This PhD-project lays within the interdisciplinary area on understanding how digitalization can contribute to increased sustainability in the construction of Norwegian infrastructure. The work gives insights in how far the digital transaction of the construction sector has reached in Norway and on how digitalization can contribute to growth, green conversion, increased security, better decisions, and effective use of resources in this sector, among others.
The main goal of this research is to: Develop a framework for improved sustainability assessment through digital transformation of the Norwegian infrastructure sector.
A challenge for the topic of this PhD-project is that it might be considered as relatively comprehensive and broad. This is solved by focusing on principles of the framework, where close cooperation with the branch gave insights into which topics that should be prioritised.
Further, the width of the topic gives a space of opportunities for safe implementation of different types of studies and methods that will help the PhD-candidate to gain a high level of research competence within use and combinations of different methods adapted to the research questions.
The research is limited to digitalization and sustainability aspects of construction of civil infrastructure and heavy structures in Norway, i.e., not construction of buildings. However, a lot of parallels can be drawn between construction of infrastructure and buildings, so it will be useful to include some experiences from construction of buildings.
Due to the size and complexity of infrastructure projects, with great demand for coordination, information flow is regarded as critical to fulfil project goals, environmental goals, and customer demands (societal goals). It would be too comprehensive to look at the total flow of information in a construction project, therefore, it was decided to investigate information flow related to selected work processes. On-site concrete production was one of them and was chosen because concrete is one of the most CO2-intensive materials. It is appropriate to look into how the use of new processes and technology can contribute to a reduction of emissions from concrete production. The research was limited to on-site production, as this process involves more actors and are more complex than production of concrete elements in factories.
For case studies, a selection of a few construction companies has been made. Based on the researcher's knowledge of the branch, the selected companies are regarded as representative, following the industry standards in Norway. They represent both larger construction companies and SMC-companies. Smaller companies, i.e. below 20 employees, are not included in this study.
Realisation of the framework, or parts of it, in an operative, digital solution is a development task not included in this research-oriented PhD.