The adoption of building information models (BIM) has provided quantifiable business benefits by helping improve collaboration, reduce costs, and reduce the risk of budget and schedule overruns during the design and construction phase of building projects. But many see the potential for even greater benefits of BIM to owners during the operations and maintenance phase of a building.
The UK Government has set itself the goal of reducing the cost of Government construction projects by 20%. To reach this goal the Government has undertaken several initiatives, one of which is a commitment to mandate BIM in Government projects beginning in 2016. BIM is seen as a value creating collaboration through the entire life-cycle of an asset, supported by the creation and exchange of shared 3D models and the intelligent, structured data attached to them. The initial focus is on the design/build part of the lifecycle, but the government has said that "the 20% saving refers to CapEx cost savings however we know that the largest prize for BIM lies in the operational stages of the project life-cycle."
The UK Government is moving aggressively to encourage workflows that leverage BIM in the operate and maintain phase of a building. As Deborah Rowland of the Cabinet Office in the UK Government pointed put at a recent RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) conference, the cost of maintaining and operating a building over 20 years can be up to 30 times the original construction cost, so it is clear that the UK Government sees potentially very large long term benefits from such a program.
Deborah Rowland also outlined the Government’s motivation and plans for a program to improve the post construction handover and operation of newly constructed buildings. The motivation is clear. Clients (meaning Government departments in this case) are not getting the assets and outcomes they expected. Buildings are being designed and built that are found to be not fit for purpose by end users including being expensive both from a cost and carbon perspective to operate and maintain.
As a first step in addressing this problem the UK Government Soft Landings (GSL) program is intended to put in place a legal, contractual, and technical framework incorporating building information modeling (BIM) to ensure continuity and reuse throughout the building lifecycle from inception, though design, construction, commissioning, training and handover through to operations and maintenance 1-3 years after handover. (Facilities management (FM) contracts are often for one year only so the 3 year horizon is designed to provide focus for the initial program implementation. The Government’s intentionin the future is to extend the program to the entire building lifecycle.)
The GSL policy was agreed to by the Government Construction Board in September, 2012 and will be mandated for all new central government buildings and large renovations in 2016 in alignment with the Governments BIM Level 2 mandate for design and construction of new buildings.
The guiding principle is that GSL will be a key element of the design and construction process. It will require early engagement of the end user and the inclusion of a GSL champion during design and construction. It also requires post occupancy evaluation and feedback to the design and construction team, and a concomitant commitment to post construction involvement from the design and construction team. This process will require contractual agreements between the design/construction and FM teams.
BIM is expected to facilitate the collaborative working of the design and construction and FM teams throughout the project lifecycle. The 3D BIM will enable the FM team to experience the buildings from an operate and maintain perspective before the building is constructed to ensure that projected operational costs are maintained and the impact of changes on operations are assessed. For example, in the case of the Ministry of Justice’s Cookham Wood facility, the FM team was able to experience the building and its facilities during the pre-construction phase and identify changes that would make maintenance easier and operations more efficient.
Themodel is also expected to provide a fully populated asset data set for the CAFM (computer aided facilities management) systems and to reduce time wasted in obtaining information about assets including the cost of maintaining or replacing equipment.
The 3D model is also expected to facilitate planning modifications to building use and assessing their impact on operations. After 10-15 years, typically, the building will require major renovations, and the traditional approach of inviting land surveyors to resurvey and remeasure is recognized to be inefficient. A better process is envisaged in which an up-to-date BIM maintained as part of ongoing operations and maintenance provides a basis for planning and designing renovations.
COBie, which stands for Construction Operations Building Information Exchange, is seen as the vehicle for sharing structured information, especially with customers. COBie-UK-2012 defines the UK use of COBie 2.4, which was developed initially in the United States by the U S Army Corps of Engineers. COBie-UK-2012 is intended for buildings, infrastructure and landscape; new, renovations and existing structures; and for both small and large projects. Unlike BIM it is not a legal requirement, but contractual. Standard UK government construction contracts will have a built-in requirement for COBie starting in 2016.
A BIM4FM industry group has just been setup, and its initial task will be to identify the specific FM data requirements for the BIM received from design and construction. Another important area of focus will be data standards for mapping COBie onto CAFM data models. There are plans for developing procedures for BIM for renovations for existing buildings and it is intended to extend the process to other infrastructure in addition to buildings (GSL for Infrastructure).