As BIM manager at Orms I have seen significant changes in the way that BIM supports our holistic approach to design. Great design goes beyond the ordinary and to achieve our aspirations, in an increasingly complex world, BIM is at the heart of our complimentary processes that help to deliver more sustainable buildings for our clients.
As a practice, we are at the forefront of the sustainability debate. Orms have been utilising BIM models and digital tools to assess and reduce carbon impact of projects for a while now. As lead designers we are best placed to make significant and positive impacts on the design and advise clients and lead other consultants in making more informed decisions during the design and construction process.
BIM and Whole Life Cycle Analysis (WLCA) allow us to proactively bring the carbon impact into the decision-making mix and assess different options not only based on aesthetics, utility, cost, etc. but also on their environmental and long-term performance. This approach balances financial and environmental costs, allowing clients to deliver projects that meet or exceed industry targets while moving projects closer to implementing circular economy approach and reducing overall GHG emissions.
101 Moorgate is one of Orms current projects that is an excellent example of how BIM can support the delivery of sustainability aspirations and reduce the whole life carbon in particular.
BIM has assisted the design development of the scheme through clash detection to improve coordination and reduce the risk of delays. A Common Data Environment (CDE) has been used as a single repository of all project information to aid tendering processes. Furthermore, BIM has been used as a tool to evaluate the sustainability implications of design decisions, particularly in assessing the embodied carbon impact of material and product choices.
What is Orms holistic approach when it comes to considering the carbon impact of projects?
At each work stage Orms recommend carrying out a full Whole Life Carbon Assessment. This process involves gathering material quantities from the cost plan, which is then transferred to the One Click LCA software. Here, the quantities are assigned to Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and we add information about transport and replacement cycles to make the calculation as accurate as possible.
During each workstage, we also carry out design option studies and utilise the BIM model to produce accurate material quantities for assessment. As the design developed through Stage 3 on 101 Moorgate, Orms conducted option studies for key elements within the project, from partitions and ceilings to façades and floor finishes. Nick Botterill – one of the architects and member of Orms Sustainability Group, working on the project who has been carrying the carbon studies, shared this insight:
By sharing our findings at regular intervals as part of a collaborative process with the design team and client, we were able to include carbon in the discussion ‘in real time’, rather than solely at the end of stage. This provides reassurance that we are not missing opportunities to drive down the embodied carbon of the project as it develops.
By undertaking a Whole Life Carbon Assessment at Stage 2 we were able to target which elements of the design offered the greatest opportunity for reducing embodied carbon. Our research helped us understand the impact of the façades and particularly the internal finishes. Although finishes made up a smaller proportion of the total ‘upfront carbon’, they are typically replaced over the life cycle of the building and so have a cumulative impact.”
We used OneClick LCA to undertake targeted embodied carbon studies for these key elements. For example, we tested the impact of cement replacement in the precast concrete façade and recycled content in the aluminium in windows and curtain walls. This research continues to help inform discussions and drive sustainability on the project.
Another exciting benefit of investing in BIM for your project is the creation of the Asset Information Model (AIM) that contains 3D graphical information about the building, links to specifications and captures detailed data about products. It is created to assist the future facilities management including creation of Digital Twins that can help to monitor and improve building performance. This asset data captured as part of BIM process will be very useful in supporting future works to the building and a circular economy. An AIM with record information about all building elements will enable easier deconstruction and reuse – this supports the development of Material Passports, an approach developed and advocated by Orms.
The experience on 101 Moorgate demonstrates the benefits and opportunities of an integrated approach to BIM, Design and Sustainability that Orms try to implement on all our projects – a truly holistic approach, challenging greenwash and with BIM at its heart.