With growing demand for BIM from customers and investors, the practice of implementing models into project planning is moving the design and construction industry away from a linear outlook to a life cycle approach. The use of BIM makes life cycle cost analysis easier and more reliable, allowing firms to take a long-term holistic approach to project decision-making that considers the cost, environmental and social impacts of materials, equipment and technology not only now, but also in the future.

The benefits of BIM are wide-ranging for both larger firms and smaller contractors. By introducing more efficient ways of carrying out common tasks, BIM is taking a prominent role in supporting lean practices and the search for greener solutions. For example, BIM promotes project sustainability when combined with environmental project data. This practice, called Green BIM, is becoming increasingly crucial for sustainable construction.

More generally, BIM provides several key benefits to project stakeholders, including better information sharing and collaboration, improved life cycle efficiency, reduced carbon footprints and waste, and enhanced facilities management.

BIM offers added value to projects by allowing for the development of integrated multi-discipline building models, which relevant stakeholders create in close cooperation at the start of the project. When combined with the ability to share information quickly and easily, this collaborative approach means owners, users and key suppliers can work simultaneously on the design, resulting in better informed decision-making. In turn, this leads to better performing buildings and infrastructure, as complex information is combined for key decisions made early in the design stage.

Life Cycle Performance
BIM also can be used to model a project’s energy performance. This helps businesses identify choices that optimize the building’s life cycle energy efficiency during the design phase, when changes can be made without incurring high costs. By allowing revisions to be made at this early stage, project teams can achieve technical and cost-effective compliance with relevant building codes or baselines. BIM models also can be used to carry out energy simulations, which can provide vital direction when designing buildings to meet specific energy targets.  

Carbon Footprints
During the design phase, BIM can be used to calculate a project’s carbon footprint and identify low-carbon, economical design features, which contributes to a reduced carbon footprint and helps deliver cost-effective green buildings.

The insights gained from BIM tools also can help generate greater awareness of green building across the industry. By working with suppliers and contractors to identify carbon-intensive construction materials, businesses can ensure their supply chains understand the project requirements and are challenged to develop or adopt lower-carbon products.

Waste Management
Another benefit of BIM is the role it can play in minimizing construction waste through accurate procurement of construction materials. Project information, such as materials dimensions, characteristics and environmental ratings, can be imported into the model to enable the procurement team to more accurately estimate the quantities required. This tends to be better than conventional estimation techniques, which often result in inefficiencies such as a greater number of jobsite deliveries and pick-ups, as well as unnecessary costs associated with surplus materials and waste disposal.

Facilities Management
BIM also can provide support during the operational lifespan of buildings by supplying vast amounts of information to the facilities management team and allowing this data to be easily updated, modified and extrapolated during the building’s operation. The models also ensure no building component is overlooked during maintenance routines, which means contractual obligations are fulfilled and operational performance is optimized in terms of energy, water and materials.

By offering added value through improved collaboration, life cycle efficiencies, reduced carbon footprints, waste reduction and enhanced facilities management, BIM can help businesses improve building performance while reducing risks and life cycle costs. Although evidence of these benefits is still being collected, the impact of BIM already is being recognized across the industry. 

Tiina Koppinen is Skanska’s business development director in Finland and a member of Skanska’s Global Knowledge Board. For more information, visit www.skanska.com.