The link between BIM and a sustainable future

By Giulia Pustorino, Regional Lead for Cumbria, UK and BIM Architect, Align Property Partners

By 2030, all new buildings must operate at net zero carbon. Can you imagine any better ally than BIM to achieve this goal?

Since the beginning of my studies, I have had a keen interest in sustainability. The idea to reduce the impact that construction has on the environment always intrigued me.

Sustainability is a philosophy that affects every aspect of the design and construction phases, as well as the ongoing maintenance and operation of the building going forward.

As a designer, I want to think about the concept of sustainable construction far beyond installing energy-efficient mechanical systems or making sure the client chooses LED lighting for their new building. I believe that with our projects, we can make the difference to drive eco-friendly behaviours.

I never found a way to be effective until I came across BIM. There are many analogies between BIM and sustainability, including the idea that the creative process is not a flight of fancy but a rigorous process of evaluation that takes into account the need to work creatively within various constraints. A rigorous process of evaluation gives the possibility to look at constraints as an opportunity that will help to design comfortable and energy efficient buildings for the people to live in.

BIM methodology presents a “preferred” design process, where sufficient time and resources are dedicated to the initial pre-design and schematic design stages when the cost of variations is still low, and impact on aesthetics and functional capabilities very high. In the early stage of the design, the BIM process relies on creating prototype models that contain the right information to help make better engineering decisions.

The implementation of BIM methodology gives the possibility to use energy modelling to inform decision making from the concept stage onwards.

Nowadays, innovation is essential, and design for climate emergency is not negotiable. Both BIM methodology and sustainability are asking for a new mind-set among the construction sector.

BIM gives us the tools to focus on each aspect of the project that influence our design, and the possibility to look at the project with a wide view. Using a correct BIM process, we are able to know the cost and energy implication for each solution that we design, and therefore eliminate the need for ad-hoc solutions during the construction phase.

BIM is at the heart of the project’s collaborative approach across teams, and it will lead to a low-carbon design, which delivers better economic and quality value.

BIM is the technology that will allow designers to make the world a better place.