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Friday, July 24, 2009

Green BIM and Ham - Construction Law Musings

In my free time (ha) I'm busy guest blogging and commenting on construction law blogs. It's neat having a totally different audience with a completely different approach and interaction with CAD and BIM. Let's just say they provide checks and balances to design, engineering and construction. Love them or hate them, lawyers are part of the equation. As we migrate from CAD to BIM and IPD, there are whole new emerging areas of law. No one knows where any of this is going on the AEC side nor on the legal side.

I sometimes joke with my clients that I have solutions from the start to finish of a construction project....from civil engineering to civil court. The sad part is, those really are the bookends for many of you. Would you rather spend money on Revit or on lawyers? Would you rather spend money on Revit training and implementation or errors and omissions insurance? The same way we had no idea what effect AutoCAD would have 26 years ago, we are so in the first moments of the evolution of BIM and the start of the Revitlution.

I'm reposting my second blog post from Chris Hill's Construction Law blog. Thank you Chris for the honor of allowing me to address your audience.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Green BIM and Ham

Revit Man Greg ArkinFor this week’s Guest Post Friday, Musings welcomes its second repeat poster, Gregory Arkin. Gregory is the  Director of BIM Strategy at ACAI Associates, a 25-year old Architecture and Construction Management firm in South Florida. Mr. Arkin is a 3rd generation General Contractor with an extensive 28 years in construction and building technology. Gregory’s passion and energy drives him to change the AEC world and help others adopt new technologies and methodologies. Gregory’s blog, www.revit3d.com , is read by thousands and is considered a leading source of information on the subjects presented. Trying to argue with Gregory about how to fix the waste and inefficiency in the design and construction process is useless, so you may as well just agree with him and let him show you the benefits of BIM and IPD. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, and via email.

Today's story is Green BIM and Ham.

Do you like Green BIM and ham?
I do not like it, CAD-I-am.
I do not like Green BIM and ham.
Would you like them here or there?
I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.
I do not like Green BIM and ham.
I do not like them CAD-I-am.
Well, without going into too much depth for those of you who haven't yet read the original page turner, Green Eggs and Ham, it has a very happy ending.

Chris has so kindly asked me to do a encore presentation of Guest Post Friday. Our topic, BIM and the Green World. Of course, with an audience of lawyers, how do I write this so forth and so on, to benefit the lawyers out there. I'll just throw some words out there and we'll see what sticks. Liability, LEED, LEED De-Certification, Insurance, Law Suits, Design, Engineering, RFIs, Change Orders, IPD, BIM and my least favorite, CAD.

So what does it all mean? Well, I'll make it simple. The current technology, work flow and process do not lend themselves to efficiently designed, engineered, coordinated and constructed buildings. Furthermore, the software currently used to do the energy and building performance calculations don't utilize the building's components in a holistic approach. A lot of people are adding in their own data to their own work and that information does not get shared across the entire project team. As an example, in the office suite right below me is a lighting fixture representative company. They meet with architects, engineers, contractors and owners and offer a lighting fixture package for buildings. They do this for free in the hopes that their package will be selected, and they will make commission from the lighting manufacturer.

So, what's wrong with this scenario? Well, the architects and engineers don't pay them for their proposed package. That means that they probably don't spend a lot of extra time coming up with the most energy efficient package. What's worse, depending on the type of building, hospital, courthouse or condominium, there are different criteria used to pick the fixture. The software being used to do lighting calculations by the lighting consultants isn't the most sophisticated. The engineers can do the calculations and give them the specifications, but we all know that the criteria of the building changes from minute to minute and perhaps the engineer didn't get the latest updated drawings or ran out of time, and we don't get the lighting coverage that's needed.

Now, let's move right onto our next legal target and source of lots of billable hours. LEED v3.0, the 5 year energy audit and desertification. My belief and experiences thus far, lead me to believe that a LOT of building do not meet the energy efficiencies as submitted for LEED certification. Greenwashing, cutting corners on analysis, insufficient data, old technology. You name it, I don't think the system works very well. Part of my job is to educate owners on the differences between CAD and BIM. Sure there are people using AutoCAD and they've made LEED platinum buildings, but lets run an audit on them and see how they really work. FAIL? I hope so. Why? Because I want everyone using Revit Architecture and Revit MEP in conjunction with tools like Ecotect, Green Building Studio and Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) Virtual Environment Tools. Lucky for me, I'm the only Autodesk reseller in Florida authorized to sell all of these products, and I love learning about all these emerging technologies and how they really make a huge impact on design and engineering.

I busted my ass to get a 191 on the LEED AP exam. It was required of me in order to be a reseller of Ecotect and IES. What I learned through the process was that these tools are so much more accurate in doing the calculations, that the owner would have a lower energy bill and better ventilated building. As a side note, the new AIA contracts for Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) mandate the use of BIM on the project. Well, BIM isn't a piece of software. It's combination of people, experience, technology, software, work flow, process, collaboration, teamwork, and sharing of all of it to build the best possible building for the owner. For all you construction lawyers out there, it will reduce conflicts, thus reducing your pipeline of legal work for deficiently designed and constructed buildings. For an architect, engineer and commissioning agent working in Revit, they're sharing the model and all know where everything is. The thermal values of the exterior and interior walls, the exact cubic volume of the spaces, being critical to the design of the HVAC systems and the windows and glazing, all have intelligent data within the components and structure of the building that allow Ecotect and IES to provide a more accurate calculation of the energy savings and daylight criteria. If one would argue that it's not more accurate than current methodologies, well it's certainly a heck of a lot faster. Plus, you can rotate the building, perform sun and shading studies, and as of last week, direct from the Autodesk Labs, calculate the amount of solar radiation hitting the surfaces of the massing shapes, based on location and weather data. It is possible to display the distribution and availability of solar radiation over an entire building or even a city block. This can be particularly useful when considering shading requirements or assessing the best areas to place photovoltaic's for maximum collection. This is really powerful technology and really impacts the quality of the analytical design of the energy modeling.

Enough about me trying to sell you software. I'm trying to save the planet. If our current LEED certified buildings don't really meet their submitted calculations, even on LEED v2.2 and earlier buildings, then what? Who sues who? Who's responsible on a LEED v3 building that gets decertified? The architect, engineer, lighting consultant, manufacturer, contractor, subcontractor, facility manager or owner? What a nightmare for LEED this could be. Well, you've all been reading the Chris' blogs (Hill and Cheatham) so you already know about all of this and are salivating at the fact that there a whole new revenue stream for you. Again, I'm trying to take business away from you by providing the tools necessary to do it right the first time and guarantee that the calculations are correct. Let's work together on the positive and proactive part of your legal work. Let's work with the owners and create IPD contracts that specifically require these technologies for the design and construction of these new buildings.
Dare I even mention the "Cap and Trade" bill's section 2 which mandates the AHSRAE 90.1-2004 specifications that all new residential and commercial buildings have a 30% energy savings? I can't wait for that bill to pass. Our buildings use 40% of all of our energy in this country. If we require a 30% energy savings on our buildings, we won't be dependent on other countries energy.

Just for kicks, something I've been toying with is this: If all of our buildings are Green and energy efficient, with better ventilation, lighting and less material toxicity, wouldn't that allow for people to be healthier, get sick less, and thus have fewer sick days and need less expensive medical care? I love the thought of tying in Green Buildings to health care. I wonder of every dollar we spend on Green Buildings what the peripheral savings on health care would be. Any mathematicians and statisticians want to figure that one out? Well, it was just a thought.
So there you have it, my thought on BIM and Green and how we get there. Now, let's finish our bed time story.
I like Green BIM and ham!
I do" I like them, CAD-I-am!
And I would use them in a boat.
And I would use them with a goat...
And I would use them in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
They are so good, so good, you see!
If you have a comment, please join the conversation below. Also, please subscribe with to keep up with this and other Guest Post Friday Musings.


Christopher G. Hill July 24, 2009 at 9:02 PM  

Thanks for the great post at Musings Greg! You always add a bit of a different style to your posts that I truly enjoy.

Paul Levin,  July 25, 2009 at 6:51 AM  

Greg, you do have an unique and interesting blog site. I'll have to keep posted. Meanwhile, if you want a weekly contruction law fix, check Construction Advisor Today - www.constructionadvisortoday.com. Attorney Bruce Jervis points out crucial elements of recent construction court decisions every Thursday.

Bygningsentreprise August 12, 2009 at 3:50 AM  

Its very true that I really enjoying reading this article and its very interesting.

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