Utilizing BIM for Sustainable Architecture

An analysis and continuation of my graduate thesis at the University of Texas at Austin.

Posts Tagged ‘BIM’

The best of Ecotect & SketchUp: Project Vasari

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on November 29, 2010

Autodesk recently developed a quick design/analysis tool called “Project Vasari.”  The tool focuses on conceptual building design (parametric massing) and provides energy/carbon analysis results.  Many of the analysis features are what you would find in Autodesk’s Ecotect and Green Building Studio products – the difference here is that it works seamlessly with Revit and the conceptual design process is far more intuitive (not unlike SketchUp).  After you finalize tweaking the massing design, the Vasari model can be brought directly into Revit without losing any data.  A free trial download of the software can be found here.

I am curious if this product will remain as a separate software tool or if it will eventually become part of the Revit bundle.  Either way, it is a good step in the right direction.

Posted in BIM & Sustainability Metrics, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

More support for BIM & GIS

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on October 19, 2010

Here is more support for the integration of BIM and GIS at Spatial Roundtable.  Shelli Stockton views BIM as a tool primarily for design and construction, whereas GIS is a tool primarily for ongoing facilities management.  Both tools overlap and should ideally “plug” into one another, but each has its area of appropriate application.  The next step in supporting integration, however, is determining the technical interoperability and data-sharing methods between BIM and GIS.  First, it is important to ask:  What is the future of BIM & GIS?  Should there be emphasis on overlap or separation between functions?  Will a third-party tool be developed that can bring together BIM data and GIS data OR will there be a import/export file type between databases?

To date, there appears to be evidence towards keeping BIM and GIS tools in their respective realms of application.  Futhermore, it also appears that integration and interoperability will occur through import/export file type(s).  There has been some research performed involving the export of BIM data through IFC data schema and imported into ArcGIS.  This case study summary by Mikael Johansson and Mattias Roupé demonstrates that building geometry done using Revit can be successfully imported to ArcGIS with correct spatial parameters intact.  buildingSMART International has been working on integrating data transfer protocols between BIM and GIS platforms through it’s Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data schema.  The latest IFC 2×4 release has new features including the ability to “connect the BIM/IFC schema to information held in GIS databases.”  I’m assuming this means that GIS data can be imported into BIM tools and vice versa.

While this research and development is encouraging, I am curious how future development of IFC will handle both BIM and GIS data interoperability.  One challenge I foresee (beyond the difficulty of translating/interpreting data between tools) is in the management of file sizes and data permissions/ownership.  I’m sure there are more, but I’m waiting to hear from other experts out there…anyone?

Posted in BIM & GIS (Geographic Information Systems) | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AIA Article on Green Affordable Housing

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 27, 2010

The Greening of America’s Public Housing: More Options, More Technologies, More Support” by Mike Singer.  This article discusses the growing interest by affordable housing developers to specify “green materials and energy-efficient technologies.”  Since affordable housing projects have long-term financing structures (they need to remain affordable over a period of “x” number of years), there is a concerted interested in utilizing durable green technologies to minimize long-term maintenance and operational costs.  Apparently, HUD has green criteria associated with its affordable housing funding, but it is voluntary compliance at the moment.  (For more information about HUD affordable/green housing funds, see my previous post).  In the case of the Alley Flat Initiative, the City of Austin has an incentive for developers/builders to meet green building criteria in exchange for waiving inspection and permitting fees.  The addition of energy-efficient buildings are in the city’s best interest, since Austin Energy is the city-owned utility company.

I’m interested to know how many of these projects have explored or are leveraging the capabilities of BIM to further improve upon affordable/sustainable goals.  I discuss the potential benefits of BIM in Chapter 3 and Chapter 5 of my thesis as a means for reducing hard/soft project costs and for performing a wide array of analysis to improve overall energy/resource efficiency.  Perhaps, along with requiring green building criteria, HUD could also require the use of BIM for the design/construction process – I know this would be a huge leap and could potentially stall the development of affordable/green housing since most non-profit developers and small-scale architects have still not invested in BIM technology.  Nevertheless, housing authorities and funding organizations like HUD or city governments could help to subsidize the cost of BIM tools and even help to train staff.  I’m sure BIM developers would be open to the idea of discounting software/training costs for non-profit groups.

Posted in Affordable & 'Green' Housing, BIM & Economical Factors, BIM & Stakeholders - Communication & Workflows, BIM for Housing - What's the Argument?, Financing Structures | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“BIM + Integrated Design”

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 27, 2010

This is a very good blog by Randy Deutsch AIA, LEED AP covering topics related BIM and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD):  http://bimandintegrateddesign.com/

Posted in Building Information Modeling (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Blog about BIM & Sustainability

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 23, 2010

I just stumbled on this blog titled: “Sustainability – High Performance Buildings – Knowledge-based Building Information Modeling Systems – BIM – 3D 4D 5D BIM” which seems to cover a wide range of topics involving BIM and sustainable, high-performance buildings.

Posted in Building Information Modeling (BIM), Sustainable Design/Development (General Discussion Topics) | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

BIM/IPD workflow and collaboration

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 13, 2010

This is an older article, but it is still relevant: “NEXT-GEN BIM: Graphisoft Teamwork 2.0 will revolutionize BIM/IPD workflow and collaboration” by Jerry Laiserin, July 2009.  This is an interesting introduction and analysis of how BIM authoring tools approach project sharing and collaboration where the goal is to enable greater project integration without sacrificing workflow flexibility.  The article also brings up an interesting point regarding how worksharing capabilities tend to benefit larger firms/projects while penalizing smaller firms/projects with unnecessary management complexity.  This article focuses on the [new] teamwork framework for Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD 13.  Although I’m personally biased towards Autodesk’s Revit suite, I think they could learn a thing or two from Graphisoft’s approach and I think they are going in this direction (if not already with v2011).

For more information on this topic, see Chapter 3 of my thesis discussing BIM/IPD and comparing various BIM technologies.

Posted in BIM & Stakeholders - Communication & Workflows | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Thesis Excerpt: BIM & Social Networking

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 7, 2010

Finally, a seventh area of research involves analyzing social relationships between stakeholder groups and the communication interfaces linked to BIM models.  One challenge with the AFI, for example, has been to create a design communication methodology that is transparent and universal.  Based on research conducted by Dammann & Elle (2006), it is unlikely that a universal indicator language will be developed in the near future.  One step towards this ideal common language, (as I explained in Chapter 5) is currently being explored by Autodesk in the form of a web-based social interface for project teams that would allow for quick and easy collaboration and document sharing.  Unfortunately, this type collaborative tool is still under development and it is unclear if multiple interfaces will be developed to cater towards specific stakeholder needs and if these interfaces will be able to “translate” and facilitate the integration of various types of user knowledge.  Furthermore, it is unclear if future BIM social networking interfaces will be proprietary (specific to certain BIM platforms), or if they will support multiple platforms.  This would require greater in-depth research about stakeholder project needs with regard to specific project type(s), including affordable/sustainable housing.  Similar to comparing BIM platforms as suggested earlier under future research topic five, it would be worth comparing various web-based interfaces in terms of accessibility, programming, maintenance, and compatibility to name a few.  The development of stakeholder interfaces might lead to greater design and construction transparency in addition to faster project development timelines due to increased access to information.

Source:  Dowhower, Justin Firuz.  Adapting Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Affordable & Sustainable Housing:  Chapter 7:  Future Research.  Austin, TX:  The University of Texas at Austin, 2010.

Posted in BIM & Stakeholders - Communication & Workflows | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Thesis Excerpt: The Economy of BIM

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 7, 2010

A sixth topic of inquiry might involve more closely examining the economical aspects of using a BIM process to facilitate communication between stakeholders.  As I outlined in Chapter 5, the use of an alternative incentive structure oriented around BIM could significantly impact soft costs, especially for city governments, which typically incur the greatest overhead costs.  In addition, the cost savings could be used to offset the initial software purchases and continual training costs associated with higher-capacity BIM tools.  While I proposed a hypothetical incentive structure for Austin Texas, it would be beneficial to test this framework in a given city and document the observed barriers and opportunities.  The State of Texas and the State of Wisconsin both require that state buildings use a BIM process, but this regulation has yet to be mandated for other building types, such as housing.  This research would undoubtedly require the orchestration and testing of partnerships between BIM software developers, city governments, city utilities, local architects/contractors, and clients/owners.

Source:  Dowhower, Justin Firuz.  Adapting Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Affordable & Sustainable Housing:  Chapter 7:  Future Research.  Austin, TX:  The University of Texas at Austin, 2010.

Posted in BIM & Economical Factors | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thesis Excerpt: BIM for Housing?

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 7, 2010

A fifth area of research not addressed in this thesis involves comparing current BIM software tools in terms of appropriateness for affordable and sustainable housing.  In an effort to conduct thorough simulation research in a reasonable timeframe, I focused solely on Autodesk’s Revit.  However, I am not convinced that this software is necessarily the ‘right tool for the job’ with regard to the design and construction of affordable and sustainable housing.  An interesting continuation of this research might involve testing various BIM tools (i.e. Vectorworks, Revit, Microstation, and ArchiCAD) for a given affordable/sustainable housing development project and comparing how each performs in specific categories.  Eastman, et al. (2008), has already compiled a pros and cons list of various BIM platforms, but the comparisons lack a specific context, stakeholder group(s), or project type.  This further research could also help to determine to what degree the technology is influential on affordability and sustainability.

Source:  Dowhower, Justin Firuz.  Adapting Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Affordable & Sustainable Housing:  Chapter 7:  Future Research.  Austin, TX:  The University of Texas at Austin, 2010.

Posted in BIM for Housing - What's the Argument? | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thesis Excerpt: BIM & Design-Analysis

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on August 7, 2010

A fourth extension of research involves developing and testing sustainable parametric ‘plug-ins’ for BIM software tools.  The intent is that design and analysis become a seamlessly integrated process, where design decisions have quantifiable results through continuous analysis, which in turn helps to inform further design optimizations.  As I explained in Chapter 2, I attempted to create a parametric photovoltaic array that could be used in a BIM tool like Revit to quickly approximate the potential for renewable energy production.  Unfortunately, it was not successful and it could be argued that other software tools (such as Ecotect and PVWATTS) are better suited to addressing this type of simulation.  One investigation could be to determine which types of sustainable analysis are appropriate for BIM tools and which should be exclusive to third-party analysis tools.  The next step would be develop some of these ‘plug-ins’ specifically for BIM tools and test their effectiveness for improving sustainable design strategies.

Source:  Dowhower, Justin Firuz.  Adapting Building Information Modeling (BIM) for Affordable & Sustainable Housing:  Chapter 7:  Future Research.  Austin, TX:  The University of Texas at Austin, 2010.

Posted in BIM & Sustainability Metrics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »