Progress of the Digital Twin by IES


IES has been part of the core team of Stargate from day one.

In the autumn of 2020, when all of Europe was in lockdown, the Stargate team assembled online under BAC’s leadership, and worked hard to craft a vision for Green Airports, imagining a future of sustainable traveling for when we would be allowed to travel again. The European Commission called for proposals to enact the European Green Deal, highlighting airports as major hubs for decarbonisation.

This is fully in line with the vision of IES: they believe that every building of every city in the world can be decarbonised. Their purpose is developing the technology to make that happen. Their ultimate aim is to create a built environment that is resource and energy efficient, eliminating global reliance on fossil fuels, and promoting comfort, health and wellbeing, and fairer access to energy for every citizen in the world. IES brought its vision and extensive expertise in EU-funded projects as proposal writers, partners and coordinators to Stargate. They now lead two key areas of the project: the Digital Twin framework and the Terminal decarbonisation theme. 

Airport as city

Over the last 29 years, IES has built a solid reputation as the leading global innovator in integrated performance-based analysis to support resource-efficient, healthy and cost-effective built-environments. Their Digital Twin technology facilitates the decarbonisation of built-environments of any size or purpose – supporting citizens, companies, campuses, communities, cities and even countries in their journeys to net-zero. Within Stargate, IES looks at airports as cities that are looking to decarbonise and are facing tough questions on how to achieve that goal. IES uses software to support the analysis of the decarbonisation projects, simulate different scenarios and evaluate their impact. 

Greener mobility and logistics

Aside from the obvious answer of the Digital Twin, which is the key focus of IES, they are particularly interested in the complementary actions on decarbonisation that fall outside of their built environment focus, such as the greening of passenger mobility, or cargo logistics. It is interesting to see how sectors different to the built environment can have similarities and face comparable challenges, in data collection, in stakeholder engagement, and in forecasting. There are many opportunities to learn from each other and break down silos thanks to Stargate.

Progress up till now

During the first two years of Stargate, IES worked closely with all the airports to start building the baseline Digital Twins: physics-based 3D models of the airport main buildings and networks such as heating and power, that behave like their real world counterparts.

That means that they carried out site visits in Brussels, Athens, Budapest and Toulouse, and worked together to collect the data needed to create the baseline Digital Twins for each airport. The Digital Twins will then be upgraded to include decarbonisation scenarios that are relevant for all the airports, such as on site PV, EV charging points, the electrification of heating, the renovation of older buildings, etc. This will allow simulation of their future performance and carbon emissions, estimating the impact of the different strategies to deliver decarbonisation targets.

Demonstration phase towards net zero

Stargate is now entering the core demonstration phase, and that is always a challenging period for research projects, when the research is applied to the real world. The complex regulatory system around airports will surely be an additional barrier. However, the outstanding levels of cooperation in the consortium and the great commitment from all airports to deliver Stargate will ensure a successful delivery of the project.

A great outcome from IES’ perspective would be to demonstrate the important role of the Digital Twin in helping airports make informed decisions on their best path to net zero, to inspire other airports to make bold steps in this direction. In the best post-Stargate future, for every airport there will be a Digital Twin that is actively used to keep track of their decarbonisation progress year-on-year.

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