Who is riding the BIM wave? NBS National BIM Report 2017 has now been released!

For the seventh year in a row, UK’s National Building Specification (NBS), a subsidiary entity of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), published the results of its latest annual BIM survey. The outcomes of this report are considered by many experts as the most valuable benchmark of the progress of BIM in the UK, but it also contains a large amount of information that can be useful for many European countries to establish their own BIM implementation strategy.

For this survey, 1000 participants were asked about their BIM activities, experiences, and commitment. 51% of the respondents believe that the British Government is on the right track with BIM, but more than the third stated that it’s not clear to them what they have to do to satisfy the requirements of the National BIM Mandate. This statistic clearly highlights the biggest challenge of many governments throughout the EU: in order for BIM to work, there is an urgent need to establish a suitable and efficient communication channel (in collaboration with the different associations of the AEC industry) between the political authorities that are drafting the legislation of BIM and the different parties applying those guidelines.

If 62% of the respondents claimed to be already using BIM (versus 54% last year), this proportion is expected to increase to 90% until the end of 2017, while 95% are planning to be using BIM in a three-year time frame and 96% by 2022. That being said, such a drastic growth in the adoption of BIM is obviously related to the political intervention, in this case with the enforcement of the BIM Mandate. If the UK was the first nation to hit the “BIM wave”, the rest of Europe should also move quickly in this direction (with the exception of France, that already adopted a nationwide BIM approach at the beginning of 2017). As an indicator, Germany also should observe a similar sudden growth phenomenon in the upcoming three years, since federal authorities also introduced their own implementation strategy: the “BIM 2020”.

What first appeared as an audacious gamble from the UK Government to force the adoption of BIM such a restricted amount of time turned into a real success story. However, one must keep in mind that the BIM journey will not end as soon as everybody will have switched to BIM. On the contrary, the rapid development of peak technologies (Drones, 3D printing, IoT, machine learning, etc.) and their integration into BIM processes will bring a new era, that of the fourth industrial revolution. The adventure is only beginning!

Download the full report here: https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/nbs-national-bim-report-2017 

Smart Cities: How holistic design approach and connected sensors will revolutionize the cities we live in.

It is no secret that the global human population growth will cause the level of urbanization of all major cities to increase drastically in the upcoming decades. The fact is that this phenomenon will require us to design our cities in a smarter way, if we want to guarantee a decent and comfortable housing for everyone while controlling air quality, reducing urban heat island effect and manage noise pollution deriving from urbanization.

At first glance, if the relationship between environmental urbanization issues and Building Information Modeling may not seems particularly obvious, the truth is that BIM can provide a lot of innovative solutions to the challenges of modern cities. We all know that BIM is not only a software and hardware matter; it is also gathers a variety of technologies and processes whose purpose is to increase efficiency of a building project, from the pre-design stage to the end-of-lifecycle. On a larger scale, having a number of high-performing buildings clustered together and interconnected via technologies such as GIS, IoT and ultra-sensitive sensors can present several major benefits on urban ecosystems and building monitoring. Bioreactive façades such as the SolarLeaf façade of the BIQ House in Hamburg, are a good example of the application of technologies arising from the development of sophisticated sensors combined with advanced energy management systems. It is a well-known fact that the integration of green envelopes (façades + roof) to existing or new construction can bring significant improvements to a city’s overall environmental scorecard. However, what is new is that the parallel use of such applications with the latest developed BIM technologies has the potential to bring smart cities to a whole new level of efficiency.

SolarLeaf Façade of the IBQ House in Hamburg. Credits: Johannes Artl for IBA Hamburg

Using parametric modeling, architects and designers can now analyze the impact of urban morphology (i.e. the orientation, disposition, grid, shape and alignment of buildings in a cluster) by conducting different simulations on a numerical model and measuring the responsivity of a group of buildings to various criteria. One great example is the Cities Alive – Green Building Envelope report, published by Arup last year. In this paper, the urban morphologies of five cities (London, Berlin, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Melbourne) are compared with regard the following criteria: Air Pollution, Acoustics, Urban Heat Island Effect. Added to this, performance analysis of green façades and vegetal envelopes existing in those respective cities were carried out with the help of high precision measuring instruments, defining the impacts of those parameters on the cities’ average temperatures, energy consumption, air mass, and much more.

The results are clear: green envelopes not only bring aesthetical advantages to the concerned buildings, they revolutionize the environmental performance of the whole city while increasing the citizens’ comfort on all levels. If the latest cutting-edge technologies allow the construction professionals to extract a large amount of valuable data about the behavior of a building during its whole lifecycle, BIM models act as unified management platforms for the monitoring and control of building’s health. The benefits of such tools, on a city-wide scale, can have a significant impact on the quality of life of many people.

If planning a whole city from scratch is not something that most of the professionals have the chance to achieve during their careers, one thing is sure: every construction project relates to a specific framework outside the boundaries of the project itself

and providing an integrated, innovative and environmentally friendly urban design is something that we should all be concerned about. Now that BIM has arrived, it is much easier to create smarter, bigger and greener cities!