Immersive Industrialized Construction Environments for Energy Efficiency Construction Workforce

Ankur Podder, Kenny Gruchalla, Nicholas Brunhart-Lupo, Shanti Pless, Mauro Sica, Paolo Lacchin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus Citations


The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is actively developing and testing Immersive Industrialized Construction Environments (IICE) for construction automation and worker-machine interaction to investigate possible solutions and increase workforce productivity. At full scope and matured functionality, IICE allows us to accelerate the development of and better explore industrialized construction approaches such as prefabrication. IICE also enables wider adoption of energy-efficient products and Industry 4.0 construction automation through worker-machine interaction pilots. Industry 4.0 and industrialized construction approaches can encourage workforce specialization in energy efficiency construction, address the lack of multi-skilled workers, and increase workforce productivity with construction automation. However, recent attempts to integrate these concepts with the industry have only been moderately successful. To address this, focusing the pedagogy on using a digital twin, its digital models, and virtual reality could make the experience of continuing education on construction automation more affordable, accessible, scalable, immersive, and safer, and could greatly improve the efficiency and robustness of the building and construction industry. IICE accurately represents the realities of construction uncertainties without having to create full scale physical prototypes of machines. In this paper, we address the following research question: How can a digital twin and its models in virtual reality enhance the learning experience and productivity of energy efficiency construction workers to gain the skills in operating Industry 4.0 components such as construction automation and handling energy-efficient products in industrialized construction factories and on-site? We introduce original research on developing IICE and present preliminary findings from time and motion pilot studies.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number781170
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Virtual Reality
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 Podder, Gruchalla, Brunhart-Lupo, Pless, Sica and Lacchin.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-80945


  • construction automation
  • digital twins
  • energy efficiency
  • immersive environments
  • industrialized construction
  • industry 4.0
  • productivity
  • workforce


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