Can BIM work?

Mike Nankivell, Business Development and Marketing Director of Space Airconditioning plc, the UK Daikin Distributor, comments on matters currently impacting on the air conditioning industry.

In May 2011 UK Government called for Building Information Modelling (BIM) to be adopted on all UK government construction projects of £5million and over. Construction professionals were advised to adopt BIM or be excluded from such projects. Following the publication of its BIM strategy, Government announced its intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on its projects by 2016.

BIM extends traditional building design far beyond two dimensional drawings or even 3D modelling indeed moving to 5 dimensions — height, width, depth, time and cost. For the professionals involved in a project, BIM enables a virtual information model to be handed from the design team to the main contractor and subcontractors and then on to the owner/operator.

However, speaking to equipment manufacturers and distributor colleagues in HEVAC, the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Manufacturer’s Association, it appears that there is a long way to go before a full understanding of how BIM will incorporate the wealth of HVAC technologies available and how BIM will impact on the marketplace. All we can see at this time is that BIM, has the potential to provide very extensive information to owners of complex buildings and services.

Engineers have been modelling M&E services for years using a variety of methods and software, so what's new about building information modelling (BIM)? Could it for example replace our Building Regulations? Engineers are already experts in modelling many aspects of the built environment. Modelling takes place on a daily basis, whether it's on hand written calculation sheets or through the use of computer software programs. BIM is about the bigger picture, producing better buildings with improved efficiencies through enhanced collaboration and integration of service providers and services.

Sounds great — but collaboration and integration means that building designers must surely communicate with M&E equipment manufacturers or their distributors and there is not much evidence of that.

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