BIMcert partners highlight energy savings

The BIMcert partners have produced a new paper called, ‘Delivering Energy savings for the supply chain through Building Information Modelling as a result of the Horizon 2020 Energy BIMcert project’.

Barry McAuley
Technical University Dublin

The exploitation and utilisation of energy resources have caused severe ecological and environmental problems, including the production of emissions that contribute to global warming (Enshassi et al., 2018). The construction industry consumes up to 50% of mineral resources excavated from nature, generates about 33% of CO2 present in the atmosphere and is responsible for 40% of total global energy through both construction and operational emissions (Ajayi et al., 2016 and Zhou and Azar, 2018). This has resulted in the AEC Sector (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) out of necessity being forced to investigate new methods of practice and how best to apply resource-efficient techniques from the extraction of the raw materials to the demolition and disposal of its components.

The realisation that practices now face globalization, sustainability, and environmental concern, as well as ever-changing legislation requirements and new skills needed for the information age has resulted in technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) becoming a key enabler in navigating these concerns (Jaradet, 2014). BIM can be defined as a modelling technology and associated set of processes to produce, communicate, and analyze building models (Sacks et al., 2018). BIM provides an opportunity for the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, and Operation (AECO) industry stakeholders to evaluate possible solutions and identify potential problems of the final product before the start of actual construction (Badrinath et al., 2016).

However, changing from traditional practices to BIM requires a shift not only in the technology used but also in the way design and construction teams work together (Shelbourn et al., 2017). To achieve the associated benefits that are accustomed to BIM a number of existing challenges to ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) utilisation in construction site management must be overcome which include a lack of knowledge, skills and competence, depth of understanding of decision makers and low ICT literacy (Ozumba and Shakantu, 2017). This BIM movement has also resulted in a clear, direct, and automatic impact upon engineering education systems (Jäväjä and Salin, 2014).

To assist in overcoming these barriers, so as to reach EU energy-related targets a number of funding initiatives have been put in place through Horizon 2020 with a focus on BIM, as a result of it having the potential to rapidly produce energy outputs that enable design teams to analyse and compare the most cost-effective, energy-efficient options. Such an initiative is the Energy BIMcert project, which aims to educate all areas of the supply chain in the use of BIM, to achieve better energy efficiency during the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of an asset.

Development of BIMcert qualifications continues

BIMcert aims to develop a series of training interventions using digital technology and improved blended techniques to support, enhance and maximise the impact of energy efficient skills at all operational levels within the construction industry.  Central to this is the creation of an accredited curriculum and framework of qualifications developed through the work and output from each work package, within the context of a National and European wide framework.  Establishing an accredited curriculum framework, with associated qualifications will provide the learners and stakeholders with an assurance of the qualification and standards of training. 

However, for the curriculum to have an impact it must be informed by industry requirements and responsive to this need.  From the outset of BIMcert this relationship with industry has been core to the work, as identified via the innovative BIMcert Strategy Compass, with CITB NI a core partner and local businesses such as O’Hare & McGovern and Creagh Concrete Products part of the Industry Advisory Panel.  Guidance from these partners along with feedback from our industry workshops, across the partner regions, has identified a gap in the market in terms of the offering for upskilling with BIM qualifications, with most currently offered at Masters level.  This is daunting for those businesses and workers who want to learn about BIM with the promise of some accreditation but do not wish, or have time to study at this level.  One workshop participant recommended ‘Democratising’ BIM, so that it’s not a top down skill but accessible to all involved in the project, from clients to designers, contractors to supply chain.  As such there is a responsibility to teach others about BIM, ensuring the project is not only BIM compliant but work environments from architect’s offices to construction sites are BIM inclusive.  It was also proposed that a lack of understanding and knowledge of BIM could also be leading to a mistrust of BIM and the resulting slow uptake across certain sectors of the industry.  This resistance in adopting BIM processes and tools is impeding the transition to more energy efficient construction and reduction in CO emissions within the built environment.

Following a review of existing qualifications BIMcert proceeded with the development and creation of a UK Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 3 qualification (European Qualification Framework Level 4).  The rational for a Level 3 (4) qualification was to provide an entry point that is accessible to all construction industry workers.  BIMcert working in conjunction with Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) has developed a range of Digital Construction with Building Information Modelling (BIM) qualifications.  These offer a range of competencies and skills, starting with an introduction to BIM Principles and associated digital skills.  Authoring skills, including models and families, are also addressed along with information management.  Recognising the three pillars of BIM and the need to understand the built aspect of both the model and project, a specific energy related qualification is under development.

Together we must work to demystify and democratise BIM – breaking down the barriers faced by an industry wishing to upskill and avail of the benefits.

As part of the next phase of trials BIMcert intent to offer the Digital Construction with Building Information Modelling (BIM) Award via the BIMcert platform and website.  For more details and to sign up please visit

Nigerian Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) Visit to CITB NI / BMC

A delegation of representatives of the Nigerian Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) visited Belfast Metropolitan College (BMC) as part of a collaboration with CITB NI.  Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has a significant construction sector that is emerging from recession.  FOCI is a body that brings together Construction Employers, Material Suppliers and Manufacturers, meaning that the entire supply side is encompassed in their federation.  The issues facing the industry are similar to those in construction sectors all over the world:

  • Attracting construction workers
  • Creating training programmes that meet employers needs
  • Developing better quality and productivity

As part of the visit to Northern Ireland the group visited BMC to hear about the work being carried out in the H2020 funded BIMCert project which is a collaboration between 5 partners from, Croatia, Ireland, Macedonia, Portugal and of course Northern Ireland.  The group were interested in the drivers for movement to BIM and Digital Construction in general and the skills requirements identified within the industry research carried out as part of the project.

From L to R: Barry Neilson (CITB NI), Tunde Adekimi (FOCI Director of Skills), Olubunmi Adekoje (FOCI Director General), Paul McCormack (BMC) and Emeka Okoroafor (FOCI Vice President & Chair of Skills Committee)

In particular, the group were interested in how the BIMCert project team are developing a “Beyond Blended” approach to training for the skills needed broken down into “Bite Sized” learning elements.  The group were impressed by the work carried out in developing a framework of skills needs and the delivery platform being developed that will allow upskilling in a manor that suits a variety of learning styles with consistent standards and assessment being ensured through an on-line delivery system.

BIMCert project team members Paul McCormack, Eduardo Rebello and Barry Neilson introduced the delegation to the materials developed to date and shared the vision of how this will be advanced in the future.   The team from FOCI could see the potential for development of BIM in their own industry and recognised the issues being addressed by BIMCert as being common to Nigeria;

  • Clients who need to be educated in the benefits and building requirements into procurement.
  • Disseminating the skills needed to drive digital construction across the whole industry
  • Engaging with the tools available to manage the “whole life” of the built environment from inception through delivery and use, to eventual demolition at the end of its life.

While the Nigerian industry may lag behind some areas of the world in Digital construction, its size and the involvement of major construction companies from around the world will ensure that it is not long before the skills development model being developed within the BIMCert project will be needed there as well.

The Nigerian delegates will continue to monitor the BIMcert progression through the website at: –

Barry Neilson CITB

Up­skilling the AEC industry to deliver high quality energy efficient retrofitting with BIM learning tools

EU funded projects BIMplement, BIMCert, BIMeet, Net­UBIEP 

During the EU Sustainable energy week 2019 BIMcert’s project manager Paul McCormack will participate in session which will bring together experiences from four Horizon 2020 projects working with BIM as a training tool and developing qualification frameworks in order to deliver a high quality performing built result.


Henri Le Marois, Alliance Villes Emploi ­ BIMplement 
Benjamin Fedor, Practee Formations – BIMplement (France) 
Peter Op ’t Veld, Huygen ­ BIMplement (Netherlands) 
Piotr Dymarski, Mostostal ­ BIMplement (Poland) 
Arjan Schrauwen, ISSO ­ NET­UBIEP 
Paul McCormack, BIMCert 
Sylvain Kubicki, BIMeet (TBC) 

Moderator: Amandine La Court, EASME (TBC) 

  • 14:00 ­ 14:05 Overview of the need for up­skilling and the changes BIM brings to construction industry 
  • 14:05 ­ 14:40 The four EU funded projects compare their training approaches and BIM learning tools searching for synergies and cooperation. 
  • 14:40 ­ 15:10 The BIMplement training experiences in France, the Netherlands and Poland. 
  • 15:10 ­ 15:15 Question and Answers from the audience 
  • 15:15­15:30 Closing Remarks Philippe Moseley, Senior Project Advisor, EASME

Belfast Met to present in Brussels -Energy Week 2019

2018 - Day 3 - Decarbonisation of the heating and cooling sector- coupling efficency and renewables with security of heat supply-7

Belfast Met energy projects win European Energy Week Place

Double win for Belfast Met – The Belfast Met led GenComm and BIMcert projects have both been selected to present  in Brussels in June at the European Energy Week event.

With these two international projects Belfast Met are helping to shape Europe’s energy future and now on the biggest stage of all Belfast Met staff can showcase their projects.

The Policy Conference in Energy Week, 18-20 June, 2019 is the biggest European conference dedicated to renewables and efficient energy use in Europe.  The conference takes place in Brussels Schuman district at the European Commission’s Charlemagne building and the Residence Palace. This week in Brussels is the largest event dedicated to initiatives that support the European energy transition.

EU Sustainable Energy Week was launched in 2006 and is organised by the European Commission. Participants can build new connections and meet stakeholders who are promoting energy efficiency and renewable energies.

GenComm is a £9.39 million project which aims to answer the energy sustainability challenges facing remote communities in North West Europe. GenComm will deliver three pilot facilities , one fuelled by solar power in Germany, one by wind power in Co Antrim and one by bioenergy in Scotland to measure their ability to produce and store hydrogen. Its viability as a sustainable energy solution for heat, power and fuel will be examined.

BIMcert is a European wide project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research programme. The project aims to provide a training and qualification scheme for the skills required to support the implementation of BIM (Building Information Modelling) across the construction chain. BIM offers the opportunity for improved efficiencies for the construction industry in energy, materials and time.

Energy Week in Brussels will bring together public authorities, energy agencies, industry associations, companies, and civil society organisations. Past speakers have come from city councils, the European institutions, private companies, research organisations, citizen groups and NGOs. Participants can learn about successful policies to meet the EU’s energy and climate goals.

As well as having a three-day stand at Energy Week the Belfast Met team will also be able to build contacts in the ‘Networking Village’ area where participants can exchange ideas on policies, showcasing the talents of Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Paul Mc Cormack, Belfast Met’s GenComm Programme Manager welcomed the news of securing a place during Energy Week, saying:

“All of the GenComm and BIMcert teams are delighted with the news that we have been chosen to take the international platform in Brussels  to showcase our highly innovative work. We are on the cusp of a low carbon economy and GenComm is pioneering new energy models. The current energy model for Europe is not fit for purpose. Our GenComm project helps us all move in the right direction. Likewise with the BIMcert project we are taking digital design and energy efficiency in construction to a new level. Energy efficiency is a key directive from Europes side and we are pioneers in this field. This honour recognises the innovative strength of the projects, the fantastic talent in the project teams and importantly the vision and skills of the wider Belfast Met team”

For further information, please contact Belfast Met Communications Officer Eugene McCusker, telephone 02890 265277, email