Business In Motion

Brian Morris, MD of sustainable building services design firm, BCM, writes about his company’s experience with Level 2 BIM and the implications of legislation on the future of the industry

In 2010 BCM took a big step, both technologically and financially, and became one of the first M&E design firms to invest heavily in BIM integration. Thanks to this move, we are now at the leading edge of the implementation of advanced BIM processes and are now delivering circa 40% (by value) of our deliverables via Level 2 BIM using Revit as the design tool.

We aim to achieve 80% by December 2014 and have developed strong working relationships with a number of other leading design team partners accordingly. But as it stands, not all Architects are BIM enabled which is holding back the increase of our BIM delivery; although recently we have started seeing greater take-up and more insistence on BIM which is aiding our cause.

BIM involves strong collaboration and close liaison with suppliers and manufacturers to agree protocols and data drops relevant to the various design and construction stages. We have had to meet greater computer hardware demands to enable us to achieve this, but the benefits of becoming BIM enabled have been astounding for us and our clients / design team partners.

We have achieved on average a 20% reduction in design timescales on projects using a BIM approach compared to the traditional methods. Granted BIM isn’t solely about 3D design. It is the combination of our Dynamic Simulation Modelling techniques with the 3D design that delivers most benefits. By running detailed option appraisals at RIBA Stage 2 (old Stage C) and feeding the physical implications into the Revit model we determine the design solution that will meet the carbon, energy and cost (capital and life cycle) criteria before the Design Team progresses to RIBA Stage 3. The design and cost certainty this brings to the project is highly valuable. No longer do projects need to be developed to Stage D, E or F only for somebody to run a SBEM check and find the design doesn’t meet either Part L, planning or client requirements.

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The abortive design involved in such a system is costly across the board. The re-design time costs all the team money (in terms of abortive fee). The capital cost of the project will increase due to the need to cut holes in steelwork to accommodate changes to the services strategy, the life cycle costs will be compromised and design team relationships can easily start to fail.

The ever increasing Part L demands place greater pressure on the M&E design. The April 2014 implementation of the latest version of Part L brings an average 9% reduction in carbon emissions, rising to 12 -13% for some types of building. Further planned carbon reductions in 2016 and 2020 will continue this trend.

2016 will see the introduction of Government Soft Landings (GSL) requirements. Contractors will be required to commission buildings to demonstrate that the building can operate in line with its design intent. Currently there is a large gap between design intent and actual performance, so Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) will be required to demonstrate that the building performs as planned.

We are already seeing these prerequisites start to come into contracts. The latest EFA’s Facilities Output Specifications (FOS) for example has defined POE requirements in the contract, but for now at least, there is no redress on the Contractor for deficiencies in performance of the building.

The next step will be to introduce ‘Methods of Remedy’ to make the building operate as designed. ‘Methods of Remedy’ will cost the Contractor and therefore it seems some sort of performance or Energy Performance Contracts will emerge to respond to this challenge.

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At BCM, we are well prepared for these changes and have benefited significantly by embracing BIM at an early stage. We intend to continue to invest in an industry which is undergoing huge change.

We have entered into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Liverpool John Moore’s University that will develop our skills to enable us to provide new services which the construction industry will need to deliver comfortable low carbon buildings with lower capital and life cycle costs.

We aim to provide new intelligent BIM based services including M&E QS services (based on the BIM model), capital and life cycle costing models available from Stage 2, energy and carbon targeting established at Stage 2 to form the basis of the GSL delivery and against which the POE can be measured, and GSL and POE services.

BIM has been crucial to BCM’s growth to date and we see BIM, and all the allied requirements and opportunities which spring from BIM, continuing to fuel our growth.

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