Innovate UK – Net Zero Flow Project

Innovate UK – Net Zero Flow Project

NetZeroFlow is a technology platform and carbon data set that drives the design of new buildings and the refurbishment and re-purposing of existing buildings, to achieve a net zero carbon outcome.

The Landscape

COVID-19 has changed the way buildings will be designed and operated in the future. Design teams need to work increasingly remotely, where they once shared an office. Consultants need to provide their expertise and services digitally. Buildings need to be built better and their occupants need to be safer (Grenfell). Key components of the “Build Back Better” agenda will be the UK’s need to meet the Climate Change 2050 carbon targets and the Building Safety Act‘s requirement to deliver the “Golden Thread” of Information.

The Partners

Xbim provides a cloud-based Building Information Modelling (BIM) platform, Flex, that supports the sharing of information, 3D views and plans of building designs. It is an inclusive, OpenBIM platform that enables all parties (from specialists to the general public) in the construction process to engage and contribute to the collaborative production and sharing of information (ISO19650).

Circular Ecology are experts in carbon foot-printing, carbon offsetting and lifecycle assessment. They maintain and own key data sets for carbon assessment.

The Solution – Flex Flow, the automated BIM workflow engine

The Innovate UK proposal was to automate how design teams can Measure, Manage and Mitigate the process of achieving Net Zero Construction. This will be achieved by adding a Smart Workflow Engine to the Flex xBIM platform and updating the ICE database of carbon costed construction products and elements. These will be brought together by a series of configurable and customisable workflows that drive a design to Net Zero. For example, it can continually calculate the total embodied carbon in the as-designed building, whilst substituting different construction materials and products.


NetZeroFlow’s Flex Flow removes the bottleneck of carbon assessment (presented by a limited number of specialist consultants) by enabling the construction design teams to perform iterative carbon reduction engineering, freeing the carbon consultants time for higher value/impact activities and improving the consistency and outcome of the final results. The xbim Flex Flow workflow engine will unlock further innovation potential in the construction sector by enabling other routine tasks to be automated and offloaded to the cloud.

Uplifting Infrastructure Projects too
As part of this project xbim has also extended the reach of OpenBIM workflows into Infrastructure projects by uplifting the free open source Xbim Toolkit to support BuildingSMART’s latest IFC4x3 Infrastructure extensions.

This project is being carried out as part of the Innovate UK Sustainable Innovation Fund (Round 3), you can see the other successful applicants and the original description of the xbim project here.