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What is Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Why it Matters

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What is Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Why it Matters

Advancing construction through digitalisation and efficiency

Welcome to the first article in our series exploring how the Energy Technology List (ETL) aims to align with Building Information Modelling (BIM) and why this matters. The series will look into the details of BIM, its benefits, and how integrating BIM’s principles can help on the journey to Net Zero. 

BIM spans from the initial design to the lifecycle management of buildings, ensuring that all stakeholders—from architects and engineers to contractors and owners—work effectively and in unison. 

Initiatives like the ETL are embracing BIM due to its potential to drive significant advancements in energy efficiency and sustainability. 

What is BIM? 

BIM is a collaborative process that allows various construction professionals to plan, design, and construct buildings within a unified 3D model.  

This model goes beyond 3D representations by integrating intelligent objects that store rich data, enabling dynamic updates and ensuring consistency throughout the project lifecycle. When any element within the BIM model is altered, the software updates the model automatically to reflect these changes, maintaining a coordinated and consistent design. 

Historically, construction relied on blueprints and 2D drawings, which posed significant challenges in visualising dimensions and requirements. The arrival of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) introduced digital drafting, which eventually evolved into 3D CAD, offering more realistic visualisations.  

BIM is the next step in this evolution, integrating data-rich objects into 3D models to support enhanced collaboration and efficiency. 

BIM levels 

BIM is structured into various levels, each representing a degree of collaboration and information integration: 

  • Level 0: At this level, construction relies on paper-based drawings and/or digital prints with zero collaboration. It represents the traditional approach with minimal digital integration. 

  • Level 1: This involves using 2D construction drawings alongside some 3D modelling. While 3D CAD is used for conceptual work, 2D is still predominant for detailed drawings. Data is managed in a common data environment (CDE) but without significant collaboration. 

  • Level 2: Marked by the use of separate 3D models by different teams, Level 2 requires data exchange through standardised file formats like IFC or COBie. This level mandates collaboration, reducing rework and increasing efficiency. 

  • Level 3: Here, all stakeholders work within a single, shared project model in a central environment, promoting full collaboration and minimising clashes. This level is also known as Open BIM. 

  • Level 4-6: These advanced levels incorporate additional dimensions to the 3D Model like time, cost, and energy consumption, enhancing project planning, budget management, and sustainability. 

Benefits of BIM 

 The integration of BIM in construction projects brings numerous benefits: 

  1. Enhanced Collaboration: By enabling all stakeholders to work on a shared model, BIM fosters improved communication and coordination, reducing the likelihood of errors and rework. 

  1. Efficiency and Cost Savings: BIM streamlines the design and construction process, minimising delays and cost overruns through better planning and visualisation. 

  1. Sustainability: BIM Level 6 facilitates accurate predictions of energy consumption, helping to design energy efficient and sustainable buildings – particularly relevant to the ETL. 

  1. Lifecycle Management: BIM's data-rich models are invaluable for managing the operation and maintenance of buildings, providing a comprehensive digital twin that supports long-term asset management. 

BIM and the ETL 

 The ETL’s contribution to the UK’s Net Zero target aligns nicely with BIM due to it enabling the design and construction of energy efficient buildings. The data-driven approach of BIM ensures that energy consumption is considered from the early design stages, leading to buildings that are not only efficient in construction but also in operation. 

The ETL scheme helps UK businesses and the public sector to make greener energy choices. It’s free to use and backed by the UK Government’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ). As one of the world’s largest databases of energy-saving technology, it provides easy access to around 8,000 tested and stringently assessed energy efficient products. 

The ETL recognises the importance of integrating advanced technologies like BIM to achieve sustainability goals. By adopting BIM, construction projects can better meet the criteria set out by the ETL, ensuring that buildings are designed and operated with energy efficiency in mind. 

Stay tuned for the next part of our series, where we'll dive deeper into how BIM practices can be incorporated within the ETL.  

As a government-funded program, the ETL is poised to support the government's strategy in implementing BIM across the UK. With the technologies listed on the ETL playing crucial roles in UK building projects, they are inherently in scope of BIM. By collecting and publishing product information used within the digital description of built assets, the ETL can contribute significantly to the implementation of BIM strategies, fostering collaboration and efficiency in the construction industry. Meaning that the ETL is currently exploring the integration of BIM objects directly onto its website, enhancing accessibility and usability for designers and stakeholders alike. 

For manufacturers, showcasing your innovative energy efficient products with ETL accreditation builds trust and expands your audience reach. Our straightforward application process includes support at every step including a helpful YouTube video

For purchasers, the ETL helps you make informed decisions with confidence. Use our easy-to-navigate platform to compare and source energy efficient products that meet Government Buying Standards (GBS). Rest assured that ETL-listed products are among the top 25% most energy efficient in the market in their class. Find out more with our YouTube video aimed specifically at purchasers

Whether you’re a manufacturer or a purchaser, the ETL provides comprehensive data, insights, and tools on a variety of energy efficient technology to support your journey to Net Zero.  

Visit the ETL today