BIM Academy on climate action

by Dr Graham Kelly | April 22, 2022 |  6 min read

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April 22 was originally named Earth Day in 1970 to mark the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement founded in the USA. In 1990, Earth Day went global, mobilising 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage.

Today, Earth Day is a symbol of the pressing need to invest in our planet, it’s not enough to acknowledge that climate change poses a risk, action must be taken.

The responsibility to protect the planet lies with each of us and at BIM Academy we have been committed to working sustainably for a number of years, and days like today give us an opportunity to talk about our heritage of deep understanding of sustainable ways of working.

BIM Academy net zero actions

As a business we often think digital-first, with new and advancing technologies at our disposal we have learned to not only use digital processes to design, build and operate better, but also to extract data from the whole asset lifecycle to allow us to understand built assets in a way the industry has never done before.

Climate analysing technologies are critical for the world’s net-zero agenda, particularly those expressly intended to accelerate decarbonisation. The path to net-zero emissions is full of challenges, however these challenges are not insurmountable.

In our head office, at Coopers Studio in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, located in the North East of England – together with our sister company, Ryder Architecture – we have installed smart sensors to measure and monitor both carbon and energy use across the building.

We have set our own net zero carbon targets across the business and have already identified significant savings from previously wasted energy. Taking data from 2019, 2020 and 2021, with half-hourly measurements from energy use we have identified on which days and months we are consuming the most energy and where savings can be applied.

As a result we have made significant behavioural changes, adjusted control settings and taken corrective action. All lighting and heating are now on timed sensors and significant carbon reductions have been achieved. We have also taken into account the impact of the pandemic and the time out of the building! 

Supporting client sustainability strategies

However, looking internally is only one measure. We actively work will all our clients to bring sustainable ways of working to our projects.  We continually push boundaries on our work with local and national governments as well as commercial clients, to develop net zero strategies that enable them to meet their own sustainability goals.

One example is our work with the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT), to develop the Net Zero Carbon in the Public Sector Buildings Standard in Scotland.

The SFT is a public body of the Scottish Government and was tasked with improving public sector infrastructure and driving inclusive economic growth and meeting government net zero emissions targets across the region. The work of the SFT has helped put Scotland at the forefront of implementing BIM and new technologies on construction and infrastructure projects in the UK – with an equal level of focus on sustainability and future-proofing design processes.

Thanks to this forward-thinking approach, BIM Academy was able to work closely with the SFT to develop key principles and identify a framework for the design and build of schools across the region, which are also aligned to sustainability standards.

Net zero transitioning software

In addition to looking internally at our own actions and supporting clients in theirs, BIM Academy has developed a new, intuitive software platform to measure, analyse and interpret cardon emissions from plant equipment.

Aquila is next generation, decision enhancing smart technology, using 4D mapping of plant equipment to review, analyse and predict performance when onsite. This digitally enabled solution extracts equipment data and provides visual context to optimise real-time operations.

This means we can track location and movement, as well as emission outputs. This allows us to identify wastage and apply corrective measures in real-time as well as applying lessons learned to future projects.

The impacts of climate change are being seen across the globe and the accumulation of wasted energy and carbon emissions as well as greenhouse gases are contributing to the heating of the earth’s surface.  Construction activity generates around 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, with much of that coming from plant equipment. By rapidly cutting emissions we can lessen the risks of dangerous climate change for the future.

These are but a few of the overall measures BIM Academy applies to our working practices and we understand there is a much more holistic agenda than just decarbonisation alone. However, as Earth Day reminds us, every action is a step closer to fighting climate change and protecting our planet for future generations.

To understand more about the BIM Academy’s work on taking climate action, contact Graham at [email protected].