Building owners are widely embracing Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a core part of their design and construction process and now are beginning to extend the value of BIM to the entire lifecycle of a facility or portfolio of facilities.

Lifecycle BIM is the collaborative model based process for creating, maintaining and utilizing building information to effectively manage operations and maintenance of a building or portfolio of buildings throughout their operational lifecycle. There are two primary methods for gathering and creating a data rich “model” on one or multiple buildings in a building owner’s facility portfolio.  Both of these methods work in conjunction with one another to enable an owner to move to Lifecycle BIM for all of their facilities.

The first method includes leveraging BIM data for post construction use within facilities systems, creating an interactive operations and maintenance manual between the BIM model and an Integrated Workplace Management System (IWMS) product suite such as the FM:Systems FM:Interact product. This requires close coordination between AEC teams who have chosen to design, engineer and construct new facilities or renovations and the building owner’s project team for which the building is being constructed.

The second method involves modeling existing facilities and is an important aspect of embracing a holistic and comprehensive approach to Lifecycle BIM for the entire portfolio.  For owners who own and operate a number of facilities within their building portfolio, only taking advantage of a BIM based lifecycle approach for buildings, which are newly constructed, inherently limits the value that building information modeling can provide, even for existing facilities.

The evolution of a facilities BIM

Many building owner’s approach us who have Revit models that were developed through the design and construction process and ask us if they will work with our facility management software, FM:Interact.  The short answer to this question is yes, but it’s usually followed with a short list of questions just to make sure that the model is appropriate for use within a CAFM or IWMS environment. Typical questions can range from what Level of Development (LOD) is represented in the model all the way down to where the spaces are defined on the floors. The truth is, value can be derived from any of the models developed previously in the lifecycle process.  There are varying degrees to the usefulness of the information based upon the quality, type, amount of detail, and appropriateness for facilities management of the information contained in the model(s).

Here is a general overview of how I view model development and what its primary use is for each phase of a buildings lifecycle.  This generalization of a models use is not intended to capture everything you can do with a model in its various states as that would be extremely difficult to do in this brief article. The main intent is to help you to understand how Building Information Models develop over time as we move towards FM and building operations. This also primarily addresses models described in the first method of the introduction portion of this article which is a facilities BIM that has been strongly informed by the AEC process.  Figure 1 and the descriptions below described the basic types of models that can inform a model that works well for facilities management.

BIM Evolution - The evolution of a BIM for FM

Figure 1 – Evolution of a BIM

Design model

Developed by the design team with a LOD to relay design intent and generate documentation and details used during construction.

Construction model

Contains a high level of detail used before and during actual construction to reduce uncertainty, improve safety, eliminate conflicts, and simulate real world outcomes.

As-built model

Contains both construction and fabrication data with detailed geometry and multiple disciplines aggregated into a single model that facilitates turnover from AEC to owners.

Facilities BIM

Contains a level of accuracy that reflects the design model but with updated as-built conditions for space and assets used for operations and maintenance.