Informetric analysis and review of literature on the role of BIM in sustainable construction

RúbenSantosaAntónio AguiarCostabJosé D.SilvestrebLincyPyla

The construction industry and researchers have been exploring new techniques to improve the sustainability of buildings. One such solution is the use of a recent technology such as building information modelling (BIM). Accordingly, the present article reviews the current state of literature on sustainable construction and BIM, including the latter’s evolution. In contrast to previous reviews on this subject, the present work has a broader scope that covers the environmental, economic, and social dimensions and their combinations. To obtain a comprehensive review, the authors conducted an informetric analysis of the literature and categorised it based on a content analysis. A total of 11 different terms and 28 combinations were used to collect relevant literature on this subject, resulting in a total of 317 journal articles for the period between 2008 and 2017. The information obtained from informetric analysis was later validated by a content analysis, in which gaps and trends were identified. It was observed that publications on this subject registered an exponential growth, with 90% of the articles being published in the last five years. The authors identified a gap in literature pertaining to the integration of the three dimensions of sustainability; however, literature on the integration of sustainable performance and BIM has grown considerably in recent years, which indicates that BIM is increasingly being used as a reliable method for sustainable construction practices.

Integration of LCA and LCC analysis within a BIM-based environment

RúbenSantosa António AguiarCostab José D.Silvestreb LincyPyla


There is a growing concern in society for the environmental impacts of a built environment. In this regard, the use of building information modelling (BIM) tools has arisen as a new trend in the construction industry to improve the sustainable assessments of buildings in the design phase. For that purpose, current approaches either focus on the use of BIM together with several programs, or solely use it for an automatic quantity take-off. However, as noted in the literature, the lack of semantic information within BIM models can lead to ineffective decision-making processes and models that are unsuitable for the operation and maintenance stages. Therefore, the present study explores the potential of BIM as a repository for the life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC) information, and how that information should be used for an environmental and economic analysis. By doing so, the authors intend to discuss the potential of BIM as a data repository and its capacity for supporting an automatic/semi-automatic environmental and economic assessment.

A BIM-LCA/LCC framework was proposed, which led to the development of an information delivery manual and a model view definition (IDM/MVD), using the industry foundation classes (IFC) schema, for the integration and exchange of information within a BIM-based environment. Finally, the authors implemented the proposed framework with a case study. It is observed that, although most recent IFC schemes already consider some of the required information, a considerable number of properties are still required to conduct a comprehensive LCA and LCC analysis. Thus, the work presented here contributes to the existing background knowledge necessary for future implementations of BIM-based LCA/LCC and for software developers to develop a suitable BIM-LCA/LCC tool.

IECE Macedonia’s paper on Energy Efficiency accepted by International Symposium

IECE are continuing to grow interest in BIM through their Work Package 5. Dijana Likar from the IECE project team pointed out that  IECE’s paper ‘Application of BIM for improvement of energy efficiency throughout complete life cycle of buildings –project BIMcert funded by Horizon 2020’ has been accepted by the committee of the International Symposium ‘Energetics 2018’ and will be presented during the conference in October. There is a growing interest within the construction industry  in Macedonia in the adoption of BIM. IECE has been invited to participate in the kick-off meeting of the project TRAINEE, led by Engineering Institution of Macedonia. The main theme of the Trainee project is reducing gaps between designed and achieved performances of buildings. The project leader has expressed interest for collaboration between the two projects. Indeed members of IECE’s focus group, consisting of representatives of Macedonian Chamber of certified architects and engineers and Macedonian Chamber of Economy, have expressed interest to join the program and participate actively in the project communication activities.

New Belfast Met BIM qualification developed with Creagh Concrete

Belfast Met have developed the first of their BIM qualifications in partnership with leading Northern Ireland construction company Creagh Concrete.

BIMcert are already delivering upskilling to blue collar workers and are now delivering a trial Level 4 EQF equivalent qualification. The partnership with Creagh Concrete demonstrates how the BIMcert project is developing industry led qualifications.

Creagh sought to develop a BIM academy to enable the upskilling of their staff as they transition to a BIM workflow within the company. For Creagh Concrete a company established in 1976 and one of the most innovative producers of concrete products BIM is a must have in 2018.

Lorna Mc Mullan, Director, Creagh Concrete acknowledged the importance of BIM Academy saying: “In 2015 Creagh Concrete recognised that BIM modelling would represent an improved technology and process change which would add real value to our business. Creagh made a commitment to implement BIM within our company and focus on upskilling our existing staff.”

Creagh operate from their head office in Toomebridge, Co Antrim with bases in Hoveringham and Edinburgh. Creagh concrete has a number of specialist divisions working within each sector of the construction industry. The companys core range is precast and prestressed flooring. The work includes car parks, residential, railways, education, commercial and residential.

The UK government Construction Strategy 2016-2020 reinforces BIM as an integral focus of the strategy with a aim of boosting productivity and collaboration through the use of technology, (digital construction).

BIM enables the digital construction of a project in the form of a construction data enriched 3D model based process. This enables improved collaboration between all parties. The learner gets an understanding in the practice of 3D modelling for building information modelling. This includes architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical work.

Lorna Mc Mullan added: “Having developed a new qualification for CAD Construction Detailing with the Construction and the Built Environment curriculum area in 2015, Creagh have shortlisted a strong working partnership with Belfast Metropolitan College. The CAD Academy launched in 2016 and has been a very positive step to reducing the current technical skills gap within our industry.

“Based on the reputation and performance of this academy, Creagh sought to develop a similar BIM academy to enable the upskilling of their existing staff as they transition to a BIM workflow within the company. Creagh Concrete is delighted to support and deliver this new qualification in partnership with Belfast Met and offer our staff the opportunity to gain a qualification in BIM. This will further assist the integration of BIM workflows with the company’s supply and installation projects across the UK and Ireland.”

Creagh Concrete a company 42 years in existence have embraced the fact that BIM is a key emerging technology within the construction industry, with rapidly expanding usage across the sector.

Monitoring Building Performance

Kate Moss is a model, who knows how to perform. The fashion industry understands this and recalls that back in 1990, supermodel Linda Evangelista uttered what has become the most famous quote in modelling history: “We don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” showing what a lean machine she and Kate could be. Her intelligence  is that she knows how to work a runway, how to show a garment in its best light and to capture that moment for the Haselblad, clicking her every move. A model who cannot perform, is not a model for very long.

Performance is key to the construction sector too, where increasingly a building which cannot perform is not an asset but a drain on the economy, society and our precious planet; Earth. Rewarding better buildings, better constructions and better methods is not easily done and our current practices do not reflect this either. Finding new ways to encourage this and to demand it requires a new mindset and Building Information Modelling (BIM) offers a platform for this to happen. BIM is not a technique but rather an overarching support system providing a place or a stage on which all stakeholders can perform and excel in their roles, producing both new environments and retrofitting old ones.

Build 4.0, the Internet of Things and the Blockchain all offer new and exciting opportunities to progress a better, more sustainable world and to reward better performance, which patently did not exist before. The industrial model for procuring a project is still based on working with small margins, usually the lowest tender wins the contract. This sets the landscape for litigious conflicts, change orders and delays making the industry the worst performing sector in terms of productivity across all activities from automobiles to agriculture.

Similarly, there is little or no Evidence-Based Design (EBD) meaning designs are often architectural whims with no data to back them up. Brandenburg Airport in Berlin, started in 2008 and expected to open in 2012 at a cost of €1.2 billion, still has only hardhats on site. It has no completion date with many saying it would be easier to tear it down and start afresh. It is six times over budget, and has 66,500 building errors in need of fixing (Economist 2017).

At The Copenhagen School of Design & Technology (KEA) we use BIM-360 to provide a cloud-based solution. The students, working in groups of four use a whole semester to procure a project, collaborating through Problem-Based Learning (PBL), to provide the architectural deliverables, the structural and mechanical deliverables, the economy and contractual basis with specifications and tender packages. The 3D model is produced in Autodesk Revit and is overlaid with structural and MEP models. Next it is parsed into Sigma Estimates where the quantities are priced against a price book providing the 5D model (resources).

Next this model is exported to Microsoft Project where the 4D (time) can be modelled in a Gant chart. Here there is work back and forth in three interlinked models to fine tune the operation. Exporting the Revit model to NavisWorks allows the MS Project data to be applied, so that a time line can be animated and saved as a movie. Clash detection can also happen here. We are also assessing RIB’s iTWO software which brings the 4D and 5D under one roof, which additionally can map the budgeted spend against actual workflows so that bottle-necks and liquidity can be controlled.

With regard to circular ecology; waste, CO2 and energy need to be evaluated. Making Life Cycle Analyses (LCA) and Life Cycle Costings (LLC) better inform design decisions and impact the above processes. Next is to find metrics that reward such practices. One is to make an embodied carbon price book using GtCO2e. Another is to transfer the 3D Model from objects to assets so that Facilities Management (FM) processes can be applied. Changes to the contractual model mean looking at Integrated Project Deliveries (IPD), where Integrated Concurrent Engineering (ICE) also comes to the fore using handheld devices.

Sidechains, a subset of the Blockchain means that if a tender package claims to deliver benefits, through the life cycle of the facility, which now can be sensored and monitored through its life, then it can be accountable. If savings occur, they can be rewarded by paying out a dividend from the accrued saving, each and every year in which it happens. Making an argument along these lines encourages better practices and, more importantly, rewards better procedures.

Dr James HARTY
BArch MArchSc PPCert PGCert PhD RIBA MAA

Copenhagen School of Design & Technology
Prinsesse Charlottesgade 38,
Copenhagen, DK-2200


M +45 2148 7035