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Sustainability and Building Information Modelling Report

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Updated: Jul 12th, 2021


The major task of quantity surveyors is to provide cost analysis and value management services related to completing projects in the construction and building industry. The currently observed changes in the UK and global construction industry indicate the necessity of changing traditional approaches used by quantity surveyors (Eadie et al. 2015). Today, professionals in the spheres of building and construction are interested in reducing the use of hazardous materials, making their facilities socially and environmentally friendly without reducing potential profits for companies (Chamikara et al. 2018). As a result, clients from the construction and building industry need to receive innovative services to respond to modern tendencies in the sector and contribute to communities’ development. The purpose of this report is to discuss the role of such concepts as sustainability and Building Information Modelling (BIM) in changing practices used in the building sector of the United Kingdom and globally. Furthermore, in this report, the advanced services that the company can propose to its clients will be discussed in detail concerning the required collaboration and barriers to implementing principles of sustainability and BIM.


The Context for Sustainability in the Building and Construction Sector

In the construction and building industry, modern quantity surveyors are expected to provide efficient services to guarantee following the principle of sustainability. This principle has developed as a result of the public’s focus on the necessity to address the needs of the growing population in terms of providing economically effective building solutions without damaging the environment. Three pillars of sustainability are important to be taken into account while discussing this concept in any area: people, economy, and the environment (Towey 2017). Thus, projects are viewed as sustainable only when they are advantageous for a community, beneficial from the economic perspective, and do not affect the environment negatively. In the context of the construction industry, sustainability means planning buildings that are friendly for the environment, acceptable and advantageous for society, and efficient from the economic or financial perspective (Chamikara et al. 2018). Currently, the sustainable construction of facilities is associated with decreasing waste, reusing materials, preventing emissions, and decreasing the consumption of resources, including energy and water.

Services to Achieve Sustainability

To address the idea of sustainability in clients’ building and construction projects, the quantity surveying department may propose certain improved and additional services. At the current stage, quantity surveyors provide their clients with detailed and accurate calculations of all project costs that are associated with creating different types of buildings (Towey 2017). Thus, the purpose of these services is not only to offer accurate calculations but also to minimize costs for a client without affecting the quality (Xia et al. 2016). Therefore, enhanced services in this context will be the provision of lists of reusable materials to use in the project and the formulation of cost-efficient and customer-oriented strategies to decrease waste and emissions.

Additionally, quantity surveyors may offer their clients calculations on what architects’ and designers’ decisions mostly contribute to decreasing the consumption of energy and emissions. From this perspective, enhanced services include the provision of calculations related to environment-related costs: energy and water efficiency, the application of reused and recycled materials, and carbon emission reduction (Chamikara et al. 2018). Furthermore, it is also possible to propose calculations regarding potential social costs connected with creating comfortable workplaces to increase performance and productivity or areas to improve people’s wellbeing (Towey 2017). Detailed cost analysis should also be added to general documents provided by quantity surveyors to demonstrate what profits and expenses are associated with sustainable construction choices.

Services additional to the evaluation of alternatives, the project budget, and the project cost control should be proposed to clients. According to research evidence, they may include the creation of cost models and forecasting for “green” buildings (Osman et al. 2015). Other similar services to offer are the life cycle assessment for projects and property performance analysis (Ghaffarianhoseini et al. 2017; Peng 2016; Towey 2017). The life cycle assessment allows for determining total costs related to buildings during their lifespan. According to Peng (2016), this assessment is used to predict energy consumption for buildings at different stages of their development to conclude about their efficiency in terms of affecting or polluting the environment. Property performance analysis is used for evaluating buildings according to certain standards and norms and for identifying potential risks for the construction, environment, and community.

Collaboration with Internal Stakeholders

When proposing to clients to follow their advice formulated concerning the principle of sustainability, the specialists of the quantity surveying department are expected to collaborate with project managers, architects, designers, engineers, and analysts. This collaboration is described in the literature as important to guarantee that buildings will be economically advantageous and environmentally friendly, addressing people’s needs at the same time (Chamikara et al. 2018; Wao and Flood 2016). Thus, to achieve this purpose, quantity surveyors collaborate with designers, architects, and engineers to choose the most appropriate solutions to reduce the consumption of resources without decreasing the quality (Towey 2017). Thus, quantity surveyors evaluate proposed designs concerning their appropriateness to address the idea of sustainability to provide clients with the most efficient solution (Wao and Flood 2016). It should be mentioned that they also cooperate with project managers to guide the sustainable construction process according to the proposed cost model.

Barriers to Implementation

The implementation of the principle of sustainability in the building and construction sector of the United Kingdom, as well as the application of new sustainability-oriented services proposed by quantity surveyors, is hindered by certain barriers. The first obstacle to consider is clients’ perceptions that sustainable construction requires more financial resources and is associated with higher costs in comparison to traditional construction practices (Chamikara et al. 2018). However, in many cases, this perception is not supported by quantity surveyors’ calculations. The second barrier is that quantity surveyors often lack knowledge and experience that can be required to implement effective strategies and models; they need additional training, as was noted by Xia et al. (2016). Therefore, these two barriers should be overcome to guarantee that quantity surveyors can provide their clients with high-quality and advanced services to promote the principle of sustainability in the building and construction area.

Building Information Modelling

Definition of Building Information Modelling (BIM)

BIM is a specific technology that is used in quantity surveying and construction for visualizing a variety of physical and functional features of a building while applying three-dimensional (3D) images. Currently, 5D modeling is used in the building and construction industry with a focus on adding time- and cost-related information to models, as was stated by Alhasan et al. (2017) and Lu et al. (2016). As a result of preparing 5D simulations with the help of BIM, quantity surveyors can provide their clients with accurate geometric, semantic, and financial information regarding the project in the form of cost analysis. Therefore, today, BIM is actively used in the construction industry because of its role in increasing productivity and quality in terms of project realization.

BIM-Related Services

The quantity surveying department can improve the existing services associated with BIM to increase the quality of provided cost analysis and the accuracy of projected cash flows. The problem is that traditional approaches to using certain software for estimating project expenses can be ineffective because of challenges in integrating the methods of calculating costs and scheduling (Ali et al. 2016; Towey 2017). Thus, the linear programming models used to calculate financing along with scheduling for projects can be ineffective to address all needs of potential clients.

In this context, 5D and 6D BIM are more efficient than the 4D version, and they address clients’ needs regarding the estimation of costs associated with choosing certain physical characteristics and utilizing selected materials. Thus, the company should focus on providing not only 5D models but also 6D models that include information on a project life cycle during the occupational stage (Towey 2017). According to experts and researchers, the benefits of offering 5D and 6D models for clients are the possibility to visualize construction processes and simulate changes associated with the use of different materials (Ismail et al. 2016). Other advantages also include using animations and virtual tours in designed buildings (Osman et al. 2015; Towey 2017). In the UK, the adoption rate is about 39%, and the reason is that “BIM seems to be seen as a lifesaver for the future of the construction sector” (Ghaffarianhoseini et al. 2017: 1049). Thus, it is possible to state that BIM contributes to minimizing errors that can be associated with inappropriate designs and improves communication and collaboration between project team members.

Stakeholders Involved in BIM Implementation

To guarantee that clients will receive the most efficient and innovative 5D and 6D models for their projects supported with accurate cost analysis, it is necessary to collaborate with certain internal stakeholders. According to research evidence, it is critical to assign a BIM manager for the project supervision to make sure that a client’s requirements will be addressed (Eadie et al. 2015). Thus, BIM implementation in the context of project management requires a person who is responsible for developing and adapting 5D and 6D models.

Other stakeholders to collaborate when providing BIM services include IT specialists, BIM operators, BIM facilitators, and designers. From this perspective, BIM operators, BIM facilitators, and IT specialists are responsible for creating 3D models (Eadie et al. 2015). Furthermore, specialists from the quantity surveying department participate in contributing to making these models 5D and 6D ones while adding time- and cost-related information (Alhasan et al. 2017; Ghaffarianhoseini et al. 2017). Designers cooperate with BIM specialists to add more complex structures to their models and simulations while enhancing the visualization of a building with a focus on representing technical characteristics in detail (Towey 2017). As a result, clients will receive an opportunity to understand how to make their buildings sustainable at the first stages of the project development.

Barriers to Implementing BIM Solutions

Despite the obvious advantages of offering BIM services to clients, the implementation of this technology is associated with certain issues and obstacles. The problem is that not all clients understand how BIM works, and they lack resources and specialists to realise BIM-based projects without additional training (Alhasan et al. 2017; Ismail et al. 2016). The implementation of BIM also often requires changing the approach to using technology by a firm (Osman et al. 2015). In this context, it is often necessary to update clients’ software and systems to operate BIM files effectively, but these steps usually require additional financing and supervision.

It is important to note that the use of BIM requires a holistic approach. Thus, it can be possible that clients will need to change their technological base to use provided models in their operations, as was noted by Eadie et al. (2015). Thus, additional financial investment can be required, and it can be viewed by clients as a disadvantage (Osman et al. 2015). As a result, they can refuse to use the innovative BIM simulation based on 5D and 6D technologies that are proposed as innovative services by this company. Additionally, cash flow analysis proposed in the context of 5D and 6D models is considered as a new function in BIM that requires further research, testing, analysis (Ismail et al. 2016; Lu et al. 2016). Therefore, the integration of the model with cost analysis and scheduling can be associated with certain technical and financial limitations.


The analysis of the current research available on the topics of sustainability and BIM in the construction and building industry of the United Kingdom has been conducted and discussed in this report. It indicates that the quantity surveying department should provide clients with new advanced services in addition to traditional cost analysis and management services. The reason is that today, construction firms in the UK and globally are interested in improving their practices to guarantee that buildings are sustainable in terms of economic, environmental, and social aspects. Innovative services to contribute to developing sustainable construction practices include green costing, the life cycle assessment, and property performance analysis. Advanced services associated with using BIM in the context of quantity surveying should include the provision of clients with 5D and 6D BIM models to add cost and schedule analysis to traditional 3D versions. However, the implementation of these services can be challenging because of certain barriers.

Therefore, some important recommendations can be applied to overcome identified barriers and challenges. Firstly, the specialists of the quantity surveying department should be provided with additional training regarding sustainability and BIM. Secondly, the company should provide clients with professional training and support regarding the use of new services and procedures in the context of their organizations. Thirdly, clients should be informed regarding a variety of strategies and techniques that are effective to improve the integration of new models into the used systems and reducing financial investment. Therefore, the next steps for the company should include the development of training and education for quantity surveyors and clients to improve their literacy regarding the latest trends in the field of building and construction.

Reference List

Alhasan S, Kumar B and Thanikal J (2017) ‘Effectiveness of implementing 5D functions of building information modeling on professions of quantity surveying–a review’, International Journal of Civil Engineering and Technology, 8(5), 783-800.

Ali KN, Mustaffa NE, Keat QJ and Enegbuma WI (2016) ‘Building information modelling (BIM) educational framework for quantity surveying students: the Malaysian perspective’, Journal of Information Technology in Construction, 21(9), 140-151.

Chamikara PBS, Perera BS and Rodrigo MN (2018) ‘Competencies of the quantity surveyor in performing for sustainable construction’, International Journal of Construction Management, 1(1), 1-15.

Eadie R, Browne M, Odeyinka H, McKeown C and McNiff S (2015) ‘A survey of current status of and perceived changes required for BIM adoption in the UK’, Built Environment Project and Asset Management, 5(1), 4-21.

Ghaffarianhoseini A, Tookey J, Ghaffarianhoseini A, Naismith N, Azhar S, Efimova O and Raahemifar K (2017) ‘Building information modelling (BIM) uptake: clear benefits, understanding its implementation, risks and challenges’, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 75, 1046-1053.

Ismail NAA, Drogemuller R, Beazley S and Owen R (2016) ‘A review of BIM capabilities for quantity surveying practice’, MATEC Web of Conferences, 66, 1-42.

Lu Q, Won J and Cheng JC (2016) ‘A financial decision making framework for construction projects based on 5D Building Information Modeling (BIM)’, International Journal of Project Management, 34(1), 3-21.

Osman J, Mazlina S, Khuzzan, S and Razaksapian A (2015) ‘Building information modelling: proposed adoption model for quantity surveying firms’, Proceeding of IC-ITS, 6, 151-165.

Peng C (2016) ‘Calculation of a building’s life cycle carbon emissions based on Ecotect and building information modeling, Journal of Cleaner Production, 112, 453-465.

Towey D (2017) Construction Quantity Surveying: A Practical Guide for the Contractor’s QS, Oxford: John Wiley & Sons.

Wao JO and Flood I (2016) ‘The role of quantity surveyors in the international construction arena’, International Journal of Construction Management, 16(2), 126-137.

Xia B, Rosly N, Wu P, Bridge A and Pienaar J (2016) ‘Improving sustainability literacy of future quantity surveyors’, Smart and Sustainable Built Environment, 5(4), 325-339.

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