Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Building Information Modelling - Presentations

I am speaking at two upcoming conferences on Building Information Modelling. Details below...

London Vectorworks Conference
6th October 2010
International Coffee Organisation, London

CIBSE - BIM: Who Benefits?
2nd December 2010, CIBSE, London
Chaired by Rob Manning the CIBSE President. Speakers from Arup and BSRIA and NBS (myself). And case studies from Fulcro and Laing O'Rourke.
Further details:

Thursday, 16 September 2010

NBS Link featured at ArchiCAD Summer School 2010

The NBS plug in to ArchiCAD went down very well at the ArchiCAD Summer School 2010 at Nottingham last week. Around 60 people attended and many then had one-to-one sessions getting more detailed demonstrations of the software in action.The main features are the ability to create annotations from NBS clauses directly from within ArchiCAD. It is then possible to report, locate and correct any broken annotations prior to issuing your documentation. A video of this in action may be viewed at:

The pictures below shows Simon Gilbert from Graphisoft UK demonstrating to delegates.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

NBS Domestic Specification – Draft Scope of Content

Following my earlier post on the upcoming online NBS Domestic Specification service, one or two of you have asked for more information about the content that will be included.

The list below is subject to change - it is currently under review.

In terms of the Contract Particulars you can choose from either
  • JCT 2005 Minor Works Building Contract with Contractor's Design (MWD)
  • JCT 2005 Minor Works Building Contract (MW)
  • JCT Building Contract for a Home Owner/ Occupier who has appointed a Consultant to oversee the work (HO/C)
  • JCT Building Contract for a Home Owner/Occupier who has not appointed a Consultant to oversee the work (HO/B)
  • SBCC 2005 Minor Works Building Contract with Contractor's Design (MWD/Scot)
  • SBCC 2005 Minor Works Building Contract (MW/Scot)
The choice of work sections is from the following, depending on the scope of your project:
  • A9 General technical requirements
  • D1 Site preparation
  • E1 Concrete foundations and floors
  • F1 Masonry walling
  • G1 Packaged frames and structural steelwork
  • G2 Structural timber and general carpentry
  • H2 Board and sheet external cladding and soffits
  • H6 Slate and tile pitched roof coverings and cladding
  • J1 Flat roof coverings
  • K1 Wood internal flooring, linings and trim
  • L1 Windows, roof windows and patent glazing
  • L2 Doors and frames
  • L3 Stairs and guarding
  • M1/2 Plastering, rendering and screeding
  • M4/5 Sheet and tile internal finishes
  • M6 Painting, staining and varnishing
  • N1 Appliances and fittings
  • Q1 Landscape
  • R1 Above and below ground drainage
  • S9 Hot and cold water systems
  • T9 Heating systems
  • U9 Ventilation systems
  • V9 Electrical systems
In terms of the content of each work section, as an example, the clauses in the work section F1 Masonry walling include:
  • System Outline
  • Masonry walling
  • 110 External cavity walling
  • 115 External cavity dwarf walling
  • 120 External solid walling
  • 125 External masonry cladding
  • 130 Internal cavity walls
  • 135 Internal solid walls
  • 140 Sleeper walls
  • Work to existing walling
  • 145 Junction with new walling
  • 150 Openings in existing walling
  • 155 Cavity tray and dpc insertion
  • 160 Cavity insulation insertion to existing walling
  • 165 Masonry walling removal
  • 170 Repoint existing walling.
  • Products
  • Masonry units
  • 302 Common bricks
  • 304 Facing bricks
  • 306 Reclaimed bricks
  • 308 Aggregate concrete blocks
  • 310 Aerated concrete blocks
  • 312 Manufactured stone blocks
  • 314 Natural stone rubble
  • Mortars
  • 316 Mortar
  • Concrete
  • 318 General concrete
  • Wall ties
  • 320 Plain wall ties
  • 322 Insulation retaining wall ties
  • 324 Remedial wall ties
  • 326 Timber frame wall ties
  • 328 Wall starters
  • Cavity trays and dpcs
  • 330 Flexible cavity trays
  • 332 Gas retardant cavity trays
  • 334 Preformed cavity trays
  • 336 Preformed remedial cavity trays
  • 338 Flexible dpcs
  • 340 Flexible insulated dpcs
  • 342 Chemical dpcs
  • Cavity insulation and cavity closers
  • 344 Full fill cavity insulation
  • 346 Partial fill cavity insulation
  • 348 Remedial cavity insulation
  • 350 Plastics insulated cavity closers
  • Ventilation components
  • 352 Air bricks
  • 354 Sub-floor ventilation ducts
  • Lintels
  • 356 Manufactured stone lintels
  • 358 Precast concrete lintels
  • 360 Proprietary metal lintels
  • 362 Steel lintels
  • Sills
  • 364 Manufactured stone sills
  • 366 Natural stone sills
  • 368 Precast concrete sills
  • Flashings built into masonry
  • 370 Lead apron flashingsw
  • 372 Lead cover flashings
  • 374 Lead step and cover flashings
  • Execution
  • Masonry walling
  • 610 Laying brickwork and blockwork
  • 615 Laying rubble stonework
  • 620 Laying concrete cavity fill
  • 625 Bedding masonry wall ties
  • 630 Fixing timber frame wall ties
  • 635 Laying horizontal dpcs
  • 640 Laying vertical dpcs
  • 645 Laying cavity trays
  • 650 Laying gas retardant cavity trays
  • 655 Placing full fill cavity insulation
  • 660 Placing partial fill cavity insulation
  • 665 Forming perpend joint weep holes
  • 670 Setting ventilation ducts in cavity walling
  • 675 Laying leadwork
  • Work to existing walling
  • 680 Removing masonry units
  • 685 Pocket bonding new walling to existing
  • 690 Forming openings in existing masonry
  • 695 Installing chemical dpc
  • 700 Installing cavity insulation in existing walling
  • 710 Repointing masonry walling
And an example of the typical clause content is below:

In terms of the named “NBS Domestic Specification”, this has been chosen because it has primarily designed with the expectation for use on small domestic projects. Clearly, if anyone thought this content is suitable for one of their simple, small scale, commercial refurbishment projects then they would be welcome to use the service for this.

And finally, here is a picture of an NBS specification product working on an Apple Mac :)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

RIBA Chartered Practice Newsletter - Building Information Modelling (BIM)

Nice to see the shortened version the article Building Information Modelling appearing in the recent RIBA Chartered Practice Newslette:

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day Four

Day one | Day two | Day three
My final day at Denmark was spent at the International Framework for Dictionaries (IFD) Group Workshop. IFD compliments IFC by allowing the creation of detailed international property sets for construction products. The definition of these property sets gives two very clear benefits:

  • The ability for manufacturers to add their product data against these generic definitions. This allows the designer to describe a desired construction product and then to be presented with a list of manufacturer products that comply with this description.
  • The ability to translate product descriptions between languages. When a construction team may not all speak the same language then the ability to translate building documentation is vital. For example, the specification could be translated from Norwegian to Danish or from Spanish to Dutch.

NBS are keen observers of the IFD project and it was fascinating to see these developments and how they are currently being implemented. Jacob Mehus from Standards Norway was the main speaker and the Norwegians are clearly one of the global leaders in this field.

There are three basic rules to those adding content to the IFD library:

  • Content may only be added for your own country – the experts in their own nation
  • All content must have “definition” – for example, this product being described is an ifcwindow
  • All data entered must be in International English as well as the author’s native language – this allows the translation aspect of IFD

Some nice examples of IFD being implemented and used in Norwegian software applications at the moment were presented in the afternoon. SmartKalk is calculation software that allows costs to be added to an IFC model that utilises IFD. The Catenda IFD based knowledge based search is a smart phone application that allows electricians to quickly search regulations in an intelligent way. The search returns give the words context and a list of parts. So if you search for bathroom – you get “wetroom” as a context and “bath”, “mirror”, “shower tray” as suggested parts.

The IFDSignOn project is particularly interesting and is similar in a way to RIBA Enterprises NBS Plus service. This is 30% government funded and it will be used from day one when launched by the Norwegian Defence Agency that clearly has huge purchasing power. It is expected that manufacturers will be very keen to get their data into the service. The manufacturer data is matched to the IFD requirements and then the product is specified. This is to be released in 2011.

At the end of the session there was a sharing of developments around the table. Really nice to hear what is happening in countries such as Denmark, New Zealand and The Netherlands.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Green Lighthouse Copenhagen - Carbon Neutral Building

Today we were shown around the Green Lighthouse Building. This is Denmark's first "carbon neutral" public building. The roof is tilted at the optimum angle for the sun and the energy generated goes to the heating and the electrics required by the building. A state-of-the-art heat pump system stores energy in an underground reservoir on the hot days, then uses this energy on the cold days. The building meets the 2020 ambitions for zero energy buildings and is expected to receive a gold certificate from the LEED.

The Green Lighthouse Building

All solar panels are hidden from view on the flat roof

Promotional picture from above

Diagram showing the technology behind the building

A nice south facing terrace for your lunch!

The central staircase

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day Three

The third day of the buildingSMART Summit week started at the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology. The first presentation was from Nicklas Ostergaard from the social network BIM site – this is based on the principles of Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn of getting people together on the web who are interested in the same subject. The site has many BIM downloads, a wiki area and a discussion forum. After one year, the site already has over 2,000 members of which 200 sign on each day.

The second presentation was from Morten Steffensen from the Danish Authorities (I had met Morten earlier at the week when we sat on the same table at the bips conference dinner). The Danish Authorities are taking BIM seriously and have published a declaration of 10 ICT demands in state construction, these include: (a) Use of a single project extranet, (b) BIM to be used in competition, (c) BIM to be used in construction, (d) Digital tendering and (e) a BIM handed over to owner for FM. These demands are for all state projects, all building projects above 3m DKK. There was discussion as to how this should be enforced. Another project discussed was an automated submission of a BIM model for part of the building regulation approval.

The afternoon's venue - a beautiful 150 year old Danish building 

Leon van Berlo from presented an open source BIM Server. This is partly funded by the Dutch government and industry and may be downloaded and customised for free. Leon mentioned that their nearest competitor charges €150,000 per year. IFC is used as the file format for exchange, it includes a free online BIM viewer and has a Revit plug-in that means that you don’t have to do the import/export to IFC each time you change the model.

James Harty from the Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA) gave a very inspiring presentation on BIM. One case study he gave was comparing the Walt Disney Concert Hall that came in five times over budget compared with the Guggenheim Building which through the use of BIM came in 18% under budget. With the Guggenheim project they passed over the BIM at tender and this resulted in very accurate pricing with only a 1% spread across all of the submissions. At KEA they are teaching the students Revit for BIM then Sigma for quantities and then MS Project for scheduling. They then use Navisworks to look at all three through a common BIM. The aim is that the KEA graduates will become some of the BIM managers of the future.

Our time at KEA came to an end with a tour of a recent building built using BIM technologies, the Green Light House Copenhagen. This was the first carbon neutral Danish Authority building built in 2009. See Green Light House Copenhagen blog post for further information and pictures.

The panel face questions from the audience during the afternoon session

On the afternoon Patrick McLeamy chairman of buildingSMART gave a super talk. Patrick was one of the founders of buildingSMART. The focus of the talk was on the importance of BIM in facility management. Patrick stated that $1 spent in design equates to $20 in construction which then turns into $60 in life cycle operating costs. The importance of the BIM getting passed through design to construction to operation was stressed. Building Information Model to Building Assembly Model to Building Optimised Operating Model. BIM, BAM, BOOM! Patrick’s final point was that if you are going to be paid to design-build-operate a large facility for 30 years – you absolutely have to make a good job on the design and the build side of things.

The Copenhagen Museum of Arts

There was a quite memorable quote from Diderik Haug, Statsbygg, Norway to end the day, “It is much easier, quicker and cheaper to fix a clash detection in a BIM than in the concrete on site”.

Nice little mention on Planet Vectorworks

The recent enhancements to Annotator, part of the NBS Tools, gets a nice little mention on Planet Vectorworks...

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Ramboll Head Office - Copenhagen

As part of the buildingSMART Summit Week we were given a guided tour of the new Ramboll Head Office building in Copenhagen. We were made really, really welcome, were given a tour and then over a beer and some food their engineers explained to us how they had utilised BIM throughout the project from design, through construction and then will continue to use BIM as part of the facility management. Amazing stuff.

I took some picture on the tour...

Logo at the entrance

Breathtaking flights of stairs going through the centre of the building

Grand piano in reception

Maximum use of glass to give light and transparency

The view from the fifth floor

Each meeting room has an IPad displaying the day's schedule

The sun sets to end another day in Denmark

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day Two

The day started with the key note speeches from senior members of BuildingSMART. The benefits of using interoperable BIMs were again reinforced (1) improved profitability, (2) easier to meet sustainability targets, (3) reduced risk and uncertainty. In terms of savings, the buildings in the US account for 40% of the nation’s energy use. Making buildings more efficient would make a major difference in the order of billions to the economy. Comparisons where made between the defence industry, the manufacturing industry, the aerospace industry and the construction industry. Due to how the construction industry is so fragmented it was noted that it is behind in terms of interoperable data models and processes. The general feeling is that the technology is here now, the challenge is getting people to use it and changing the existing processes.

Nyborg Strand Hotel

Rasso Steinmann presented the new certification for software applications that support IFC. One of the complaints about IFC from users is that the software applications have import and export limitations and sometimes the IFC data is not perfect.  In April this year buildingSMART have approved a new certification process to make the tests for IFC certification more explicit and tighter. Rasso demonstrated the global testing documentation server and how it will be used by software vendors to test their import/export processes.

Once a software vendor passes the tests then these test results will be made public and published.
Throughout the day there were presentations from the EU project InPro. This is a 13million euro four year project to change the way the construction industry works from 2d to open BIM. The team did a very interesting real-time demonstration of IFC being used as the neutral file format working between the software applications Revit Architecture 2012, Revit MEP 2012, Solibri Model Checker and Passing modified elements from the IFC model between the disciplines was demonstrated nicely on a simple “garden shed” building project. Notably IFC was used as the primary central file format on the InPro project and not simply used as a means to importing and exporting data.

A big day each year in the BIM calendar is the BIMStorm events. Yoshinobu Adachi presented Team BIM Tokyo’s efforts in the recent London event. He also promoted the BIM Live Tokyo event in which the teams compete over the internet and have 48 hours to submit their IFC models. They are judged on the designs, the analysis and the clash detections.

The BIPS part of the Summit in Nyborg is now complete and it's off to Copenhagen now. This evening delegates are getting a tour of the new Ramboll building in the city. Update: see some pictures from my visit here.

View from hotel

NBS Domestic Specification - Coming Soon As An Online Product

Two or three years ago RIBA Enterprises published NBS Domestic - a loose-leaf paper specification for use on small domestic projects. This has been very successful, but feedback from specifiers has been clear that this should be an electronic product.

I am very excited to be able to say that an electronic version of this is now only a few months away from launch and is now undergoing beta testing.

NBS Domestic Specification is an internet application and will therefore work on pretty much any platform... PC, Mac or even Apple IPad. I cannot say too much for now - but please find some teaser screenshots below and keep tuned to this blog for more information over the coming weeks!

Sign in to NBS Domestic within your web browser and click to create a new specification
(click image for larger view)

Select your contract particulars and work sections

Edit your NBS specification with synchronized guidance and drop down suggested values

Publish your finished specification to PDF

Monday, 6 September 2010

buildingSMART Summit Week - Day One

After a pretty smooth journey on the Sunday from Newcastle to Copenhagen by air followed by a train journey across Denmark to Nyborg I attended the first day of the buildingSMART summit.

The amazing rail and road bridge at Nyborg

The first presentation was from John Mitchell from the University of South Wales in Australia. A couple of case studies were shown to demonstrate the main benefits of BIM.  The main benefits of an open BIM is in passing the model between the disciplines. For example, The Ark Project in North Sydney had the Structural Engineer and Architect working off an ArchiCAD BIM, but exporting to IFC for clash detection in with the M&E Engineer’s Revit MEP BIM. The classic example from Australia is the Sydney Opera House. This was modelled in Bentley and then exported using IFC to ArchiCAD. Potential clash detection between the structural elements and the M&E systems is clearly the main driver for interoperable BIMs. John also presented results from a survey of over 250 professionals that showed BIM was getting used to a degree by over 75% of these. Of those not using BIM around 75% intend to use it in the next 1-3 years.

The Ark Project

Francois Grobler from the US Army Corps of Engineers presented a number of drivers including top-down mandates in the US to improve efficiencies in the construction industry. For example, all new federal buildings in the US must be designed to be net-zero-energy use by 2020. On particular development that seemed very interesting was the COBie XML file format that the US Army are using for information transfer once the project is handed from the construction team to the building operator/owner. It seems to be a more simple way of documenting materials and spaces without the complex geometries of a CAD BIM model.

As always I was fascinated by the IFD project. Jacob Mehus presented some very interesting developments in Norway where the Norwegian Defence Agency have said they will now procure their projects using IFD. So any manufacturer who wants their products to be used on any of these projects must add them, defined by IFD, to a searchable database. The designer can then feed in data from their IFC BIM model into the engine and compliant products will be returned. This all sounds very interesting and I look forward to attending the IFD workshop day in Copenhagen on Thursday.

Following the IFD presentation, Thomas Liebich then “unveiled” some of the improvements for the IFC 2x4 release. The many improvements include geometric, efficiency, support for light and texture and improved documentation and samples. It will be presented to ISO as a draft standard next year and hopefully released in 2011. A couple of quotes, “The most encompassing and complete open specification for BIM”, “It has been seven years in its making – we’ve gone for quality over speed in release management”. At the end of the presentation there was discussion as to how fast the software vendors will implement IFC 2x4 import and export following its release. Thomas indicated that the certification tests will be tighter than in the past.

Inham Kim from Kyung-Hee University, Korea , presented how BIM was used to judge the design team competition for the KPX Headquarter relocation project. This was a $45m project with over $2m being spent on the design. All designers entering the competition got free software (ArchiCAD, Revit, SketchUp) for three months. The designs were judged entirely on the BIMs that they submitted. The BIMS were used to generate rendered images, perform energy analysis, clash detection analysis and generate animations.

BIM specialists Gravicon from Finland did an interesting presentation of their role on the design of the Helsinki Music Centre. The use of the BIM to test the acoustic performance was fascinating, how it was possible to tilt the seating areas in the x, y and z direction to get the optimal acoustic performance. Following this was the final presentation of the day by Martin Tamke who compared the BIM tools used by the manufacturing industry with those used by the construction industry. This included some beautiful curved surfaces in buildings that can only really be generated, fabricated and built using BIM technology.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Off to Denmark

I'm having the pleasure of attending the buildingSMART Summit in Denmark next week. I'll publish a few posts about it all next week for those interested.

The timetable for myself is:
  • Monday - Presentations on the use of BIM for the Sydney Opera House and by the US Army Corps of Engineers in the morning. Talks on IFC, IFD, the Helsinki Music Centre and Open BIM design in the afternoon.
  • Tuesday - Software certification and the EU Inpro project.
  • Wednesday - BIM from a client, cost management and facility management point of view.
  • Thursday - IFD workshop