Designing sustainability with Building Information Modelling


Traditionally, sustainability centres around protecting the natural environment and its resources. With respect to construction, however, there’s more to it than that. That’s where building information modelling (BIM) can help.

BIM’s relationship with sustainability begins during the critical design stage and continues throughout construction and beyond into the operational stage. The design stage is perhaps the most important, however, as this is not only where BIM’s greatest benefits can be realised but a phase that will impact the entire progress and performance of the project going forward.

Using data linked to each BIM model component

Each piece of data helps create a precise BIM model. And it’s also at this design phase that BIM streamlines the post-handover phase. Those same component data links also hold specific information on preventive maintenance, repair record, and longevity that can be used in planning with the operational phase in mind. These key pieces of detail can not only contribute to a more proactive upkeep of all systems but even help the building function beyond its estimated lifespan.

Detecting clashes early to save rework and material waste

A major contributor to construction waste is rework. Fortunately, BIM is uniquely capable of helping keep the amount of substantial rework at bay. Again, at the design stage, a BIM 3D model can show areas where there are potential clashes, whether it’s behind a wall, above a ceiling or below a floor. Detecting such hazards before they’ve been built into the structure can prevent unnecessary deconstruction, repair, disposal of the impacted materials, and reordering of new materials to redo the work.

Creating sustainable design via multi-disciplined collaboration

BIM functions as a collaborative tool to support early and ongoing involvement of various disciplines all working toward a more sustainable design. This technology has transparency at its core in terms of the ability to see into all dimensions of the model and access the data associated with each component of the structure. These combine to give project team members a better understanding of how the structure is built.

That collaboration also extends to the project owner. This is particularly important if there is intent for earning leadership in energy and environmental design, or LEED, certification.

Overall, BIM is proving itself to be a game changer in construction, and certainly in the industry’s transition to a more sustainable way of building.

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