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Designing sustainability into a Project

Sustainability has to be designed into the project right at the very beginning for effective outcomes. Learn more in this step.
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© CIOB Academy

Various design and construction management strategies exist which can be used to drive economic sustainability in projects’ delivery, but as we have seen in the previous step, sustainability has to also be designed into the project right at the very beginning for effective outcomes.

We must consider that construction is only one part of a buildings costs, maintenance, operation and occupancy are also major considerations. For example, built environment professionals now conscious of post-construction running costs in terms of energy costs, are making efforts to assess the potential for alternative energy sources such as solar energy, and ensuring site optimisation and re-orientation in the direction where solar energy can easily be captured. Using stark effects and a passive ventilation system will avoid mechanical processes and hence, eliminate the use of energy. Also, increasing ceiling heights and using plants can also be used to enhance cooling, as heat is known to rise, and also to allow in daylight.

Similarly, plants and innovative designs are also used to cool the building, to reduce the amount of energy use, and thus to keep running costs to bare minimum. Secondly, executing sustainability site analysis will allow identification of materials that can be reused and recycled, resulting in large savings on building costs. This is particularly the case in the refurbishment of built assets. The economic sustainability pillar and the environmental pillar can be seen to be inextricably linked and complementary, as economic sustainability measures also enhance environmental sustainability and vice versa; thus, synergies can be found between actions under the two pillars.

Other strategies which include the use of Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA), and Building Information Modelling (BIM) are used to achieve economic sustainability. Life-cycle cost analysis (LCCA) is a method for assessing the total cost of facility ownership. It takes into account all costs of acquiring, owning, and disposing of a building or building system. LCCA is especially useful when project alternatives that fulfill the same performance requirements, but differ with respect to initial costs and operating costs, have to be compared in order to select the one that maximizes net savings. For example, LCCA will help determine whether the incorporation of a high-performance HVAC or glazing system, which may increase initial cost but result in dramatically reduced operating and maintenance costs, is cost-effective or not. LCCA is not useful for budget allocation, but is a straightforward and easy-to-interpret measure of economic evaluation.

Building Information Modelling is a broad term that describes the process of creating and managing digital information about a built asset such as a building, bridge, highway, tunnel and so on. The data can include all the physical and functional characteristics of a structure shared in a common data environment and used to make decisions throughout a project’s lifecycle; from conception to operation and occupation.

In relation to BIM, this article and this one highlight that with regards to sustainability, BIM has the potential for positive impacts on time, cost and quality. For example, BIM can improve quality management, scheduling, project management, design validation, risk of loss prevention, on-time project completion and effective resource management. This is due to BIM projects allowing the pooling of technical, operational, construction and manufacturing knowledge in order to share data, and centralise collaboration and project co-ordination. Environmental and social benefits were also identified. For example, BIM projects use of digital design and visualisation also make it easier to compare alternative options, allowing environmental and visual impacts to be assessed.

Have you any experience of BIM? Please share your thoughts.

© CIOB Academy
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Sustainable Construction and Development

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