BIM has transformed architecture, engineering and construction. However the great potential of BIM is to provide accurate, timely and relevant information not just during design and construction for a single building, but also throughout the lifecycle of an entire portfolio of facilities. The use of BIM technology in the operational phase of a building’s lifecycle is just beginning to take hold as building owners look for new ways to improve the effectiveness of their facility operations.

The most recent McGraw Hill Smart Marketing Report on the business value of BIM for building owners which was completed in 2014 said that 84% of building owners in the US and 95% of building owners in the UK would be adopting the use of BIM for all new construction within 2 years….which is now.

One of the challenges that building owners implementing Lifecycle BIM face is the difference between the BIM models created for design and construction and the BIM models needed for operation. Although with proper procedures building data can and should flow from one phase to the next, it is useful to identify at least four types of BIM models as seen in this diagram.

BIM Design Models

These are created by architects and engineers with the objective of first defining the conceptual design and ultimately producing construction documents. Building materials and equipment are defined generically, allowing the contractor the freedom to competitively bid and price equivalent alternatives. For example, air handling units are described by general dimensions and performance requirements by the engineer without knowledge of who the selected manufacturer will be. The diagram shows the progression of the different types of model throughout the lifecycle of a building.

BIM Construction Models

Contractors and subcontractors will use these models to aid in staging and detect potential conflicts using clash detection before encountering the issues in the field.

BIM As-Built Model

This is created by the general contractor, subcontractors and suppliers. Traditionally this information has been provided as a set of paper working drawings that were annotated to reflect change orders and field changes and was accompanied by equipment cut sheets and shop drawings depicting specific equipment selection.

The BIM FM Model

This model is derived primarily from input from the BIM As-Built Model. When creating the BIM FM Model, the following modifications are made:

  • The model is “purged” and extraneous information is removed including construction details and working drawing sheets. This information can be obtained from the as-built model if needed, but otherwise encumbers the BIM FM Model.
  • Where linked models have been used to distinctly represent building core, building shell and tenant improvements these are merged into a single model.
  • If practical, linked models representing architectural, mechanical, electrical, fire protection and specialized equipment are merged. For large buildings this may not be practical with current technology, so there may be the need to maintain multiple models that are linked.
  • Occupancy room numbers are derived from construction room numbers with numbers matching building signage.
  • For office space, workstations and offices are defined separately from rooms and are numbered with an occupancy numbering system. This is key to matching office occupants to desks, cubicles and offices and is also essential for management of work orders.
  • Building equipment items are numbered with unique asset ID’s.

The BIM FM Model can then be linked to the facility management system (IWMS/CAFM/CMMS) which tracks ongoing work orders, maintenance operations, occupancy information, equipment and material replacement costs and other data related to building operations.

I believe that building owners can address the issue of models resulting from BIM building design and construction processes not containing the information necessary for building operations by asking a series of questions during the AEC process that can ensure that building owners get a model that can be effectively used for facility operations.

My friend and former colleague at Autodesk, Chuck Mies, was the first to pose these questions in a very simple easy to understand form that allow building owners and AEC teams can ask which are:

  • Who – Who will use the data on the facility team?
  • What – What data is needed for post occupancy operations and how will it be collected?
  • How – How will the data be maintained and by which members of the facility team?

The best way to define what data you need is by talking to the people who will actually be using BIM data for their day-to-day tasks. Find out their roles and responsibilities, why they need the data, how they use the data, what systems and tools they use to do their job.

This diagram is an example of the typical facility management professionals who might need to integrated with information coming from your models every single day. But keep in mind that many of these employees may have little or no exposure to BIM, so some initial level of BIM education may be required beforehand even though many of these potential facility team members will never touch the actual model itself or ever interact with the 3D geometry of the model.

BIM Lifecycle Participants

BIM Lifecycle Participants