Green Construction Products into BIM
for sustainable building

coBuilder Bulgaria in a consortium with the Norwegian software start-up Catenda has been awarded funding through the “Green Industry Innovation” programme under the Norway Grants assistance for the financial period 2009-2014.

Why is the “Green Industry Innovation” programme relevant to the construction industry?

The construction industry is a large consumer of health and environmental hazardous products, both as single chemicals and mixtures. It is a well-known fact that there is great presence of hazardous substances in construction products (e.g. flooring, windows, insulation etc.). A significant number of these construction products contain chemicals, which may cause risk for health and safety or to the environment.

The expected results of the “Green Industry Innovation” programme’s aid would be more green job opportunities, incentives for green venture creation as well as long-term environmental gains – less production of waste, reduced CO2 emissions and sustainable production.

Green Industry Innovation is one of the programme areas under the Norway Grants assistance for the financial period 2009-2014.
Therefore, all actors in the construction business chain are required to have information regarding health- and environmental effects as well as the usage or release of chemicals.

In Europe these requirements are embodied in e.g. REACH, CPR (Construction Product Regulation) – harmonised product standards and European Technical Assessments), environmental requirements (REACH, ROHS II), national or regional requirements and a large scale of different environmental demands in the market such as BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) and LEED Construction (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design).

Through “Green Construction products into BIM” coBuilder Bulgaria actively participates in defining the essential parameters of sustainable construction. The overall idea is to establish a construction process that is capable of avoiding resource depletion and preventing environmental degradation caused by facilities and infrastructure throughout their life cycle. coBuilder Bulgaria Ltd. Contributes to a “greener” built environment, by providing the European construction industry with a tool for searching and selecting products that meet any set of environmental requirements that are relevant within any facility or infrastructure project in Europe.

  • All actors within the construction supply chain need product data to comply with growing legal requirements and to meet the demand for green building;
  • There is a tremendous demand for construction product technical- and environmental data in general;
  • The construction industry, one of the biggest business-to-business segments in any part of the world, is going through a rapid and deep digital revolution;
  • The current situation in the industry at the moment presupposes storing product information in files and documents such as testing certificates, Eco label certification, EPDs (Environmental Product Declaration), DoPs (Declaration of Performance) etc.;
  • This is no longer satisfying as the industry requires product information in digital formats and ready for exchange across software and project members;
  • The increasing demand of BIM technologies and the exchange of structured, accurate and updated product data applies to the environmental information as well;
  • All required properties relevant for a construction product, system, assembly or element have to be openBIM enabled in order to be attributed to models across different software tools for design and building services (Revit, ArchiCAD Bentley);
  • This puts the industry in a position of an immediate development as the ecological requirements are to be met by digitising the product information flow to a very large extent;

In order to gain competitive advantage a lot of manufacturers and suppliers of building materials and components continuously enhance their product information with additional descriptions (e.g. relative to usage, environmental information, performance, construction details).
However, one of the challenges today is that this information comes in the form of a wide specter of documents. There is a pressing need for the development of a green database with product data attributes based on harmonised technical specifications and environmental requirements such as CPR, LVL, MD and REACH showing compliance with the regulations and enabling the selection of environmentally friendly products.

Today there is an enormous loss of data when contractors start building; they invite partners that install components, products or other elements that are very difficult to track. There is weak knowledge of what is installed, and if installed elements meet the technical-, environmental- or legal standards defined (described by architects, engineers etc. on behalf of a client). We aim to solve this problem.

Identifying these trends within the construction sector, the main objective of coBuilder’s project “Green Construction Products into BIM” is to develop software functionalities helping the architects and designers, materials and components suppliers, wholesalers, contractors, sub-contractors and building owners to comply with both legal requirements such as Construction Products Regulation (Regulation (EU) No. 305/2011) and green market requirements e.g. BREEAM (The world`s leading design and assessment method for sustainable buildings).

Our project seeks to solve the construction industry’s challenges that encompass the collection and use of the environmental information on all products, elements and assemblies in a construction project, taking advantage of the new standards within the Building Information Modeling (BIM) such as IFC, bSDD and IDM, and their implementation in our processes of collecting product data.

New green service for selecting

Environmentally Friendly Products

Our project aims to solve a grander challenge for the construction industry in terms of conducting best practice in selecting products that are environmentally friendly. Our project goes well beyond EU regulations (i.e. REACH and CPR). The users of our systems will be able to document that their projects are specified with environmentally friendly products complying with both European legislation and environmental requirements defined by the market.

How are we doing it? – The use of open industry standards is crucial

Green Industry Innovation is one of the programme areas under the Norway Grants assistance for the financial period 2009-2014.
Information exchange standards have been developed and have opened up the possibilities to comply with both legal and market requirements in terms of green building in addition to very large efficiency and cost-saving potentials.

The new standards enable information to flow seamlessly from the architects and designers through the contractors and to the building owners. These data exchange standards give the actors in the construction industry the possibilities to choose products, materials and components with green product properties and receive information about materials and components that go into the building automatically – receiving “as built” information on the go.

The BuildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD) is a shared system for identifying and validating names of the components and properties used in BIM and works in conjunctions with the core BuildingSMART International standards: IFC (ISO 16739) and IDM (ISO 29481).

Together IFC, bSDD (ISO 12006-3) and IDM enable open standard-based exchange of building model data. These standards enable all players to exchange information, be it simple materials information or complex building models.

Only by using the new open standards the industry will be able to deliver and distribute the relevant performance data of construction products on the European market.

Using the bSDD, our proposed project will give the tools needed to avoid the loss of data through the construction phase. Both by seamlessly transferring information about materials and components specified in the design phase, and by automatically update the model in the construction phase, the complete and correct information is electronically documented for the building owner.

We are using the BuildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD) as a dictionary with extended technological features. Through bSDD we are able to upload and store data, to create product data sheets and map products and products characteristics to different classification systems (Uniclass, Omniclass), COBie and IFC (openBIM), according to the requirements. Thus, we aim to distribute such product data to any (BIM) software tool or platform used in the construction industry.

Going further, our aim is to develop “openBIM product data sheets” for manufacturers, using bSDD as the platform for translations and transnational availability of product data. Open for all BIM design and collaboration software tools or ERP solutions (e.g. Revit, ArchiCAD etc.), our proposed system will be the HUB for green products in facilities or infrastructure. As a result of developing this kind of expertise, coBuilder believs that openBIM (IFC, bSDD, IDM) is the future of the construction industry.

coBuilder is already connecting actors in the construction value chain through ProductXchange, helping the industry to perform better, save time, avoide mistakes and exchange product information. ProductXchange is a subject to a constant development of new functionalities that are intended to help the users selecting and keeping track of products and their environmental performance.

coBuilder will act as a pan-European information hub for product data, serving construction projects all over Europe, including Bulgaria and Norway. Our team of software and R&D engineers is able to support any facility or infrastructure project in any country.

Green Industry Innovation is one of the programme areas under the Norway Grants assistance for the financial period 2009-2014.

Our ambition is to…

Make our system portfolio the indispensable information hub for all products` and materials` data that is necessary to design, build, manage and maintain a facility or infrastructure asset. Enabling effortless, automated and exceptionally wide information flow between, to and from anyone that deals with any aspect of construction, while having the clear goal in mind to reduce their costs and increase their business value.
Establish best practice solutions to ensure that customers obtain the relevant product information with respect to accuracy, environmental performance, precision and feasibility.
Provide all industry actors that are aiming at well-constructed and well-managed sustainable facilities with the most relevant tools in order to help them to achieve their goals. Adapting to new challenges and implementing innovative work methods.

The end point is: sustainability in the sector

coBuilder’s project completion will have a major impact on the Bulgarian and European construction industry, strengthening the sustainability in the sector. This will be achieved through:

  • Development of BIM-enabled functionalities/tools for searching and selecting “green” products in order to meet environmental requirements and to contribute to a more sustainable construction
  • Development of a “green” database with product data characteristics based on harmonised technical specifications and environmental requirements such as CPR, LVL, MD and REACH
  • Establishment of a European knowledge center for identifying relevant legislation and market-specific requirements and sharing/exchanging expertise with companies and professionals

The following web page is supported by a grant from Norway through the Norwegian Financial Mechanism 2009-2014, in the frame of Programme Area BG 10 – Green Industry Innovation.