By Ranjit Gunewardane

(as published on Hotel Executive on Sunday 24th May 2020)


The aim of this article is to present the use of Multiple Dimension Building Information Modelling (BIM) across the asset life cycle of a Sustainable Hotel Building. The most effective decisions regarding sustainability in a building facility are made in the early design and preconstruction stages. In this context, Building Information Modeling (BIM) can aid in performing complex building performance analyses to ensure an optimized sustainable building design. BIM has the potential for improving all stages of the construction life cycle and has far reaching implications for both sustainability and asset management. First presented in this article are the main concepts of sustainability and BIM.



The most effective decisions regarding sustainability in a building facility are made in the early design and preconstruction stages. Traditional Computer Aided Design (CAD) planning environments, do not support the possibility of such early decisions. Energy and performance analysis are typically conducted, if at all, after the architectural design and construction documents have been produced. This lack of integration into the design process leads to an inefficient process of retroactively modifying the design to achieve a set of performance criteria. In order to assess building performance in the early design and preconstruction phases realistically, access to a comprehensive set of information regarding a building’s form, materials, context, and technical systems is required. Because Building Information Modeling (BIM) allows for multi-disciplinary information to be superimposed within one model, it creates an opportunity for sustainability measures and performance analysis to be carried out throughout the design process.


BIM-based Sustainability Analysis

A Building Information Model represents the asset as an integrated database of coordinated information. Beyond graphically depicting the design, much of the data needed for supporting sustainable design is captured naturally as design of the project proceeds. In addition, the integration of Building Information Model with Performance Analysis tools greatly simplifies the often cumbersome and difficult analysis. This approach gives architects easy access to tools that provide immediate feedback on alternatives early on in the design process.

BIM is used for the following aspects of sustainable design:

  • Building orientation (to select the best building orientation that results in minimum energy costs)
  • Building massing (to analyze building form and optimize the building envelope)
  • Daylighting analysis
  • Water harvesting (to reduce water needs in a building)
  • Energy modeling (to reduce energy needs and analyze renewable energy options such as solar energy)
  • Sustainable materials (to reduce material needs and to use recycled materials)

For projects pursuing LEED® certification, many LEED® guidelines require that drawings be submitted to support the qualification for credit. BIM software produces these drawings more efficiently as part of the building information model and have the added advantage of constant change technology, which coordinates changes and maintains consistency at all times. BIM software has schedules of building components can be obtained directly from the model to determine percentages of material reuse, recycling, or salvage. Advanced visualization techniques can convince skeptical clients that green design performs well and looks good.


Establishment of the procurement system

To achieve social sustainability, an entire project procurement strategy is required. In a BIM working environment, building design, construction techniques, information sharing, facilities-management strategy, and multidisciplinary collaboration effort could be implemented.


Sustainable Facility Management

In the Sustainability Matters report published by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), Sustainable Facility Management is identified as “a building practice that helps facility managers upgrade and operate their buildings to achieve long term human and ecosystem balance”. The Facilities Manager is an important and vital role in any hotel, he/she is responsible for a large portion of what makes the hotel run safely, efficiently, and code compliant. No matter how sustainable a hotel building may have been in its design and construction, it can only remain so if it is operated responsibly and maintained properly. Sustainable operations and maintenance (O&M) practices focus primarily on technology applications and the actions of hotel management teams that encompass health and safety, comfort, and productivity, with an understanding of the need for subsequent generations to reuse and recycle building components. It is vital that operations and maintenance personnel are part of the project planning and development process, such as by establishing commissioning criteria at the onset of a project.

The construction industry has been evolving to embrace sustainability. This has highlighted the necessity to inspect sustainable performances throughout the post-construction building lifecycle.

Generally, a hotel is made up of several building systems: Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), Building Management System (BMS), and digital services. Systems and software are at the core of how we can extrapolate, interpret, and act upon building data. Working hand-in-hand with data analytics and services, this combination will help Facility Management team realize substantial operational and energy efficiencies.

Using a hybrid cloud architectural framework based on open protocols, establish a front-end system that will integrate all the diverse systems, doing the daily tasks needed for monitoring, controlling, and scheduling.

There is increasing worldwide support from architects and engineers to develop virtual building information models for building design solutions, design documentation and to analyze construction processes. Advances in Information Technology have enabled advanced knowledge management, which in turn facilitates sustainability and improves asset management. During the design and construction process, BIM allows select sustainable materials and systems that will operate at maximum efficiency levels and apply sustainable maintenance practices, such as predictive maintenance.


There are endless possibilities in integrating different domain areas such safety, scheduling, cost management, procurement, project management as well as sustainability.

BIM represents both an enhanced technology and a value-driven process change for architecture/engineering/construction/facilities management practices and allowing for “what-if” scenarios. It has been demonstrated by adopting BIM, a Fuzzy multi-criteria decision-making model is able to select low-carbon building measures.

BIM tools include various means of sustainability, such as the creation of Energy Analysis Models and integrating the data captured from the hotel’s BMS and CMMS, enabling model-based analysis and optimization. Ideally, the BIM energy analysis would enable the hotel management team to understand when and how actual performance differs from predicted performance. During Operations, it enables building operators to understand how the property was intended to be operated to achieve optimum performance.

The term “Internet of Things” (IoT) is surfacing with more frequency and in a greater variety of contexts every year. Much of the IoT is dedicated to sensing the physical world and making that information available to users and other devices on a network.  In large commercial buildings such as hotels the BMS presents a digital interface to the sensors, actuators, alarms, statuses and control points present in the building.


Energy Management

It is estimated that 5%–30% of the energy used in commercial buildings is wasted due to faults and errors in the operation of the control system. Tools that are able to automatically identify and isolate these faults offer the potential to greatly improve performance, and to do so cost effectively. BIM enables tools that are specifically intended to help hotels calculate their greenhouse gas emissions, determine their carbon footprint and identify ways to offset these impacts.


Energy Management and Information Systems (EMIS) that comprise a broad family of tools and services to analyze, monitor, and control building equipment and energy use are increasingly being used in conjunction with IoT devices. These technologies include, for example, meter analytics or energy information systems (EIS), automated fault detection and diagnostic tools (AFDD), benchmarking and utility bill tracking tools, and building management systems.


Operation & Maintenance

Undoubtedly, the operation and maintenance phase, is the longest period in the whole building lifecycle, lasting for many years before a general renovation is needed. Therefore, lifetime of the building is highly dependent on regular and timely maintenance. Regular maintenance services are important building management functions and part of the integrated Facility Management (FM). Obviously, the aim of building management is to maintain or even increase the value of the building and is responsible for maintenance functions, comprising the technical, operation, maintenance, repair, and emergency management.


BIM could be utilized to simulate building maintenance and retrofitting; hence when linked with sustainable measures using associated plugins or APIs, it could help advance the implementation of sustainability practices to the facility management stage.

High quality sustainable maintenance practices are aimed at increasing plant and equipment performance with improved/enhanced functionality using safe, secure technologies/methods. The conventional inspection method of progress tracking practice often relies solely on manual visual assessments and periodical respective reports. These logs and checklists are manually prepared, and effectiveness and accuracy of inspection progress can be affected due to the individual’s personal judgment and observational skills. Additionally, the high probability of inaccurate manual building inspections, plus the lack of real-time input of dynamic factors urges development of an automated data management system.


Waste Management

The EPA describes the Sustainable Materials Management program as a systematic approach to using and reusing materials more productively over their entire lifecycles.

Minimizing and managing waste can bring significant benefits to the hotel owner/operator and the environment. Waste disposal costs continue to increase as landfill space becomes scarcer and as standards of disposal are tightened. IoT devices are being applied to implementing analytics-driven monitoring of waste management. Automated waste and recycling efficiencies generally translate into cost and productivity savings, as well as an important sustainable practice.


In the US, waste management companies now have partnerships with wireless carriers and machine-to-machine networks to create an entire industrial machine system without the purchase of additional technology, as all the necessary parts are built into their smart compactor. These cloud-based software solutions would communicate directly with the multiple-dimension BIM platform, to deliver an analytics-driven monitoring plan.


Strategic Asset Management

Utilising BIM in asset management begins with the collection of information about all identifiable assets such as land and buildings, and plant/equipment. These built assets are made of many different components with different service lives. Operation and Maintenance (O&M) costs in hotel buildings represent a significant part of the total building life cycle cost. O&M costs are often overlooked at the design phase by owners and project stakeholders, which could amount to a substantial percentage of the total building life cycle costs.


An accurate asset register enables speedy retrieval of information as and when required and provides a clear line of sight to total cost of asset ownership. A multidisciplinary approach to managing assets would result in improving local finances and service delivery.


Over time, changes to an existing hotel building may not be documented because record drawings and asset registers of a hotel building itself are either out of date and/or have been lost since original construction occurred. Hotel Facility Managers are faced with many difficult decisions regarding when and how to inspect, maintain, repair or renew their existing facilities in a cost-effective manner. In addition, facility managers have few tools, either literature or intelligent computer software, to assist them in the decision-making process.

Current laser scanning technology is used in combination with point cloud conversion software to create accurate 3D as-built building models. Today’s laser scanning methodology in combination with drones demonstrates an advanced workflow that results in a cost- effective alternative to historic field measurement techniques. This provides the hotel owner operator – with a new level of 3D modelling capability while reducing costs.



There is no doubt that the future of architecture and the construction industry is digital—and BIM is the future of design and long-term facility management and building analytics. It is government led and technology driven, and it is implementing change across all industries. It has been demonstrated that by adoption of multiple-dimension BIM, the knowledge-based building management system can be applied in sustainable building design, construction and facility management.


BIM reduces errors in transfer of information and helps build better value constructions. By identifying clash detection, BIM prevents errors creeping in at the various stages of development and construction. BIM offers a detailed computer visualization of each part and assembly in relation to the total building.


Finally, multiple-dimension BIM will be a key driver for hotel building sustainability and support for green initiatives.