What is BIM

The following article was written to introduce PauleyCreative’s excellent BIM Infographic  illustrating the recent NBS BIM survey, providing an important snapshot of our collaborative working BIM journey and future directions.

It was also hosted on the 2degreesnetwork site as part of their BIM series.

It feels the article has been ‘on tour’ and received good responses and comments via twitter and elsewhere, so it seems only correct to ‘bring home’ and post here for readers of this blog. Enjoy, and please do add comments below.

What is BIM?

There are many definitions of BIM, but unfortunately many are wrapped in technical, project management or design terminology.

We can understand and describe BIM as “the total and virtual modelling of all aspects of a project prior to construction, during construction and in use.”

A BIM would typically model all data relating to, for eg, design scenarios, costings, build ability and clash detection, scheduling and procurement, sustainability impact, life cycle and facilities management factors as well as in use predictions. Championed by the Government, milestones are set for achieving increasingly mature levels of BIM. The first being level 2 by 2016.

We should view BIM, not just as new technology but as a continuation of the collaborative working journey within the built environment sector. A journey started, or first articulated, way back in 1934 by Alfred Bossom and core to most sector improvement programmes since, from Latham, Egan, Building Down Barriers, Constructing Excellence, to the recent Never Waste a Good Crisis report.

BIM will be challenging, demanding real collaborative working and sharing of data, knowledge and costings across project parties.

The key to collaborative working being effective and open communications, coupled with trust and importantly being comfortable with sharing within a digital environment. Indeed we need the debate on the potential role of communications, and in particular social media, within BIM environments.

Perhaps understandably, the current BIM agenda is driven by technology and design. But the debate will widen, out of necessity, to include other disciplines such as Facilities Management, Quantity Surveyors, SME contractors, product suppliers and manufacturers, Many of whom still remain unclear as to how work and management will be different when working within BIM projects or suppling equipment to a BIM project.

You may recall a recent Honda advert that played on the expression “everything we do goes into everything we do.”  That ad emphasised how the breadth of Honda’s experience is applied through lean manufacturing to all aspects of their products. This is a great expression we would be wise to adopt to explain how BIM will enable us to bring built environment collective experiences, knowledge, technologies and best practice to every building.

Imagine a built environment industry where the design office, the QS office, the project management team, subcontractors operatives, the manufacturers factory and so on is so lean that everything we do goes into everything we do.

We would be able to reclaim the rule of thumb 30% waste in our sector, improve on safety and sustainability and deliver better, lower cost, fit for use facilities whilst achieving healthy profit levels essential for a sustainable industry.

Increasingly I am helping the contractors that I support on their questions of “what is BIM” and “what do I need” to do through increasing awareness of collaborative working, BIM itself and becoming comfortable with web/social media/digital communication. If you would like to know more please do get in touch or follow the conversations on twitter @fairsnape

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Use of social media can lead to innovative #smworkplace employees

Following my last blog on Social Media in the workplace two very interesting links have come to light:

From Business Insider:

As elaborated by the Harmon research on social media productivity … inclusive collaboration will unleash huge organizational potential for knowledge discovery with benefits including greater innovation, reducing time spent searching for information and elimination of duplicated effort.

and

Innovation comes also by multidisciplinary collaboration … with … social media are a means to this end, obstructing this opportunity will do more harm than good in the long term. Adaptation and transformation of people, processes and technology will have to occur sooner or later, because both the organization and the competitive landscape will demand this.

(my emphasis)

And from Tools for internal communications back in Jan 2010:

Melcrum have also begun a major research project into the use of social tools for internal communications; initial findings confirm “widespread adoption, a clear business case and visible return on investment for communicators.”

“Many organizations have now moved beyond the experimentation phase and begun embedding social media into the way they do business,” said Victoria Mellor, CEO of Melcrum. “There is a fundamental shift happening with how information flows inside an organization. Peer-to-peer online networks are enabling real-time feedback from employees to inform decision-making, not to mention facilitating collaboration between remote workers,” she added.

does the built environment ‘get’ the web?

CEO’s do not ‘get’ the web, according to the last of four articles in today’s Telegraph that reviewed Steve Tappin and Andrew Cave’s book The Secrets of CEOs and looked at the emerging web3.0 and its impact on business.

Web3.0 will have a profound impact on building designs and the way we use buildings, through for example the use of cloud computing that will remove the need for server space and the required power and cooling energy. It will also impact on office space layout as network access becomes unchained from the desk and floor box.

But in the built environment the biggest impact may well be on collaboration that changes relationships, supply and value chains beyond recognition …

Web 2.0 has been focused on social communities, on individual relationships; things not focused on the office. … Web 3.0 will be about more interaction between customers and vendors and competitors, on making life better for the customer.- provide better collaboration on business problems.

And of course more predictions on virtual worlds, and second life…

Forecasters Gartner are predicting that by the end of 2011, 80pc of active internet users and Fortune 500 enterprises will have a “second life”,

with no where to hide problems, mistakes or greenwash …

Reputational damage in the Web 3.0 environment will be swift for companies that are caught out, because of the speed with which information can spread around the world.

So I guess an equally important question is how well does  the built environment ‘get’ the web?

be2camp in London on the 10th October, may well be seen as the start of awareness for many in the built environment to get to grips with and better understand some of the emerging web2.0 and web3.0 applications.

Post note – just as I finished this item I received a tweet (Twitter) from Krishna De in Ireland with a link to her blog article on the state of web use among SME’s: Organise, Activate And Influence Social Activism Through Social Media relating to a recent study released by O2 and TNS MRBI

  • SMS messaging for business communications, increasing from 29% four years ago to almost half (49%) today.
  • almost half of SME owner managers are unaware of what a blog is – and that just over one in 16 (6%) SME respondents has started a business blog while 5% have a personal blog.

on sustainability now

Last Tuesday I attended the Building Sustainability Now conference event, from my study, popping out from the event and discussions only to deal with phone calls and other work issues. I also made a good number of new contacts, either through email address exchange or social connections such as Linkedin. Oh and I didn’t use the car on that day.

Phil Clark has posted lessons learnt from the event, which as Paul Wilkinson points out must be seen as a success judging by the numbers registered and attended.  Phil has asked for ‘delegates’ feedback so here are my two pennies:

I loved the chat room in the lounge but would agree that there needed to be themed areas, as sometimes the debate was hard to follow.  The excellent moderator services of carbon coach Dave Hampton kept the discussion alive, particularly on the climate change debate with Brad, which must go as a classic on on-line forum debates.

However, being used to other forms of online events, I found the interface too static and became tiring too quickly.  For example compare with Second Life events where there is action, avatars moving, places to virtually visit, camp fires to sit around and discuss issues, the opportunity to talk in open chat or on a one to one or in a group, to pass information and links to others etc make it a more ‘live’ experience.

The question has been asked-  is the industry ready for Web 2.0 ?.  I would answer yes, but needs a little nudge and encouragement to join in. The increase in information that is communicated through web2 is increasing all the time, and the cost of attending real events (fees, travel and time away from office) will improve the take up I am sure.  And again I must plug the up and coming October Be2Camp event, which will have introduction sessions to web2.0 as well as exploring the leading edge of web2 and possibly web3 communications.

As to costs, I had a choice of event to attend last Tuesday – Sustainability Now – free and I could participate in my own time in my own office, or a Business in Virtual Worlds event – cost £599, travel to London, and a fixed agenda of speakers. Its a no brainer.

Outside of the event, I found it fascinating the twitter conversations that were taking place, on themes and discussions from within the event, illustrating the use of Web2. For example I was able to send a twitter message to Rob Annable, (who was online at the event, but not in the lounge when the discussion was praising his eco-terrace project), suggesting he pop back into the lounge.  Reinforcing my view Twitter stands to be the next email and texting killer application.

I did have technical problems in viewing the presentations – Real Player playing up this end – but question why recorded events where played at set times – maybe these should be available on demand

I like the exhibitors place but found a number of questions emailed to the stands still remain unanswered.

As to more international input, there has to be a programme that caters for international time zones to attract.  Nothing worst that turning up at an event real or virtual to find everyone has gone home.  In fact this may be one of the work-life balance issues that virtual events need to address.  I sometimes find myself on line in Second Life debates at 2 in the morning – because they are held in the sunny Californian afternoon time zone.

But saying all that it was an excellent event Phil, well done – and I hope that it will be repeated.

sustainable construction commitments launched

The UK Government today launches its Sustainable Construction Strategy, with a whole raft of targets, measures and reporting mechanisms. It seems like it has been a long time coming, the consultation period being most of last year. Construction minister Shriti Vadera comments “Our aim is to become a world leader in sustainable construction” (Building). Time will tell.

Looking back to the response from to consultation we submitted from the Collaboartive Working Champions, it seems the emphasis on integrated and collaboartive working, as a means to sustainability is recognised .

To achieve improved whole life value through the promotion of best practice construction procurement and supply side integration, by encouraging the adoption of the Construction Commitments in both the public and private sectors and throughout the supply chain.

Parts of the industry – clients, consultants, main contractors, specialist contractors*, and product manufacturers and suppliers – to be engaged in supply chains on 30% of construction projects and for 40% of their work to be conducted through integrated project teams. (By 2012)

It is also included with the construction commitments:

A successful procurement policy requires ethical sourcing, enables best value to be achieved and encourages the early involvement of the supply chain. An integrated project team works together to achieve the best possible solution in terms of design, buildability, environmental performance and sustainable development.

And note the reference to ethical sourcing, this is also picked up in the report as responsible sourcing, moving towards a cradel to cradle approach one would hope, maybe along the lines of BS6000, which will wake up a few people and organisations.

And as fellow CWC and blogger Paul over at ExtranetEvolution comments it is good to see ICT within the Innovation section.

I am not sure about the inclusion of the eco-town approach as a target though – has the strategy been hijacked, Trojan horse style, to embed political ambitions?

however, and here is my main observation, admittedly after only a single read but….

I am disappointed to see a lack of facilities management in the document. The strategy is as much about the use, the consumption of buildings as it is about their design and provision. (something about focusing on the 1, out of the 1:5:200 concept). I am now aware that the facilities management sector in the UK is just too weak as a voice to get involved and influence the built environment sustainability agenda. Something that must change.

Yes we may have here a viable construction strategy , but without the link to the end users and management of the facilities (note I avoid the word buildings) we may not have a strategy for a sustainable built environment.

Oh, and why a sustainable document that has a solid black cover. The additional quantity of ink that will be used every time this document is printed or copied will be huge. The answer of course is not to print – but we are not all in the mindset of reading from the screen yet.

Score …

can data centers power all homes …

How green is your data center? Stumbled upon an amazing post and comments over at The It Sanctuary

According to figures from IT market research company Forrester Research, a data centre with 2,500 servers – relatively small compared to many out there – will devour enough electricity over the course of one month to power 420,000 homes for a year. *

That’s bad news for the environment – and it also takes its toll on a company’s bottom line. Analysts at IT market analyst firm Gartner calculate that energy expenditure typically accounts for about 10 per cent of the IT budget, and is likely to rise to as much as 50 per cent over the next few years, as energy prices continue to soar.

As the comments on the post hint at – how well is IT covered within an organisations ISO 14001 scope, impact and assessment exercises? Or even within their CSR, Corporate Social Responsibility remits? With something like 60% of a buildings / organisations energy requirement being IT related, it needs to be a central theme.

But its the ability of data center energy to power homes that needs urgent investigation. If these numbers are correct thats a staggeringly high, unbelievably high, number of homes and would resolve the domestic electricity demand at a stroke. I will check the research and invite Forrester Research to comment here,