iCIM (Interoperable Carbon Information Modelling)

iCIM (Interoperable Carbon Information Modelling)

iCIM is an online collaborative Building Information Modelling (BIM) tool that facilitates the carbon assessment of a building. It does this by informing designers, throughout the building life cycle, of the impact of their decisions on carbon. Through its use it will lead to zero-carbon and low-impact buildings, by compliance checking for energy performance with carbon embodiment and building modelling data.

iCIM enables different teams to collaborate throughout the lifecycle of a construction project, by having data transparency using open-standard IFC files.  Since iCIM is an online tool, it is platform neutral, there is no need to install software on a user’s computer.

The tool will provide designers with guidance that explains the impact of key decisions and allows them to explore alternatives and make decisions that lead to low-impact designs.

Professor Steve Lockley presents how xBIM works in the iCIM project. He demonstrates how different teams work collaboratively on the same model from start to the end as follows:

    1. A user can create a 3D building model using any commercial BIM.  In this example, Autodesk Revit is used.  However, any other tools can also be used, such as Bentley, ArchiCAD, Vectorworks.
    2. ‘Export’ & upload the building model to a iCIM central server.
    3. The user can then go to the iCIM website and access the building model, analyse and update it (with xBIM as the underlying technology).
      Once logged in, the user can enter project information such as project location, size, start and end dates, carbon benchmarks and financial costs.
      In the “carbon review” area, the user can navigate (zoom, pan, orbit) and show/hide objects of the 3D model. A navigation tree on the left side shows the object types in the building, which have been automatically classified.The user can then select each object and configure its materials by:


          • Starting with a pre-configured object from the National BIM Library, or
          • Starting with an object from a previous job, or
          • Starting with a blank object and configuring from scratch.As an object is configured, the user can see the impact of the decision, by scrolling through the 4 tabs at the top-right-hand screen to see its impact in terms of CO2 (embodied carbon, the lower the better), waste (recycled content), Cost (over, under or on budget?) and Specification Guidance (NBS technical guidance).
    4. The IFC content (file) can be exported from the iCIM website, then ‘imported’ back into Autodesk Revit, which will update the building model with the changes.

Who’s involved?

iCIM is the result of a collaborative research prototype project, funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board, involving RIBAE, Faithful + Gould, BSRIA, AEC3, Autodesk, Northumbria University, and the University of Bath.  This project commenced in 2011 and is now complete.


National BIM Library, IFC, Financial Cost, and Environmental Impact www.theNBS.com/BIM