Building Information Modelling

BIM Video

Building Information Modelling Definition

“BIM can be understood as a virtual process that involves all aspects, disciplines, and systems of a facility within a single, virtual model​, allowing all team members (owners, architects, engineers, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers) to collaborate more accurately and efficiently than the traditional processes.” (AZHAR,2011)

BIM enables the creation of a virtual representation of what will be constructed, the Building Information Model​. This model accurately represents the geometry of the building, besides having relevant information that can be used to aid in the documentation, design, pre-fabrication and construction of the project.

The National Committee of Building Information Modeling of the United States of America – National Institute of Building Sciences (2015) defines BIM as:

BIM is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility​. As such, it is a shared resource for information about the facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle from inception onward. A basic premise of BIM is collaboration by different stakeholders at different phases of the lifecycle of a facilit​y to insert, extract, update, or modify information in the BIM to support and reflect the roles of that stakeholder. The BIM is a shared digital representation founded on open standards for interoperability.

3D Coordination

A process in which Clash Detection software is used during the coordination process to determine field conflicts by comparing 3D models of building systems. The goal of clash detection is to eliminate the major system conflicts prior to installation.

Potential Value:
  • Coordinate building project through a model
  • Reduce and eliminate field conflicts; which reduces RFI’s significantly compared to other methods
  • Visualize construction
  • Increase productivity
  • Reduced construction cost; potentially less cost growth (i.e. less change orders)
  • Decrease construction time
  • Increase productivity on site
  • More accurate as built drawings
Resources Required:
  • Design Authoring Software
  • Model Review Software
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to deal with people and project challenges
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D model
  • Knowledge of BIM model applications for facility updates
  • Knowledge of building systems.
Selected Resources:
  • Staub-French S and Khanzode A (2007) “3D and 4D Modeling for design and
    construction coordination: issues and lessons learned” ITcon Vol. 12, pg. 381-407,
  • Khanzode A, Fischer M, Reed D (2008) “Benefits and lessons learned of
    implementing building virtual design and construction (VDC) technologies for
    coordination of mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems on a large
    healthcare project” , ITcon Vol. 13, Special Issue Case studies of BIM use , pg.
Design Reviews

A process in which stakeholders view a 3D model and provide their feedbacks to validate multiple design aspects. These aspects include evaluating meeting the program, previewing space aesthetics and layout in a virtual environment, and setting criteria such as layout, sightlines, lighting, security, ergonomics, acoustics, textures and colors, etc. This BIM use can be done by using computer software only or with special virtual mock-up facilities, such as CAVE (Computer Assisted Virtual Environment) and immersive lab. Virtual mock-ups can be performed at various levels of detail depending on project needs. An example of this is to create a highly detailed model of a small portion of the building, such as a facade to quickly analyze design alternatives and solve design and constructability issues.

Potential Value:
  • Eliminate costly and timely traditional construction mock-ups
  • Different design options and alternatives may be easily modeled and changed in
    real-time during design review base on end users and/or owner feedbacks
  • Create shorter and more efficient design and design review process
  • Evaluate effectiveness of design in meeting building program criteria and owner’s
  • Enhance the health, safety and welfare performance of their projects (For
    instance, BIM can be used to analyze and compare fire-rated egress enclosures,
    automatic sprinkler system designs, and alternate stair layouts)
  • Easily communicate the design to the owner, construction team and end users
  • Get instant feedbacks on meeting program requirements, owner’s needs and
    building or space aesthetics
  • Greatly increase coordination and communication between different parties.
    More likely to generate better decisions for design
Resources Required:
  • Design Review Software
  • Interactive review space
  • Hardware which is capable of processing potential large model files
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D model
  • Ability to model photo realistically including textures, colors and finishes and
    easily navigable by using different software or plug-ins
  • Strong sense of coordination. Understanding roles and responsibilities of team
  • Strong understanding of how building/facility systems integrate with one another
Selected Resources:
  • Dunston, Phillip S., Arns, Laura L., and McGlothin, James D. (2007). “An
    Immersive Virtual Reality Mock-Up for Design Review of Hospital Patient
    Rooms,” 7th International Conference on Construction Applications of Virtual
    Reality, University Park, Pennsylvania, October 22-23.
  • Majumdar, Tulika, Fischer, Martin A., and Schwegler, Benedict R. (2006).
    “Conceptual Design Review with a Virtual Reality Mock-Up Model,” Building on
    IT: Joint International Conference on Computing and Decision Making in Civil
    and Building Engineering, Hugues Rivard, Edmond Miresco, and Hani Melham,
    editors, Montreal, Canada, June 14-16, 2902-2911.
  • Bassanino, May Wu, Kuo-Cheng Yao, Jialiang Khosrowshahi, Farzad Fernando,
    Terrence Skjaerbaek, Jens. (2010). “The Impact of Immersive Virtual Reality on
    Visualisation for a Design Review in Construction,” 14th International Conference
    Information Visualisation.
  • Xiangyu Wang and Phillip S. Dunston. (2005). “System Evaluation of a Mixed
    Reality-Based Collaborative Prototype for Mechanical Design Review
    Collaboration,” Computing in Civil Engineering, Volume 21, issue 6, page:
Design Authoring

A process in which 3D software is used to develop a Building Information Model based on criteria that is important to the translation of the building's design. Authoring tools create models while audit and analysis tools study or add to the richness of information in a model. Most of audit and analysis tools can be used for Design Review and Engineering Analysis BIM Uses. Design authoring tools are a first step towards BIM and the key is connecting the 3D model with a powerful database of properties, quantities, means and methods, costs and schedules.

Potential Value:
  • Transparency of design for all stakeholders
  • Better control and quality control of design, cost and schedule
  • Powerful design visualization
  • True collaboration between project stakeholders and BIM users
  • Improved quality control and assurance
Resources Required:
  • Design Authoring Software
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D model
  • Knowledge of construction means and methods
  • Design and construction experience
Selected Resources:
  • Tardif, M. (2008). BIM: Reaching Forward, Reaching Back. AIArchitect This
    Week. Face of the AIA . AIArchitect
Existing Conditions Modeling (Plan)

A process in which a project team develops a 3D model of the existing conditions for a site, facilities on a site, or a specific area within a facility. This model can be developed in multiple ways: including laser scanning and conventional surveying techniques, depending on what is desired and what is most efficient. Once the model is constructed, it can be queried for information, whether it is for new construction or a modernization project.

Potential Value:
  • Enhances the efficiency and accuracy of existing conditions documentation
  • Provides documentation of environment for future uses
  • Aids in future modeling and 3D design coordination
  • Provides an accurate representation of work that has been put into place
  • Real-time quantity verification for accounting purposes
  • Provides detailed layout information
  • Pre-Disaster planning
  • Post-Disaster record
  • Use for visualization purposes
Resources Required:
  • Building Information Model modeling software
  • Laser scanning point cloud manipulation software
  • 3D Laser scanning
  • Conventional surveying equipment
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D model
  • Knowledge of Building Information Model authoring tools
  • Knowledge of 3D laser scanning tools
  • Knowledge of conventional surveying tools and equipment
  • Ability to sift through mass quantities of data that is generated by a 3D laser scan
  • Ability to determine what level of detail will be required to add “value” to the
  • Ability to generate Building Information Model from 3D laser scan and/or
    conventional survey data
Selected Resources:
  • United States General Services Administration (2009). “GSA Building
    Information Modeling Guide Series: 03 – GSA BIM Guide of 3D Imaging.”
  • Arayici, Y. (2008). “Towards building information modeling for existing
    structures.” ​ Structural Survey​ 26.3: 210. ABI/INFORM Global.
  • Murphy, M., McGovern, E., and Pavia, S. (2009).”Historic building information
    modelling (HBIM).” ​ Structural Survey​ 27.4: 311. ABI/INFORM Global.
  • Adan, A., Akinci, B., Huber, D., Pingbo, Okorn, B., Tang, P. and Xiong, X.
    (2010).“Using Laser Scanners for Modeling and Analysis in Architecture,
    Engineering, and Construction.”
Cost Estimation

A process in which BIM can be used to assist in the generation of accurate quantity take-offs and cost estimates throughout the lifecycle of a project. This process allows the project team to see the cost effects of their changes, during all phases of the project, which can help curb excessive budget overruns due to project modifications. Specifically, BIM can provide cost effects of additions and modifications, with potential to save time and money and is most beneficial in the early design stages of a project.

Potential Value:
  • Precisely quantify modeled materials
  • Quickly generate quantities to assist in the decision making process
  • Generate more cost estimates at a faster rate
  • Better visual representation of project and construction elements that must be
  • Provide cost information to the owner during the early decision making phase of
    design and throughout the lifecycle, including changes during construction
  • Saves estimator’s time by reducing quantity take-off time
  • Added to a construction schedule (such as a 4D Model), a BIM developed cost
    estimate can help track budgets throughout construction
Resources Required:
  • Model-based estimating software
  • Design authoring software
  • Accurately built design model
  • Cost data (Including Masterformat and Uniformat data)
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to define specific design modeling procedures which yield accurate
    quantity take-off information
  • Ability to identify quantities for the appropriate estimating level (e.g. ROM, SF,
    etc.) upfront
  • Accurately built design model
  • Ability to manipulate models to acquire quantities usable for estimation
Selected Resources:
  • Lee, H., Lee, Kim, J. (2008). A cost-based interior design decision support system
    for large-scale housing projects, ITcon Vol. 13, Pg. 20-38,
  • Autodesk Revit. (2007) “BIM and Cost Estimating.” Press release. Autodesk. 11
    Sept. 2008.
  • Manning, R.; Messner, J. (2008). Case studies in BIM implementation for
    programming of healthcare facilities, ITcon Vol. 13, Special Issue Case studies of
    BIM use, Pg. 246-257,
  • McCuen, T. (2009, November 18). Cost Estimating in BIM: The Fifth Dimension.
    Retrieved September 21, 2010, from Construction Advisor Today:
Phase Planning (4D modeling)

A process in which a 4D model (3D models with the added dimension of time) is utilized to effectively plan the phased occupancy in a renovation, retrofit, addition, or to show the construction sequence and space requirements on a building site. 4D modeling is a powerful visualization and communication tool that can give a project team the including owner a better understanding of project milestones and construction plans.

Potential Value:
  • Better understanding of the phasing schedule by the owner and project
    participants and showing the critical path of the project
  • Dynamic phasing plans of occupancy offering multiple options and solutions to
    space conflicts
  • Integrate planning of human, equipment and material resources with the BIM
    model to better schedule and cost estimate the project
  • Space and workspace conflicts identified and resolved ahead of the construction
  • Marketing purposes and publicity
  • Identification of schedule, sequencing or phasing issues
  • More readily constructible, operable and maintainable project
  • Monitor procurement status of project materials
  • Increased productivity and decreased waste on job sites
  • Conveying the spatial complexities of the project, planning information, and
    support conducting additional analyses
Resources Required:
  • Design Authoring Software (Revit)
  • Scheduling software (MS-Project)
  • 4D Modeling Software (Navisworks Manage)
Team Competencies Required:
  • Knowledge of construction scheduling and general construction process. A 4D
    model is connected to a schedule, and is therefore only as good as the schedule to
    which it is linked.
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D model.
  • Knowledge of 4D software: import geometry, manage links to schedules, produce
    and control animations, etc.
Selected Resources:
  • Dawood, N., and Mallasi, Z. (2006). Construction Workplace Planning:
    Assignment and Analysis Utilizing 4D Visualization Technologies.Â
    Computer-aided Civil and Infrastructure Engineering ​ , Pgs. 498-513.
  • Jongeling, R., Kim, J., Fischer, M., Morgeous, C., and Olofsson, T. (2008).Â
    Quantitative analysis of workflow, temporary structure usage, and productivity
    using 4D models. ​ Automation in Construction ​ , Pgs. 780-791.
  • Kang, J. H., Anderson, S. D., and Clayton, M. J. (2007). Empirical Study on the
    Merit of Web-based 4D Visualization in Collaborative Construction Planning and
    Scheduling. ​ Journal of Construction Engineering and Management ​ ,
    Pgs. 447-461.
Site Utilization Planning

A process in which BIM is used to graphically represent both permanent and temporary facilities on site during multiple phases of the construction process. It may also be linked with the construction activity schedule to convey space and sequencing requirements. Additional information incorporated into the model can include labor resources, materials with associated deliveries, and equipment location. Because the 3D model components can be directly linked to the schedule, site management functions such as visualized planning, short-term re-planning, and resource analysis can be analyzed over different spatial and temporal data.

Potential Value:
  • Efficiently generate site usage layout for temporary facilities, assembly areas, and
    material deliveries for all phases of construction
  • Quickly identify potential and critical space and time conflicts
  • Accurately evaluate site layout for safety concerns
  • Select a feasible construction scheme
  • Effectively communicate construction sequence and layout to all interested
  • Easily update site organization and space usage as construction progresses
  • Minimize the amount of time spent performing site utilization planning
Resources Required:
  • Design authoring software
  • Scheduling software
  • 4D model integration software
  • Detailed existing conditions site plan
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to create, manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D Model
  • Ability to manipulate and assess construction schedule with a 3D model
  • Ability to understand typical construction methods
  • Ability to translate field knowledge to a technological process
Selected Resources:
  • Chau, K.W.; M. Anson, and J.P. Zhang. (July/August 2004) “Four-Dimensional
    Visualization of Construction Scheduling and Site Utilization.” ​ Journal of
    Construction Engineering and Management​ . 598-606. ​ ASCE​ . 5 September 2008.
  • Dawood, Nashwam et al. (2005) “The Virtual Construction Site (VIRCON) Tools:
    An Industrial Evaluation.” ​ ITcon​ . Vol. 10 43-54. 8 September 2008.
  • Heesom, David and Lamine Mahdjoubi. (February 2004) “Trends of 4D CAD
    Applications for Construction Planning.” ​ Construction Management and
    Economics​ . 22 171-182.8 September 2008.
  • J.P. Zhang, M. Anson and Q. Wang. (2000) “A New 4D Management Approach to
    Construction Planning and Site Space Utilization.” Proceedings of the Eighth
    International Conference on Computing in Civil and Building Engineering 279, 3
    (2000) ​ ASCE. ​ Â 21 September 2010. ​​ .
  • J. H. Kang​ , ​ S. D. Anderson​ , ​ M. J. Clayton​ . (June 2007) “Empirical Study on the
    Merit of Web-Based 4D Visualization in Collaborative Construction Planning and
    Scheduling.” J. Constr. Engrg. and Mgmt. Volume 133, Issue 6, pp. 447-461
    ASCE. 20 September 2010.
  • Timo Hartmann, Ju Gao and Martin Fischer. (October 2008) “Areas of
    Application for 3D and 4D Models.” ​ Journal of Construction Engineering and
    Management​ ( Volumne 135, Issue 10): 776-785.
  • Ting Huang, C.W. Kong, H.L. Guo, Andrew Baldwin, Heng Li. (August 2007) “A
    Virtual Prototyping System for Simulating Construction Processes.” ​ Automation
    in Construction (Volume 16, Issue 5):Pages 576-585,
    1a6836c45317a012fbc181a​ )
Facility Energy Analysis

The BIM Use of Facility Energy Analysis is a process in the facility design phase which one or more building energy simulation programs use a properly adjusted BIM model to conduct energy assessments for the current building design. The core goal of this BIM use is to inspect building energy standard compatibility and seek opportunities to optimize proposed design to reduce structure's life-cycle costs.

Potential Value:
  • Save time and costs by obtaining building and system information automatically
    from BIM model instead of inputting data manually
  • Improve building energy prediction accuracy by auto-determining building
    information such as geometries, volumes precisely from BIM model
  • Help with building energy code verification
  • Optimize building design for better building performance efficiency and reduce
    building life-cycle cost
Resources Required:
  • Building Energy Simulation and Analysis Software(s)
  • Well-adjusted Building 3D-BIM Model
  • Detailed Local Weather Data
  • National/Local Building Energy Standards (e.g. ASHRAE Standard 90.1)
Team Competencies Required:
  • Knowledge of basic building energy systems
  • Knowledge of compatible building energy standard
  • Knowledge and experience of building system design
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D Model
  • Ability to assess a model through engineering analysis tools
Selected Resources:
  • ASHRAE. 2009. ASHRE Handbook-Fundamentals. Atlanta. American Society of
    Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc.
  • Crawley. D. B., Hand, J. W., et, 2008. Contrasting the capabilities of building
    energy performance simulation program. Building and Environment 43 (2008)
  • Bazjanac. V. 2008. IFC BIM-Based Methodology for Semi-Automated Building
    Energy Performance Simulation. Proceedings of CIB-W78 25th International
    Conferenceon Information Technology in Construction.
  • Stumpf. A., Kim. H., Jenicek. E. 2009. Early Design Energy Analysis Using BIMS
    (Building Information Models). 2009 Construction Research Congress. ASCE.
  • Cho. Y. K., Alaskar. S., and Bode.T.A. 2010. BIM-Integrated Sustainable Material
    and Renewable Energy Simulation. 2010 Construction Research Congress. ASCE.
Additional information:

This BIM Use can be further divided into two categories based on different levels of modeling details and implementation phases: Building Energy Analysis during Conceptual Design and Detailed Building Energy Analysis in the late Design. A quick energy analysis by using a simple BIM model during early design stage could help select best building orientations and configurations to improve building load and energy consumption profiles. Detailed BIM energy analysis is typically done in late design phase by using more powerful energy simulation tools, most of which are currently capable of behaving an hourly building load, system and plant energy simulation with economic analysis based on building location and local utility rates, and supporting BIM model files as inputs.

Before a BIM model is used for energy analysis, the responsible party (mechanical engineers or energy analysts) should review the model and make proper adjustments if the BIM model is not ready for simulation. The reviewing work includes checking model integrity and ensuring all parameters needed are not missed. Simulation tools also need to be determined before energy analysis, if single simulation program cannot satisfy all purposes (e.g. not all simulation tools are able to deal with renewable energy systems or on-site power generation, while others may lack of economic analysis), more than one software should be used jointly to accomplish energy analysis task.

Frequently, a reference building energy model also needs to be established to check if the
current building design reaches the targeted energy performance goals set by national or local codes. A more significant amount of work is required to build a reference model on the basis of existing BIM model: building geometric parameters will remain the same while exterior walls, windows, and roof materials are changed based on the standard requirements as well as HVAC equipment and lighting facilities, etc., regardless what are really used in the actual design. The reference building BIM model will then be input to the simulation tools for energy assessment and the results are compared with actual building BIM model’s prediction to examine whether the design agrees with the energy code.

If the targeted energy performance is not achieved, a design revision should be made and recorded into the initial BIM model. Energy analysis to the new version of building BIM model will be performed repeatedly until the energy goals are satisfied.

Lighting Analysis

A process in which analytical modeling software utilizes the BIM design authoring model so to determine the behavior of a given lighting system. This can also include artificial (indoor and outdoor) and natural (daylighting and solar shading) lighting. Based on this analysis further development and refinement of the lighting design takes place to create effective, efficient, and constructible lighting systems. The application of this analysis tool allows for performance simulations that can significantly improve the design, and performance of the facility's lighting over its lifecycle.

Potential Value:
  • Save time and cost on creating extra models
  • Easier transition BIM authoring tools allowing new firms implementing this use
  • Improve specialized expertise and services offered by the design firm
  • Achieve optimum efficient design solutions by applying various rigorous analyses
  • Faster return on investment with applying audit and analysis tools for lighting
  • Improve the quality of the design analyses
  • Reduce the cycle time of the design analyses
Resources Required:
  • Design Authoring Tools
  • Lighting Analysis analysis tools and software
  • Design standards and codes
  • Adequate hardware for running software
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to create, manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D Lighting Model
  • Ability to assess a model through engineering analysis tools
  • Lighting expertise
Engineering Analysis

A process in which intelligent modeling software uses the BIM model to determine the most effective engineering method based on design specifications. Development of this information is the basis for what will be passed on to the owner and/or operator for use in the building's systems (i.e. energy analysis, structural analysis, emergency evacuation planning, etc.). These analysis tools and performance simulations can significantly improve the design of the facility and its energy consumption during its lifecycle in the future.

Potential Value:
  • Automating analysis and ​ saving​ time and cost
  • Analysis tools are less costly than BIM authoring tools, easier to learn and
    implement and less disruptive to established workflow
  • Improve specialized expertise and services offered by the design firm
  • Achieve optimum, energy-efficient design solution by applying various rigorous
  • Faster return on investment with applying audit and analysis tools for
    engineering analyses
  • Improve the quality and reduce the cycle time of the design analyses
Resources Required:
  • Design Authoring Tools
  • Engineering analysis tools and software
Team Competencies Required:
  • Ability to manipulate, navigate, and review a 3D Model
  • Ability to assess a model through engineering analysis tools
  • Knowledge of construction means and methods
  • Design and construction experience
Selected Resources:
  • Malin, N. (2008). BIM Companies Acquiring Energy Modeling Capabilities.Â
  • Marsh, A. (2006). Ecotect as a Teaching  Tool.
  • Marsh, A. (2006). Building Analysis: Work Smart, Not Hard.
  • Novitzki, B. (2008). Energy Modeling for Sustainability.Â
  • Stumpf, A., Brucker, B. (2008). BIM Enables Early Design Energy Analysis .Â
  • PIER Building Program (2008). Estimating Energy Use Early and Often.Â
  • Ecotect – Building Analysis for Designers. ​
  • Khemlani (2007). AECbytes: Building the Future (October 18, 2007).

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