An integrated building information modelling-based environmental impact assessment framework

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The application of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies faces many challenges, especially in developing countries. This problem was investigated in the existing literature and via a designed questionnaire among local practitioners. The reasons were mainly attributed to the seclusion of the EIA process across the project’s phases, as well as the complexity of the EIA procedures. Hence, the research argues that Building Information Modelling (BIM) applications can be the key to resolve several associated problems to EIA either directly, or indirectly by streamlining Environmental Management System (EMS). Thus, a keyword-based scientometric analysis was used to define parameters and interrelations and establish network analysis for a proposed BIM-based EIA framework. The proposed framework presents scoring schemes to support three types of assessments: the efficiency of applying BIM techniques for an EIA process (Score A), proper integration of BIM techniques for different EIA steps (Score I) and proper integration of BIM techniques across project phases (Score B). It also shows the interplay of points between the three schemes via a Sankey diagram. The proposed framework was applied to compare three major construction projects in a developing country, the case of Egypt to pinpoint areas of drawbacks. The results pinpointed poor application of advanced BIM models to support sustainability analysis for EIA studies. This is in addition to imbalance of applying BIM applications across different project phases, it was notably less pronounced for the operation and maintenance stage as well as end of life scenarios. Also, poor integration of BIM tools could not support decisions related to the mitigation step. Hence, applying 6-dimensional BIM model shall enable developing mitigation measures and shall support design optimization during building operation and end of life phase. This novel approach presents the required level of verification and quality control procedure needed by decision-makers and environmental engineers to perform EIA studies and pave the way for further related research.