Project completed in 2023
Level: M.A.Sc.

Reconceptualizing the notion of BIM 6D in the built heritage industry through the lens of building certification schemes and sustainability standards


The built assets industry is undergoing a major digital transformation, with Building Information Modeling (BIM) at the heart of this transformation for efficient information integration. The role of BIM now extends to sustainability assessment, known as BIM 6D, which promotes low-carbon built assets. On a global scale, various certification systems such as LEED, BREEAM, WELL and standards bodies like ISO and GRI are used to assess sustainability in the construction sector. However, these systems and standards have different criteria and contexts. This study examines 26 sustainability standards and 25 certification systems, covering 189 specific indicators. It assesses the role of BIM and digital twins in implementing these indicators, with the aim of redefining the concept of BIM 6D and sustainability. This global perspective is crucial to achieving sustainability goals in the built goods industry, by promoting a more environmentally-friendly built environment.

Project results

Comparative analysis of building certification systems and standards using analytical tools (Power BI) has enabled us to gain a better understanding of the distribution and coverage of sustainability indicators. Of a total of 2,056 cases in 51 documents, certifications account for around 66%, while standards make up around 34%. The number of occurrences indicates that certifications generally encompass a greater number of indicators than standards. Nevertheless, it is essential to interpret these statistics with the recognition that they indicate the quantity, and not necessarily the extent or completeness, of each system. The breakdown of indicators into 15 defined categories reveals distinct patterns. The “Materials and products” category was predominant in certifications, while the “Social and economic” category was predominant in standards. Interestingly, standards took precedence over the “Social and economic”, “Climate change” and “Occupant health and safety” categories, indicating that they are of particular importance. Closer examination revealed that the indicator “Reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” was unanimously predominant in both groups, underlining global concerns about climate change.
However, there are nuances. Certifications were more focused on “indoor air quality”, reflecting its importance in certification systems. In contrast, the standards were more focused on “recycled waste management”, reflecting the importance attached to waste management and sustainability. Areas for improvement have also been identified. Some indicators present in one classification are absent from the other, highlighting gaps that could be filled to improve the comprehensiveness of certifications and standards. Survey results concerning the capabilities of BIM and digital twins showed that “collaboration on shared models” was the predominant choice. The “Energy, Management and Occupant Comfort” categories favor the “complete digital twins”, closely followed by the “Design” category. The “Social and Economic” category has the highest number of cases of non-use of BIM. A detailed definition of the 189 indicators, based on their alignment with BIM and digital twin capabilities, was also carried out.

Project contributions

This research provides a benchmarking tool for building certification systems and sustainability standards. From an academic point of view, it offers a unified framework for certifications and standards, establishes a comprehensive database of sustainability indicators and uses a robust validation approach. This information highlights gaps and potential areas of study. For industry, the analysis facilitates decision-making by clarifying the strengths of different systems. It also highlights the role of BIM and digital twins in sustainability, guiding industry professionals in the integration of digital technology. Through workshops and interviews with experts, the study fosters collaboration between industry and academia, ensuring that research findings are aligned with real-world needs. Overall, this research serves as a bridge between academic study and practical application, streamlining sustainability efforts in the built environment.


Publications from this project are available below:

Research team

The project team :


The project team


This project was supported by :

Similar research

Explore our research in more depth by exploring these related studies and resources:

Scroll to Top