Greenovation+ New Technology

Vol. 1 2012 Productivity and Efficiencies of BIM Families

Green building “trends” have taken the design industry by storm. With more and more communities and governments mandating various green building standards into their building codes, it comes as no surprise that “building green” has also advanced within the software industry. Currently, “No technology has had a greater impact on green initiatives in the software market than Building Information Modeling (BIM).”[i] This article provides an overview of BIM and how it assists architects and engineers in creating green designs.

How does BIM work?

BIM is essentially a comprehensive digital simulation of graphical and non-graphical information of a building’s entire life cycle. It differs from “2D AutoCAD” in the parametric nature, as it uses 3D, real-time, and dynamic building modeling software. Information such as material, budget pricing, schedules, number of units, etc. are attached to the model/file. Whereby, the file may be utilized by many stakeholders involved in the project. As it contains all the necessary details of a particular product, users are able to save time and have the ability to extract the specific information that is needed for their trade.

BIM Productivity

BIM liberates the communication paths between all stakeholders involved in the building design. In addition to many governments and groups mandating the use to BIM into a project design, the AIA board of directors also approved the following statement of interoperability:

“The AIA believes that all industry-supporting software must facilitate, not inhibit, project planning, design, construction, commissioning and life-cycle management.

Overall productivity loss and fragmentation in the capital facilities development industries is no longer tolerable. Architects need to practice the best way they know, and practice profitably; software interoperability problems must not hold them back. Potential of loss of competition in the software market is not acceptable.

Without software interoperability the AIA further states several problems the AEC industry, owners and architects in particular will face due to lack of interoperability.”

Anthony Frausto-Robledo, “AIA Board of Directors Approves Statement on Interoperability,“ Architosh, 10 Feb. 2010,

How is BIM Green?

BIM models, if created properly, contain meta-data that many companies use to enhance their processes and accuracy of analysis in this competitive industry. It encompasses green initiatives because a properly constructed BIM model or “family” contains all of the pertinent green attributes of a product. For example, a family contains information on water consumption, low-flow features, and recycled content used to create a product.

“BIM provides the capability to design efficient “Green buildings”, allowing designers to measure water and energy usage from mechanical equipment and plumbing fixtures based on calculations. This allows designers to optimize their systems while achieving green building objectives such as LEED certification.”
– Christian Tiora, B.Eng, LEED Green Associate.

When used properly, BIM has incredible potential to assist the construction industry designer with their project. More specifically, it allows firms to effectively address the challenges of streamlining processes, updating, and forecasting information.

For example, a BIM user has the ability to access their project and with a few clicks of the mouse (or a few touches on a SMART Board), so that they can compare the benefits of specifying green products, such as

  • Pint Urinals or Waterless Urinals
  • Dual-flush flush valves or Dual-flush low-consumption toilets
  • Solar powered faucets or metering faucets
  • Thermal efficient commercial gas water heaters or electric water heaters
  • Etc.

The potential and comparisons are endless. BIM is software that allows designers to visualize the efficiencies or inefficiencies of their complete building construction. By creating a BIM project, the designer can weigh their options, and select the best product for their application.

Final Thoughts

BIM has provided the green designer with the technological ability to efficiently design in our industry. However, this is just the beginning. As more designers are becoming more accepting of BIM software, and integrate its use into their building designs, we can be sure that faster, more dynamic changes are to come.

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