Project Definition


The construction industry is experiencing unprecedented change. It is under pressure to respond to increasingly tight environmental standards whilst cutting costs and delivering quality infrastructure and buildings. 

This is fuelling the development of an increasing number of new construction methods, materials, technologies, processes and innovative practices aimed at improving sustainability. 

As the number of options increase, so does the complexity and associated cost of choosing amongst alternative combinations for a given situation. Informed decisions require the management of vast amounts of information and knowledge about the combinations of available options and the assessment of their performance. It is almost impossible to apply manual methods and physical prototypes comprehensively.

This project has been developed in response to the call from the Technology Strategy Board for research proposals on “Design & Decision Tools for Low Impact Buildings”. The aim of the call is to help the construction industry respond to regulatory and procurement driven markets for buildings which have less impact on the environment – low impact buildings. 

The Challenge

The call acknowledges that the design and decision tools area is characterised by barriers between disciplines and between successive design phases. Current approaches do not adequately support and inform the design of low impact buildings. There is a definite need for tools that can allow design professionals to easily predict the impact of alternative design decisions on building performance and cost - whether capital cost, whole life financial cost or carbon cost. 

As a direct result, there has been a burgeoning interest in Building Information Modelling (BIM) tools which promise to address the shortcomings associated with tools which neither integrated nor inter-operable. 

Project Aims and Objectives

The aim is to establish robust methods, protocols, and rules for measuring and costing carbon emissions and waste  from construction materials, components, activities and implementing this in software tools that interoperate with state-of-the-art BIM-driven software environments. The objectives are to:
  • establish methods, protocols, rules for measuring and quantifying embodied carbon emissions and waste from construction materials, components, and activities;
  • establish methods for estimating project time and costs of designs incorporating low impact/sustainable building technologies and methods at the early stages of the design process;
  • develop integrated models for estimating carbon emissions, waste, time and cost estimates simultaneously using the outcomes from 1 and 2 above;
  • develop easy to use holistic and interoperable decision support software tools that implement the methods and models developed above; and
  • test and validate the methods and software tools developed on selected case studies and establish mechanisms for exploitation and wider dissemination of the results.

The Programme of Work

The work will be undertaken over 24 months (starting February 2010) through the following 6 work packages: 
  • Work Package 1: Project Management 
  • Work Package 2: End-User Requirements
  • Work Package 3: Embodied Carbon Emissions Measurement
  • Work Package 4: Integrated Carbon, Waste, Time, and Cost Models
  • Work Package 5: Development of Decision Support Tools
  • Work Package 6: Testing, Validation, Implementation and Exploitation