How BIM Helps Design Stakeholders with Sustainability

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Sustainability in construction arises from weaving together environmental performance, financial efficiency and social responsibility. Data generated during the building information modeling (BIM) process is used as the foundation for sustainability. BIM involves innovative technologies, architectural quality and flexibility. Its methodologies promote less wasteful activities during construction, and after project completion, the results translate to more cost-effective operations and maintenance.

Sustainability simulation; image: Autodesk.com

As consumer demand for sustainable construction increases, that translates to a greater number of projects that are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified. But sustainable construction goes farther than including energy-efficient electrical and mechanical systems. Through the use of BIM processes, sustainability can touch every phase of a project, from design to build to operation.


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While sustainability is a design challenge, it also presents an opportunity to all stakeholders. BIM processes can result in building designs that achieve lower energy demands, while economizing on labor for increased productivity and time savings. Using BIM helps companies imagine, create and build in a faster, more efficient way, while considering dynamic environmental, economic and social factors.

BIM methodologies have enabled companies to understand and optimize projects on a single platform. Processes are becoming more connected, utilizing cloud and mobile technology. This has led to the next generation of BIM, where different facets of sustainability can come together via an integrated collaborative process involving all project stakeholders.

ARCHITECT

The architect starts by creating the BIM model in Autodesk Revit. BIM enables accelerated design processes and improved quality. Integrated workflows help with multidiscipline coordination and construction documentation. When the BIM model is handed over to the engineers, the architect can continue to work back on the model with real-time updates, enriching it, adding complex elements and calculating quantities.

ENGINEERS

The engineers will simulate the structural performance of the building, one aspect of sustainability. BIM also enables them to optimize and automate designs, improve accuracy and constructability, and reduce errors and risk. As reported by Autodesk, Canam Group reduced construction site issues by a factor of ten using Autodesk BIM products BIM 360 and Architecture, Engineering and Construction Collection.

BIM model, MEP; image: Autodesk

MEP

The BIM model is then handed over to the MEP engineers for planning and designing the mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) systems. With Autodesk FormIt, the model can be georeferenced, so it can obtain necessary data from the closest meteorological station (temperatures, air pressure, humidity, rainfall, winds, cloud cover) to enable precise calculation of the energy needs of the building. Performance can be calculated using analysis tools like Autodesk Insight and BIM model data that includes materials, spaces, areas, volumes, and quantities. Besides geometry, dimensioning of MEP elements can be based on scientific calculations using a smart energy calculation engine and the data from the model.

CUSTOMER

There are BIM products that provide a compelling way to communicate the details of a project to customers. Outputs can include photorealistic renderings for owners and public agencies. BIM model representations can include architectural, structural, MEP, and others, each containing information tailored to a specific purpose. The more equipped you are with the right tools and practices, the better you can help customers reach their goals – whether they involve money, time, sustainability, or something else.

By using BIM methodologies, all design stakeholders realize savings that will carry through the entire lifecycle of a building.


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