GULF BUSINESS in this interview with one of AUTODESK’s directors in the Gulf on how it is helping its customers towards a sustainable future and eventually go through their transition to sustainable construction.
How Autodesk is helping its customers in creating a sustainable future
Louay Dahmash, senior director at Autodesk, talks about the company’s vision to create real, meaningful impact with its technology and accelerate industry transformation
The Impact Report outlines our approach and performance within the business across important environmental, social and governance issues. Notably, we have neutralised greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our operations and entire value chain for the second year in a row. We believe we have the power to create real, meaningful impact and accelerate industry transformation. In October 2021, we issued our first sustainability bond offering, totalling $1bn, to further align our financial and impact strategies. In this year alone, Autodesk has reduced 1.4 million+ metric tons CO2 of GHG through the Autodesk Foundation’s global portfolio and $18.5m was raised in philanthropic funding by Autodesk and the Autodesk Foundation. We’re proud of the progress that has been made, but much work remains to be done, and we have multiple levers in place to drive progress across the business and that of our clients and the wider industry.
Why should sustainability be considered by tech companies and how are you incorporating it within your ecosystem?
Each year, we see a rise in demand for more and cleaner resources as the global population and standards of living continue to increase. We envision a low-carbon future with minimal pollution and waste, where renewable energy powers our world and materials maintain value while cycling through a circular economy. We remain steadfast in our commitment to advance sustainable business practices toward net-zero carbon emissions, both here in the region in line with the UAE net-zero goals, as well as globally. Technology, deployed appropriately, has the power to solve the most challenging global issues, measure, manage, and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and improve global health and resilience. Our technologies create a positive impact across industries, by empowering customers to harness data, automation, and insights to improve the impact of design and make decisions – enabling them to reduce costs and energy.
Is there specific legislation that compels companies to declare their carbon production to achieve sustainability goals?
Approximately 19 per cent of global GHG emissions are from the manufacturing industry. In addition to that, the buildings sector represents 38 per cent of energy and process-related GHG emissions globally. Legislations can therefore, provide a framework to regulate the path to sustainability. For example, in order to comply with materials regulations worldwide, such as the European Union’s legislation, and the UAE’s National Climate Change Plan of the UAE 2017–2050, which sets a clear path to reducing emissions, companies face increasing pressure to assess and document the materials used in their products, and in some cases to ensure materials’ traceability throughout the supply chain. We work with our customers to better manage and measure their impact through advanced data and analytics and enable them to reduce embodied carbon, decrease construction waste, and develop smart and sustainable cities.
What are the challenges that you have faced when making your business model more sustainable?
There are specific technology related challenges to achieving the above goals as firms worldwide grapple with digital transformation. Supporting our customers with critical technology is therefore an important opportunity area for us. In addition, the accelerated pace of change today demands that we work beyond industries to drive cross-sector collaboration and catalyse industry-wide innovation. It is also imperative to upskill our employees for the challenges of Industry 4.0 to ensure a resilient and prosperous future. We prioritise the health, wellbeing, and safety of our employees, who advance our efforts in this area. They create and deliver the practices and technologies that our customers and other innovators can use to design and make products and places that are safer, healthier, and more resilient. Finally, for business models to be truly sustainable, it is important for the entire value chain to be sustainable. The focus should be on creating a truly sustainable business with efficient operations committed to net-zero carbon and 100 per cent renewable energy commitments alongside a prosperous workforce to enable a sustainable future for all.
How are you helping customers drastically reduce their own environmental footprint?
Our customers represent our largest opportunity to create a positive impact at scale. Our software platform helps automate complex processes and transform data into actionable insights that empower innovators to improve the impact of everything they design, make, own and operate. Cloud solutions and connected data environments fuel innovation – across technology, processes, supply chain and industries. Through our technology, we are empowering them to create solutions, connect their data, and accelerate the outcomes that matter to them.
How does sustainability affect society and the future of work?
It is important to address workforce prosperity and the needs and desires of multiple stakeholders, from employees to customers to communities as well as investors. As more and more stakeholders become involved in business decision-making, it’s driving the movement toward more sustainable future operations. Governments can also support stakeholder capitalism with initiatives that protect consumer data and the environment and promote investment in employees. The UAE is an ideal platform to advance our future skilling initiatives as we align with the goals of the visionary leadership of instilling digital education and skills into the youth, and providing an array of opportunities for them to access lifelong learning which will empower them to become the change makers of tomorrow. The global economy is changing, and the workforce of tomorrow won’t look the same as today. While new technologies can enable great efficiency, we believe the future of work is still human.
The above-featured image is Autodesk launching its online store in the Middle East back in June 2021.