GeoBIM for Digital Architecture: Integrated GIS and BIM Technologies for Sustainable Project Delivery in the AEC Industry | Geospatial World
The rapid expansion of global infrastructure resulting in accelerated construction and engineering projects demands a comprehensive assessment of the AEC industry’s role in global sustainability goals. Presently, the AEC industry’s contribution towards natural resource extraction and waste generation is estimated at around 30% of the global figures. The built environment has also been found to be the primary contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, with about 36% of global energy use and 39% of CO2 emissions as per the World Green Building Council.
Needless to say, the AEC industry requires sustainable project delivery models to curtail material waste, energy, and fuel consumption.
Project owners and operators primarily drive sustainability in the AEC industry, contracting firms, and the local governments regulating construction development. These stakeholders influence the process and can set up project delivery models aimed at sustainable project outcomes. However, the AEC industry faces significant challenges in project delivery performance and mismanagement of resource utilization, often resulting in increased project costs and durations, and wastage.
Recent studies by McKinsey on efficient project delivery performance have shown a direct correlation between digitalization and a significant reduction in actual project costs and durations by 30%-50% and a doubling of project returns.
Challenges & Benefits of Sustainable Project Delivery
Project management outcomes targeted at sustainability focus on prevention, reuse, and management of waste, leading to reduced ramifications on the natural environment. However, these strategies are mutually exclusive due to the difference in long-term environmental benefits and short-term economic objectives. Sustainable project delivery is a process-driven approach aimed at providing a structured workflow and combining the project goals in terms of social, environmental, and economic performance.
Sustainable construction outcomes require an updated project delivery model, with a framework capable of addressing decade-old industry challenges, including the lack of integrated systems, prioritization of short-term cost management over long-term outcomes, poor stakeholders’ communication, and rigid planning & design systems that are unable to adapt to dynamic project demands. Industry experts have embraced digitalized project management to overcome such challenges, with integrated digital solutions, including BIM, GIS, and 4IR solutions aimed at targeted interventions in the project lifecycle, predicting outcomes, a unified platform for project innovation, and achieving sustainability goals.
Integrated GIS and BIM Technologies for Project Quality Management
As sustainable construction outcomes are tied to a process-driven approach of project management, industry leaders in the AEC market have opted alternative approaches to project delivery including Top Quality Management (TQM), which is considered more process-oriented as compared to traditional management systems which are results-oriented. TQM prioritises project quality, flexibility and adaptability, which act as catalysts to sustainable project delivery. Furthermore, TQM ensures quality & productivity with innovation and adoption of new technology.
Studies have acknowledged the role of TQM in the improvement of core production activities, while mitigating project waste and improved coordination through data sharing within the firm. Approaches like TQM can turn out to be successful through the use of data-driven operations (robust digital architecture), and efficient project monitoring platforms. An integrated GIS and BIM platform, or GEOBIM, supports the development of the digital architecture for a single source of truth pertaining to project information and facilitates real-time progress monitoring besides data-driven decision-making.
Benchmarking Project Data using Integrated GIS and BIM Technologies
Project data benchmarking is a primary component of effective quality management practices in the construction sector. Besides, benchmarking also assists the industry in the identification of best construction practices that can support a firm’s vision of sustainable construction performance. However, it is crucial for project stakeholders to adopt technologies to track, record and analyse project workflows, and to develop benchmark measurements for continuous quality improvement. Integrated GIS and BIM technologies can seamlessly interconnect data between worksites, workers and equipment, thus creating a free flow of information across the project lifecycle.
Project Quality Inspection using Integrated GIS and BIM Technologies
Project progress monitoring is important in sustainable project delivery, and it is crucial to incorporate quality inspection and identification of the requisite quality tolerance as part of progress monitoring in the early stages of the project lifecycle itself.
Quality inspection is the process of checking planned work against actual work on-site for checking clash detection, for instance, as well as inspection of as-built elements during the design-to-execution stage. Project stakeholders must frequently conduct inspections on sites to ensure compliance with quality standards, and to drive sustainable project delivery. Integrated GIS and BIM technologies provide digital support for design compliance evaluation, with an array of solutions in the form of non-intrusive measures aimed at:
- Architectural assessment (architectural design, structural calculations etc.,)
- Assessment of technical installations (dimensions, energy consumption etc.,)
- III. Assessment of health and safety on-site, and
- Environmental impact assessments.
Integrated GIS and BIM technologies also enable risk analysis and provide enhanced support for the tracking and tracing of construction site activities. Presently, several C&E companies have embraced such digitalization solutions to achieve improved productivity and to leverage the power of data-producing computing technologies in workers, machines, and materials.
Such integrated digital platforms have resulted in an impressive 25% improvement in efficient consumption of fuel on-site, a 15% increase in productivity, and a 10% increase in machine productivity enabling project stakeholders to achieve sustainable outcomes.