Level : M.A.Sc.

Reconceptualizing the Notion of 6D BIM in the Built Asset Industry Through the Lens of Building Certification Schemes and Sustainability Standards


The built asset industry is undergoing a significant digital transformation, with Building Information Modeling (BIM) at its core for efficient information integration. BIM’s role now extends to sustainability assessments, termed 6D BIM, promoting low-carbon built assets. Globally, various certification schemes such as LEED, BREEAM, WELL, and standards organizations like ISO and GRI are utilized to assess sustainability in construction. However, these schemes and standards have diverse criteria and contexts. This research examines 26 sustainability standards and 25 certification schemes, consolidating 189 specific indicators. It evaluates the role of BIM and Digital Twins in implementing these indicators, aiming to redefine the concept of 6D BIM and sustainability. This comprehensive perspective is crucial for achieving sustainability goals in the built asset industry, fostering a more environmentally responsible built environment.

Project results

The comparative analysis of Building Certification Schemes and standards conducted via analytical tools (Power BI) provided an intricate understanding of sustainability indicators’ distribution and coverage. Out of 2,056 total instances across 51 documents, Certifications accounted for approximately 66%, whereas Standards constituted around 34%. The number of instances indicates that Certifications usually encompass a higher quantity of indicators in comparison to Standards. Nevertheless, it’s vital to interpret these statistics recognizing that they indicate quantity, not necessarily the extent or completeness of each scheme. Upon dissecting the indicators into 15 defined categories, distinct patterns emerged. The “Materials and Products” category was predominant in Certifications, while the “Social and Economic” category led in Standards. Interestingly, Standards took precedence in “Social and Economic,” “Climate Change,” and “Occupant Health and Safety” categories, indicating their specific emphasis. Further insights revealed the “Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emission” indicator as unanimously prominent across both groupings, emphasizing global concerns over climate change.
However, nuances existed. Certifications were more inclined towards “Indoor Air Quality,” signifying its weight in certification schemes. In contrast, Standards were more oriented towards “Recycled Wastes Management,” reflecting a robust focus on waste management and sustainability. Areas of improvement were also detected. Certain indicators present in one classification were absent in the other, highlighting gaps that could be addressed to enhance comprehensiveness in both Certifications and Standards. Survey findings regarding BIM and Digital twins’ capabilities presented “Shared Model Collaboration” as the predominant choice. The categories “Energy, Management, and Occupant Comfort” leaned towards “full digital twins,” with “Design” closely following. Notably, the “Social and Economic” category had the most instances of “No BIM use.” An extensive definition of all 189 indicators based on their alignment with BIM and Digital Twins capabilities was also accomplished.

Project contributions

This research provides a comparative analysis tool for Building Certification Schemes and sustainability standards. Academically, it offers a unified framework for certifications and standards, establishes a comprehensive sustainability indicator database, and employs a robust validation approach. These insights highlight gaps and potential areas of study. For the industry, the analysis aids decision-making by clarifying the strengths of different schemes. It also emphasizes the role of BIM and Digital Twins in sustainability, guiding industry professionals on digital technology integration. Through workshops and expert interviews, the study fosters industry-academia collaboration, ensuring research outcomes align with real-world needs. Overall, this research serves as a bridge between academic study and practical application, streamlining sustainability efforts in the built environment.

Jaberi, M., & Poirier, E. (2023). Mind the Gap: An Evaluation of Indicator Discrepancies between Sustainability Standards and Certifications in the Built Asset Industry. 11th International Conference On Sustainable Development. ICSD, Rome, Italy. https://ecsdev.org/


The project team

Erik Poirier


This project was supported by :

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