BIM & Energy Efficiency: what are the uses and advantages for existing buildings?

11 May 2018 by Snapkin


If the adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) into the new-build segment is by now obvious, the use of this collaborative work methodology for renovation projects is also necessary for optimizing the energy efficiency of existing buildings. The building industry is the largest consumer of energy in France (representing 46% of energy consumption nation-wide), and alone accounts for more than 25% of greenhouse gases emitted. The real estate sector therefore has a great responsibility regarding energy, and with the increase of this sector’s CO2 emissions, it’s more than imperative to reverse this trend.

A digital model for energy efficiency

The use of BIM for existing buildings makes it possible to predict their thermal, acoustic or energy performance. The starting point for every BIM project is the creation of a digital twin of the building in question. This serves as a point of collaboration for all trades working throughout the lifecycle of the building. But the 3D/BIM model has, above all, the ability to store key information regarding the building. This data is varied and can contain elements of the DOE, the types of materials used in constructing a wall, the results of initial energy calculations or even information related to building maintenance such as, for example, the date and results of boiler inspections. The emergence of connected objects is also a victory for Smart Buildings, whose data can be integrated into the 3D model. Finally, the digital model proves to be an excellent decision-support tool, to be used, for example, as a means of performing thermal insulation simulations before beginning work.

What are the advantages for maintenance and use?

If the 3D/BIM model and its associated database can’t alone reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it is nevertheless a way to contribute significantly to its reduction. Often thought of as a building’s health insurance card, the digital model is a powerful coordination tool. Using the information contained within, it promotes a better understanding of the building. The massive renovation of existing French buildings will require the efficient collaboration of a large number of stakeholders, and will be essential for avoiding large wastes of time and money. Moreover, augmenting the model with information linked to maintenance and building use will allow for better energy efficiency. It is indeed when it’s being used that a building consumes the most energy (heating, air conditioning, lighting, ventilation, etc.). By using BIM in the real estate sector, preventative maintenance can be carried out, consumption monitoring applications can be thought out, and operations can be easily tracked.