Illustration of BIM software optimizing a sustainable construction project
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Using BIM To Make Construction More Sustainable: How It works

Last Updated on October 25, 2023 by Admin

The urban landscape is rapidly evolving. Over half of the global population (56%) now resides in cities. By 2045, this number is expected to surge to 6 billion, emphasizing the importance of urban expansion.


Yet, with this growth comes the challenge: How do we build more without escalating the climate crisis? To address this mounting urbanization while preventing further exacerbation of the existing climate crisis, the expansion of the built environment must occur in an environmentally sustainable manner.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) has become a transformative solution that holds the key to merging urban development with sustainability. This article explains the potential of BIM technologies to catalyze a green revolution in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) sectors.


To meet the urban demands without compromising the environment, we need a strategic approach. One that merges technological prowess with ecological consciousness. BIM, with its multifaceted benefits, aligns perfectly with this vision. Here’s a closer look at how BIM shapes a greener tomorrow:


1. Enhance Efficiency through Multi-Disciplinary Coordination

Sustainability in construction places a significant emphasis on eliminating inefficiencies. Therefore, it is imperative to identify means of minimizing clashes and preventing the duplication of efforts.

BIM’s multi-disciplinary coordination process enables the integration of architectural models with structural, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems, along with prefab models. This approach enables clients to visualize the intricate network of systems within a building, thereby averting rework during the construction phase.

2. Boost Productivity, Safety, and Sustainability with Prefabrication

To meet the escalating demands of urbanization, an estimated 2.5 trillion square feet of buildings must be constructed by 2060. Industrialized construction processes, such as prefabrication and modular construction, will play a pivotal role in meeting these infrastructure demands while conserving natural resources, reducing emissions, and optimizing material usage.

BIM can be leveraged to develop LOD400 wall assemblies, ceilings, bathroom pods, and other components with input from all trades. The virtual model is then prefabricated off-site, saving time and costs during on-site construction. In prefab and modular construction, building components are assembled in a controlled factory environment, reducing the risk of material damage from environmental factors like dirt and moisture. Additionally, factory-based assembly minimizes waste by recycling excess materials, unlike traditional on-site construction, which often results in landfill waste.

Moreover, BIM for Prefabrication also benefits the client’s financial bottom line. BIM’s advanced modeling capabilities help streamline workflows and increase labor productivity, a crucial factor in an industry grappling with skilled labor shortages. Furthermore, Modular construction conducted off-site offers substantial health and safety advantages, improving working conditions. When coupled with BIM, it further enhances productivity and efficiency.

3. Stream Workflow Efficiency and Cost Reduction with 4D and 5D Models

In construction, projects often take longer than anticipated. However, this trend can be reversed by incorporating realistic timelines into the design, allowing visualization of the planned construction sequence. These time-animated models prove invaluable in identifying efficiencies, scheduling conflicts, logistical challenges among different trades, and facilitating stakeholder coordination. Moreover, the cost dimension can be integrated for cost-benefit analyses, aiding budgeting and value-engineering while quantifying cost savings when clients opt for sustainable choices like solar energy and enhanced insulation.


4. Assess the Sustainability Impact of Project Locations

In the initial stages of a construction project, understanding environmental factors is crucial for creating environmentally friendly structures. By combining techniques such as laser scanning and photogrammetry with digital modeling, BIM aids in digitizing the existing site conditions.

This contributes to enhanced sustainability in two ways. Firstly, a high-precision BIM replica of the site enables teams to design, coordinate, and prefabricate efficiently without the need for frequent site visits during planning and design. Secondly, by employing BIM to evaluate the site in terms of solar exposure and wind speed variations, designers can plan for on-site renewable energy systems and long-term resilience.

5. Simulate Energy-Efficient

Buildings in the United States account for 40% of energy consumption. BIM can play a pivotal role in improving the energy efficiency of both new and existing buildings, reducing energy costs associated with cooling and heating. A fully digitized model of the structure allows for an early understanding of its behavior before construction commences.

Captured data and simulation tools can then be utilized to identify areas for enhanced energy efficiency. For example, daylight feasibility can be assessed using BIM-enabled orientation data, solar load calculations, and shadow analyses to determine optimal configurations and window layouts for maximizing natural lighting. BIM can also be applied to incorporate green spaces, improve insulation, and enhance ventilation, creating a healthy and energy-efficient indoor environment while minimizing energy consumption.

6. Monitor and Management Sustainable Building Operations

Sustainable construction extends beyond design and construction to encompass the long-term use and maintenance of completed structures. BIM enables owners and facility managers to access detailed design and construction information necessary for optimizing building operations. By tracking energy and water consumption, as well as waste generation, it becomes feasible to verify if structures are functioning as sustainably as envisioned during the design phase.

How to incorporate BIM benefits for sustainability

For those of us in the AEC realm, creating a resilient, sustainable future is our mandate. Integrating BIM isn’t just essential; it’s our commitment to the world’s future. If you are looking to incorporate BIM into your construction project, you must consider engaging forward-thinking BIM consultants like ENG.

As one of the largest BIM services providers in the US, ENG seamlessly integrates sustainability into its project DNA. Its main BIM services by volume are MEP Modeling for Coordination & Prefabrication, VDC/BIM Management, Laser Scanning and Scan to BIM. With more than 5,000 successful projects, ENG is one of the companies that have demonstrated how big the impact of BIM is for the future of the world.


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