Up-scaling and mainstreaming sustainable building practices in western China
Up-scaling and mainstreaming sustainable building practices in western China 

New Karolinska Hospital

The New Karolinska Solna (NKS) Hospital is a hospital located in Stockholm Sweden. It is considered to be the world’s largest public-private partnerships, involving an overall investment of $3.0 billion (including $1.6 billion for construction). Construction started in 2010 and is expected to be completed by 2017.


In addition to the core hospital building, the project includes a parking garage, re-search building, technology building (to handle the energy supply and deliveries for the hospital), cancer treatment (radiation building), as well as new roads connecting the buildings and an entrance to a new subway station. On completion, the hospital – will cover 320,000 square metres – and will have over 12,000 rooms, 35 operating theatres and 17 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) units. Located in the north of Stockholm, the integrated hospital and research complex will then contribute crucially to the development of the new Hagastaden neighbourhood.













The New Karolinska Hospital during construction

Source: World Economic Forum (2017)

The hospital is and was under considerable public as well as media scrutiny due to the significant public investment and the institution’s global reputation. As a result, all parties involved are under considerable pressure to complete the project on time and on budget. To complicate matters, construction had to take place without disrupting the normal operations of the old Karolinska University Hospital and the research-focused Karolinska Institute, which are located nearby. Meeting the relevant noise, dust and traffic level requirements for example was no easy task.

BIM was contractually mandated in the project agreement for both design and facility management. The hospital intends to use an advanced BIM across the entire lifecycle, not only for design but for its facility management in the operation phase as well as for a future deconstruction. The integrated building process made an excellent communication and coordination a priority. At peak more than 300 designers were working full time on the project and almost 2000 workers were on site. For better coordination and communication a link between the 3D Model and the Database was used for storage of the hand over document. This enabled the actors to „click” an object and access the relevant documents. The BIM model is linked to an environmental library, with all relevant information about all materials used in the building; it expedited environmental certification, and it can track materials for future replacement. Ownership of design information was not an issue.

Care was taken that even the small contractors and sub-contractors were involved from the start in BIM. Suppliers and sub-contractors were educated on the benefits of BIM and provided training courses to enable them to use it effectively. Where needed further training was provided by the main contractor. In addition personal was rotated across countries, projects and project phases to enhance knowledge transfer. This ensured a close integrated building process.

The whole project was carried out from a sustainability perspective. The construction process was carefully detailed planning for sustainability. Prioritisation was made for the use of locally produced, recycled and low-emission materials as well as FSC-certified wood. In addition the construction waste was systematically analysed with the aim to reduce it to zero. In 2010, only 5% went to landfill through on-Site crushing for recycling of building waste. Hybrid and lower-emission trucks were also used to further reduce emissions.

The building achieved a LEED Gold as well as Swedish Green Label Gold award.

The lessons learned from the New Karolinska Hospital included:

  • Rotate personal across countries, projects and project phases to enhance knowledge transfer
  • Deploy BIM across the project´s entire lifecycle and its stakeholders to maximise benefits
  • Educate suppliers and sub-contractors on the benefits of BIM and provide training courses to enable them to use it effectively
  • Ownership of design information was not an issue.
  • IT infrastructure requirements needs to be properly investigated before project start.
  • Design exchange formats need to be properly tested.
  • Use of models on site have exploded with new hardware. Usage is sometimes hard to predict.
  • Ability to label and sort model objects by status is required when design information is being instantly available to site. Digital signatures need to be sorted to approve models being issued to site.
  • Define content of as-built model. Do we really need to asset code/model” everything”?
  • A broad and sweeping contractual requirement is harder to enforce throughout the project.
  • Do not underestimate the many “small” design-build contractors. How will their deliveries be included in the BIM model?
  • Industry customs weigh heavily and need to be recognized when enforcing ambitious BIM requirements in procurement of small subcontractors.
  • Facility Management usage for the as built model put much higher requirements on level of detail and accuracy. New methods needed, e.g. laser scanning.
  • Long project deliveries requires a neutral interface and generic objects.


For more good practice examples download our Training Handbook: Sustainable Construction.