Emerging technologies are reshaping every industry sector. Building design and construction are no exceptions. While the construction industry especially has been slow in embracing digital transformation, the advantages of building information modeling (BIM) are simply too obvious to pass up.
Enhanced visualization from the design stage not only facilitates a more streamlined design process. It also supports more effective collaboration between stakeholders and leads to overall cost savings. In short, BIM makes it easier for contractors to turn sustainable designs into reality.
In this article, we explore five areas in which BIM contributes to outstanding building design:
- Energy efficiency
- Facilities management
- Optimized design
- Reduced waste and inefficiencies
- Continuous post-construction management
BIM At a Glance
Before looking at each of those points individually, it is worth recapping what building information modeling means in construction and design. Building information modeling allows contractors and anyone else involved in a building project to visualize and assess every aspect of the project from the design stage.
Contractors and subcontractors can see every detail of their jobs before work commences; the safety team can spot potential hazards before construction starts; and clients and designers can communicate at an entirely different level. Those are some of the basic benefits of using BIM. Time to look at the individual aspects relating to sustainability.
1. Using BIM Tools to Increase Energy Efficiency
Modeling every aspect of a building project means that architects, designers, and contractors can predict how energy-efficient a building will be. Powerful BIM software products allow stakeholders to identify weak spots before construction begins.
Picture this: most buildings lose heat through windows. BIM software allows contractors to visualize this heat loss with heat maps. Losing energy is not only costly, but it is also detrimental to the environment. To mitigate both problems, BIM allows contractors to model how different types of windows or changes in window design could minimize those losses and the building’s impact on its environment.
Of course, contractors could make that decision based on the energy ratings of different products. However, including them in a complete 3D model will deliver more meaningful and actionable results.
2. Improving Facilities Management
Can you picture what ideal facility management looks like? In our opinion, the ideal kind of facility management is proactive rather than reactive.
How would that work? Equipment is regularly serviced and maintained to avoid unexpected breakdowns. Facilities management teams keep a predictive maintenance schedule that allows them to carry out their work with the lowest possible impact on the building’s tenants. Rather than having to deal with unplanned downtime or having to arrange alternative solutions, the building owners and facilities managers allocate their resources in a smarter way.
BIM contributes to this process by allowing building owners to see what maintenance will be required for a certain project. In effect, facilities management teams can collaborate with designers before the building stage to optimize the potential maintenance requirements of a project.
Think of it this way: if you had the option to ensure a final building requires the lowest possible amount of time and budget for everything to work smoothly, would you take it? Incorporating building information modeling into your construction process allows you to do that.
3. Optimizing the Building’s Overall Design
Truth be told, we could write an entire article on how BIM helps optimize the overall design of the building. For the moment, we will focus on one area of optimization that radiates across all others – collaboration.
Simplifying and streamlining collaboration is one of the biggest differences between a BIM-led approach and a traditional construction approach. BIM brings together all project stakeholders on one platform. From the design stage, engineers, contractors, architects, owners, and their clients have direct access to every project detail.
This is how BIM limits surprises that could catch contractors and subcontractors out at later stages and facilitates easier, real-time communications. By keeping all relevant information in one place, there is also less danger of critical details getting lost or for confusion to arise between stakeholders.
When it comes to sustainability, BIM allows engineers and designers to show clients what the impact of choosing more sustainable materials would be, for example. But sustainability as a concept covers more than material-related topics. Building sustainably includes thinking about a project’s workforce. Does the timeline allow for reasonable hours? If workers constantly need to do overtime, their likelihood of developing illnesses and sustaining injuries increases.
4. Reducing Waste and Inefficiencies
According to the BBC, construction is responsible for up to one-third of the world’s waste. The industry also produces 40% of all global carbon dioxide emissions. Aviation pales in comparison with between 2 and 3%.
BIM can help contractors and building owners to actively reduce the amount of waste they produce by highlighting areas of a project in which work is done ineffectively. The software is also able to show where planned building methods are not taking advantage of the most cost-effective options available. The BBC’s research shows that much of the waste created in the construction industry is due to raw materials being ordered but not used. BIM can help improve the precision of material orders and deliveries and allows contractors to identify areas in which materials can be reused.
5. Using BIM Data for Continuous, Sustainable Post-Construction Management
We already mentioned how BIM can support energy efficiency and streamline facilities management. Building information modeling not only allows designers and contractors to optimize these factors during the design and construction stages. They can also use them to further benefit later on.
Data generated by BIM forms a solid base for continuous building management. Rather than following a gut feel and experience alone, access to rich building data allows stakeholders to improve their ongoing building management, minimizing costs, and optimizing outcomes in the process.
Building information modeling is the foundation of the future of building design. Without having worked with these platforms, it can be hard to imagine just how big the impact of BIM can be on sustainable building design. Once your business starts implementing these principles, you will see the differences in energy efficiency, facilities management costs, and efforts, and you will benefit from overall optimized building design. Try it today to change the future of your business!
Pook Villegas is an AEC Application Specialist at Microsol Resources. She is responsible for providing the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) clients with BIM health checks, developing and implementing BIM standards, assisting with BIM Execution Plans (BEP), training, technical support, and other BIM-related services. She brings extensive architectural design and technological skills, having worked with BIM technology in a variety of project types, including K-12 facilities, residential, and interior projects.
Pook received her Master of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as a Bachelor of Architecture and Interior Design from the University of Oklahoma. She is also a LEED Green Associate and WELL AP and has a thorough comprehension of green building principles and practices. In her spare time, she loves to play ice hockey and spend time outdoors. She is fluent in Thai as well as English.