Building Simulation: An International Journal

Article Title

Integrating building information modelling with sustainability to design building projects at the conceptual stage


green buildings, sustainability, BIM, LCA, EI, LEED certification system and construction cost estimating


Lately the construction industry has become more interested in designing and constructing environmentally friendly buildings (e.g. sustainable buildings) that can provide both high performance and monetary savings. In general, sustainability integrates the following three related components: (1) environmental, (2) economic, (3) social well-being. Incorporating these components at the conceptual stage is achieved by using sustainable design, through which designers must identify associated materials and systems based on any selected certification (rating) system. The use of building information modelling (BIM) concepts helps engineers design digital models that allow owners to visualize the building before the physical implementation takes place. To apply BIM concepts, designers use tools to create 3D models of buildings where the design materials and systems are selected from the built-in database of these tools. Designers will not be able to quantify the environmental impacts of these materials to support the decisions needed to design sustainable buildings due to the following reasons: (1) a lack of information about the sustainable materials that are stored in the database, (2) a lack of interoperability between the design and analysis tools that enable full life cycle assessments (LCAs) of buildings. This paper presents a methodology that integrates BIM and LCA tools with a database for designing sustainable building projects. The methodology describes the development and implementation of a model that incorporates a database in which information about sustainable materials is stored and linked to a BIM (3D) module along with an LCA module and a certification and cost module. The goal of this model is to simplify the process of creating sustainable designs and to evaluate the environmental impacts (EI) of newly designed buildings at the conceptual stage of their life. An actual building project is presented in order to illustrate the usefulness and capabilities of the developed model.


Tsinghua University Press