Building the future with business information modeling

 —  Article by JLL Staff Reporter
Image credit: Shutterstock
Image credit: Shutterstock

Many corporate real estate project managers dream of uttering the phrase “saved $10 million,” but know there aren’t any easy ways to get there.

These days, however, dreams do come true thanks to technology, which in this case is embodied by a new approach to construction projects called Building Information Modeling (BIM).

BIM is a 3D model-based process that helps construction professionals visualize objects while working with data related to the properties or characteristics of that object. Macro BIM integrates conceptual 3D modeling with cost estimating, integrated development pro forma, specification, and space estimation and calculation. This provides an insight to help plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

To understand BIM’s potential, take a look at the new Collaborative Life Sciences Building in Portland, Oregon. When Oregon State University, Portland State University and Oregon Health & Science University partnered to build, they decided to use BIM across the entire project. With 28 design teams operating from the same 3D playbook, according to a Fast Company article, the project shaved off several months and $10 million from a $295 million budget.

JLL’s Managing Director of Energy and Sustainability Services, Jiri Skopek, explains more about BIM’s potential within the real estate industry.

How can BIM save companies such huge sums of money?

“BIM’s combined visual and data modeling capabilities are a major breakthrough for integrating complex systems. The programs make it possible to predict the cost of each system based on the specific design, materials, site conditions, phasing and other parameters – as well as the interaction of each system with all of the other systems. It lets builders anticipate expensive construction conflicts between plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems and avoid them before they happen. The real-time nature of BIM lets builders view the data as each piece changes and immediately explore cost-saving alternatives.

“It also allows them to develop a tailored database, a ‘kit of parts’ that captures the rules-of-thumb for an organization. That database can be used by anyone who has access to the program so companies can retain and draw on this knowledge throughout current and future projects.”

What’s the value of having all the teams — design and construction — using BIM, like on the Oregon Collaborative Life Sciences project?

“Studies show that few people are able to view data in 2D while visualizing it in 3D. BIM’s 3D modeling helps keep people engaged while reviewing a detailed cost estimate and scope clarifications document. It is crucial that all the major stakeholders be able to visualize the end product and understand exactly what is included in the budget. BIM helps to bring different people together to achieve a common goal.”

How else is BIM being used in the real estate industry?

“The use of BIM is not limited to new construction. Owners can make a laser scanning of the existing drawings and transfer them to BIM to create a building model. They can develop 3D interior space utilization plans while simultaneously tracking project cost and creating specifications. They can even use the model for the types of performance analysis typically conducted on a new project — energy use, system loads and sizing of HVAC system and lighting – to determine the most comfortable conditions.

“For example, working under JLL, international architecture firm HOK used the Beck Technology BIM DProfiler software on a feasibility study for a retrofit of the Robert C. Weaver Federal building in Washington, D.C. Seven design concepts, all including multiple phases of construction, historic preservation, anti-force protection, renovation and rehabilitation, and cost of implementation, were expressed in this model. JLL used that model information and to evaluate which of the seven design concepts was most viable.”

How will we see BIM applied in the future?

“BIM models could be the start of virtual reality applications, which could provide a total solution — from the initial development concept, through design construction and into final brokerage transactions and occupiers. Instead of hearing about the value of a project, stakeholders in the future might be able to experience it.”

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