Growth in Green Building Use Expected to Drive Use of BIM Tools, Says McGraw-Hill Construction Study

The growth of the green building market will drive adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, according to a new SmartMarket Report, Green BIM: How Building Information Modeling is Contributing to Green Design and Construction, released by McGraw-Hill Construction. Produced in collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), Autodesk, and several other industry organizations, the report provides information on two construction industry trends: green building and BIM, known as “Green BIM.”

“Green building is already transforming design and construction in the United States, and BIM has the potential to increase innovation—and design and construction efficiency,” said Harvey Bernstein, vice president, global thought leadership and business development, McGraw-Hill Construction. “Therefore, the intersection of BIM tool use with sustainability goals is a powerful practice that can be truly transformative in increasing industry productivity.”

According to McGraw Hill Construction, only 17 percent of Green BIM practitioners are currently realizing more than 50 percent of BIM’s potential for their green goals, but a sharp increase in Green BIM use is expected in the near future.

“The report reveals the share of activity where BIM is being applied to help achieve sustainability goals, showing the fact that this is still a nascent emerging trend,” Bernstein added. “However, the future outlook is dramatic: 78 percent of the survey respondents who aren’t currently using BIM on green building projects expect to do so within just three years. That’s a significant increase.”

The report captures perspectives on the future of Green BIM from a wide range of experts, as well as case studies that demonstrate Green BIM’s contributions to achieving sustainable outcomes.

“Green and BIM have been the two most dynamic trends in our industry,” said Steve Jones, who leads McGraw-Hill Construction’s BIM initiatives. “Although they have been growing independently, it was inevitable that they would converge because the analysis and simulation capabilities of modeling are such a natural fit with the objectives of green building. This report establishes a baseline for the state of that evolution and points the way towards further exciting developments.”

McGraw Hill Construction also notes that current users who practice Green BIM also report intensive use of BIM. Nearly half (49 percent) of Green BIM practitioners use BIM on more than 50 percent of their projects, compared to approximately one quarter (28 percent) of non-Green BIM companies. Green BIM practitioners are also more intensive users of the software since they both create and analyze models more frequently than non-Green BIM companies.

According to prior McGraw-Hill Construction studies, energy efficiency is the most often cited green building benefit, yielding significant cost-savings over a building’s full lifecycle, and Green BIM is no exception. The study expects strong growth for energy performance simulation tools in particular: 95 percent of firms practicing BIM for green projects will do energy performance simulations within two years, compared with 73 percent now; and 79 percent of firms using BIM (but not focused on green projects) will conduct the simulations, compared to 21 percent currently.

Energy efficiency is also an important tenet of the USGBC’s LEED certification.

“At the core of every successful LEED project is a project team that practices integrated design,” said Brendan Owens, vice president of LEED Technical Development, USGBC. “BIM provides an essential tool that supports integrated design, and to that end, will be extremely helpful in advancing this important concept. The ability to integrate BIM with LEED Online will move that idea faster and further.”

Data presented in the report are drawn from a McGraw-Hill Construction survey of design firms, contractors and other major construction industry players in the United States who already use BIM. The report aims to determine how often, when and why they are using BIM on green projects, and provides a portrait of firms that are already Green BIM practitioners in contrast to typical BIM users, as well as insights into how they use BIM to achieve their green goals and what they anticipate the future to hold.

The report is available free online.