Digital technologies: the key to a sustainable future?


Emerald and SDGs
We support the Sustainable Development Goals

We need to create a more sustainable and resilient world for the wellbeing of society, the health of the planet and the economic prosperity of nations. Emerging technologies have a role to play and are already transforming how we build our cities, respond to environmental disasters and manage energy. Along with immense opportunities, they also pose challenges around ethics, security and equitable access.

Together with our authors and partners, we’re exploring ways engineers are creating a more resilient and sustainable world. We examine how digital advancements can help them sculpt a world that's not just smarter, but greener too. We also consider how our drive to a more resilient and sustainable world influences emerging technologies, as well as the barriers and impacts of these technologies.

In this mission, we ask:

  • Why are sustainability and resilience important in construction and infrastructure development?
  • How are digital innovations transforming the way we create, design and build?
  • Can digital tools help us solve global issues like rising urbanisation and climate change?
  • How is sustainability changing how we develop and manage new technologies?

Join us in our mission to support a more sustainable and resilient future. Get in touch to share your insights or read on to explore the transformative power of digital innovation and sustainability in construction and infrastructure development.

This mission supports our Sustainable structures and infrastructures goal

Professor Chimay Anumba

A built environment fit for the future

Goal Advisor Professor Chimay Anumba introduces the mission by touching on the key influences currently shaping construction and infrastructure development.

Read Chimay’s introduction

Featured blogs and video

Check out what our authors are saying about the role of digital technologies in making our built environment more sustainable.


Role of digital technology in sustainability


Author: Janos Korn

Janos considers the role of digital technology in contributing to a more sustainable future by examining the intricate interplay between users, suppliers and storage.


Digital transformation as a strategy to reach sustainability

Ana Maria Gomez-Trujillo and Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez

Authors: Professor Ana Maria Gomez-Trujillo, CEIPA Business School, and Professor Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez, Universidad EAFIT

Ana and Maria explore the relationship between digital technologies and sustainability.


Creating a better world for future generations

Dr Alexander Hay

Author: Alexander Hay, University of Toronto

Alexander explores the key role that infrastructure engineers play in shaping a world that is more resilient and sustainable.


Using digital technology to transform the built environment

Xichen Chen and Dr Alice Yan Chang-Richards

Authors: Xichen Chen and Dr Alice Yan Chang-Richards, University of Auckland

Xichen and Alice offer their insights into the way digital technologies can advance sustainability in the built environment.


Cybersecurity of digital built assets

Dr Erika Pärn

Author: Dr Erika Pärn, University of Cambridge

Erika highlights the impacts of her research, including the launch of a whitepaper on Managing Digital Risk and Facilities Management’s Role in Protecting Digitized Buildings.


Digital-twins for operation and maintenance

Author: Dr Qiuchen Lu, University College London

Quichen reflects on the impact of her research into the adoption of digital twins for operation and maintenance, including its implementation in two different projects in China.





Sustainable innovations in the built environment

The built environment is facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the 21st Century. Climate change, population growth, urbanisation and digitalisation are transforming the way we design, construct and operate buildings, systems, and cities. How can we harness the power of digital technologies to create more sustainable, resilient and liveable environments?

Find out more and read the transcript


The rise of PropTech

Authors: Dr Jesse Saginor, University of Maryland, and Dr Elaine Worzala, Clemson University

In this video, Jesse and Elaine discuss their paper on PropTech and how quickly emerging technologies are impacting the real estate industry.

question 1

Why are sustainability and resilience important in construction and infrastructure development?

As nations strive for a more sustainable future, there’s a growing emphasis on constructing buildings and infrastructure that are both eco-friendly and resilient, capable of withstanding challenges such as extreme weather events, natural disasters and the impacts of climate change.

Free Book chapters & journal articles

Here we’ve chosen book chapters and journal articles that examine the concepts of resilience and sustainability and what it means for infrastructure planning and adaptation strategies.

For a limited time only, these are free to access.

Find a journal for your research
question 2

How are digital innovations transforming the way we create, design and build?

Emerging technologies like digital twins and Building Information Modelling are changing the way we plan, design, construct and manage infrastructure and buildings. In this section, the articles and book chapters take a close look at how digital technologies are being used within the built environment.

Free Book chapters & journal articles

Here, authors discuss the opportunities and challenges the sector faces when using these technologies and suggest possible next steps.

For a limited time only, these articles are free to access.

Find a journal for your research
question 3

Are digital tools the key to solving global challenges like rising urbanisation and climate change?

Our world is facing unprecedented issues that require innovative solutions, global cooperation, and collective action. The following articles and book chapters showcase some of the ways digital technologies are being used within the built environment to support efforts to tackle global challenges.

Free Book chapters & journal articles

Here, authors discuss themes such as energy efficiency, water management and healthcare management.

For a limited time only, these articles are free to access.

Find a journal for your research
question 4

How is the focus on sustainability influencing the development, implementation and management of new technologies within the built environment?

This section tackles how the Sustainable Development Goals are driving change within the built environment, particularly around the use of digital technologies.

Free Book chapters & journal articles

For a limited time only, these articles are free to access.

Find a journal for your research

Related books

Visit our online bookstore to see all our latest publications.

Browse our bookstore

Got a book proposal? Submit it here

Calls for papers

We’re looking for submissions to upcoming special issues.

Click through to find out how to get an article published in one of our peer reviewed journals.

View our latest calls for papers

Closing date: 31 January 2024

Digital and intelligent approaches for achieving sustainable building and architectural design

This themed issue aims to introduce the latest research findings and ideas on digital and intelligent approaches to sustainable building and architectural design to a global audience.

Infrastructure Asset Management…
Closing date: 28 February 2024

Sustainable Urban Futures: Digital Technologies Enabling Circular Economy in Cities

The objective of this special issue is to examine how digital technologies can effectively enable and support the transition to a CE by enhancing resource efficiency, promoting sustainable practices, and fostering innovation within urban contexts.

Smart and Sustainable Built Environment…
Closing date: ongoing

How can civil engineering help us to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

The Editorial Panel of Civil Engineering is inviting new papers that seek to address UN Sustainable Development Goals. 

Civil Engineering

Want advice on preparing or submitting your manuscript?

Check out our author guidelines for books and book series.

Subject pages

Browse our subject pages to find relevant journals and books


Chat to us about your work

We love hearing from researchers and practitioners about their work.

If you would like to contribute to this page, or you are working on research related to digital technologies in the context of sustainable engineering and would like to publish it in a journal, please let us know by filling in this form and we’ll get right back to you.


You can read the full information about how we use personal data in our Privacy Notice. You can simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link in any marketing email you receive from us if you don't want to receive them.

Mission-led research – our goals

Our core area of focus is interdisciplinary research aligned with the UN SDGs, with these key goals in mind, all of which are about creating real world impact, at a time when it's needed most.

Fairer society

We are passionate about working with researchers globally to deliver a fairer, more inclusive society. This perhaps has never been more important in today’s divided world...



Healthier lives

We understand the value of a world that recognises and protects the most vulnerable and acknowledges the importance of a healthy mind as well as a healthy body...



Responsible management

We aim to champion researchers, practitioners, policymakers and organisations who share our goals of a more ethical, responsible and sustainable way of working...



Quality education for all

We believe in quality education for everyone, everywhere and by highlighting the issue and working with experts in the field, we can find ways we can all be part of the solution...



Sustainable structures and infrastructures

We recognise the transformative power of sustainable engineering, design and building practices in creating a world where our planet and its inhabitants can thrive.