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FS57 - A Study to embed sustainability into BIM

Written by: CIC Start Online

"A Study to embed sustainability into BIM" by the University of Dundee and ProCenseo Limited


Building Information Models in their most primitive form are no more than three-dimensional models of buildings which allow properties to be attributed to elements or components of the design. They have been available for more than 20 years in this basic form.

There are three levels of BIM “BIM - Management for value, cost and carbon improvement” (A report for the Government Construction Client Group Building Information Modelling Working Party Strategy Group, March 2011). Level 1 is essentially managed 2D and 3D CAD with a collaboration tool providing a common data environment, but data is managed by standalone packages with no integration. Level 2 is a managed 3D environment held in separate tools with attached data. Integration is on the basis of proprietary interfaces. Level 3 is a fully open process and data integration enabled by web services. At the far end of level 3 is lifecycle asset management.

A flurry of interest has been generated by the UK Government’s intention to make the use of BIM Level 2 compulsory in all public works procured after 2016 . It is now recognised that the strength of BIM lies not solely in the technology, but in the way it allows information to be shared and fosters collaborative working amongst the various, disparate members of the design, construction and facilities management teams.

Procenseo is a market leader in Building Information Modelling. Procenseo’s data model software is robust, flexible, easy to use, powerful and visually attractive. Procenseo’s data model creates 3-D objects from CAD drawings. Its geometry is assured by focussing on the properties of the spaces it creates. Developed in Microsoft .NET using object-oriented programming, any attribute can be associated with any object.

Although promoted as a space management tool, the properties of Procenseo’s data model software would allow its use as an asset management tool. It has already been widely used to calculate the energy used during the operational phase of a building’s life.

Since 2004, the University of Dundee have been working on various research projects in the field of sustainability of the built environment and its assessment including the EPSRC-funded SUE-MoT project (2004-2008) and SURegen project (2008-present). One of the key finding is the development of a novel approach to sustainability assessment “An Integrated Sustainability Assessment Toolkit (ISAT)”. The core of the ISAT is the development of a comprehensive, relevant and manageable set of sustainability impacts. The identification and the selection of the set of impacts followed a rigorous process of filtering and testing. The 900 plus sustainability indicators revealed by a world-wide comprehensive literature review have been narrowed down to 19 impacts. This reduces considerably the amount of data that is required to effect a comprehensive assessment of the sustainability of a building. It should be noted that these impacts cover all three dimensions of sustainability: environmental, social and economic.

This study will seek to determine the feasibility of creating a sustainability assessment functionality within Procenseo’s data model. Such an outcome will allow users to explore how different designs and maintenance and operating strategies affect all three dimensions of sustainability (economic, environmental and social) throughout the life of an asset. It is therefore focussed on iBIM or BIM Level 3. This project will be limited to iBIM at the building level.

There are seven strands which will be explored in this feasibility study:

  1. 1. Understand the Procenseo software and determine the sustainability indicators that the software is already measuring.
  2. 2. Develop the workflow which will highlight the integration of Procenseo software and ISAT.
  3. 3. Identify and formalise the data required to conduct a sustainability assessment of a building, both at the component level (eg embodied energy in blockwork in internal partitions) and at the system level (eg operational energy consumed throughout the asset’s life).
  4. 4. Develop the concept of structuring suitable databases in which to store the necessary data.
  5. 5. Assess the feasibility of developing the functionality of data capture systems to allow the BIM to be used throughout an asset’s life to track and optimise its performance
  6. 6. Examine the alternative reporting formats that can express the sustainability of the building in a consistent and meaningful way.
  7. 7. Develop a framework for re-configuring Procenseo’s data model to provide the additional functionality required.
  8. 8. Investigate the route to market for the combined tool.

Key words: new buildings, domestic buildings, non-domestic buildings, BIM


Prof. Malcolm Horner, University of Dundee

For ProCenseo Ltd

The outputs of this study will be disseminated in due course.




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