Editorial Feature

What Are the Benefits of Using BIM for Construction Waste Management?

Construction and demolition activities are the leading sources of waste in commercial projects, consuming substantial land area for disposal and presenting environmental hazards.1,2 Consequently, construction waste management (CWM) is essential for sustainable building practices to reduce the environmental impacts of the construction industry.1

Revolutionizing Construction Waste Management with BIM

Image Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock.com

Building Information Modeling (BIM) serves as a crucial tool in construction, enabling virtual demonstration of buildings during the construction phase. BIM also predicts material wastage, facilitating effective management, which conserves natural resources and lowers project costs. Various BIM tools have been developed to tackle the substantial issues associated with construction waste.1 This article examines the use of BIM in CWM, discussing the challenges faced and the progress made in this area.

Introduction to BIM

BIM is a digital demonstration of a building's physical and operational parameters, allowing effective knowledge interchange between all the project stakeholders through the construction process.1 Over the years, it has emerged as a powerful building tool that improves several aspects of project delivery and offers remedies to the challenges related to construction activities, including CWM.2

Data-rich BIM models enhance the organization of timely deliveries for equipment, materials, and workforce by integrating details about materials and geometry into expense and schedule data.2 The extensive data managed by BIM algorithms supports data-driven sustainable construction through effective planning, cost management, and risk identification.1

In CWM, BIM-based strategies help reduce construction and demolition waste (CDW) by helping to more rigorously plan construction activities, identify conflicts, and facilitate accurate quantity take-offs, thereby estimating construction waste more accurately.1 Notably, BIM reduces waste generation throughout the entire project lifecycle. For instance, employing BIM solely during the design phase can decrease CDW by up to 2 %, and this reduction can reach up to 15 % when BIM is implemented across the entire process.2

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BIM Applications in CWM

BIM enhances four-dimensional planning to effectively manage waste on construction sites through precise onsite waste collection, segregation, and deconstruction. This approach ensures timely material delivery during the construction phase, preventing damage and waste caused by prolonged storage.1,2 Additionally, BIM’s meticulous site planning minimizes waste by avoiding design errors and unnecessary shipments, properly sorting reused and recycled components, and strategically scheduling material usage.1

Design for Deconstruction (DfD), a significant benefit of BIM, facilitates the substitution of deconstruction for demolition by altering construction techniques—such as replacing welding with joints in steel structures. This capability also allows BIM to quantify recyclable or reusable materials during the demolition or deconstruction process, effectively transforming buildings into material banks.2

Along with other benefits, BIM can lower the CWM expenses by up to 57 % compared to the traditional methods. Moreover, the information obtained from BIM expedites material fabrication and promotes prefabricated components over cast-in-place ones, decreasing concrete waste by up to 70 %.2 Overall, BIM augments decision-making for effective waste management and promotes economical and environmentally friendly construction materials for green buildings.1


Despite the enormous potential of BIM, its application in CWM is limited due to some challenges. Firstly, most current buildings include ambiguous, outdated information regarding demolition, which is the major source of construction waste. In such conditions, BIM requires data collection by surveying the existing structures. The process is time-consuming and expensive for practitioners with limited budgets.1

Apart from the unavailability of resources, the use of BIM is hindered by a lack of awareness and concerns regarding the security of stored data and information. These issues negatively impact the perceived usefulness of the technology. Furthermore, insufficient government provisions and the missing market motivation impede BIM-based CWM. BIM adoption in all construction phases requires appropriate computing skills and training, which is challenging for many existing stakeholders.1

Construction projects often necessitate material sourcing and waste disposal across distant locations, sometimes internationally, leading to uncertainties in policies and potential legal disputes.1 Additionally, the variation in regulations and environmental standards concerning CWM across different regions adds complexity. Consequently, the sustainability evaluation intrinsic to BIM must be tailored to accommodate specific local budgetary and regulatory conditions, complicating its implementation.3

Latest Developments

Several BIM-based approaches are being developed for efficient CWM. For instance, a recent article published in the Journal of Environmental Management proposed a BIM-integrated visual demolition waste management (DWM) planning system. This practical system for sustainable CWM uses simple inventory assessment and multi-criteria decision-aiding methods.

Moreover, the color coding used for quantifying and visualizing the recycling costs of building components provides pictorial assistance for sustainable building design and careful demolition planning. The researchers demonstrated the system's application and efficiency for DWM in a real project.3

Another recent article in Automation in Construction explored the information standards for automated construction waste quantification (WQ) and classification. This review underscores the need for accurate estimation and comprehensive categorization of construction waste, which are essential for enhanced Construction Waste Management (CWM).

An analytical examination of the various quantification models highlighted that uniform data representation, standardized information, lifecycle analysis, and interoperability between BIM and waste databases are critical to automating and enhancing WQ efficacy. Additionally, a BIM-backed theoretical framework was developed to automate the incorporation of WQ in project planning.4

Future Prospects

BIM arguably represents the future of the construction industry, making construction projects sustainable.2 However, further advances are required to realize its full potential in CWM.

Firstly, novel BIM-based technologies need to be reinforced with the theoretical underpinnings of waste management to move further than the design and construction phases. These technologies should be adaptable throughout a project’s lifecycle and enable a seamless data transition across all project stages, from its commencement to its operation, maintenance, end-of-life, and beyond.2

A transition from using BIM as a chief data source for design and construction to digital engineering (DE) is possible in the future. This implies an amalgamation of several technological advances concentrated around BIM, which will enable data and information sharing regarding all the components included in a structure beyond project teams.2

DE systems should be based on data models linking the market, suppliers, manufacturers, and managers of buildings.2 Additionally, intelligent decision-making can be realized in these smart systems by implementing advanced machine learning algorithms in BIM, which can comprehend the results and optimize the sustainability of CWM methods against various contradictory conditions.3

References and Further Reading

1. Liphadzi, N. M., Musonda, I., & Onososen, A. (2022). The use of building information modelling tools for effective waste management: A systematic review. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science1101(6), 062001. https://doi.org/10.1088/1755-1315/1101/6/062001

2. Nikmehr, B., Hosseini, M. R., Wang, J., Chileshe, N., & Rameezdeen, R. (2021). BIM-Based Tools for Managing Construction and Demolition Waste (CDW): A Scoping Review. Sustainability13(15), 8427. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158427

3. Han, D., Kalantari, M., & Rajabifard, A. (2024). The development of an integrated BIM-based visual demolition waste management planning system for sustainability-oriented decision-making. Journal of Environmental Management351, 119856. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvman.2023.119856

4. Sivashanmugam, S., Rodriguez, S., Pour Rahimian, F., Elghaish, F., & Dawood, N. (2023). Enhancing information standards for automated construction waste quantification and classification. Automation in Construction152, 104898. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.autcon.2023.104898

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Article Revisions

  • May 17 2024 - Title changed from "Revolutionizing Construction Waste Management with BIM" to "What Are the Benefits of Using BIM for Construction Waste Management?"
Nidhi Dhull

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Nidhi Dhull

Nidhi Dhull is a freelance scientific writer, editor, and reviewer with a PhD in Physics. Nidhi has an extensive research experience in material sciences. Her research has been mainly focused on biosensing applications of thin films. During her Ph.D., she developed a noninvasive immunosensor for cortisol hormone and a paper-based biosensor for E. coli bacteria. Her works have been published in reputed journals of publishers like Elsevier and Taylor & Francis. She has also made a significant contribution to some pending patents.  


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