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New research team to support green and smart technology use in Ningbo building industry

The University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) has secured 5.6m RMB to help the Chinese construction industry use eco-friendly and “smart” building technologies.

China’s building industry currently lags behind many other industrial nations, with low production efficiency and high energy usage affecting many new-build properties.

The current situation could delay the progress of Chinese “smart” cities, which aim to reduce resource consumption and cost and use digital technologies to benefit their citizens.

In a bid to tackle the issue, the Department of Architecture and Built Environment at UNNC is now leading a “GIS-BIM Based Green Smart Building Technical Innovation Team”, with support from Ningbo Science & Technology Bureau.

The innovation team comprises 22 researchers from UNNC (from Built Environment, Civil Engineering, Computer Science and Geographical Sciences), local design institutes and Building Information Modeling (BIM) consulting companies in Ningbo.

The team will also invite Ningbo construction industry’s governing body to provide resources, pilot projects and platforms to inform the research.

Over the next three years, the innovation team will explore the potential of Geographic Information System (GIS) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies and how they can be integrated into local construction practices in China.

GIS is a technical system to implement the collection, storage, management, calculation, analysis, display and description of geospatial information data. The results help to understand what is happening in geographical space which can increase efficiency in building planning and design.

BIM is a growing technology used in the building industry worldwide. It uses digital technics to create and use intelligent 3D models to communicate building project decisions.

In the UK and Singapore have both announced compulsory provisions and set relative standards for the implementation of BIM. In 2015, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development of China also announced suggestions of BIM implementation. Shanghai even set a clear timeline for the promotion of BIM which would be started in pubic-funded projects.

“Therefore, it can be predicted that BIM technology will become the core competence of Chinese construction and building industries in the foreseeable future,” explains Professor Llewellyn Tang, who is Head of Architecture and Built Environment Department at UNNC and participated in setting UK BIM Standards.

Research by the innovation team will focus on the integration of BIM with GIS systems:

• BIM Information Foundation Classes (IFC)-compliance of local, green/smart building information storage and logging standards
• GIS-assistive technologies for each development stage of green/smart building construction
• BIM-based green design technologies to develop a data integration and management platform for green/smart building lifecycle

“A tough problem is how to integrate GIS with BIM to implement the extension of GIS application domains, meanwhile improve the application values of BIM, and ultimately to provide services for the green smart building industry within an integrated platform,” said Professor Tang.

The team aims to devise a platform to handle database management, modelling management, smart operation management and lifecycle monitoring management.

Information extraction, storage, transfer and modifications will be completed quickly on the platform and updated in the network cloud system to synchronise with smart terminals.

At the end of the project, the team plans to pilot the platform on construction projects in Ningbo and to share BIM development recommendations with relevant government departments to benefit the Ningbo-based construction industry and support the future of its smart cities. 

Story credits
Emma Lowry - International Media Relations Manager

For more information contact Dr Llewellyn Tang on +86 574 8818 0940 or

More press information about UNNC is available from Selina Hu, communications officer. 

Posted on 9 November 2015