Could Google technology transform BIM and the built environment?

Snapseed (2)Have Google developed the next era of Building Information Modelling (BIM Level 3?) or even an alternative?

Reports via GLOBES News from Google X , the company’s secret development unit, (the unit responsible for driverless cars and Google Glass) provides exciting but tantalising news of a new construction technology, known as Genie. Google X’s construction technology project had a budget of $5 million.

Genie is described as a ‘platform with online-based planning applications to help architects and engineers in the design process, especially for skyscrapers and large buildings. The platform includes planning tools of expert architects and engineers and advance analytics and simulation tools. Genie standardises and automates the design and construction processes with unlimited design options, enabling an architect to preserve the building’s uniqueness in the urban environment’

And, not surprisingly given Googles interest and activity in sustainability and healthy buildings, ‘Genie was presented as a revolutionary technology for the construction of sustainable and environmentally-friendly buildings of a quality never before known’ (Google fund healthy construction product programmes in the US and are reportedly looking to use the Living Building Challenge Red List material approach on the new London project) 

Linking the transparency of construction products into BIM objects, (or Genie objects?) giving more information for selecting healthy, responsible materials seems a likely approach in a left field shake up for construction as  ‘a  technology  that will change the conservative global construction industry through a fundamental and revolutionary change in how buildings are designed, built, and maintained’

And … with big ambitions

Genie could save 30-50% in prevailing construction costs and shorten the time from the start of planning to market by 30-60%.

Not all of Googles projects make it mainstream or survive (think Google Wave) but success Google platforms rapidly gain mass take up (from search to Chrome browser to Google+) and with the global built environment looking for a solution that is perhaps more accessible, more collaborative and at lower cost than BIM, Genie could be a game changer, or even a sector changer.

And where else is there an innovation project with a budget of $5million to address the economic and sustainability failings of the built environment.

One to follow very closely, but it would appear the Genie has been released from a BIM bottle.

The full GLOBES report can be found here

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Architects and Green Deal: greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals

‘Architects have a greater ability to improve public health than medical professionals’

A provocative statement  made by physician Dr. Claudia Miller, assistant dean at the University of Texas School of Medicine, at a recent  healthy building materials panel moderated and blogged by Kirk Teske on his Point of View blog.

The panel* made a unanimous call for cooperation and transparency from building product manufacturers … the type of collaborative action our industry needs to shift the building materials paradigm from translucent to transparent, and from toxic to healthy

Here in the UK we are seeing the Green Deal  gearing up, which, putting aside the programmes finance and operational uncertainty, has a huge potential to improve public health and NHS health costs. A benefit not addressed or recognised to date. (Particularly given the UK’s lowest ranking across European Countries for health and housing related issues)

How would Green Deal look, and what additional health benefits would it provide, if the scheme embodied Living Building Challenge’s Red List Materials? Seems a no brainer to me.

Likewise the recently announced PF2 Education Funding Agency programme for schools in relation to educational building occupant health.

Slide1

Google may be the influential game changer, globally they are opening 40,000 square feet of office space a week (including a new UK HQ in London).  And none of those workplaces will use any of the materials on the red list developed by the Living Building Challenge. Google’s decision stems from two principles, a focus on health and vitality of its employees and cost of healthcare

The UK Collaborative for Living Building Challenge was launched in April and is currently developing an UK overlay for the standard. Get in touch for more information.

 
 
Panel:
Dr. Claudia Miller, an assistant dean at the University of Texas School of Medicine,
Jason McClennan, founder creator of the Living Building Challenge and CEO of International Living Future Institute; 
Bill Walsh, executive director of the Healthy Building Network ,
Howard Williams, vice president at Construction Specialties, a global building materials supplier.

google calls for tighter building code

Reported on the New Scientist website

Internet search giant Google – sometimes criticised for the amount of energy its servers use – now aims to do for the power grid what it did for the web and calls for stricter building codes

Google itself is improving its servers and their buildings, identifying $5 million in building efficiency investments that will pay for themselves in two and a half years. New efficiency standards for computers could US cut power consumption by the equivalent of 10 to 20 coal-fired plants by 2010, the company says.

More on the google blog

google’s bicycle giveaways

From Ecowordly:

The Internet search engine company Google, now a reputable green icon with its solar powered Mountainview headquarters, last year gave away bicycles to its staff in Europe, Asia and Africa as part of its efforts to reduce the impact of transportation on the environment.

Nearly 2,000 members of Google permanent staff benefited from this scheme that also provided free helmets emblazoned with the famous brand name.

Ah, but does the Google office on Buck Palace Rd in London have cycle storage facilities?