PassivBIM: Enhancing interoperability between BIM and low energy design software

Alexandra Cemesova, Christina J. Hopfe, Robert McLeod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The process of building design is currently undergoing some major changes. In an attempt to mitigate climate change, the design of more sustainable building is advocated by the UK government. Furthermore, standalone design methods are being replaced with the concept of Building Information Modelling (BIM). The adoption of BIM has been documented to result in many benefits, which range from time to cost savings. During the initial planning stages, building performance simulation (BPS) can be used to inform design decisions. Data can be exchanged between BIM and BPS tools using data transfer schemas such as the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC). The IFC schema lacks an energy domain, and as a result, an extension is proposed in this paper. This contains energy concepts from a BPS tool called Passive House Planning Package (PHPP). The extended schema was developed by way of an externally coupled Java tool, which facilitates the transfer of data, and informs the building design decision-making process. The process of geometry extraction has been validated with several case studies, which are based on certified Passivhaus buildings in Hannover Kronsberg, Germany and Ebbw Vale, Wales. The amount of error is acceptable, and it is mostly due to differences in the initial BIM model set up, not due to the processing of IFC files.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages16
JournalAutomation in Construction
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2015. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


  • Building Information Modelling
  • Industry Foundation Classes
  • Passivhaus standard


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