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How Skanska Uses Building Information Modeling to Design Better Buildings

By Lauren Rowe, IMS Consulting

The demand for green building has been growing across the industry and evidence of sustainable features is now a requirement for many construction contracts. This has helped to drive the uptake of BIM in order to promote project sustainability from idea inception through to operations, maintenance and renovation. For Skanska, a leading green project developer and contractor, using BIM tools results in better performing buildings through life cycle efficiency, carbon footprint reductions, and enhanced facilities management.

Skanska calls this its Journey to Deep Green. The goal of the journey is to promote a more sustainable society by improving Skanska’s project and service performance, moving the company toward near-zero environmental impact. BIM and Life Cycle Costing (LCC) analyses are both vital tools to help implement this vision throughout project design, construction, operation and maintenance phases. LCC, supported by BIM, allows Skanska to take a long term and holistic approach to project decision-making that considers the cost and environmental impact of materials, equipment and technology not only now, but in the future.

Better collaboration

One way in which BIM contributes to Skanska’s journey is by allowing for the development of integrated multi-discipline building models - designs developed in close cooperation with relevant project stakeholders from the start. This collaborative approach means various stakeholders are able to work simultaneously on the design. It also provides an opportunity for the owner, users, municipalities, key suppliers and design teams to be involved in the process. The result is better performing buildings and infrastructure because complex information is combined to allow informed decisions to be made early in the design stage. BIM can also promote new and innovative methods for cooperation and interaction between these various stakeholders throughout the construction process.

Improved life cycle efficiency

BIM can also be used to model a project’s energy performance. This helps businesses to identify choices that optimise the building’s lifecycle energy efficiency during the early design phase, when changes can be made without incurring high costs.

Skanska is pioneering the use of BIM and LCC to cost effectively facilitate the holistic and integrated design, construction and maintenance of low-energy and nearly Zero Energy Buildings. For example, at the Härmälänranta residential development in Finland, Skanska used BIM energy modeling techniques to conduct LCC analyses in order to identify design options with the lowest lifecycle costs over a 40-year period.

BIM was also used together with project partners during the design of the energy-positive Powerhouse One development in Trondheim, Norway. BIM models and 3D geometry were used to orientate the direction and inclination of the roof to the sun in order to optimize energy generation from solar power systems. The roof orientation and building footprint were then used to design the envelope and the building interior.

Reducing carbon footprints

The application of BIM is not limited to energy modeling. When conducted during the design phase, BIM-based carbon footprinting analyses allow informed decisions to be made from the start. This can contribute to a reduced embodied carbon footprint and help to deliver cost effective green buildings.

Skanska uses BIM to calculate a project’s carbon footprint, and identify and build in low-carbon, cost-effective design features. During the New Karolinska Solna Hospital project, BIM was used to calculate lifecycle risks over Skanska’s 28-year operation and maintenance contract, including the regular upkeep of components and the periodical replacement of larger equipment. The models are also used in energy simulations for the building, which will support the project in achieving its ambitious energy targets.

Additionally, the insights gained from BIM tools can help to generate greater awareness of green building across the industry. For example, working together with suppliers, Skanska has used BIM to initiate a project to reduce embodied carbon emissions in its supply chain. By identifying carbon intensive construction materials and sharing this information with suppliers, Skanska can ensure that its supply chain understands its requirements and is challenged to develop lower-carbon products.

Enhancing facilities management

BIM can also provide support during the operational lifespan of buildings. Using BIM can make facilities management more efficient and cost-effective by making vast amounts of information available to the facilities management team and allowing this to be easily updated, modified and extrapolated during the building’s operation to obtain accurate and timely data. The models also ensure that no building component is overlooked during maintenance routines, which means that contractual obligations are fulfilled and operational performance is promoted in terms of energy, water and materials.

The advantages of using BIM in green building are significant and the role it plays in helping to deliver cost effective, energy efficient buildings with lower carbon footprints and enhanced facilities management is gaining recognition across the industry. For Skanska, BIM is an important tool for implementing its Journey to Deep Green across all of its projects and contracts, helping to build a sustainable business and inspire its customers to do the same.

[Image credit: NKS, Skanska]

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