Current Opportunities and Challenges in the Incorporation of the LCA Method in BIM

Vera Durão1, António Aguiar Costa1, José Dinis Silvestre1, *, Ricardo Mateus2, Ruben Santos1, Jorge de Brito1
1 Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Georesources, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
2 Department of Civil Engineering, ISISE, School of Engineering, University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal

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© 2020 Durão et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture and Georesources, Instituto Superior Técnico, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal; Email:



In the last years, Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) have been integrated to support the pursuit of sustainability in the built environment. However, the integration of environmental information with different specificity and reliability requirements on distinct Levels of Development (LOD) of BIM objects was not yet exploited considering several environmental impact categories.


The objective of this paper is to discuss the complexity and depth of LCA information needed for BIM objects, considering different LOD, and to propose a parametrisation of environmental information be included in BIM objects according to their LODs.


A literature review on LCA methodology, sources of LCA information, integration of LCA in BIM, and LOD of BIM objects was initially performed, followed by a detailed characterisation of the different types of sources of LCA information to include in BIM models. These steps contributed to the development of the proposed parametrisation of environmental data.


A parametrisation of environmental information to be included in BIM objects was developed. This parametrisation considered the degree at which the element’s information has been specified (LOD) and the respective detail and reliability of the environmental information to include.


A new approach is proposed that allows an evolutive integration of environmental information in BIM objects according to their growing LODs.

Keywords: Building information modelling (BIM), Building sustainability, Environmental information, Level of development (LOD), Life cycle assessment (LCA), Parametric objects.