digiactiv - digital transformation for more interactivity in MEP-(mechanical, electrical and plumbing-)planning

The aim of the digiactiv project is to improve the interoperability between the different stakeholders in the building construction sector using open and neutral semantic data models. With digital transformation processes, digiactiv helps to increase the quality of planning and the operation of buildings, as well as to minimize the interface risk between various stakeholders.

Short Description



Starting point / motivation

In the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) industry mainly schematic 2D representations (HVAC drawings) are used, that abstract the essential components of a technical system with symbols in functionally correct arrangement. The functional groups and their related technical processes are clearly shown in those schemes. The elaborated hydraulic schema describes the system whose capacities have been dimensioned for the design case (full load case for heating- and cooling systems).

However, the HVAC planner cannot represent the operation modes of individual HVAC components (e.g. conditions for switching operation modes, set points, etc.) alongside it for the same design case, even if he had considered them during the planning phase. Information about the different behavior of the system depending on the current operation mode, especially part load behavior, is however essential for building control (BC) and building automation (BA), because efficient control strategies for the plan can (only) be developed and optimized based on this information.

Regardless of whether the energy distribution network has been planned in a BIM environment or in a conventional drawing application, representing the design of a plant using an HVAC schema remains a separate step of the building design process. Therefore, the development and change management of this abstract schema is still a process that is mostly manual and disconnected from other disciplines (HVAC vs. BC/BA), which is risky and error prone. Absence of digital interfaces between different disciplines creates digital islands between Architecture, HVAC and BC/BA.

Contents and goals

The goal of the digiaktiv project is to link and interconnect the information using digital interfaces and new methods, in order to significantly improve cross-trade communication during planning of buildings, especially through interaction of HVAC and BC/BA trades. The use of open data models is intended to improve the interoperability and "linkability" (using linked-data approaches) of different disciplines' models.


Said data models will be developed working closely with specialists of different disciplines and will be integrated into existing or newly developed workflows, thereby improving the workflows through the digital transformation process. Interface risks will be minimized by adopting the openBIM approach. The semantic models compatible with the existing general-purpose as well as domain-specific ontologies will be developed for this purpose.

Additionally, processes and methods to facilitate continuous updating and transferring of relevant planning data between HVAC and BC/BA will be developed. The goal is that by using this multi data model (information hub) and processes, will allow the trade-specific teams to work more efficiently together and will drastically reduce the possibility of errors due to the better interactivity and up-to-date models.

Expected results

The functionality and usability of developed methods will be validated in different situations and for different lifecycle phases for HVAC and BC/BA. "Interactive" schemes also support the digital transformation process in the construction industry, especially with regard to the submission and the quality of the documentation.

Project Partners

Project management

AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH

Project or cooperation partners

  • Vasko + Partner, Ingenieure, Ziviltechniker für Bauwesen und Verfahrenstechnik Ges.m.b.H.
  • EAM Systems GmbH

Contact Address

Sustainable Thermal Energy Systems, Center for Energy
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
Stefan Hauer
Giefinggasse 2
A-1210 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (664) 2351746
E-mail: stefan.hauer@ait.ac.at