How Can Bim Technology Assist in Optimising the Life Cycle Cost of a Building?

Topics: Construction, Building engineering, Building Information Modeling Pages: 15 (4285 words) Published: April 12, 2013
Paper for the 16th Pacific Rim Real Estate Society Conference Wellington, New Zealand
24-27 January 2010.

How can BIM Technology assist in optimising the Life Cycle Cost of a Building? By Francis Pf Lai, Dulani Halvitigala, John Boon, Roger Birchmore
Department of Construction, Unitec New Zealand

The complexity of a modern construction project, especially in a fast track environment, necessities the use of Building Information Management (BIM) system to manage such a project to provide the necessary probable cost outcomes of alternative designs ahead of the actual construction times. The visualization of such alternative designs through ‘prototyping’ design solutions has the definite advantage of identifying coordination and other construction issues, minimizing delays in construction downtimes and avoiding the cost of reworks. As a communications tool, BIM technology, through modelling techniques such as Ecotect developed by Autodesk’s Revit, can additionally be used to assess impacts of alternative energy saving designs on the life cycle of a building.

This paper explores the use of Ecotect in the sustainable design analysis of alternative energy saving designs of a simple residential building. It serves to graphically illustrate the successive steps of the building through its economic life, illustrating the effects of a design decision to the building. It aims at uncovering the feasibility and/or the desirability of using BIM 4D Modelling Technology for life cycle costing in construction projects generally and in residential housing projects in particular.

Key Words: Building Information Modelling, 4D Modelling, Life Cycle Costing Analysis.


The property industry has recognised the benefits that decisions basing on life cycle costing can bring to the design and operation of buildings. Many building owners apply the principles of life cycle costing when making decisions regarding construction or improvements to a facility. Life cycle cost analysis is an economic evaluation technique that determines the total cost of owning and operating a building throughout its life time (Emblemsvag, 2001[1]; Al-Haji and Horner, 1997[2]). Life cycle costing has been defined as the “total discounted dollar cost of owning, operating, maintaining, and disposing of a building facility over a period of time”.[3] Thus, the life cycle costs of a building include the initial property costs, costs of any building or renovation works, operating costs and disposal costs (Aye et al., 2000[4]). Life cycle costs provide more comprehensive assessment of the long term cost effectiveness of a building than many alterative building analyses that mainly focus on the initial capital costs or on operating-related costs in the short term. Reduction in costs is significant to company profitability and it is possible through action research that the life cycling costs of buildings can be reduced by design, often at no overall increase in capital cost. Notwithstanding the significance of life cycling costing, practical difficulties have prevented effective use of this technique in making decisions about buildings due to lack of rigorous techniques for life cycle costing and appropriate practical working tools in building design techniques. In the latest research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) on the subject[5] the fact that there is still no standard method of measurement of life cycle costs has been emphasized. True, “the life cycle costing texts are rich in mathematical theory, risk and sensitivity analysis, data management and component life assessment” but there is still no “explicit method of measurement for option appraisal or benchmarking.”[6]

With the above literature as the backdrop, this paper explores the use of “Ecotect Analysis 2010”, the 5D Building Information Modelling (BIM) technique of Autodesk Revit for life cycle costing analysis of one single set of...
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