Emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activity are the main reason for global warming. It is known that the construction industry accounts for 40% of world energy consumption and CO2
emissions, and research on reducing building energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions has grown over the years. Meanwhile, with the comprehensive development of informatization in the 21st century, BIM as a revolutionary concept has been widely addressed. The term BIM attracted the interest of Autodesk, who started to market BIM technology and related software products. The concept of BIM was presented as a technology for the construction sector that could improve efficiency and reduce costs during the various stages of construction management [1
]. After nearly ten years of rapid development, BIM technology has shown strong capabilities in various building fields, including building energy consumption.
The majority of studies can be grouped into the following categories: The first category is the analysis of energy consumption during the construction cycle. Energy consumption research is refined to each stage from the perspective of the whole life cycle of the building. The second category is studying the energy consumption reduction by analyzing the types of the buildings and their structural orientation. The third category is about user behavior analysis that examines how building users affect energy consumption. Through influencing factors analysis, methods to reduce energy consumption and their applications in engineering practice can be addressed. The fourth research category connects BIM and traditional energy consumption management software systems or other technologies. Overall, BIM technology can be used to develop third-party plug-ins or build energy consumption management platforms for practical applications.
Firstly, in the analysis of how building cycle affects energy use, Xu et al. found the causes of the building energy consumption performance gap (BEPG) and developed a BIM framework for the whole life cycle to systematically improve building energy efficiency [2
]. Gan et al. proposed the method of applying computer technology to the construction industry to decrease energy use throughout the life cycle of structures [3
]. Belussi et al. proposed the introduction of renewable resources into buildings, resulting in the concept of zero-energy building (ZEB) [4
]. On this basis, EI Sayary and Omar applied BIM technology to zero-energy buildings. They believed that BIM should not only be used as software for assessing the consumption of energy in buildings and established a template for calculating energy consumption through BIM ideas to control energy consumption in the early design process of buildings [5
]. Wei and Chen found that combining value engineering and BIM techniques helps improve design optimization and reduce building energy consumption at the design stage [6
]. Zhang, C et al. integrated hidden energy consumption in the process of building construction and transportation into a BIM platform and connected the BIM model with an external database. Through analyzing different combinations of various resources, a lower energy consumption can be achieved [7
Secondly, in terms of architecture itself, one important research aspect is improving building envelopes to improve energy efficiency [8
]. David Bienvenido-Huertas found that the thermal transmittance of the walls is critical in the energy consumption of the building envelope [12
]. Guo and Wei discovered increasing building energy savings by reducing the design cost of the building envelope [13
]. Jeon et al. used BIM technology to simulate the energy of building maintenance structural units and determine how building conditions affect energy use [14
]. For research on energy consumption reduction in transforming building envelope structures, many scholars have considered the integration of BIM technology [15
]. Abanda and Byers investigated how building orientation affects building energy demand by using Revit, a BIM technology tool, and Green Building Studio, an energy simulation software [19
]. Javier et al. employed BIM technology to enhance hospital buildings’ energy management systems [20
]. Stegnar and Cerovsek applied BIM technology to an office building project, effectively simplifying the energy-saving transformation process of the office building [21
]. Another area of interest by Mataloto et al. was the effect of user activity on energy consumption in buildings. They suggested using BIM data to help users understand environmental conditions in order to change user behavior and decrease energy use [23
Finally, in terms of the combination of BIM technology and new technology, Chong et al. combined BIM with a building energy management system (BEMS) for Bayesian calibration and found that BIM technology was significantly helpful for the BEMS system [24
]. Kim et al. applied BIM technology to building energy analysis (BEA), which successfully increased the possibility of exploring different solutions in the BEA process [25
]. Verdaguer et al. conducted a life cycle assessment (LCA) based on BIM technology to assess environmental and energy consumption impacts [26
It is difficult to comprehensively summarize the development and application trend of BIM technology in the improvement of building energy consumption. Many scholars applied the method of scientometrics to sort the knowledge of the whole subject field [27
]. Fetrati Mahdieh A and Hansen Davidand Akhavan Payman used scientometrics in the field of organizational creativity and addressed the method of managing organizational creativity [31
]. At the same time, there are a large number of studies using scientometrics to study the application of BIM technology in various fields [32
]. Scientometrics is also used to analyze the research field of BIM technology separately [34
]. Therefore, it is crucial to thoroughly examine how BIM technology is used in the sector of building energy consumption. Citespace and Vosviewer are used to perform bibliometric analysis and screening of the Wos database, based on which a literature review analysis was performed to identify the most active research areas and research methods. In addition, some possible research objects, research methods, research directions, and research challenges are determined based on the results of the scientometrics analysis.
2. Materials and Methods
In recent years, scientometrics has gradually become one of the common methods used by researchers and universities to evaluate scientific research performance. This work adopts the method of bibliometric analysis and scientometric analysis. Firstly, the appropriate database and related literature are selected through bibliometric analysis, and then the scientific econometric analysis is carried out. Before the scientometric analysis, the significance of bibliometric analysis is to evaluate the relevant journals and find the appropriate literature, so as to make the results of scientometric analysis more credible. The present study will use scientometrics methods to analyze the application of BIM technology in the field of building energy consumption. Based on series analysis, the research hotspots, the most updated research, and historical changes of the use of BIM in the field of building energy consumption will be analyzed. The research process adopted in this paper is shown in Figure 1
2.1. Research Methods
Scientometrics is an emerging subject of quantitative research. Its research content describes the process of scientific development, reveals the internal mechanisms of scientific development, predicts the trend of scientific development, and provides a support basis for scientific management. The research method is mainly quantitative analysis. For research and analysis, Citespace and Vosviewer software are used in this study.
CiteSpace software was developed by Dr. Chaomei Chen, a Chinese scholar at the School of Information Science and Technology at Drexel University. It is used to assess the prospective knowledge in scientific analysis. By using visualization, it may demonstrate the internal logic, structure, and distribution of scientific information. In this study, Citespace was used to export a picture network of keyword cluster analysis and journal publishing areas and so on, so that the quantitative results based on data analysis could be used for subsequent qualitative research. Vosviewer is a document analysis and visualization software developed by the Technical Research Center of Leiden University in the Netherlands. The main advantage of Vosviewer over other document metering software is its powerful graphical display capability. This makes it suitable for processing large amounts of data. This paper uses Vosviewer to derive visual images of quantitative analysis including keyword co-occurrence analysis and author co-citation networks. By combining Citespace with Vosviewer, BIM technology in building energy consumption is comprehensively discussed and analyzed.
2.2. Data Sources
The current favorite source of cited data by many researchers is the Web of Science (WOS) database, which covers more than 10,000 topics and more than 10,000 subfields. WOS covers the majority of pertinent papers written by top academics and has high impact and a broad international scope. In order to ensure the reliability and comprehensiveness of data sources, this study uses the WOS database as a data source.
In this paper, building energy consumption and BIM were selected by the keyword retrieval method, 491 search results were obtained from the WOS database. Keyword search results were not filtered, and journals, conferences, and books were all included to allow for a more comprehensive study of the subject area. There was no limit on the collection period, but the collected articles are from 2010 to 2022, demonstrating that the first publication on how BIM technology is being used to reduce building energy usage began in 2010. To further guarantee the validity of data sources, the language was set as English, the WOS core collection was screened out, and the repetition was screened out through Citespace. Finally, 377 WOS retrieval results were obtained.
By using “Burst Terms” from the CiteSpace research literature, the keywords that used to be studied, the developing ones, and those emerging ones are obtained, as shown in Figure 10
. The higher the strength of the keyword, the more attention it will receive from researchers within the time interval marked red in the figure, reflecting the research frontier and hot spot of BIM technology in the field of building energy consumption from 2011 to 2022. The timeline view shows how keywords have evolved through time and how they have coexisted with different words. At the same time, “Burst articles” can also describe the hot areas in the field of research throughout a specific time period. Therefore, this paper combines the “burst terms” with the “burst articles” to better summarize some important issues in the application of BIM technology in building energy consumption. In this study, keywords are clustered by time and divided into four categories. Further discussion is as follows.
A (BIM): From 2012 to 2015, the research in this field was just emerging, and most articles were discussing the possibility of combining BIM technology with building energy consumption. For example, Wong, JKW [50
] shows that through the experience of the LEED (Leading in Environmental Energy and Design) project in the United States, there is great potential in combining BIM technology with building assessment. They explored the possible use of BIM in a sustainable-building-certified residential building project in Hong Kong through a Delphi study and case study. The building model fully incorporated and employed by BIM technology is discovered to be highly complex [51
]. High levels of energy performance can only be attained by constructing multi-objective design optimization on the complicated building model. This study proposed a BIM-based performance optimization integration framework—BPOpt—and gave an application example. Gokce and Gokce [52
] found a lack of effective technologies for managing and monitoring buildings, and in the study, the building’s management has been severely constrained. The study addresses the issues of creating comprehensive information control through extensive application of BIM tools and non-information conventional instruments. The system’s dependability was subsequently confirmed in a research facility.
The above documents from 2012 to 2015 have built a framework or system through BIM technology to carry out case applications in the field of building energy consumption, which is still a mainstream research focus in recent years [53
]. It is also noted that there is not an application framework or system for the use of BIM technology in the area of building energy [56
]. Therefore, in future research, studies can focus on how to develop a standardized BIM system to solve most engineering energy consumption problems as the main direction. This paper puts forward several views.
The construction of a BIM standardization system cannot be separated from the support of the government. At present, the government often pays more attention to policy and personnel factors but ignores the influence of economic factors. Therefore, relevant government departments should consider the input cost and economic benefit of BIM technology application in building energy consumption enterprises when formulating policies. At the same time, some incentive and tax preferential policies can be formulated to reward and promote key and difficult projects.
When formulating policies, the government should adopt differentiated policies for enterprises of different natures and sizes, for example, increasing support and incentive policies for small- and medium-sized enterprises that employ BIM technology to reduce emissions and conserve energy, and selecting some large enterprises that use BIM to reduce building energy consumption to promote and set examples.
Enterprises’ cognition on BIM technology is also very important. To apply the BIM technology in construction energy filed, improvements in the cognition of employees and senior management personnel is necessary. It is significantly important that senior managers and employees can understand the future value of applying BIM technology to reduce building energy consumption.
Therefore, relevant associations, institutions, and government departments must strengthen the education, training, and publicity of BIM technology in the field of enterprise building energy consumption. The key to the implementation of BIM technology is to improve employees’ understanding on BIM technology and obtain relevant supports from senior management departments, especially enterprise leaders. The application of the new information technology in green buildings can attract more young talent, and the increase in such corporate labels and corporate culture is also of great benefit to the enterprise itself.
B (energy simulation): From 2016 to 2017, the research upsurge in this field gradually transformed into energy simulation, that is, the model established by BIM technology is imported into energy simulation software, such as Green Building Studio and Modelica, and transformed into a BEM (building energy model). The parameters of the transformation model were analyzed to observe and detect the building energy consumption. Take the study by Abanda as an illustration, by applying Revit modeling and importing it into energy simulation software Green Building Studio, the research demonstrated that a building’s orientation has a substantial impact on the energy consumption [19
]. Jeong et al. [58
] proposed a framework that combines BIM and BEM based on object-oriented physical modeling, and the automatic conversion of the BIM model into a building energy model based on Modelica and thermal simulation was also investigated. The simulation results can be exported through visual components for architectural designers to view at any time. By viewing thermal simulation, architects can adjust the overall building energy consumption problem. Choi et al. [59
] aims to increase the interoperability of BIM-based EPAs by creating a system with assistance from EPAs (energy performance assessments). A case study simulation experiment is run concurrently to test the system’s reliability.
There are still a lot of similar case studies using software modeling; however, the following need to be considered: firstly, how to carry on the case study research without the corresponding software; secondly, the demand for the parameter set up is strict for the model software; thirdly, the modeling format (IFC) of Revit software is separate, but its compatibility with various software is quite different. These reasons will lead to the application difficulties of BIM technology to large-scale building energy consumption case studies. This essay examines the following issues in order to address the aforementioned issues:
At present, there is still no suitable software that can widely apply the IFC format of BIM modeling to the field of building energy consumption. Various commonly used software support the IFC format at different degrees, which brings challenges to researchers. This puts forward higher requirements for software companies in the area of energy use in buildings. There is an urgent demand in the next few years to produce building energy consumption simulation software that can be widely used in the IFC format.
Because green modeling software is not yet mature, the early stage of the BIM model has a high set of requirements, but this leads to three issues. First of all, the parameters need to be set for BIM models in the later stage of project construction. The second concern is that for designers who seldom understand green buildings, the preliminary modeling requires a lot of time and cost for them to learn, which will also affect the entire working efficiency of enterprises. So, enterprises need to integrate the ideas of green building project design and management personnel training for energy conservation and emissions reduction early in the design phase, so as to greatly reduce repeated work and decrease the cost of energy consumption.
The technical problem is that there might be inaccuracy of automatic translation on normative articles by computer. Even with the aid of artificial intelligence, there is still a problem that the training model is not perfect due to the lack of data sets. Therefore, the translation work is still performed manually. Subsequent research work can achieve automatic translation by improving the accuracy of computer translation.
C (multi-object optimization): Since 2018, articles on the use of BIM technology in the field of building energy consumption expanded. Researchers considered the integration of multiple factors into the BIM information model for objective optimization. Shadram and Mukkavaara [60
] used a multi-objective optimization model to study the balance between operational and consumption energy and integrate this operation mode into the BIM information model to further strengthen operability through BIM visualization technology. Their research proposed a research framework combining a multi-objective optimization model and BIM information technology and verified the reliability of the framework. Yang and Liu [61
] developed an optimization system based on BIM and BPS technology. NSGA-II genetic algorithm was used to achieve multi-objective optimization of CO2
emission and discomfort index, which could effectively improve building lighting conditions and reduce residential CO2
emission. At the same time, the case is applied to the early decision-making stage of housing energy saving and emission reduction. Zhang et al. [7
] pay attention to how much energy is used during material transportation. Although the environmental impact of construction material transportation is small compared with that of the operation stage, if it is allowed to accumulate continuously at the national level the impact will be very large. In order to reduce energy consumption throughout the building process and incorporate implied building energy usage out of the BIM platform, adjustment of the quantity and capacity of involved setups is needed.
So far, there are many case applications in the published studies which involve the solutions and methods of using BIM technology for energy consumption management in various processes within the whole life cycle of construction. However, most studies still focus on using BIM technology to reduce building energy consumption in the process of building design [62
]. In reality, traditional building energy management is involved after the structure is constructed or during the operational phase [63
]. However, BIM technology has certain virtual decision-making abilities in the later operation stage, but it still has great limitations. This is reflected in the early design that designers should pay attention to parameter setting. In order to facilitate its use in the later operation stage, the model information in the early design stage should be ready to be transferred to the later operation stage. Transportation of data carriers deserves further study by scholars.
D (building renovation): Since 2018, researchers found that building energy consumption increased year after year, making retrofitting existing buildings an urgent need. In 2019 and 2020, many researchers provided more suggestions for reducing energy consumption during remodeling old buildings, Freitas et al. [64
] studied how to integrate solar power design tools in the BIM environment in the initial stages of a building’s design. Through the case study, building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) systems were addressed to transform the facade and roof of existing office buildings in order to lower energy consumption. Gan et al. [46
] proposed a framework combining BIM and machine learning technology to detect the optimal thermal condition of indoor environments. Through case analysis results, it is proved that rational use of natural ventilation can reduce the amount of energy used for thermal comfort in buildings, but it cannot meet all thermal comfort standards. However, different energy consumption levels required for refrigeration varies by season. The study found that the energy used for refrigeration can be effectively reduced by measuring the system’s thermal comfort conditions at different seasons, and this system can be applied to most existing building renovations with refrigeration requirements. Joblot et al. [65
] reviewed that in recent years, companies engaged in renovation work did not use BIM tools in building renovation work, which would not only cause a certain amount of energy waste but also affect the efficiency of renovation project reuse.
Through a large literature review, it is found that in recent years, many scholars are conducting research on building renovation. However, most of the studies focused on the impact of large-scale renovation plans on the national level, rather than taking into consideration new technologies when renovating buildings. Therefore, this paper puts forward the following suggestions:
Researchers should pay attention to the use of BIM technology in building renovation projects and consider the challenges and stumbling blocks of using BIM technology in building renovation. At present, research on using BIM technology in the reconstruction of the building envelope is rising. For example, for the improvement of building materials, researchers should also try to use BIM technology for the management of building renovation. Rational use of BIM technology can greatly reduce the energy consumption caused by improper management in the construction and operation stage.
Enterprises related to building renovation should focus on the implementation of green environmental protection and information technology and increase public knowledge of building energy use by training employees and communicating with universities or scientific research institutions.
Governments should consider their economical and social conditions to determine the regulatory obstacles that affect the combination of building renovation technology and information technology and put forward relevant policies to solve these problems as much as possible.