Convergence of BIM, Geospatial and 3D Provides the Basis for Improved Building Asset Management

The construction industry contributes about $7 trillion annually to the world economy. According to McKinsey about $3.6 trillion of this is for "narrow infrastructure" – transportation, utilities, and public and social infrastructure. The remaining $3.4 trillion is real estate, residential, commercial, and industrial.

Environmental concerns are changing the construction industry. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has estimated that we will spend $45 trillion adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change over the next 40 years. That’s about $1 trillion per year. According to Global Insight, about 6% of current construction qualifies as green. But by 2020 because of regulation, owner and investor demands, resource cost, security concerns, and third party standards, 75% of construction could be green. This is a dramatic change that has important implications not only about how buildings and infrastructure are designed and built, but also about how they are operated and maintained.

According to IEA one third of the world’s energy is consumed by buildings. In the 2011 71% of electric power was consumed by buildings, residential (37%) and commercial (34%). Increasing the energy efficiency of buildings is a prime target of government initiatives around the world. Accurate and comprehensive geospatial data play a critical role in all areas of environmental management and sustainable development. As building asset managers face more challenges for sustainability, asset information systems need to include more spatial data. The convergence of building information modeling (BIM), geospatial data (including laser scanning) and technology, 3D visualization and energy modelling is providing designers with new tools that enables them to reduce the energy footprint of existing structures as well as design new, highly energy efficient buildings.

For an existing structure laser scanning can be used to derive a dimensionally accurate building information model (BIM). Together with the geographic location of the building and surrounding structures, plus local historical insolation and weather information, a building energy performance analysis and simulation can be performed to compute current energy requirements and assess alternative ways of reducing the building’s energy usage. For example, an energy performance analysis and simulation for an historic, 140 year-old government building, using a BIM created from a point cloud generated by laser scanning, showed that the buildings annual energy consumption of 5.5 million kWh could be reduced by 60%.

For a new building an architects BIM provides the key elements that are required for the energy analysis including simplified walls and floors, room bounding elements, complete volumes, window frames and curtain walls. Together with the geographical location of the building, surrounding structures and the local historical environmental conditions, an energy performance analysis can reduce annual energy consumption and power bills by about 40%. As an added benefit in some jurisdictions such as Ontario, reducing the electric power usage of a new building over code generates an immediate payback of $400 to $800 per kW saved from the Ontario Power Authoritys HPNC program.

The increasing development of intelligent models for buildings and infrastructure by architects, engineers and construction companies along with the integration of geospatial data and technology, largely driven by government mandates or financial incentives for sustainability, means that there is an increasingly rich body of information about our man-made assets that can be used to streamline and reduce the costs of operating and maintaining our built infrastructure, including buildings.

Life cycle management of buildings need different types of information compared to the traditional building process. A BIM makes it possible to capture information throughout design, procurement and construction of a building. This information can then become a record of the building for operations and maintenance throughout its lifecycle. All of the non-graphic asset information contained in a BIM can be migrated into the asset management system. In addition the BIM provides the geometric basis for 3D visualization. Geospatial tools are increasingly being recognized as a smarter and better way of integrating information technology for asset management. They allow property owners to visualize, analyze and link their assets including acquisition, tracking, maintenance, and management of real property, capital equipment and supply chain.

Owners and operators can reduce the costs associated with operation and maintenance by using the high-quality building information from a BIM design and build process together with geospatial data during the longer, more expensive maintenance and operation phase of the building’s lifecycle (typically over 70% of the cost of a structure over its entire life-cycle is incurred during the operation and maintenance phase.) Modelling of these complex systems is no longer seen as just a geometrical problem but now it involves environmental simulation and impact analysis in the context of the owner’s ongoing financial objectives. This makes a strong case for a tighter integration of GIS and BIM in a full three-dimensional environment.

Images courtesy of 3D Energy Ltd.

About the Author

Geoff Zeiss, Ph.D

Geoff Zeiss, Ph.D... has more than 20 years experience in the geospatial software industry and 15 years experience working with utilities, communications, and public works in enterprise geospatial IT around the world. Previously Geoff was responsible for thought leadership and industry messaging for the utility industry program at Autodesk. Over the past five years Geoff has spoken at conferences and trade shows around the world including Geospatial World Forum, Where 2.0, Location Intelligence, India Geospatial Forum and Distributech. Principal, Between the Poles
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