The many benefits of BIM, or Building Information Modelling, are well publicised. For example, BIM facilitates better communication and coordination between project teams, which boosts morale and productivity, reduces errors and rework and helps save time and money. BIM also allows for more accurate, complete data visualisations which enable more informed, effective decisions. With BIM mandates becoming increasingly common from clients, it can help you win new business. And it improves building and project safety, since it allows you to run detailed simulations and projections.
Yes, the benefits of BIM are well known but there is one upshot that seems to get less exposure than the others: sustainability.
Construction and sustainability
Sustainability is a vital concern for humanity at large and thus, a vital concern for the construction industry. Without action, climate change will result in mass droughts, flooding and extreme heatwaves affecting hundreds-of-millions, if not billions of people.
With the built environment responsible for 40% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, construction has a huge role to play in finding solutions.
More than 110 countries have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and a number of countries (including the UK, France, Sweden, New Zealand, Hungary, South Korea and Japan) are already legally bound to meeting or exceeding these targets. What this means for architectural and construction firms is that, very soon, sustainability must become a core strategic focus of their business.
Sustainability and BIM
There are no two ways about it, achieving sustainability in construction will be highly complex and challenging. Success will rely on multifaceted solutions, some of which are already available to us and some of which will require new technologies and methods.
One approach that is already being used (and must not be underestimated) is BIM. Here’s how BIM can result in more sustainable construction and a greener built environment:
Sticking to the plan. Opportunities for sustainability arise in the pre-construction phase. Energy efficient buildings don’t happen by accident, they are efficient by design. For a sustainably viable architectural design to become a sustainably viable building, the appointed contractor must be able to fully grasp the architect’s intention. Even the slightest deviation from the original plans can have a domino effect on the performance of a finished facility. By effectively connecting the construction phase with the design phase and providing immensely rich and accurate data, BIM makes it much simpler for contractors to construct a building that performs as intended.
Detailed modelling. BIM is becoming increasingly sophisticated and through integration with CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), incredibly accurate simulations can now be created which account for things like airflow and heat transfer. By making it easier to fully understanding how a building will function and relate to its surroundings, detailed BIM modelling results in a more energy efficient built environment.
Pooling knowledge and connecting project teams. By connecting project teams and stakeholders, all projects utilising BIM benefit from a more complete pool of expertise. Used properly, BIM enables technical, operational, manufacturing and construction knowledge to be drawn upon throughout every stage of delivery for more sustainable solutions and approaches. What’s more – because BIM models can be updated and viewed by all stakeholders in real time – any design changes which occur can be addressed and subjected to value engineering so that all parties can adjust for the best course of action.
Wasting less. BIM results in less wastage during construction because, quite simply, the level of detail and accuracy in the digital model leads to less human error. This means more accurate projections and ordering of materials, less rework and less squandered resources.
Building quicker. There are many ways that BIM delivers efficiencies in the field. For instance, 4D progress tracking allows for accurate project timelines and scheduling, while automatic clash-detection prevents the need for ad hoc solutions. The less time and energy your organisation spends carrying out counterproductive activity, the more sustainable it will be.
(Operation and Maintenance), building owners and facility management teams are able to run their facilities more efficiently. Maintenance schedules can be planned so that components last longer and major (unnecessary) remedial works can be avoided in the future.
Refurbishment and redevelopment. With a detailed, accurate and up-to-date model, it becomes much easier to refurbish or redevelop a building once it has become redundant. Repurposing a building which is essentially sound is almost always kinder to the environment than knocking it down and starting from scratch.
Stop wasting paper. On complex projects, the volume of paper that was once required (from drawings, to checklists and handover) could frankly make your eyes water. In the past, many large infrastructure projects have been known to require adjoining structures just to store the necessary documentation. Thankfully, with digital construction solutions such as BIM, this is becoming a thing of the past.
Zutec has been used by leading construction and architectural firms across the globe to empower smarter approaches and achieve sustainability targets. With a full suite of BIM products, we can help your company do the same.