Ecological Change in the Construction Industry
For its “GREENbimlabs” research project, an international team of engineers, software developers, and business administrators has now received start-up funding from the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, BMWi for short. Led by Stanimira Markova, the Department of Building Planning and Realization at RWTH’s Faculty of Architecture contributes to developing a strategy effecting an ecological shift in the construction industry.
To this purpose, the research group is developing a software tool which is capable of modeling the reusability and resource efficiency of building materials for the entire life cycle of a building from the design to demolition. The aim is to launch a spin-off company after an 18-month period of research at RWTH Aachen. The Ministry supports the project and the launch of the company within the EXIST research transfer program by providing about half a million Euros in funding.
At various universities, including TU Wien, ETH Zürich and RWTH Aachen, Stanimira Markova has conducted research on digitalization and sustainability in the building construction sector. She explains, ”So far, digital modeling in the service of sustainable construction is not as yet far advanced. Unlike energy efficiency, the recyclability of building materials has been completely neglected in construction. According to European studies, about half the consumption of materials and about a third of the entire waste generation is due to the construction and use of buildings. Markova is convinced, “both environmental problems can be successfully addressed with the help of digital solutions.”
The target groups for the software are planners, manufacturers, contractors, public authorities, and building operators who want to reuse valuable materials and increase the profitability of construction projects. With the help of the software, users are able to analyze and optimize the reusability and recyclability of building materials and products and the resulting waste. For the first time, the overall maintenance and life cycle costs of entire construction projects can be simulated. This is made possible with the help of an innovative 3D model-based process named “Building Information Modeling,” BIM for short.
At RWTH, the team is supported by the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Alexander Markschies, and Vice-Dean Sabine Brück. “When Stanimira Markova contacted me in the context of her application for the EXIST grant, I did not hesitate a second to support the project,” said Brück. And as Alexander Markschies put it: “The team, the idea, it all fits together – I very much believe in the potential of GREENbimlabs.” The research team also receives support from business: “We are glad to support GREENbimlabs in an advisory capacity,” said Hagen Schmidt-Bleker, managing director of the Aachen-based company Formitas.