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BIM-enabled sustainability assessment of material supply decisions

Alireza Ahmadian F.F. (School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Taha H. Rashidi (School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
Ali Akbarnezhad (School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)
S. Travis Waller (School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 17 July 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Enhancing sustainability of the supply process of construction materials is challenging and requires accounting for a variety of environmental and social impacts on top of the traditional, mostly economic, impacts associated with a particular decision involved in the management of the supply chain. The economic, environmental, and social impacts associated with various components of a typical supply chain are highly sensitive to project and market specific conditions. The purpose of this paper is to provide decision makers with a methodology to account for the systematic trade-offs between economic, environmental, and social impacts of supply decisions.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper proposes a novel framework for sustainability assessment of construction material supply chain decisions by taking advantage of the information made available by customized building information models (BIM) and a number of different databases required for assessment of life cycle impacts.

Findings

The framework addresses the hierarchy of decisions in the material supply process, which consists of four levels including material type, source of supply, supply chain structure, and mode of transport. The application is illustrated using a case study.

Practical implications

The proposed framework provides users with a decision-making method to select the most sustainable material alternative available for a building component and, thus, may be of great value to different parties involved in design and construction of a building. The multi-dimensional approach in selection process based on various economic, environmental, and social indicators as well as the life cycle perspective implemented through the proposed methodology advocates the life cycle thinking and the triple bottom line approach in sustainability. The familiarity of the new generation of engineers, architects, and contractors with this approach and its applications is essential to achieve sustainability in construction.

Originality/value

A decision-making model for supply of materials is proposed by integrating the BIM-enabled life cycle assessment into supply chain and project constraints management. The integration is achieved through addition of a series of attributes to typical BIM. The framework is supplemented by a multi-attribute decision-making module based on the technique for order preference by similarity to ideal solution to account for the trade-offs between different economic and environmental impacts associated with the supply decisions.

Keywords

Citation

Ahmadian F.F., A., Rashidi, T.H., Akbarnezhad, A. and Waller, S.T. (2017), "BIM-enabled sustainability assessment of material supply decisions", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 668-695. https://doi.org/10.1108/ECAM-12-2015-0193

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited