Green BIM - Green building infrastructure as part of BIM-based planning and maintenance

Fusion of greenery and BIM planning to achieve a friction-free conducting and maintenance. By analysing the case studies, “Green BIM” examined to what extent typical steps in planning regarding greened buildings can be edited by characteristic software programs in a BIM-equitable way. The expected outcomes are supplements to international standards for data structures in civil engineering (IFC / ISO 16739) which are further on added to BIM applications by the software industry.

Short Description


completed (February 2023)

Motivation and research question

Greening of buildings as well as innovative large-scale horizontal greening projects are increasingly used in our cities. They demonstrably improve the microclimate and increase the well-being of people in the immediate living and working environment. However, the interdisciplinary subject of building and building greening represents a complex planning system that always has to be dealt with across interfaces and trades. Highly technical façade and roof greening systems in particular require holistic, well-thought-out planning that includes not only the execution and installation, but also the ongoing operation and technical maintenance of the green systems. This makes an early and timely integration of green roofs into BIM models all the more important. In practice, however, it is rarely the case that the entire life cycle of building greening is considered in planning processes from the very beginning.

This problem has been addressed by the research project "Green BIM. Building greening as part of BIM-based planning and maintenance" (FFG no. 873526; duration 1 November 2019 to 30 November 2022) and the results achieved. In the Green BIM research project, an interdisciplinary team has come together to bring the application of BIM to all process phases from planning, construction, green care and technical maintenance of green building structures (roof, façade and interior green spaces). The project thus lays the foundations to prepare landscape planning and landscape architecture, vegetation technology and especially structural greening for participation in open BIM processes.

Initial situation/status quo

BIM-based building greening promotes the approach of thinking about, simulating, calculating, planning and operating greening and green structures together with the building, starting from the initial design idea along the entire process chain - planning, building and operation - and thus presenting a convincing solution to the client. While architecture and general planning offices are already working intensively with BIM (Building Information Modelling = a model database containing all the information required for the optimised planning, execution and management of a building), essential basics are still missing for landscape architecture, landscape planning and vegetation technology. To date, consistent and data loss-free BIM modelling of building greening is only possible within proprietary data formats (closed BIM), as the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) interface of BIM modelling software for open data exchange (open BIM) is not yet capable of sufficiently representing elements of building greening in the digital models.

Project contents and objectives

The aim of the Green BIM research project was to prepare the integration of structural greening in BIM models on several levels in order to enable a fusion of greening and BIM planning for friction-free planning, execution, implementation and maintenance. The individual structural components should also be created for building greening. In a first step, the Green BIM project therefore aimed to include green structures in BIM processes and to supplement existing standards (IFC / ISO 16739) for their planning and lifecycle integration in BIM accordingly. The aim was to develop suitable structural components (domain/class/types/characteristics) for the various disciplines involved in building greening, based on the structure and content of the currently valid IFC standard, so that digital planning, construction process and operational management processes in building greening are enabled or supported.

Methodical procedure

Based on a comprehensive status-quo analysis of the range of green building types and categories, all BIM-relevant data was compiled, taking into account the state of the art, standards (ÖNORM), (vegetation) technical regulations and other regulations such as the FLL guidelines. Through the analysis of concrete case studies, the criteria for BIM-based planning over the entire life cycle were elaborated in the further course of the project. Based on this, an analysis of required parameters and attributes for the entire process chain "planning - construction - operation with green care, maintenance and repair" was carried out.

Results and conclusions

The results of the project are proposals for an IFC standard from the perspective of building greening. Metadata was developed that contains the attributes required for BIM-based design, construction, maintenance and green maintenance - the so-called "Green BIM IFC data structure" including information for the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bsDD) - as well as the corresponding client information requirements (AIA). In addition to these requirements for the basic data structure, the Green BIM research project also developed basic requirements with regard to different levels of detail of model information in the course of the project. These refer to various gradations with regard to the alphanumeric (LOI) and geometric (LOG) levels of detail, as well as detailed specifications for the modelling of building greening systems. In addition, documents for phase models and case studies (process patterns) were prepared.

All companies, organisations, technology providers, building owners, authorities and agencies as well as facility management involved in green building planning/maintenance will benefit from the results of the project and the following disciplines will receive a technology boost: green building, vegetation technology, landscape architecture, landscape planning, technical maintenance and upkeep as well as green maintenance. For the further dissemination of the project results, an association „Verein zur Förderung der Grünen Baukultur" (loosely translated: "Association for the Promotion of Green Building Culture") ( was founded by some project partners.
Outlook: What was developed in the Green BIM project for green building is essentially relevant for the entire green sector in order to set the digitalisation step for joint digital and integral planning and working. The results of the project form the optimal basis for a future digitally interlinked work of architecture and construction engineering with structural greening. In the long term, the metadata and data structures required for BIM modelling of building greening should also flow into the IFC standard. In the future, it should be possible to include building greening from the initial idea to strategy and planning, construction, operation and after-use, and also to include the life cycle in the entire process.

Project Partners

Project management Bente Knoll, B-NK GmbH Büro für nachhaltige Kompetenz

Project- or cooperation partners

  • TU Graz - Institut für Baubetrieb und Bauwirtschaft, Fachbereich Integrated Building Systems
  • AEE - Institut für Nachhaltige Technologien
  • tbw solutions ZT GesmbH / Geschäftsbereich ODE office for digital engineering
  • VASKO+PARTNER INGENIEURE Ziviltechniker für Bauwesen und Verfahrenstechnik GesmbH
  • teamgmi Ingenieurbüro GmbH
  • Kräftner Landschaftsarchitektur
  • Dipl.-Ing. Ralf Dopheide e.U.
  • buildingSMART

Contact Address

B-NK GmbH Büro für nachhaltige Kompetenz (Consultancy for Sustainable Competence) Bente Knoll
Schönbrunner Straße 59-61/10
A-1050 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 990 89 96
Mobil: +43 (676) 646 10 15