COBie – it’s all about the fields

We are all becoming familiar with the 3D BIM model and the benefits it can bring to the construction process, but the challenge is to get the data it contains to the right people at the right time.  The Government has decided that COBie is going to enable us all to do this in a friendly Excel format, and as engineers, contractors and FMs are used to seeing plant performance data in schedules it should be easy to replace those with the COBie spreadsheets, right?  Well, not yet.

The idea is to complete the COBie spreadsheets and give them to the client at predetermined information exchange points, or data drops, throughout the procurement process at points where the client is required to make key decisions.  In most cases the spreadsheets can be populated by certain basic building data directly from the model.  However, the COBie UK 2012 spreadsheets do not include any fields for the performance of M&E plant or equipment – a fundamental flaw in the strategy and a serious obstacle to their widespread adoption.  Therefore, as things stand this information must be added manually at each information exchange stage, a considerable task on most projects where BIM will be used and will add significantly to the amount of effort required to deliver all the relevant data in the COBie format, as required by UKHMG.  Also, the headings used are in ‘model’ speak and not readily understood by the intended users.

Whilst the idea of producing information in a form which is readily accessible to all parties is simple, it is key that the COBie spreadsheets are easy to follow, and can be quickly understood.  To achieve this they must use a language which is familiar to construction professionals, and the right type of data needs to be included.  Unfortunately, this is not the case at present but it is hoped that feedback from the Government’s Ministry of Justice pilot projects, due to report later this year, may change this.  The key to making the construction information available ultimately to the FMs is accurate, clear, comprehensive COBie data files. A little work remains to be done to achieve this, but it should be possible.

BIM Task Group / COBIE UK 2012

COBie UK 2012 example. Building Information Modelling (BIM) Task Group

 

BSRIA Events 

Engaging with BIM http://www.bsria.co.uk/training-and-events/details/engaging-with-bim-event/ 

An introduction to BIM http://www.bsria.co.uk/training-and-events/details/an-introduction-to-bim/

BIM – It’s all about the information

There are clearly many advantages to be gained from producing a co-ordinated, data rich model.  Early 3D visualisation can help the client understand what they are getting, the design team to see how their particular systems and components fit within the structure, and various arrangements or ideas can be investigated virtually before getting to site.

However, it is important to realise that the core objective of BIM is the management of information, and this should include all relevant information produced throughout the life of the building or construction entity, not just the model – or data held within the model.

The UK Government has identified their need to have the right level of information about a project available at the right point in the procurement process to enable them to make better informed decisions which, in turn, should result in cost savings through reduction of abortive work, reworking and wastage.  The adoption of BIM for all relevant information, from inception to demolition, can only help this process, but to maximise the benefits available, the information must be accessible to all the intended users.  In view of this, perhaps a wider debate is yet to be had on what should be in the model and what simply linked to.

The management of information is not a new idea.  In fact, all major construction projects employ a document management system to arrange and make available the vast number of documents and data generated as part of the design and construction processes.  The key is to capture this and make it available in a readily accessible format to the team charged with operating the building throughout its life.  A robust system introduced at an early stage can avoid having to reproduce data again after handover.

Further information:

Software for the Future . Call for participants for 31 May 2012 workshop. Closing date: 16:00 15 May 2013

BIM – management for value, cost and carbon improvement. A report for the Government Construction Client Group Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy Paper

Part L and the Green Police

It seems like just yesterday I was absorbing the 2010 incarnation of Part L. Now 2013 is creeping up on us fast, and the consultation will be closed 4 weeks from today. The plans for zero carbon homes in 2016 and non-dwellings in 2019 are ambitious, and rightly so. But what happens after 2019? It’ll be years before there are enough zero-carbon buildings to really make a dent in UK emissions. In the meantime there are thousands of inefficient buildings that won’t get touched by Part L, because no building work is being done on them. The ever-expanding list of actions that triggers consequential improvements may help – for example making works such as boiler and window replacements trigger further improvements. But there is a danger this will just discourage building owners from doing such works in the first place, or encourage them to hide their activities from the green police.

We need to come up with new ways of bringing the existing building stock up-to-scratch, that don’t involve waiting until someone decides to do some building work. Building MOTs? Mandatory follow-through of recommendations from EPCs, DECs and air conditioning inspections? Fines for excessive energy use? I don’t have all the answers, but what I am pretty sure of is that energy prices are going to keep rising as fossil fuels get scarcer and the world’s population gets bigger. Give it another few years, and businesses won’t need legislation pushing them to manage their energy use better, they’ll have to do it to survive.

Smart Grid Impact on Intelligent Buildings

BSRIA WMI has just completed a major research study for the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA); an international industry association based in North America, dedicated to the advancement of intelligent homes and intelligent buildings technologies. The study was sponsored by 29 CABA member companies which included a broad mix of disciplines, from building management systems providers to electricity utilities.

What are Smart Grids?

The study, entitled “Smart Grid Impact on Intelligent Buildings” estimates that the North American smart grid non-residential marketplace was worth approximately $6.6 billion in 2011 and should reach $8 billion by 2013.

The smart grid will be an advanced power grid that adds and integrates many varieties of digital computing and communication technologies and services to the power-delivery infrastructure. It will allow bi-directional flows of energy, for example from renewable energy sources, and two-way communication and control capabilities.

The Smart Grid Framework

Benefits

The smart grid will benefit utilities in a multitude of ways, most importantly helping them to flatten the demand curve, which will result in increased grid stability and reliability, but also to help reduce the need for expensive standby generating capacity. At the same time, it will empower end-customers, allowing them to save on energy costs and buy at optimal times of the day when prices are lower.

The study found that the fastest growing components of the smart grid market are grid applications, followed by demand response and peak load management, building energy management systems, and smart meters. Whilst only a small proportion of building management systems are ready to be connected to the smart grid today, the study noted that smart grid development will become a major driver for the development and deployment of more intelligent building technologies.

The Future

The study emphasizes the need for innovative solutions to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of power generation, transmission and consumption capacity. Intelligent buildings are prime examples of innovative technology that will aid in the deployment of new smart grid infrastructure.

More utilities are now modernizing their infrastructure to make their grids “smart” in order to improve the efficiency, reliability, economics and sustainability of the electricity services delivered to both residential and non-residential building owners. The research found that there is a direct correlation between having a smart grid and attracting more customers and that in time, it will be this that helps to enhance the overall attractiveness of an area for business.

The study is currently under embargo but will be available for purchase by any interested companies from June 2012.

BREEAM – What’s your opinion?

BSRIA recently held an event as part of our Building Environmental Assessment Network to discuss opinions on BREEAM.  This is always a hot topic with lots of views, and this event was no different.

For those new to the world of environmental assessment, BREEAM (the BRE Environmental Assessment Method) is a criteria based assessment of the sustainability of a building.  Developed by the BRE in 1990, it is now the UK’s most used environmental assessment method, and is often a requirement of planning.  More details can be found at www.breeam.org.

The aim of the event was to see if the 2011 changes were sitting well with the industry or needed changing.  It was also a chance to give BRE feedback directly for future changes, or problems that have been encountered.

Particular issues raised were:

  • The transparency of some of the calculation methods
  • Getting feedback or answers to queries from BRE
  • Issues with the energy credits in the 2011 version, especially when dealing with CHP units. 
  • Some refrigeration related credits appear impossible to get

Questions raised in the presentations were:

  • Is the value of each credit appropriate?
  • Is the industry ready for all the changes made in 2011?
  • Is the qualification route for assessors and BREEAM APs appropriate?
  • Is there need for more information for the industry?

The presentations given on the day are available from: http://www.bsria.co.uk/services/membership/networks/building-assessment-network/

So do you have an opinion on BREEAM?  What works well and what needs some adjustment?  Of particular interest would be your experience of the latest version of BREEAM, i.e. 2011.

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