Green building modeling aids LEED procurement and certification

As green buildings represent more of all U.S. construction, demand for sustainable sourcing tools will increase. When undergoing green building design, LEED procurement efforts are aided by modeling technology. This advanced technology known as building information modeling (BIM) allows companies to project their potential environmental impact based on virtual scenarios, according to GreenBiz.

As a user of BIM for over 10 years, international construction firm Skanska has dedicated its business to both sustainable construction and design. They were an integral in designing Logan International Airport in Boston, the world's first airport certified under the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC)'s guidelines. Using BIM for all of its projects for residential and commercial projects, Skanska develops 3D models that allow design teams to evaluate energy usage for a building without any physical construction beforehand.

"If we are able to fix the design in a virtual environment -- eliminating errors, checking schedules, materials -- then we are better able to complete the production without errors," said Tiina Koppinen, director of business development at Skanska.

The company was able to model its own headquarters called Skanska House to reduce energy consumption and incorporate rainwater harvesting.

"We are able to analyze more alternatives, which certainly results in being able to make more informed decisions," Koppinen said.

It also used modeling technology to conclude that ground source heat pumps were the best option to reduce environmental impact for its Harmalanranta residential development.

Green building modeling expands with growing industry

A report by McGraw-Hill Construction said the popularity of BIM was increasing in North America, with usage more than quadrupling from 17 percent in 2007 to 71 percent in 2012.

"Over the next 10 years, building owners will demand ever-increasing usage of BIM as a precondition, ushering in a new era of accuracy, quality and sophistication for the building industry," said Patrick MacLeamy, CEO of design firm HOK, commenting on McGraw-Hill Construction's research.

This upward trend of BIM could be due to green building construction expanding at a rapid pace, Clean Technica reports. Green buildings are expected to represent 55 percent of commercial and institutional construction in the U.S. by 2016 at the earliest - an increase of 11 percent compared to 2012.

As LEED procurement for building certification grows, the economic activity associated with green buildings has the potential to reach $248 billion in profits and provide for 35 percent of all U.S.-based construction jobs.

"LEED is a transformative force that works at the intersection of a variety of societal and economic interests, including the construction, real estate and environmental communities," said Rick Fedrizzi, president of USGBC.

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