Exciting New Building Information Modeling (BIM) Tool for Builders

By David Borchardt, PE, LEED AP BD+C, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Tower Companies

Recently, I was invited to provide four presentations: two in January as part of the AIA 2030 professional series and two in March on Energy Benchmarking at the DCBID 2012 Building Energy Summit (DC Business Improvement District) and at the GSA Office of the Chief Architect. While the topics of the presentations were varied I realized that a common theme emerged. That theme was twofold, you can’t improve what you can’t measure and you must make that information usable for the people who need it.

Let’s start with a new or renovated building a design and construction team will build what the client wants get the building up and running with all the bells and whistles fully commissioned and with a brand new LEED certification. However, once that team is gone the building is left in the hands of property managers and building engineers who may or may not have been part of the design and construction process. The people left to run the building are now asked to keep what is usually a state of the art building running in top condition while keeping tenants or residents in a comfortable and clean environment. This staff does not have the time to go hunting for information on maintaining the building and to tracking performance this information needs to be at their finger tips.

What’s the solution:

The design and construction community can make sure the information is readily available to the people operating the buildings, with the design and construction tools of today such as BIM (Building Information Modeling). BIM  allows for storage and dissemination of information of virtually every building system and can be used as a repository of that information from the beginning to the end of the design and construction process. For example, a piece of equipment in the building can be graphically displayed on a computer screen allowing a building engineer to select it and find out everything about it such as maintenance requirements, replacement part information and warranty information, along with detailed drawings.

We haven’t reached this level of sophistication yet but as we develop new buildings we will take advantage of these tools. Today, we are creating a database of maintenance information on our existing buildings which will take years to complete but has already allowed us to start to put maintenance information at our finger tips. This is an essential tool for our building engineers.

Finally, we are now tracking building performance real-time to be sure the buildings are the operating optimally which empowers our building operating staff to make continuous improvements.

We’ll keep you posted on our progress!

Leave a Reply