Building information modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of a building, including its physical and functional characteristics. According to the National BIM Standard-United States™, BIM provides a shared resource for architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) service providers. Despite a common misconception, BIM is not a technology; it is a process that relies on various technology to provide a reliable basis for decision during a project lifecycle.
BIM moves past traditional 2-D technical drawings to create a 3-D model that also provides time and cost considerations so engineers can predict the performance of a project more easily before the structure is even built. Detailed model information allows for complex calculations to be automatically completed and for designers to respond quicker to changes that need to be implemented. This provides better quality construction documentation and helps optimize designs through analysis, visualization and building simulations.
Benefits to AEC Team
Architects can gain tremendous advantages in the competitive marketplace by utilizing BIM and 3-D modeling to improve coordination, better understand the implications of alternate design strategies and improved visualization for MEP space requirements. Engineers and surveyors are able to provide input data into the model, which results in a dynamic model containing information the entire team needs to make smart, real-time decisions during the design phase.
This dynamic exchange of data also can help accelerate the construction cycle. The 3-D model allows designers, engineers and contractors to “walk” through a virtual work up of the building on the computer to see where everything will be placed. For example, with BIM, you can see walls that accommodate electrical devices and plumbing fixtures. This helps minimize change orders and ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.
Benefits to Building Owners
Building owners also benefit from BIM since the 3-D model can be continuously used throughout the lifecycle of the building. From design to construction to facilities management, BIM and 3-D modeling provides a central repository of building information that helps improve record retention, reduce information loss, and optimize building operations. Building owners also can realize a bottom line benefit by optimizing construction costs through increase speed of construction, reduction of change orders and a better analysis of engineering impacts.
Sustainable & Green Building Projects
As sustainability and green building projects become a greater focus in the AEC community, BIM provides key benefits that can help provide LEED credits towards certification. From an engineering perspective, BIM allows designers to collect data and visualize various building considerations and systems to analyze performance, cost and/or energy consumption, which can ultimately help optimize design for sustainability.