Over the last 10 years, the construction industry has seen a shift towards eco-friendly architecture. This is largely due to rising expenditures on energy and materials, as well as increasing awareness of how detrimental our current practices are to our environment. A switch from unsustainable resources is a significant step in conserving our planet’s future, all the while decreasing expenses for everyone involved.
Today’s buildings are more than just places where people live and work – they’re also one of our most important ways to achieve sustainability. Building construction uses huge amounts of energy each year, accounting for around half the total energy consumption in most developed countries. That’s why it’s so important for architects to create sustainable buildings that reduce this demand on power grids – while still providing comfortable, functional spaces for residents or employees.
Sustainable architecture is about creating buildings that are functional and durable, as well as reducing the negative impact on the environment and its occupants. Sustainable architecture and design practices can be applied to both new and existing buildings, from homes to large corporate offices, reducing long-term operating costs by using less energy and materials during the construction and operation of a building.
One way architects can work to achieve sustainable construction is by utilising Building Information Modeling (BIM) software throughout the building lifecycle stages from start to finish – from initial design and planning, through detailed construction plans until completion and beyond into everyday building operations.
BIM’s crucial role in enabling sustainable construction
As the world’s population grows, buildings need to adapt and change, especially when it comes to improving and maintaining sustainability. In this context, BIM has emerged as the frontier of modern technology-aided sustainable architecture and construction. With BIM, construction professionals can also track changes made throughout the process so they can optimize between the design and construction phases.
BIM software has the ability to measure a building’s occupancy levels, which can then be used to alter energy output. By accurately tracking and measuring how many people are in a space at any given time, it is possible to adjust energy consumption accordingly. This not only helps reduce overall energy costs but also supports a more sustainable way of living. Additionally, BIM software can be used to monitor the air quality of a building and identify potential areas of energy loss. By targeting these weak spots, it is possible to make more efficient use of energy and limit environmental impact.
BIM software provides architects and engineers with a wealth of information to help them design sustainable buildings that meet LEED requirements. With the help of BIM, they can easily identify potential environmental impacts and make informed decisions about materials, energy efficiency, and construction methods that minimize waste and emissions. The software also allows users to accurately calculate lighting levels, thermal performance, and ventilation rates to ensure that buildings comply with strict standards for indoor air quality. In addition, BIM enables architects and engineers to assess the environmental impact of various design decisions before construction even begins, allowing them to make informed choices about how best to achieve their sustainability goals.
Architects are using BIM’s powerful capabilities to achieve sustainable architecture through:
- Generation of multiple design options, each optimizing for sustainability
- Effective material selection and consumption
- Consideration of renewable and non-renewable energy sources
- Waste reduction
1. Simulation for sustainable design options
BIM can be used to test out sustainable designs before construction, helping generate multiple architecture options that focus on sustainability.
When companies use BIM to locate and highlight opportunities for sustainable building practices, they generate multiple options and test out which option is the most suitable from both economic and sustainability perspectives. These simulations can help determine things like how much materials will be needed, where they should be placed, and what materials are most cost-effective for each area of the project while maintaining sustainable principles. This means that architects have a better idea of exactly what it will cost and whether or not the sustainable construction project is feasible before breaking ground.
Using BIM, architects can identify sustainable building practices that were not previously known or considered. For example, when a company uses Building Information Modeling (BIM) software to create its blueprints, it can select products that will require less energy consumption during production. After this initial selection has been made, the software will allow for further customization as needed by the client or designer. The result: improved decision making and significantly less waste in construction projects.
BIM is also a very useful tool for architects, engineers, and designers to streamline the design process by allowing everyone to work together on one project that has all of their input built in. This makes it easier for those working at different firms to collaborate on a single project without having to worry about missing information or any inconsistencies across teams.
2. Material selection and consumption
Material selection is an important part of any sustainable construction project. Using traditional methods, it can be difficult to choose the right material for any building, but it’s even harder to choose locally sourced or eco-sensitive materials for sustainable construction.
The material choice for sustainable architecture depends on many factors, including material type, availability, related carbon emissions, current trends, and market prices. However, companies can use BIM to coordinate what goes well together. This allows them to reduce waste and improve sustainability in production.
BIM can help companies to identify opportunities for sustainable material through:
- Integrated models that give a complete picture of the project’s impact on the environment
- Detailed analysis of life-cycle impacts and carbon emissions
- Detailed analysis of costs associated with different options
One way that BIM can help companies identify opportunities for sustainable materials is by providing access to information about the material composition of the products they use. For example, if architects are looking at different options for a flooring project, BIM could tell them which floors are made with recycled content or locally sourced materials. This will give them more choices when selecting flooring options that align with their sustainability goals.
With BIM software, construction managers can select materials based on their properties rather than just price or availability. They can also coordinate material selection across multiple departments so that they’re using similar materials throughout the entire process. This reduces waste during production because each department only needs one item instead of several different ones with different purposes. It also improves sustainability since fewer resources are needed overall and there’s less excess material left over at the end.
3. Consideration of renewable and non-renewable energy sources
BIM helps architects incorporate renewable energy sources into buildings in a way that reduces waste and lowers the carbon footprint. This is because BIM allows them to see the building’s energy consumption at every stage of design and construction.
Architects and contractors can see where energy is being wasted and adjust accordingly. Not only does this reduce energy consumption and carbon footprint, but also makes it easier for them to incorporate renewable energy sources into buildings more effectively.
So how does this help with renewable energy sources? If a construction manager is considering using solar panels or wind turbines on their building, they can use BIM to see how much power those renewable energy sources will generate. They’ll be able to see how much electricity they will produce over time and how many people they might be able to power in that time frame.
Construction professionals can also use BIM to model the cost savings of using renewable energy sources over traditional fossil fuels. Plus, if they decide not to include any renewable energy sources in their design, BIM can help determine why that decision was made—and maybe even recommend ways to improve upon it.
4. Waste reduction
During the construction of a building, waste management becomes more challenging because many factors have the potential to go wrong. If there’s an error in production or shipping processes that result in a surplus of materials for an individual component, those extra products may end up going unused or getting thrown away. BIM allows everyone involved with construction—from architects and developers through contractors—to keep tabs on what’s going where so they don’t end up wasting anything unnecessarily during installation processes or after completion has been reached.
With BIM, construction managers can track the waste generated at each of these stages and take appropriate measures to reduce it. In addition, BIM can be used throughout the design phase of the project by tracking which materials are being used and making sure they’re being sourced from sustainable sources.
One of the biggest advantages of BIM is that it allows for automatic clash detection during building construction. Clash detection is when two objects in the project are “clashing” with one another—for example if a wall design is clashing with that of a flooring plan. When this happens, BIM alerts the architect so that they can fix it before it becomes an issue later on down the line. In the past, clash detection was done manually by people, and many times such clashes were not identified till it was too late in the construction process. With BIM, this process is automated reducing wastages and dependency on human intervention.
Sustainable architecture is the way forward, and BIM is the tool that will help achieve it. Not only do architects benefit from using BIM when designing sustainable buildings, but contractors can also use this software to reduce waste and improve their project management.
With Building Information Modeling (BIM), architects, developers, and contractors can enable sustainable architecture by generating multiple sustainable options during the design phase, helping with choosing the right materials for sustainable construction, identifying renewable energy sources, and reducing waste throughout the multiple phases of a construction project.