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Urban Digital Twins for Sustainability

Urban Digital Twins for Sustainability

How can innovative technologies be applied for improvement of sustainability indicators within the built environment?
Open for application

Our challenge

The challenge aims to devise solutions that leverage digital twin technology towards sustainability. In the European Union (EU), buildings account for 40% of energy consumption and contribute to 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, construction and demolition waste make up over one-third of all waste generated in the EU. As Europe strives to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, the emphasis on intelligent construction and management becomes paramount. This is where Digital Twin (DT) technology, which offers high potential, comes into play. It aids in tracking, optimising, and predicting the performance of buildings and infrastructure. During the challenge, student teams are expected to: • create a methodology for including sustainability indicators within urban digital twins, and develop the assessment and visualisation technique for sustainability monitoring - it can be centred around energy, mobility, facilities management, human health and comfort, democratic data governance, waste management, citizen participation and many other domains; • develop mock-ups and protocols (by those with high problem-solving and social science skills) or applications (by those with high IT skills) to showcase the innovation; • use real-world case studies from Dublin (Ireland) and Kaunas (Lithuania); • produce a poster and a short video, highlighting their key findings and the proposed solution.

Study format
Application period
1 June – 22 September 2024
Study period
3 October – 19 December 2024
Hosting university
Kaunas University of Technology
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Learning outcomes

Create and present ideas and prototypes

Create and effectively present innovative ideas and developed prototypes tailored to the requirements of unique audience.


Pinpoint research direction

Self-sufficiently pinpoint a unique and impactful research direction, utilizing existing knowledge and acquired competencies.


Tackle real-world issues

Innovatively tackle complex real-world issues using the core tenets of challenge-based learning methodology.


Utilise teamwork and leadership principles

Utilise effective teamwork and leadership principles while collaborating within diverse, interdisciplinary teams.


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Climate Change and Sustainability

The reality of climate change is imperative for societies to innovate and action solutions that can advance the world to a more sustainable future. Bringing digital technologies and sustainability goals together is logical, and necessary, and today Digital Twins are already having a radical impact on sustainability. By its nature, digital technologies are adaptable and responsive to innovation – but technology providers do not have a monopoly on ideas. This challenge seeks new ideas, and original thinking, to apply Digital Twin technologies to sustainability goals.

Digital Twins

Digital twins are virtual counterparts of tangible assets, providing real-time data, optimisation, predictive analytics, and alerts. The significance of DT isn't confined to engineers or facility managers, it's equally valuable for end-users and property owners. A pivotal area where digital twin technology shows promise is in real-time sustainability monitoring.

Digital Twins can significantly improve the design, construction, and operation of assets of all types. It can improve efficiency by monitoring performance in real time, including carbon outputs. It is envisaged that Digital Twins should simulate entire systems or interlinked assets to simulate future effects of climate or citizen actions. They should enable society to do more with less, to utilise resources better, longer, and to recycle where replacement has been the norm, to align engineering data with reality, geospatial, IOT and other operational data. By means of IoT data, Digital Twins should allow AI and machine learning to better analyse performance and improve efficiency.

If the above is true – what are the opportunities yet unseen, what has not been envisaged, and where are the next true innovations? Recognising that there is often doubt and scepticism when innovation challenges long-held thinking, submissions should consider how societies can facilitate those who would otherwise be sceptical to be part of that change as data proliferation increasingly becomes more widespread and more important to the goals of optimal sustainability.

Hosting university

Kaunas University of Technology

Kaunas University of Technology

Challenge provider

Bentley Systems

Associated Partner

Dublin City University