By Adriana Sanchez
The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) showed that, in 2004, owners and operations managers bore two thirds of the total industry cost burden from inadequate interoperability in construction projects from inception to operation, amounting to USD10.6 billion. Building Information Modelling (BIM) and similar tools were identified by Engineers Australia in 2005 as potential instruments to significantly reduce this sum, which in Australia could amount to total industry-wide cost burden of AUD12 billion.
Public sector road authorities in Australia have a key responsibility in driving initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the construction and operations of transport infrastructure. However, as previous research has shown the Environmental Impact Assessment process, typically used for project approvals and permitting based on project designs available at the consent stage, lacks Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that include long-term impact factors and transfer of information throughout the project life cycle.
In the building construction industry, BIM is widely used to model sustainability KPIs such as energy consumption, and integrated with facility management systems. This paper proposes that a similar use of BIM in early design phases of transport infrastructure could provide:
(i) productivity gains through improved interoperability and documentation;
(ii) the opportunity to carry out detailed cost-benefit analyses leading to significant operational cost savings;
(iii) coordinated planning of street and highway lighting with other energy and environmental considerations;
(iv) measurable KPIs that include long-term impact factors which are transferable throughout the project life cycle; and
(v) the opportunity for integrating design documentation with sustainability whole-of-life targets.
Gallaher, M.P., O’Connor, A.C., Dettbarn, J.L. and Gilday, L.T. (2004) Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry, NIST GCR 04-867, Gaithersburg, MD: National Institute of Standards and Technology. Online. Available HTTP: (accessed 08 November 2012).
Queensland Division Task Force Engineers Australia (2005) Getting it Right the First Time, Brisbane: Engineers Australia.