Can BIM unlock Britain's net-zero future?

The UK has confirmed its ambitions to achieving a net-zero future and the built environment has a big role to play in this as it accounts for a third of the UK’s carbon emissions and 59% of total waste.

Construction targets have been set for 2025 that include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50%. The government is investing £170m of public funding so that we can develop digital and offsite manufacturing technologies through a Transforming Construction Programme. The private sector has matched this by providing £250m.

Now for BIM

When looking at activities that contribute to high amounts of construction waste and low operating efficiencies, the onus must be on pre-construction. Late-stage design changes can end in significant rework and poor material optimisation.

The opportunity is there to benefit from new materials and technologies in order to improve in this area. Due to the sector being poor at implementing new technologies as well as inefficient information management, it is not best placed to be able to do this.

Digital ways of thinking are required because of the complexity and cost of new construction methods and materials needed for low carbon construction. Thinking digitally will align our projects and workforce to net-zero objectives as well as having an environment-first mindset.

A culture shift can be achieved through increased collaboration with stakeholders, inefficiencies can be highlighted through early engagement and a greater visibility of information.

Ensuring that waste is minimised and managed throughout the infrastructure lifecycle can be made possible with BIM-enabled technology. The creation of digital twins will offer real-time performance monitoring and support improving efficiency and design in construction.

From bespoke solutions to BIM-enabled prefabrication

BIM is perfect for the increased adoption of offsite manufacturing; this improves the quality of building components and reduces their costs whilst minimising waste. Prefabrication and recycling can help to reduce 80% of construction waste as well as a third of concrete usage.

By providing information relating to the design and construction of building components to offsite manufacturers in a format that is machine-readable, the need for human intervention in the process is negated meaning a faster and more accurate flow of information can be passed between all parties. If the quality of information is improved, offsite manufacturers will be able to minimise the waste of components when they are in production. With the right support, the benefits could be exponential e.g., simulating clash detection in a virtual environment before producing potential waste.

BIM and a green future

Change to the construction industry’s culture has to be enabled by BIM as it helps to foster increased collaboration and the introduction of technology. By realising the benefits BIM brings, the UK can become a world leader in customer-focused, value-driven construction that is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

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