, of their “large footprint and insufficient action to tackle energy consumption and carbon emissions thus far.”

World leaders know that more needs to be done to tackle the problem. In the Compass article “Building for a better future,” we explored how low-carbon, modular and circular solutions for net-zero infrastructure combined with virtual twin technology has the potential to make a real difference. Using scientifically accurate 3D virtual models of existing and planned construction, city planners, construction firms and architects can design for eco-efficiency; evolve manufacturing and assembly techniques to reduce waste; and collaborate effectively to improve outcomes.

A , in cooperation with Dassault Systèmes, estimated that virtual twin technology could reduce building operating costs by US$288 billion (€254 billion) by 2030 by reducing energy demand, and eliminate 6.920 metric tons of CO2-equivalent emissions.

Industry leaders like Bouygues Construction, Assystem, Hydro-Québec and Kraftblock are just a few of the companies beginning to unlock the benefits of virtual twin technology and they’re using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to make it happen. Here’s an overview of what they’re up to:


Bouygues Construction is a global leader in sustainable construction. It is beginning to embrace a construction virtual twin approach, using the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to connect program and regulator specifications to the virtual construction twin and test purchasing, logistics and construction assembly.

“Virtualization, using an enterprise-wide platform, heralds a more integrated organizational approach that allows in-house control over every aspect of our work,” Fabrice Bonnifet, director of sustainable development at Bouygues Group, told Compass. “That means design, manufacture, transportation and assembly of building components can be optimized and standardized.”

Already, a new formulation of mineral compounds has helped Bouygues realize a 40% reduction in the carbon intensity of its concrete. In Europe, the company constructs 30% of its buildings using sustainable wood, and has set a target of transitioning 90% of its fleet to green vehicles by 2030. Virtual twin models and databases further enable the reuse of building materials, which supports circularity in construction.


French engineering company Assystem chose the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to accelerate its digitalization strategy. With all data stored centrally and the ability to bring all stakeholders together within a single environment, the company has already seen enhanced productivity, fewer modifications in projects and is building facilities that are safer to operate.

Now, the company is using virtual twins to assess and optimize the sustainability characteristics of a building before construction. One such project involved virtually assessing how to deploy electrical vehicle chargers in a city.

“Using virtual twins, we were able to undertake a variety of ‘what if’ scenarios so that we could propose the most effective physical deployment of charging schemes featuring energy shaving and additional energy storage,” chief technology officer Robert Plana told Compass.


Canadian public utility company Hydro-Québec is a long-term Dassault Systèmes customer. Today, it’s using our solutions, including virtual twins, to optimize existing assets, including viable ways of converting existing fossil fuel-burning systems to clean power.

“These twins – that have proven to provide reliable information over time – can help us understand more deeply how a certain asset will behave in the future,” Jean Matte, acting chief innovation officer and executive vice president for generation, health, safety and environment at Hydro-Québec, explained to Compass.


German startup Kraftblock has developed a thermal energy storage system that captures industrial waste heat and releases it when needed. The company is supported by the 3DEXPERIENCE Lab through its incubator partner Industrial Future Hub, operated by Deutsche Messe Technology Academy.

Kraftblock CEO Martin Schichtel and his team use virtual twin experiences on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to simulate how its system will work in different scenarios.

“As our solution goes into production, simulation will become even more essential,” Schichtel told Compass. “We want to provide energy-as-a-service, so we will need a platform to support that.”

Want to find out more? Check out the Compass article and head to the Dassault Systèmes industry page to see how our virtual twin technology is helping to develop a new generation of smart, sustainable and connected cities.

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