Nov 16

What the Construction Industry Can Learn from Software Development Practices

The Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry has been slow to adapt to new technology, often relying on old practices that require manual input and constant oversight.

The software development industry, on the other hand, has refined its workflow to near-perfection by using cloud technology, APIs, and automation.

The construction industry can borrow these practices to enhance Building Information Modeling (BIM) processes, making real-time Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and carbon budget calculations a reality.

The Software Development Workflow

Illustration of a comprehensive software development workflow

In the world of software development, code is stored in cloud-based repositories accessible to the entire team. When a developer makes changes, they create a Pull Request (PR), triggering a Continuous Integration (CI) pipeline. This automated series of checks ensures code quality and tests the code, all in the background, requiring approval only when the process is successful.

Applying Software Principles to BIM

In the AEC sector, the concept of a cloud-based repository can be directly translated to storing BIM models in the cloud. Just like in software development, this would enable:

  1. Automated Synchronization: BIM models synced with the cloud automatically.
  2. Quality Checks: Metrics on model quality are automatically calculated and presented.
  3. Specialized Analyses: Daylight, LCA, and other analyses are automatically run, waiting for a specialist’s review before merging into the main model.
Image depicting the power of high-quality data through APIs

The Tech to Unlock BIM Data

What’s needed is a web API that can interact programmatically with these 3D models. An effective API should:

  • Be accessible, providing access to all models, objects, and properties.
  • Have filter and sort capabilities, allowing specific queries like searching for all windows in a model.
  • Allow data updates that automatically sync back into the primary BIM software.

By integrating high-quality data through APIs, we can automate many tasks currently requiring human interaction. Imagine running daylight models or exporting room schedules automatically at the end of the day — shifting the human role from executing tasks to creating automated templates for these tasks.

The Role of 2050 Materials

Companies like 2050 Materials are taking the lead in providing the required technology to make this vision a reality. The API-first approach integrates real-time sustainability data into BIM models, enabling LCAs and carbon budget calculations. This isn’t just a technical upgrade; it’s a paradigm shift. By serving as long-term partners in the built environment, they’re playing a critical role in moving the industry towards efficiency and climate neutrality.

Image of the 2050 Materials API platform for construction solutions

2050 Materials API

Adopting software development practices in construction, primarily through high-quality data integration via web APIs, has the potential to revolutionize the industry. It opens the door for real-time LCAs, carbon budgeting, and various automated analyses, marking a significant step toward a more efficient, climate-neutral construction industry. With innovative solutions like the API offered by 2050 Materials, this future is within reach.
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