Embedding BIM into the fabric of sustainability.

calgary treesBIM has a far deeper application than just a design modelling, construction or facilities management tool. This fact has been highlighted recently through a number of events and conversations, for example;

A couple of weeks back, I interviewed Denis Hayes as part of our Sustainability Leadership Conversation (#sustldrconv) series. Denis was founder of earth day way back in 1974, and is now CEO of the Bullitt Centre in Seattle, obviously no newcomer to environmental issues or deep green sustainability, but I was interested in Denis’ views on the role of BIM and ‘Big Data’ in todays sustainability agenda. here is an extract from a soon to be published article based on that interview

MB Denis, how do you see the role of BIM and Big Data in deep green sustainability?

DH Analysis of big data is key, living buildings need cerebral cortex and Central Nervous System to function, big data helps see patterns, offers vast potential, but right now there is too much noise and not enough signal and analysis.   

Also in May, during the Construction21 Virtual Expo, I was inspired by the conversation with Delta Development CEO Coert Zachariasse. Delta have applied Cradle to Cradle thinking to their business and projects, For example, they don’t own the materials in their buildings in the traditional sense, but view buildings as material banks, with every building having a residual value at the end of its life through the value of its materials. (A value that is recognised, included on the budget sheet and reduces the project costs, the alternative, more common thinking is that demolition and waste adds costs to the project)

Whilst this is inspiring, the fact that BIM provides the engine behind this approach is very interesting – using BIM to track and maximise residual value, providing the data to create material passports and undertake the value decisions.

As I tweeted from that conversation:

“BIM meets #CradletoCradle – Delta Development use #BIM to develop Material Passports thru supply chain,  Coert Zachariasse CEO at #EXPOC21”

Later in the day at EXPOC21, during the panel debate on the need for a European Building Performance Directive, Frank Hovorka – President- Sustainable Building Alliance commented that BIM is the essential core for any Building Performance Directive

But of course built environment sustainability is ‘just’ not about energy or building performance, it is also, or more so about health and social dimensions as well. The data needed to make informed decisions for sustainability needs to encompass stories, context and knowledge. However with knowledge reduced to a status of information in todays digital universe, we need the skills to unpack information from BIM and Big data

Embedding BIM data into the fabric of sustainability is key, and to borrow the brilliant expression from Casey Rutland and Vicky Lockhart at ARUP – its all about SustainaBIMity.

Regarding BIM through this lens, we in the built environment need to move quickly, to clean the data we have from noise, provide better analysis, and make informed regenerative sustainable decisions. In an age of disrupt or be disrupted – if we don’t do so from within the sector, someone from outside will.

Sustainability made Cool? Day one at #EXPOC21

Well, day one of the Virtual Green Build EXPO was fun – and a success.  From chats within the show, comments across twitter and elsewhere the comments from visitors have been very positive indeed.

BnmBaoYIAAEl1RDAnd importantly I sensed green build and sustainable construction had been made cool.

The EXPO hosted by Construction21 on the HyperFair platform has attracted just under 200 exhibitors from all corners of Europe and hopes to attract up to 20,000 visits to the show. Steve Borncamp, driving force behind the show commented  “it was exciting to see people interact in this new medium from so many countries & consBnltphoIEAAvTn2truction disciplines”

As soon as the doors opened at 7.30 this morning, visitors were taking snaps of their avatars and booths and sharing on twitter, claiming firsts and the virtual-selfie was born. (There is a photo comp with prizes being coordinated by our friends at Green Vision)

Observing the avatar arrivals to the EXPO,  there was a period where they customised appearance, read any notices and instruction notes and then zipped off into the Reception area, or vanished, teleporting to the stands or auditorium.

Visiting the stands was actually easier and more enjoyable than a real show, being able to chat and pick up brochures, watch videos and read posters with ease. I had numerous business card exchanges and agreements to get in touch after the show to discuss possible collaboration on Living Building Challenge, sustainability, green schools and social media, including a future discussion to be had on possible funding. I would have considered it a very good day at any real life show.

BnloKNQIMAIxn7oAside from the stands there was a brilliant programme of debates and expert videos running throughout the day. I watched a couple, impressed with the “Time for a sustainable buildings performance directive?” panel debate and learnt from  Coert Zachariasse CEO at Delta Developments who combined Cradle to Cradle with BIM and commented that “Buildings are just material banks” Brilliant Stuff!  WorldGBCEurope who coordinated the panel debate series observed We had some great debates as part of the first day. Speakers from industry, policy-makers and NGOs. Now looking forward to day two”

During the day I held a few in-show twitter chats which illustrated the enthusiasm of those attending This kind of event is definitely the future! Exhibitions are tiring & have not questioned their concept for ages” commented Philippa Rogers at InterfaceUK, adding ” I’ve immediately adopted this virtual concept as I have to admit I’m not a big fan of traditional exhibitions”

And that experience was shared by others as Elrond Burrell explains Attending the virtual expo was a novel experience. I visited virtual stands, browsed exhibitors brochures & exchanged virtual business cards & chatted with other attendees via the web interface. It’s a bit clunky to navigate but also kind of fun. I quickly resorted to teleporting rather than virtually walking around though! I think it is an interesting step to have a virtual expo but is still aiming to be a virtual representation of a real expo, rather than completely embracing web tech and rethinking what an expo actually is, if it takes place virtually”

And the show has a nice innovative sustainability touch beyond the virtual – Steve Borncamp again we want our virtual event to have a physical legacy in the form of a building project that will offset the c02 of this event and inspire a much higher level of ambition for our buildings and communities in Europe and for the world” (exhibitors have been able to offset the carbons they would have emitted in travelling to real shows).

Day Two opens at 7:30am UK time with sign up and log in here. And who knows, could  a post event virtual tweet up be on the cards?

 

Why EXPOC21 is a vital event for the built environment

Time was, to uncover the latest thinking and developments in the world of sustainability meant a lot of travel and time investment. I recall, whilst developing and driving the Mowlem Sustainability Strategy for Prime Contracting at the end of the 90’s, having to trundle to conferences in London, or to Defence Estates in the Midlands, spending a whole day in conference mode, only to pick up a few nuggets of intelligence or inspiration.

Today we can pick up most intelligence via the web and social media. We use webinars and online events to share. Physical events such as Eco Build, now wrapped in social media and web applications, certainly have their place. But mainstream trade fairs haven’t as yet really embraced the potential of the online world, by going completely virtual.

One organisation driving the emerging virtual expo space is HyperFair – and it is their technology, that allows visitors to attend exhibition as an avatar, that the forthcoming Construction21 virtual trade fair will be using.

Construction21EXPO.eu EUROPE - logo

Over two days, 14th and 15th May, EXPOC21, will enable you to visit a number of greenbuild product stands, talk to leading sustainability organisations on their stands, be inspired and talk with a number of leading greenbuild  thoughtleaders, engage in panel debates and network with construction and sustainability professionals across Europe and Globally.  All with a vastly reduce commitment on your time, and on your carbon emission, without leaving the office or your kitchen table!

And, I think there is another important reason visiting EXPOC21 – to experience and interact with others within a virtual environment.  One of the great drivers for todays industry is BIM, information management and modelling, and the associated emergence with 3D environments.

60199455601729109971916966764nfEngaging with others in virtual environments, discussing proposed designs with clients and contractors and end users, whilst moving through the design itself, will become an established aspect of our industry – and a key skill to hone now. Those who have experience of Second Life, Minecraft or even Sims will feel at home, but for others, this is an experience not to be missed, and attendance as a delegate is free.

See you there!

Links for the show:

To register go here

Check out the Thought Leader Presentation series

Green Build Panel Debate hosted by World GBC Europe, covering topics such as Economics of Green Building projects, Scaling up for Retofit, Green Responsibilities and Sustainability performance Directives

Follow the show via Twitter #EXPOC21 #EXPOC21chat and @C21EXPO_EUROPE

Tweetchats and Twitterviews held leading up to the show, with more in show interviews to come.

Construction21EXPO Background and Team (pdf)

 

Disclosure: I have been supporting and advising the Construction21 team on social media and related sustainability aspects.

Responsible BIM

We are hearing more and more of ‘Responsible Business‘ approaches, generally taken to mean a combination of sustainability and CSR. But what happens when this emergent thinking in Construction meets BIM? Responsible BIM?

Below is the transcript or notes behind my pecha kucha presentation, exploring Responsible BIM, made to the excellent ThinkBIM event on 2 April in Leeds, .

I wanted to inject a balance of current ‘soft issues’ thinking against a prevalent hard technology thinking. I have no  issues with the passion behind the BIM approaches, I am constantly impressed and think it amazing, but sometimes feel BIM technology and language is a runaway train. Unfortunately just about every BIM event I attend I hear at the outset, BIM is about the people not the technology, with the rest of the event focuses on the application of the technology, with very little soft skill content. When was the last time we saw a BIM event focus solely on collaboration without mentioning software? Having said that, its is the balance of views at ThinkBIM events is what sets it apart from other BIM events.

The title ‘Flatland to Wonderland’ comes from a brilliant article and the work of Petra Kuenkel, who we interviewed as part of our Sustainability Leadership Conversation (#sustldrconv) twitter series recently. In short, we need both the flatlands of reality along with the possibilities of the wonderland for a sustainable future

Flatland

3D modelling, and offsite component manufacture with simple on site assembly isn’t new, as illustrated in the Building article that covered the BAA Project Genesis project in 1997. Pre Egan and pre Building Down Barriers we were doing BIM, so why didn’t it take off as the Egan Report did?  (Egan was at BAA and also involved in Project Genesis).  Somehow we lost the 3D collaborative conversation, maybe the Egan agenda itself ,with a focus on KPI’s and customer satisfaction masked some of the brilliant emerging work of that time?

One of the BIM wake up calls for contractors I work with recently has been the inclusion of BIM questions within PQQ’s in particular the PAS 91 BIM options – and the need for bidding contractors to have a BIM Strategy, signed as commitment from the CEO, detailing milestones, training and development, information management and more. “Lets write one quick”

And on the issue of information management – lets start to align to ISO 9000  documentation control requirements. How many BIM users (real and say-they-do’s) have embedded their BIM information and data communication processes into their Quality Systems. I am currently helping a good number of organisations revisit their management systems and inject current information management thinking. Particular so on how and what information is shared with supply chain members. Doing so enables us to audit, and improve information management using the Plan Do Check Act approach

But, yes, we have BIMwash. BIM language is not that difficult to learn, the technology is not that difficult to purchase, and hey presto we are BIM compliant. Not surprising then that contractors sit and wait for a client to insist or require BIM on a project before applying BIM thinking. As a BIM community we need to change the conversation away from BIM being just a design tool or client requirement to a continuous improvement tool with many many benefits.

And on to the wonderland …

If we really want to co-create a sustainable built environment, and isn’t that what BIM is all about?, then we need to have both the harsh reality of the flatlands with the spirituality of the wonderland. This resonates with Lucy Marcus Be2Camp BE2Talks back in 2011 where she described the need for leaders to be both Grounded and Stargazers.

I am impressed with the Collective Leadership approach and model (developed by the Collective Leadership Institute), and the necessity to move beyond collaboration. (How many times have I heard or read a contractor claiming to be collaborative simply because they have a supplier progress meeting once a week)  The Collective Leadership Model provides the scope of elements leadership and collaboration could, should, look like in a modern construction environment. Covering both technicality and people issues of diversity, and mindfulness

Ah mindfulness …

Currently we seem to be struggling with two drivers, on one hand the sustainability agenda of being simple, of realigning with nature. biophilic approaches and natural renewable solutions and on the other the ever increasing complexity of data, be it BIM data or big data and technology.

It is not surprising that one of the most sought after advisors to silicon valley is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, (Thay), seen by many as the the modern guru for mindfulness.  Such practices are seen to be key for business, enabling focus on real innovation, free from clutter of distractions. We will see much more of this in the construction sector I am sure, as we learn to balance people with technology, simplicity with data, well being with efficiency.

US BIM write Randy Deutsch approaches this thinking in a recent blog article for Design Intelligence Beyond BIM Boundaries – “in order to master BIM, we have to do less BIM, we have to do other things” And if we focus on better communications, people skills, listening, empathy and understanding, then BIM will flourish without effort.

Perhaps BIM is now is seen by many as a big hammer, an approach that if not adopted then we are not doing construction correctly, “if the only tool we have is a hammer then every problem is a nail”  BIM practitioners and advocates need more tools in their conversation and offerings covering both technology and soft skills. As Randy commented ‘ go against common wisdom and fortify your soft skills”

We had a brilliant twitter based conversation with Casey Rutland as part of the #EXPOC21 series this week where the conversation led to whether BIM will simplify or complicate sustainability. Many people re-tweeted the question, but with few answers offered, other than when done correctly, BIM will enhance sustainability, done incorrectly it will harm sustainability. Incorrectly here can mean overloading buildings with technology solutions when natural solutions would work (but harder to model perhaps) or by not taken cognisance of where materials are coming from or their health impacts. Casey introduced the concept of SustainaBIMity – the mash up of sustainability thinking with building information management. A far better description than Green BIM

Aligning BIM thinking to progressive sustainability thinking such as the Living Building Challenge is exciting and has huge potential. In the near future we will see BIM objects cover the attributes of health data, justice in production data, carbon and travel data. (Note the dialogue in the US between Autodesk and the Healthy Products Declaration database for example)

And we know that carbon, embodied and transportation will become a key BIM data element, procuring kitchen pods from China for modular construction on the other side of the globe may be a data and cost solution but it is not a restorative sustainability solution. (cf Modular Construction on Souremap)

In our pursuit of designing and creating buildings that work for people, planet and purpose, we perhaps need to address both the higher Maslow needs as well as focusing on basic shelter needs, and in some way build them into data and modelling,  Biophilia at last is opening up a whole new chapter for design, and BIM, and well for the built environment as a whole. In the UK the term Sick Building Syndrome has dropped out of use, but we need to be aware of the dangers of creating buildings through BIM that don’t model or promote health and well being.

There are examples of this, for example by early involvement mind and health charity experts to view and comment on proposed buildings in a 3D environment, advising on the potential enhancement or damage to end user well being. And only yesterday,(01/04/14)  Rick Fedrizzi, President of USGBC writing in EDC called Health the next frontier of green build performance, and more recently calling on the built environment to use medical data for improved building solutions.

My final slide proposed that every BIM project should have an educational element, to inform and motivate the industry and that this should be embedded into PAS1192 or equivalent documentation. No project or organisation should be allowed to claim BIM compliance unless they openly share their approaches and lessons learnt, covering both the flatland BIM and the wonderful healthy buildings that enable people and organisations to flourish.