Utilizing BIM for Sustainable Architecture

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

Posts Tagged ‘construction’

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?

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Thesis Excerpt: Comparing Site Built vs. Prefab/Modular Construction

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

First, an issue which I mentioned in chapter 5 involved comparing site built construction with pre-fabricated and/or modular construction to offset hard costs and increase housing affordability.  In the case of the AFI, these strategies have been compared during the bidding phase for a single project which utilized a non-BIM workflow and it was determined (at the time) that pre-fabrication or modular construction was not economically feasible.  A potential area of research could be to investigate the impact a BIM workflow would have on a pre-fabricated or modular design in terms of overall construction costs.  It might be determined that the only way to make pre-fabrication or modular construction affordable (BIM or not), is to increase the scale of production.  A related and possible continuation of this research topic would be to explore the benefits of BIM versus CAD workflows for a multi-unit development.  This concept has been envisioned as a possible strategy for scaling-up the AFI, but it has yet to be tested as a real project.  Several local architects and contractors I interviewed in Austin all agreed that a multi-unit development would bring down costs, but it is unclear by how much and if BIM would have a significant impact if any.  Aside from hard costs, it could be theorized that at least soft costs could be reduced by using BIM on a multi-unit development by reducing the time needed to complete construction documents and make corrections/changes.  Overall, this research would require testing BIM and non-BIM workflow strategies for single housing developments and multiple housing developments over entire project timelines.

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.

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