Using BIM to teach design and construction of sustainable buildings

Zhigang Shen, Wayne G. Jensen, Bruce Allen Fischer, Timothy G. Wentz

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

5 Scopus citations


Building information modeling (BIM) has been integrated into many architectural and engineering curriculums over the past five years. It is now being introduced into sustainability education because of its building energy analysis and simulation applications. Preliminary evaluation of the sustainability of buildings is becoming easier, faster, and more accessible to the academic community. This new accessibility to powerful modeling software is an innovative teaching and learning tool for both instructors and students in building design and construction. The BIM modeling platform allows users to quickly identify and evaluate the impact of design and construction changes on a building's sustainability. A review of the literature revealed a very limited number of publications that addressed how this critical development can be effectively utilized in higher education. The objectives of this paper are: 1) to introduce an integrated, BIM-based building design and construction course; and 2) to demonstrate some of the teaching and learning methods, case studies, and projects used to teach sustainability in this context. The key research goal of this paper is to identify and document some methods of using BIM as an effective tool to teach sustainable building design and construction. A building design and construction class integrating BIM was developed and its initial offering was used as a case study for this paper. One feature of this class was the introduction of three different BIM software packages during a single semester, which enabled students to use BIM tools to conduct "what-if" sustainability analyses during design and construction scenarios. A residential and a commercial building were used as class projects to allow students to demonstrate the knowledge they had learned in class. Project results and student feedback were collected for an analysis of learning effectiveness. By incorporating case studies into the course, the authors were able to develop procedures and content appropriate for BIM-based instruction of building sustainability in a new and creative way. The preliminary results demonstrated that BIM can be used as an effective tool for teaching sustainability in a construction curriculum. The authors hope the described work will promote more discussion and additional sharing of knowledge on this important topic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
PublisherAmerican Society for Engineering Education
ISBN (Print)9780878232413
StatePublished - 2012
Event119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - San Antonio, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 10 2012Jun 13 2012

Publication series

NameASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2153-5965


Conference119th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio, TX


  • BIM
  • Building construction
  • Ecotect®
  • Education
  • Revit
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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