• Building Information Modeling
  • Building Innovations
  • Intelligent Building Management Systems

Building Information Modeling and Digital Twins Set to Revolutionize the Construction Sector

Pritil Gunjan
Dec 21, 2018

Smart Building 3

On December 5, Siemens Building Technologies inaugurated its new international headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. The Zug campus includes a new office building and a production facility constructed with an investment of about CHF 250 million ($250 million). Equipped with state of the art building automation, heat and cooling recovery systems, rainwater harvesting, and solar PV installations, the campus serves as a model reference project to iterate the opportunities of energy sufficiency, digitization, and data analytics in the building technologies sector. According to CEO Matthias Rebellius, Siemen’s Smart Building proposition is based on comprehensive analytics and the use of digital building data. 

The new campus reinforces the exciting growing potential of building management platforms to drive sustainability and energy efficiency. The office and production buildings of the campus meet the requirements of LEED standards. Energy-efficient heat pumps use water from Lake Zug as a heat source and for direct cooling. Also, the HVAC systems are equipped with heat and cooling recovery systems. 

Enter BIM

A key feature in the planning and design of this campus is the use of building information modeling (BIM). The Siemens Zug campus is one of Siemens’ first new projects to use BIM and has explored the use of a digital twin through the planning construction phase. According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, BIM is “a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. As such, it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onward.” 

The digital twin—a 3D model of the building, enhanced with technical information relevant for later operations—is the foundation for efficient, cost-optimized, and forward-looking building management. The ability to model building performance has far reaching implications for the buildings industry. Building simulations can be used to assess the energy demand, indoor environmental quality, CO2 emissions, and payback periods of energy saving measures over the lifetime of the asset. BIM is likely to play a crucial role in unlocking building life cycle optimization through innovative asset management processes and real-time operational data. Building operations data is a valuable resource and can bridge the gaps from construction documentation to many of the data analytics applications (e.g., energy management systems) and other smart buildings technologies such as Internet of Things and intelligent automation solutions. Navigant Research’s recent research report, How BIM Adds Value to Intelligent Buildings, explores how early BIM adoption drives value through the building life cycle and discusses how it supports the evolution of smart cities and the Energy Cloud. 

Although it is fair to say that BIM involves high commitment in cost and effort at the beginning of a project, the long-term benefits significantly outweigh the additional costs.