Brian McGuire, Chairman of the Zutec Group argues that technology will be the driver for BIM and energy management in buildings…
Having worked in the engineering industry for the past 35 years, and having witnessed many changes – some good and some not so good – the change that offers the greatest potential so far for the AEC industry is the power of the Internet. Yet in many parts of the world the AEC industry, particularly in the Middle East, is mired in delays, disputes and costly overruns. The first major internet disruptive technology – collaboration software – offered much, but has delivered very little in terms of real productivity gains. Collaboration software is a sophisticated email system for managing documents in the main, replacing a paper process with a digital twist.
In the UK, the government has mandated BIM for all public sector projects procured from 2016 and leaves the detail of delivery down to the industry. It’s not that surprising that the government wants to stay clear of the detail. The former Labour Party attempt at benchmarking building energy rankings was abandoned when the process was mired with difficulty.
How many buildings would you know are now TM31 compliant? This is just another example of compliance not being adhered to.
Innovation for BIM
Technology innovation tends to come from the big software houses like Autodesk and Bentley, and they are making huge investments in BIM software – all be it still too expensive for the average contractor or designer. The industry also recognises that major cultural shifts are necessary in the procurement process to accommodate innovation.
Producing detailed specifications for complete life cycle operation will be a major step in producing a workable process. Just mandating BIM or COBIE is insufficient in getting a workable solution. The industry must move away from document management and concentrate on building live data processes – lots and lots of little data that morphs into big data.
When we look at buildings hoardings anywhere around the world, the message on building safety is always the same, accident free days. Building safety should be one of the major issues on any construction project. Perhaps a new priority should also emerge in relation to “Climate Change”. Building energy performance is the one area where the engineering community can make a difference. Despite the introduction of LEED and BREAAM etc., real change on the ground is not taking place, hence the failure of processes like TM31 to be of any real value.
While the Internet did offer the greatest catalyst for change, the introduction of tablet and smart phone technology will be the major enabler for the engineering industry to deliver effective energy monitoring for the entire building life cycle. The introduction of low cost energy simulation software that can track changes from design, commission and operation will be a major move in the right direction. Real change will occur when cost and time are replaced with energy performance as the main benchmark for the engineering community and becomes the “raison d’être” for BIM to FM. ■
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Zutec Inc. Ltd