Utilizing BIM for Sustainable Architecture

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

Posts Tagged ‘stakeholders’

How do we improve AEC relationships in an economic downturn?

Posted by Justin Firuz Dowhower, AIA, LEED AP on September 24, 2010

I came across an insightful post by Phil Bernstein entitled: “The Destruction of Trust,” which talks about the current state of AEC groups during this economic downturn.  Generally speaking, the combination of high-unemployment, low-balling fees, cut-throat bidding and skepticism within the building industry has created a climate of distrust between AEC groups.  The biggest fear, according to Bernstein, is that the surviving AEC groups and the building industry as a whole could be permanently damaged if these trends continue.  The key to avoiding this fate would be for all project stakeholders to maintain a vested interest and commitment to long-term sustainable practices (not only environmental, but also economical and social), which would include not low-balling fees and the discouraging of highly competitive bidding practices.

The practice of developing healthy relationships between stakeholders might be a good credo or mission statement, but I believe it is much harder to put into practice.  So how can this goal be achieved in a practical fashion; how do you create trust in a distrustful environment?  Well, as I explain in Chapter 5 of my thesis, my theory is that “collaboration can happen earlier in the design process and new relationships can solidify faster with the use of BIM.”  I realize that BIM, in and of itself, is probably not a panacea for eliminating the ills currently afflicting the building industry, but this economic downturn presents an opportunity for AEC groups to use BIM as a means for holding everyone to a higher standard of accountability and creating more transparent decision-making workflows.  I believe this opportunity will determine which AEC groups will survive over the long-run and will inevitably shape a lasting impression on the building industry as a whole.

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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.

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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.

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