LCA and BIM: Visualization of environmental potentials in building construction at early design stages

The vast majority of scientists and policy makers agree that environmental impacts of buildings need to be reduced significantly, and that Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a methodology well suited to support this. The importance of evaluating potential improvements to the environmental life cycle performance of buildings in early design stages is widely acknowledged; the wide application of LCA during design however, is restrained by the great uncertainty in design and material decisions at this stage. To support decision making in the early design stage, we propose an approach using Building Information Modeling (BIM) to assess a wide range of construction options and their embodied environmental impact. We use a conceptual BIM model to evaluate a variety of material compositions for different building elements and the potential contribution of elements to the total embodied impact of the building design. The BIM-integrated approach enables identification of design specific hotspots which can be visualized on the building model for communication of LCA results and visual design guidance.