Evaluation of BIM-based LCA results for building design
Journal article, 2020

Digital tools based on Building Information Modelling (BIM) provide the potential to facilitate environmental performance assessments of buildings. Various tools that use a BIM model for automatic quantity take-off as basis for Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) have been developed recently. This paper describes the first application of such a BIM-LCA tool to evaluate the embodied global warming potential (GWP) throughout the whole design process of a real building. 34 states of the BIM model are analysed weekly. The results show that the embodied GWP during the design phase is twice as high as for the final building. These changes can be mainly attributed to the designers' approach of using placeholder materials that are refined later, besides other reasons. As such, the embodied GWP is highly overestimated and a BIM-based environmental assessment during the design process could be misleading and counterproductive. Finally, three alternatives to the established automatic quantity take-off are discussed for future developments.

Design process

Performance assessment

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)


Alexander Hollberg

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Building Technology

Gianluca Genova

Basler & Hofmann

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Guillaume Habert

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Automation in Construction

0926-5805 (ISSN)

Vol. 109 102972

Subject Categories

Architectural Engineering

Construction Management

Environmental Analysis and Construction Information Technology



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