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BIM for Sustainable Building


The main objectives of sustainable design are to reduce, or completely avoid, depletion of critical resources like energy, water, and raw materials; prevent environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure throughout their life cycle; and create built environments that are livable, comfortable, safe, and productive. But the fundamental aspects of integrated design, multiple stakeholder collaboration, common goal-setting, the quick efficient presentation of complex concepts to enable fast and effective decision-making, and an emphasis on dialogue between stakeholders are as fundamental to sustainable design processes as they are to BIM-enabled construction.

The inherent power of BIM is its potential contribution to the design, construction, commissioning, and operation cycle of buildings with less environmental impact, whether this is in the form of design and operation of energy-efficient Building Services.

Tying BIM back to the building’s commissioning and the operational stage is also promising, where facility managers can gain access to the BIM information to periodically commission and maintain the building – rather than rely on an often incomplete and complex paper archive. BIM for Sustainable Building has become another buzzword in the construction industry, this work focuses on how Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Sustainable Building concept work together for a better world. This paper presents an in-depth review of the existing literature surrounding frameworks and methodologies to evaluate and analyze the benefits of BIM for Sustainable Buildings. The paper reviews the issues surrounding the implementation of BIM alongside sustainable design practices and the inherent problems associated with attempting to evaluate benefits in a purely quantitative fashion. Limitations of past research studies in BIM benefits measurement are discussed and the development of a broader framework that incorporates both quantitative measurement and a more qualitative understanding of the process of integrating BIM and sustainable design to measure the potential of BIM for sustainability are suggested.

Building Information Modelling 

BIM is an acronym for Building Information Modelling. The US National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee has the following definition for BIM: Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.

BIM is the evolutionary business transformation step needed to reform the capital facilities industry.

Using BIM principles and practices, elements of the capital facilities industry are represented and exchanged digitally. Digital representation means that computers can be used to 'build' the capital facility project virtually, view and test it, revise it as necessary, and then output various reports and views for purchasing, fabrication, assembly, and operations. In many cases, paper output may be avoided altogether when the finalized digital designs are sent directly to procurement systems and/or digital fabrication equipment. BIM-enabled construction work has come closest to a mandated collaborative working methodology; facilitating the redesign of organizational functions and processes toward integrative design, multiple stakeholder collaboration, common goal-setting, the quick efficient presentation of complex concepts to enable fast and effective decision-making, and an emphasis on dialogue between stakeholders (Ahmad et al. 1995). Building Information Modelling (BIM) is gaining currency as a platform for central integrated design, modeling, planning, and collaboration. BIM provides all stakeholders with a digital representation of a building’s characteristics – not just in the design phase but throughout its life cycle. It presents several important opportunities (WEF Industry Agenda: Shaping the Future of Construction, May 2016), as shown in Figure 1.

Successful BIM implementation at the project-level requires organizational-level strategic planning that considers issues of technical support in terms of hardware and software rationalization for cost-effective use. Organizations that stay focused on a logical order of change prioritization are more successful in achieving the benefits targeted in implementation planning efforts. The order of priority when increasing the maturity of a BIM implementation is shown in figure 2—increasing BIM maturity starts on the left and continues to the right with collaborative and analytical capabilities built on the foundation of solid governance and modeling. While this prioritization is clear, that is not to say that these four categories are implemented sequentially; they are integrated areas of improvement, each area incrementally benefitting and alimenting the improvement of the other (Autodesk,2012)

BIM life-cycle of Operation, Design & Engineering, Construction, image

Sustainable Building

According to the Civil Engineering Research Foundation Sustainable development is the challenge of meeting growing human needs for natural resources, industrial products, energy, food, transportation, shelter, and effective waste management while conserving and protecting environmental quality and the natural resource base essential for future life and development. This concept recognizes that meeting long-term human needs will be impossible unless we also conserve the earth’s natural physical, chemical, and biological systems.

Sustainable development concepts, applied to the design, construction, and operation of buildings, can enhance both the economic well-being and environmental health of communities around the world. Research on climate change suggests that small improvements in the “sustainability” of buildings can have large effects on greenhouse gas emissions and energy efficiency in the economy. The construction and operation of buildings account for about forty percent of worldwide consumption of raw materials and energy. Influential analyses of climate mitigation policies have pointed out that the built environment offers a great potential for greenhouse gas abatement (Per-Anders Enkvist,2007) Thus, small increases in the "sustainability" of buildings, or more specifically in the energy efficiency of their construction, can have large effects on their current use of energy and their life-cycle energy consumption. Projected trends in urban growth in developed countries (Matthew E. Kahn, 2009) and in the urbanization of developing economies (Siqi Zheng, et al., 2009) suggest that the importance of energy efficiency in building will increase further in the coming decades.

Sustainable Building aims to meet the following requirements:

• reduce overall energy use and  maximize the potential for renewable energy supply and use

• minimize waste and maximize reuse and recycling both during construction and after the occupation

• conserve water resources, enhance water quality, incorporate water sensitive design and minimize vulnerability to flooding

• minimize polluting emissions to water, air and soil and minimize noise and light pollution

• maximize the use of materials from sustainable sources

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