Metaverse Can Bring Real-World Sustainability Benefits

Replacing physical goods with digital and virtual alternatives can yield benefits. A digital twin of the physical world created by combining the Internet of Things (IoT), visualization and real-world data from various sources will enable new levels of optimization.

“Metaverse offers functionality unconstrained by the physical world and can be a powerful enabler for what companies are already trying to do,” said Thomas Müller, Head of Digital at EY-Parthenon EMEIA. “From testing, assembly and disassembly, to new products and service development, virtualization can create better results and user experiences faster, while reducing consumption of real-world resources,” added Müller.

Digital products and virtual experiences in virtual worlds may consume fewer resources and be more carbon efficient. As Metaverse products become more attractive, consumers may shift their limited budget allocations to more sustainable virtual options, with significant positive sustainability impacts.

“We can take the carbon flux embedded in the global jeans trade as an example. If consumers choose to buy virtual jeans for their avatars rather than real jeans for their bodies, the carbon and water savings could be substantial ,” said Nicola Morini Bianzino, EY Global Technical Director.

According to Bianzino, if this alternative reduced the sales of jeans by 10%, it would reduce carbon dioxide emissions (equivalent to the annual emissions of nearly 350,000 cars) and water consumption equivalent to an annual average cost of more than 40% per capita. million Chinese consumers. “Considering different categories of consumer spending, substitution effects can lead to significant carbon and resource efficiencies.”

new way of travel

Tourism and business travel by air and land can also be replaced by virtual world experiences. Before the pandemic started, air travel accounted for 2.5% of global emissions – halved during a period of global restrictions due to Covid-19. “Many shows take place in the metaverse. Imagine the amount of travel they would cause if they took place in the physical world,” he analyzed. “While face-to-face interaction is always important, metaverse travel can replace many unrestricted travel.”

digital twin

The convergence of artificial intelligence, AR/VR (augmented and virtual reality) and IoT (internet of things) and satellite-generated data in the virtual world is expected to enhance digital twins. Driving global sustainability to individuals from supply chains and manufacturing assets.

For example, the European Space Agency is working on a digital twin of Earth that will help visualize and predict the impact of human activity on Earth, simulating different scenarios to inform policymakers. The project will begin with major planetary subsystems such as Antarctica, oceans, forests and climate.

Digital twins of manufacturing and supply chains can drive material, process, energy, traceability and logistical input optimization. Combining digital twins with agile manufacturing applications such as generative design and additive manufacturing is already underway in many industries and can significantly reduce waste and energy use.

“Perhaps the greatest sustainability opportunity for digital twins is in cities, where 70% of global carbon emissions occur. Building operations alone – heating, cooling, lighting, etc. – account for 28% of global emissions. By 2060 it should be Doubling, equivalent to adding the entire New York City to the world’s building stock every month for 40 years,” said Bianzino.

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