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Improve energy consumption with BIM

How Building Information Modelling (BIM) can help you reduce your carbon footprint, and drastically improve efficiency.

How does BIM improve building performance and create a sustainable, energy efficient development fit for the 21st century?

BIM (Building Information Modelling) is more than 3D designs. By augmenting existing manual processes with digital technology, BIM allows you to fully understand a building model. This includes all information associated with building components, how buildings are constructed, and how they will be maintained during their lifetime. 

BIM brings component information together at an earlier stage of a construction project. This encourages greater collaboration with project information, allowing you to update practices and develop more realistic building models. The BIM modelling process defines:

  • Performance properties
  • Physical characteristics
  • Appearance
  • Functionality
  • Operation and maintenance information
  • Costing information

BIM adds extra dimensions to a building model by gathering ‘intelligence’ as information is created, captured, analysed, and shared. BIM data allows for analysis of three additional dimensions beyond the traditional 3D building model. Time analysis is the fourth dimension (4D), cost management is 5D, and facilities management is 6D.

What are BIM levels?

The adoption and implementation of BIM can be quite difficult for a traditional company to initiate successfully. So, three milestone levels have been introduced to enable a progressive transformation:

Why exactly is BIM important?

BIM provides benefits for all your construction projects:

  • Reduction of design errors, by making it easier to identify problems before a construction starts, reducing cost and time by eliminating rework
  • Reducing conflicts and design clashes, which would otherwise result in construction changes, saving on construction costs and time
  • Construction of sustainable buildings, using materials that could decrease environmental impacts, reducing energy use
  • Efficiency improvements for maintenance and operation companies. By having historical design data instantly available, up to 15% can be saved on maintenance time and fewer costly site visits 

The essence of BIM is collaboration. Every stakeholder is working to the same processes, standards, using the same information at every stage of the project.

This will provide an opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency of building designs, as well as to strengthen working relationships between stakeholders.

Collaboration in construction

The UK Construction Strategy 2025 report was issued as part of the government’s programme for: “modernisation of the construction sector [to make it more competitive] by reducing capital costs and its carbon burden from the construction and operation of the built environment by 20%.”

Intelligent, green buildings

Green buildings are designed to be environmentally responsible and resource-efficient. To maintain ongoing sustainability, green buildings also need to be intelligent. They will use high technology and processes to create a comfortable environment for their occupants. They will also be operationally energy efficient and adaptable to future environmental changes.

BIM for improving efficiency

Developers are particularly interested in optimisation of building efficiencies so that they can design sustainable buildings. They also want to know how the building will perform after commissioning, and how it will operate throughout its lifetime. 

Perhaps the most important contribution to sustainability is using BIM to eliminate waste throughout the building’s lifecycle.

Modern, high-tech, intelligent buildings are complex models comprising many systems and processes which interact with each other. Most buildings have become so complex that they require a BMS (Building Management System) to collect, analyse and interpret how energy efficient a building really is. As more information regarding the performance of ‘intelligent objects’ is added, BIM can be used with a BMS to create a highly-accurate energy model.

BIM, energy assessments and planning permission

The UK planning approval process now requires an energy strategy and a sustainability statement for all new developments and refurbishment fit-outs. 

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Methodology) is a recognised method used to indicate a proposal’s energy efficiency and sustainability. The scheme recognises the use of BIM Level 2 in projects, awarding credits as evidence towards BREEAM compliance.

These are:

  • Lifecycle impacts: using BIM compliant assessment software tools (BREEAM category Mat 01)
  • Material efficiency: using BIM drawings and calculations to demonstrate the reduction of material use through design (Mat 06)
  • Construction waste management: using BIM to identify waste minimisation opportunities (Wst 01)

It is essential that a building’s actual performance is monitored and measured once operational. This provides feedback that can be used in future designs and specifications, improving the predictability of BIM processes.

Reducing energy use

Around 40% of the EU’s total energy consumption and CO2 emissions is produced from energy used in buildings. In the UK nearly half of emissions come from energy used to generate heat for buildings.

BIM processes and data help eliminate areas of energy waste during the building design phase. Energy efficiency measures, such as smart controls, are designed before construction to reduce building heat losses and increase energy efficiency. If overall energy demand can be reduced, smaller building services or facilities may be supplied from on-site or decentralised energy efficient sources, such as low-carbon technology.

When it comes to designing cost-effective and efficient central energy plants, objective 3.10 of the CIBSE code of practice for heat networks CP1 identifies BIM techniques and 3D visualisation as the best practice framework.

Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is the cogeneration of electricity and heat energy from a single source. As a low-carbon energy efficient technology it is suitable for both on-site and central energy use. Ideal for reducing lifetime energy consumption for a new building.

Using energy profiles, models and BIM data to establish a reliable heat demand for a building will ensure that the Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system can be specified for optimal performance, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and energy costs.

Takeaways:

  • BIM level 2 is now mandatory for public sector construction projects
  • Use the ‘intelligence’ of BIM to understand collaborative building design models
  • BIM will remove design errors, reduce design conflicts, and provide more sustainable building designs before work begins
  • Use BIM to assess and improve your building’s energy efficiency in advance.
  • Energy efficient buildings can take advantage of low-carbon energy technology, such as Combined Heat and Power (CHP)

Discover how leveraging BIM processes for energy efficiency can help you build an efficient development, reduce your carbon footprint, and correctly size low-carbon technology.  Download the BIM guide below: