BuildingSMART conference, part 2

1450pm BST: The afternoon sessions of the BuildingSMART conference kick off with break-out sessions, and I opted for one on creating a market for sustainable buildings – not well-attended but some interesting discussion – with perspectives from Norway and Iceland.

Defining sustainable buildings is difficult due to the many different types of buildings – standards for sustainable housing may not be applicable to commercial offices, for example. Too many standards exist; local climate conditions vary (making different standards inevitable); few or no commercial imperatives apply; benefits of sustainable housing are not clear; need to develop tools and methods for operational maintenance and sustainability (PFI tends to focus on the former); encourage good practice both at individual buildings and across neighbourhoods, etc.

UK case studies

1545pm BST: In “The Journey”, Tim Williams talked about what tools and techniques BDP had been employing in what he called “concept information modelling“, where, using Bentley’s Generative Components, BDP working on spaces before starting building design, creating better quality environments for people.

The “Health PFI” case study was delivered by Miles Walker (HOK) and David Throssell (Skanska) and looked at the Bart’s Hospital project in London, talking about a five-year (so far) journey through use of BIM for design, construction and (latterly) FM – where designers now routinely consider ease of equipment installation and maintenance by using walk-throughs, etc. Skanska is trialling hand-held devices to capture data on site and deliver it into their document management system. Long-term effort is focused on creating a functioning asset that will retain easy access to associated data for upwards of 35 years.

The British Geological Survey’s HQ building was discussed by Ben Alderman of Zisman Bowyer & Partners, being a design-and-build project where ZBP got involved with services design, alongside the architect and structural engineer, very early on using an integrated 3D CAD model. Sequencing of site operations could be easily explained to the client, invaluable when a lot of components were being fabricated off-site. There were problems with incompatability of different analysis programs between the different disciplines, so interoperability remains an issue.

Neal Kalita of Davis Langdon talked about Life Cycle Costing in the context of sustainable tall buildings, work undertaken with Aedas Architects. At the core of their model was the vision of a single, shared building model (inertia in the UK AEC industry currently often prevents this, as do issues of intellectual property). In the Davis Langdon model, cost is king, requiring only basic building information (though this often exposed the discipline differences between cost consultants and, say, architects). Memory maps were used to help identify the key variables, which were then transferred into a simple model that could be manipulated. Results:

  • Big decisions early in the process.
  • Robust rules of thumb enabling rapid dynamic design changes.

In “The Long Haul”, Graham Brierley of Laing O’Rourke started by saying “Interoperable BIM is part of the corporate strategy to make the Group more competitive”. Leanness and agility are key, to overcome issues of rework, low productivity, waste, cost and schedule overruns, poor relationships, fragmented design and delivery, and lack of control over processes. Barriers included procurement routes (eg: lack of integration between design and construction teams), varying levels of resources and capability, different model authoring practices, and [like ZBP] interoperability.

Overseas applications of IFC-compliant BIM

Rapid-fire set of presentations on what is happening in Norway, the USA and worldwide.

Mikael Lye talked about Norwegian government practices and ongoign campaigns (eNorway 2009) which includes use of open standards, including BIM IFC and GIS (need to look at ByggSok, Statsbygg‘s BIM programme and the Norwegian defence agency, which has three pilot BIM projects running). Conclusion: “The technology is not fully developed yet, but is good enough to be used”.

Lars Christenson presented on behalf of a group of US organisations, including the US Coastguard project; US GSA has bought into BIM message and is currently working on a 4D programme; BIM used to analyse circulation routes through a US court-house; code compliance now automated; US Army Corps of Engineers is requiring BIM across its $50bn, ten-year programme.

Lars then talked about BuildingSMART International: breaking down barriers, enabling interoperability; creating, developing and promoting open standards – both internationally and through its regional chapters; and supporting projects. Need to move away from document-centric situations to a shared language. Change can be encouraged by major client enforcing BIM as a basic requirement (eg: Norway’s Statsbygg, US and Finland), but this has not happened in the UK, though the UK is not alone in lagging behind. “BuildingSMART is not for the future, it is here today.”

BIM, BuildingSMART

Mark Bew brought matters to a conclusion, talking about the journey up a slippery slope to the “nirvana” of interoperable BIM (iBIM), and how BuildingSMART might help with some tools to help organisations make that journey. He displayed a vision and mission for BuildingSMART and invited feedback.

(This and previous BuildingSMART post updated (1200 BST, 26 June 2008) to add links and tags.)

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