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Revolutionizing residential construction: The impact of BIM on efficiency and sustainability

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With rising concerns about global warming, carbon footprints and dwindling natural resources, energy efficiency and sustainability have become top priorities in nearly every modern industry, and residential construction is certainly no exception. However, many modern home builders find it challenging to keep up with complicated sustainability and energy efficiency standards without the proper tools and construction protocols.

Fortunately, many cutting-edge tools are available to help design and construction firms better understand green building practices. One such revolutionary technology is building information modelling, or BIM for short. Although BIM was initially developed for commercial building projects, its usefulness has also found its way into the design and construction of private homes and residences. 


Leveraging BIM for sustainable building design and construction practices


Just like the construction industry itself, BIM technology is constantly changing and evolving to current building trends and new standards. As time goes on, BIM is seen as more of a process than a just tool. 

Though BIM’s primary function is to use data to create 3D models and detailed building schematics, its uses now also incorporate project management, collaboration among stakeholders and environmental code compliance, all of which are essential to successful residential construction projects. 


Environmental standard compliance


In 2015, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) introduced the Net Zero Home Labelling Program to minimize the environmental footprint of modern homes by establishing a set of guidelines for environmentally-friendly building practices. While complying with these standards is technically optional, adopting them benefits everyone involved in designing, building, selling and inhabiting a residential facility. 

When a home meets certain “green” standards, it qualifies to receive a certified rating that reflects positively on the construction firm that built it. Additionally, a certified rating is also a major selling point for a home, attracting environmentally-conscious buyers. Finally, when a resident moves in, a certified green home can give them peace of mind, knowing that they aren’t needlessly wasting energy on everyday use. 

According to the CHBA, “Net Zero Ready is applied to homes that have energy performance levels between 50 and 80 per cent better than homes built to the applicable standard building code. The first tier of labels, Net Zero, is reserved for homes that are 100 per cent more energy efficient than ones built to the applicable code. Homes produce as much energy as they consume and feature filtered fresh air systems and water-saving technology.”

BIM can play a major part in helping a residential construction firm obtain a certified rating by preemptively predicting energy consumption during and after the residential building is completed. An architect or engineer can set desired efficiency parameters within a BIM software environment, and BIM can generate construction documents and models that facilitate them. 


Calculation of energy and water usage


Sustainable construction relies heavily on keeping a close eye on the levels of energy and water used to complete a project. BIM can record consumption data and generate predictive strategies to ensure maximum efficiency.




With modern battery and brushless motor technology innovations, electric tools are more efficient than ever. Drills, cement mixers and even heavy construction equipment like bulldozers and diggers are all powered by batteries. 

Though tool electrification certainly has its benefits, eventually, batteries need to be recharged, which presents a challenge in the early phases of construction when the site has not yet been connected to the power grid. BIM can help project managers keep track of power usage to see where energy can be saved, minimizing the need for diesel or gasoline-powered generators. 




Water consumption typically represents a marginal portion of an overall construction budget in most areas. However, in states prone to droughts and water shortages, extra attention must be paid to the amount of water used during the building process.

In the planning phase of a project, BIM can help allocate appropriate amounts of water needed for construction components like concrete. Additionally, with the assistance of on-site sensors, water usage can be monitored to further minimize waste. 


Optimizing resource management in residential construction with BIM


Resource management is an often under-calculated aspect of the construction process that directly impacts the ability to stay within budget and build sustainably. With BIM, designers can create data-filled models that can provide project managers and estimators with everything they need to make data-driven decisions.


Pre-construction planning


In the planning and design phases of residential construction, an architect or engineer can leverage BIM to create highly detailed 3D models with information regarding every building component, from roofing rafters down to tiny screws. This high level of detail facilitates precise quantity takeoffs and cost estimation, saving both time and funds. 


Non-monetary resource management


The resources needed to construct a residence successfully go far beyond monetary assets. Natural materials like lumber, iron and stone all contribute to a beautiful and structurally sound home. However, these natural resources have been in short supply in recent years, resulting in higher prices and limited availability.

Thanks to an ever-expanding library of material data, designing a home or apartment complex with BIM gives an engineer more flexibility to explore synthetic materials that are often stronger and longer-lasting than their natural counterparts.


How can real estate professionals promote properties designed and constructed with BIM? 


Homes designed with BIM give realtors a unique marketing opportunity. Providing a data-filled virtual model to a client makes highlighting the benefits of specific “green” aspects of a home easy. Additionally, real estate professionals can use BIM’s 3D features to show structural details that would otherwise be invisible.

Here are a few strategies realtors can use to market a BIM-built home:

Educate clients. If a realtor wants to make BIM stand out as a selling point for a home, potential buyers must understand what building information modelling is and its relationship to improved energy efficiency, maintenance costs and building quality. Before listing a residence, real estate professionals should take the time to explain these details to their clients.

Leverage BIM data. Sometimes, potential buyers want to know all the tiny details before purchasing a home. Realtors can use BIM data to provide information regarding precise dimensions, building materials and specifications.

Virtual tours. Potential homebuyers often feel overwhelmed and sometimes pressured during traditional home showings. However, 3D models can be viewed anywhere from mobile devices like phones, tablets and VR headsets, giving buyers the freedom to take as much time as they need to explore the intricacies of a home.


Embracing BIM for a sustainable and efficient future


As residential construction rates increase, the necessity for eco-friendly building practices has never been more important. Fortunately, BIM is helping builders and real estate professionals build greener homes and fill them with environmentally-minded buyers, promoting a more sustainable future in residential real estate.


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