Building information modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a building. Its use offers a range of benefits in terms of achieving the efficient design, construction, operation and maintenance of buildings. Applying BIM at the outset of a new build project should be relatively easy. However, it is often problematic to apply BIM techniques to an existing building, for example, as part of a refurbishment project or as a tool supporting the facilities management strategy, because of inadequacies in the previous management of the dataset that characterises the facility in question. These inadequacies may include information on as built geometry and materials of construction. By the application of automated retrospective data gathering for use in BIM, such problems should be largely overcome and significant benefits in terms of efficiency gains and cost savings should be achieved.
Laser scanning can be used to collect geometrical and spatial information in the form of a 3D point cloud, and this technique is already used. However, as a point cloud representation does not contain any semantic information or geometrical context, such point cloud data must refer to external sources of data, such as building specification and construction materials, to be in used in BIM.
Hyperspectral imaging techniques can be applied to provide both spectral and spatial information of scenes as a set of high-resolution images. Integrating of a 3D point cloud into hyperspectral images would enable accurate identification and classification of surface materials and would also convert the 3D representation to BIM.
This integrated approach has been applied in other areas, for example, in crop management. The transfer of this approach to facilities management and construction would improve the efficiency and automation of the data transition from building pathology to BIM. In this study, the technological feasibility and advantages of the integration of laser scanning and hyperspectral imaging (the latter not having previously been used in the construction context in its own right) is discussed, and an example of the use of a new integration technique is presented, applied for the first time in the context of buildings.