Tag Archives: BIM

No place for ‘cut and paste’ design specification


David Fitzpatrick, Chair, CIBSE Patrons

The bad habit of using “cut and paste” specifications is leaving some clients with poorly-performing and, in some cases, unsafe buildings. More and more we are seeing a different technical solution from the one agreed by the design team being included in the written specification because it has simply been copied across from a previous working document. This is a particular concern where the building services are crucial to health and safety – such as in fire and smoke control – but is a common problem right across the sector.

If the specification does not reflect what was agreed during design meetings, clients are well within their rights to take legal action because they will not receive the building they were promised. Also, if the specification is poorly-written or unclear, it is open to “interpretation” by the contractor. He/she can justifiably argue that what they have been presented with cannot be applied to the project in hand. They will argue that it cannot be built unless it is radically revised.

While there are many issues currently surrounding building services that are outside of the consultant’s control, this is one problem the industry can solve for itself by insisting on a better standard of specification writing. However, the status of the specification writer has been relegated in importance over the years, partly because of time and fee constraints.

Disputes                                                                                                                                                                        This is causing confusion, pricing errors and contractual disputes, in addition to undermining the industry’s and the Government’s aim of reducing the cost of construction, speeding up delivery and improving quality. Embracing digital processes would help enormously, but many of the specification templates used in the building services sector are so out-of-date that they cannot be easily translated into the formats required to support modern construction methods, and for integrating into Building Information Modelling (BIM).

No matter how much technology changes, specification will remain at the heart of mechanical and electrical engineering. How we communicate is vital if we are going to get the details right from the outset, and remove the ambiguity of interpretation that leads to compromised designs. That is why we need to adopt a consistent approach and use a format that is intelligible to all.

The lack of consistency in the way our supply chains exchange information is also increasing contractual risk, and will come under greater scrutiny in this post-Grenfell period. The current approach also encourages people to dump information at different stages of the project and then start again. This builds waste, delay and extra cost into the project process.

Contractors are often confronted by hundreds of pages of information that is not relevant to their specific role. This adds to the confusion. If we are being charitable, we could put the problem down to people not having enough time to spec the work properly, or not fully understanding the brief, but there is also an element of laziness – and in the worst cases dishonesty – involved.

The importance of a clear specification does not end at handover. In fact, the need for clearer detail becomes even more apparent during the building’s operational life. Unless the art of specification writing is given the status it deserves, the original design intent will be lost and the building will fail to meet performance targets.

The specification also needs to be simple and straightforward, and not full of onerous conditions and “weasley” protect the specifier’s back. In the end, this is simply writing a blank cheque for lawyers.

Variations                                                                                                                                                                        Specifications need to be clearer and free of ambiguity because the risk of disputes and project “variations” is far too high. Late changes to the design are the enemy of good engineering and we need clear and concise writing. The variable quality of specifications also makes it hard for estimating teams to understand what they are being asked to price. This leads them to either overprice work or to make mistakes that create problems further down the chain.

Many specifications also fail to reflect current industry standards and best practice because sections have been copied from out-of-date documents. This also leads to conflict between the contracting parties, further delaying the project and pushing up the cost.

If the Hackitt Review following the Grenfell tragedy has taught us anything, it is the importance of having a culture of collaboration in place from the outset – and before the specification is even written – so the necessary information exchange can take place and there can be technical clarity and rigour from day one. That must be the goal we all strive for … to make buildings safe and efficient. It will also cut waste from the process, which will lead to greater financial profit for everyone involved, including the end client.

It is crucial that fire safety designs in particular are precise and specific about the measures required for the building in question. Fire and smoke protection systems need to be considered as a complete package. That must be reflected in the specification to avoid the unhappy situation of contractors breaking up the component parts of the system and letting them out as separate tender packages in a bid to drive down the cost.

Active and passive fire protection measures have a symbiotic relationship and depend heavily on how they are installed in relation to each other. However, if the specification allows contractors to re-interpret the original design intent while looking for capital savings, they may not work as intended in the event of a fire. In the wake of Grenfell, the industry has a responsibility to put an end to that sort of behaviour.

Writing a specification is not something to be regarded as a bit of an inconvenience that can be delegated to someone with less experience, but more time. The art of specification is fundamental to the original design intent. Undervaluing it will undermine a building’s performance and safety.

The MEP Value Equation

David Hughes (MSCSI, MRICS, MAPM),
is a qualified mechanical engineer,
chartered quantity surveyor and
has 20 years experience in building
services (MEP) cost management.

Building services (MEP) are evolving at quite a pace, driven by continuous technological innovation, greater regulatory emphasis to improve building energy efficiency, and on-site project challenges. Heat pumps, sophisticated building controls, LED lighting, modular off-site construction, photovoltaics, building information modelling (BIM), Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), Building Energy Rating (BER) and Nearly Zero Energy Building Standard (NZEB) are all areas that have now become the new “business as usual”.

Innovations such as smart lighting and the Internet of Things (IoT) are also starting to make an impact so it can be challenging for clients to keep up to date. Many of the above innovations come at a capital cost premium but have the benefit of reduced operation cost. They can also bring additional benefits such as reduced space requirement, increased functionality, reduced CO2 emissions, increased safety, improved quality and construction programme benefits.

The value equation can be loosely defined as Benefit/Cost = Value. It can be challenging to establish value but this is what we at Rose Patrick specialise in. We were recently sub-consulted by a quantity surveying firm to carry out an exercise to compare the cost impact of fan-wall air handling units (AHUs) as proposed, versus a traditional single-fan AHU unit on a project at “developed design” stage.

We compared the two systems and how they interfaced with other elements of the building, both in terms of capital cost and over the whole life-cycle of the building. The real cost and benefit could not be fully assessed by comparing the AHU systems in isolation. In this case some of the less obvious impacts of the proposed AHU design solution were:
• Reduced space requirement – the units were half the length of the traditional AHUs so there was a significant cost saving to the build cost associated with GIA reduction to plant rooms;
• Increased point load meaning additional local structural load;
• Reduced electrical load – reduced electrical infrastructure (all plant had back generation – N+1 facility);
• Reduced operational and maintenance cost;
• Built-in redundancy via modular/ multiple-fan construction (if one out of the nine fans broke down the AHU could still operate at 90%+ capacity);
• Quieter operation, lower vibration. Once all the “externalities” were taken into consideration, we were able to substantiate that the proposed AHU solution, even on a capital cost only comparison, added more value to the project than the alternative It also had a significantly lower payback period over its life-cycle.

The new Irish Government forms of contract requiring the quantity surveyor (QS) to manage MEP cost to relying on the consultant engineer. We see this trend emerging in the private sector also. Consequently, we provide an independent specialist MEP cost management service that can fall between the two stools of the quantity surveyor (QS) and the MEP consultant engineer.

Our team provides support to:
• Professional quantity surveying firms who may not have the technical capability, or simply need
additional MEP QS capacity on an ad hoc basis;
• Consultant engineers who have been commissioned to take on the MEP cost management;
• MEP contractors with take-offs, pricing tenders and other commercial services;
• Data centre and pharmaceutical sector clients with commercial management where construction projects typically have a high MEP element (70%+).

The Rose Patrick team concentrates solely on MEP cost management, understands the technical information being reviewed, and has the experience to interrogate it. This is vitally important as it allows for a high-level root and branch logic check of each system prior to the detail measure. This ensures that any obvious inadvertent design omissions or errors can be flagged (mitigating costly post-contract variations). The quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) process applied acts as a de facto second layer of QA/QC on the design, prior to it going to tender.

There have been some huge developments in software used within the construction industry over the last five years and Rose Patrick’s cost estimating platform, CostX, allows the team to perform accurate and efficient measurement from 2D drawings. It also means that quantities from BIM or 3D models can be automatically generated using one of the most advanced electronic take-off systems available on the market. The platform also features powerful spreadsheet-based workbooks that are live-linked to the drawings in question, giving full traceability.

Typically, Rose Patrick benchmarks design, as well as cost, to build an intelligent MEP knowledge database. This allows the team to develop informed MEP cost models at a very early stage in the project cycle. Intelligence is the application of knowledge. See how Rose Patrick applies this principle at www.rosepatrick.ie.

Enabling the digitisation of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC)

John Keane, Commercial
Director, MMA Consulting Engineers

The reasons for this slow adoption are many but entrenched work practices and the lack of system-wide standards are major contributors. Over the last five years – led by the technical expertise of Dr Shawn O’Keeffe and Shane Brodie – MMA has developed a data-driven philosophy using LEAN management principles to deliver a new approach to design and construction. Shane Brodie is an acknowledged contributor to The Roadmap to Digital Transition for Ireland’s Construction Industry 2018- 2021, while Dr Shawn O’Keeffe sits on the NSAI National Mirror Committee on BIM Standards, as does Shane.

MMA believes in the Open BIM (Building Information Modelling) philosophy. However, big data applications are useless unless they follow a standard that can be verified and validated. MMA projects are delivered verified and validated to meet COBie requirements. Verification and validation of the  model is essential to ensure that the same asset within the same facility (or any other facility) is recorded in the same way, therefore allowing the facilities management team to know that they have the same pump in different locations, etc. Utilizing an outside service organization for dimensional inspection and validation can have significant advantages for your manufacturing and quality operations, contact at www.3d-engineering.net/dimensional-inspection/.

“COBie (Construction-Operations Building information exchange) is simply the setup and delivery of digital facilities management data during normal design and construction practises. It is a LEAN methodology for capturing data and is a ‘contracted information exchange’ for building projects, designed to help get a facility up and running right away, at handover or occupation,” explains Dr Shawn O’Keeffe. Constructors can learn welding for beginners with these guides and tips.

One major piece of research work MMA recently completed was the much-acclaimed book Delivering COBie using Autodesk Revit. This book was a collaboration between Dr Shawn O’Keeffe and Richard McKenna with the inventor of COBie, Dr Bill East.

MMA has put its own research into practice delivering a recent 6D BIM model that is fully interoperable with the clients facilities management system (which in this case was Maximo). This facility (Figure 1) was fully designed in BIM using Revit. All the asset information is contained within the model. Any pump, valve, motor etc can be selected and all the relevant COBie data will be shown, including asset specifications, maintenance details and warranty details (see Figure 2). The verified and validated COBie IFC output seamlessly interfaces with the facilities management system.

The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data model (ISO 16739:2013) describes building and construction industry data, since now a days you can get great services online for this and other resources, since you can find sites with the best for contractors and for their projects as well. It is a platform-neutral, open-file format specification that is not controlled by a single vendor or group of vendors. It is an object-based file format developed by  buildingSmart to facilitate interoperability. Construction is very complicated, especially to those who don’t know how to plan it correctly. Everything must be planned perfectly, especially when constructing a big building, you must have all the proper materials and vehicles like cranes to move those heavy materials. That is only a very small part of the construction process. If you ever need a vehicle for construction then check out this company where you can get a crane hire for your needs.

MMA acted as the BIM model integrator for this project, as well as taking on its traditional role as M&E designer. Acting as BIM model integrator allowed MMA to drive LEAN management principles throughout the design and construction phases. Highly-efficient construction scheduling was enabled by full BIM implementation, my builders were also involved. Full house construction is your first-in-class service and trusted partner.

On the completion of the civil works, MMA’s in-house 3D scanning team, led by Dr Conor Dore, carried out a scan of the facility. This 3D scan was then compared to the CSA (Civil Structural Architectural) BIM design model using BIM & Scan AutoCorrTM cloud-based software (Figure 3). MMA carries out its own 3D scan work as it forms the basis of its designs and is too critical to leave to a third party with the associated interface risks.

The BIM & Scan AutoCorrTM software highlights any areas that are out of tolerance with the design model. The tolerance can be set according to the designer’s requirements. Areas that were out of tolerance with the design model were highlighted. Figure 4 and Figure 5 outline how clashes and variations between the “as built” point cloud (the output from the 3D scan) and the design BIM model were identified. The M&E designers reviewed all highlighted areas and the M&E BIM model was adjusted accordingly to ensure there were no clashes, or re-work required, during the M&E installation.

Having certainty regarding the “as built” environment allowed the M&E designers to develop full tender packages with detailed bills of quantities through the BIM model (Figure 6). This in turn allowed for offsite fabrication of piping and duct work. The detailed tender packages and extensive offsite fabrication generated significant cost savings. The elimination of clashes and onsite fabrication allowed for the construction schedule to be implemented as planned with no variations.

Advances in processing capability and the “big data” revolution is allowing MMA to cost-effectively process gigabytes of information to deliver better designs, more cost-effective construction and lifecycle solutions for clients. As an industry we are on the cusp of a revolution. The recently-published The Roadmap to Digital Transition for Ireland’s Construction Industry 2018-2021 attempts to plan out the digital transition. When has a revolution ever followed a plan? “All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” – Max McKeown, Adaptability: The Art of Winning in an Age of Uncertainty. 

See the full article in pdf format by clicking on the Cover of the latest issue (right).

Source: Engineering consultants Melbourne.

LightBytes Masterclass, Dublin

Carl Collins, Digital Engineering Consultant, CIBSE

The second LightBytes event of the brand new, peer-reviewed SLL Lighting Knowledge Series will take place in at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin on 30 November 2017. In a reworking of the previous Masterclasses, the Society invites participants to a day of peer-reviewed, bite-size presentations focusing on the key factors relating to the following topics — design, specify, build and future.

This year’s speakers are Nick van Tromp and Les Thomas from Fagerhult, Helen Loomes from Trilux, Roger Sexton from Xicato, and Steve Shackleton from Zumtobel.

The guest speaker for this series is BIM and Digital Expert Carl Collins. Carl has over 30 years experience working within engineering environments, including Arup’s unified design group and Arup Associatess. 

Commenting on the new series, SLL President Richard Caple said: “The new format, designed around the PechaKucha style of delivery, is designed to keep the day energised and fast-paced while still delivering and disseminating important information.”

Some of the points that the speakers will address include:—

  • A need to refocus on lighting quality as the number one priority
  • Current standards and metrics in relation to LED light sources
  • Maintenance factors – considering LED life and degradation
  • Lighting controls and the pros and cons of integrated wireless Vs wired systems
  • Sign off and commissioning – confirming that the lighting performs as intended
  • The potential of predictive maintenance with smart lighting
  • The future of lighting controls and how to best utilize the data being gathered
  • The potential for lighting to become a managed service, looking at turnkey solutions and where the design responsibility lies

To conclude each of the topics, Carl Collins will then provide perspective on the role of BIM and digital engineering within lighting. Carl will consider aspects such as the exchange between modelling and calculation software, daylight analysis, product data templates, virtual experience before construction, single model shared ownership and blockchain ordering amongst other topics. Click here to learn more.

All of the presentations are brand new and peer-reviewed, providing the opportunity to add 4.5 hours to participants CPD. Members of the Society can attend at the discounted rate of £49.95 with the standard ticket price at £69.95. Students can also apply for the reduced rate of £29.99 by emailing sll@cibse.org

Click here for further details and to book your place.

Keith Brazill joins RED Group Design

Keith Brazil

Keith Brazil

Keith Brazill has been appointed Senior Design Manager at RED Group Design. Keith is a chartered engineer and has experience working on a wide range of projects within multi-disciplinary engineering consultancies in Ireland and the UK. He is also regional representative for the CIBSE Ireland Limerick Region.

The Red Group has been providing electrical and mechanical design, installation and maintenance services to clients across the industrial, commercial, retail and entertainment sectors, in the greater London area, for over 15 years. Some of Red Group’s key clients include Papworth Hospital and Arsenal Football Club.

Recently the company relocated its Building Services Design HQ to Nenagh, Co Tipperary from where Red Group now offers mechanical, electrical, sustainability and BIM consultancy services to clients in Ireland and the UK.

Contact: Keith Brazill, Red Group Design. Tel: 085 – 133 1571;



Is the spirit of BIM being scuppered by avoidant clients?

Chris Hallam

Chris Hallam

A client recently asked me for a view on the increasing prevalence of disclaimers in tender documents with regard to the use of BIM models, notwithstanding that the client had mandated BIM use. Examples included:

“Model content is not verified and cannot be relied upon for accuracy”;

“BIMs are for information only and 2D graphical information (e.g. drawings, schedules and specifications) issued with the tender will take precedence”.

Having given the client my view, it got me thinking. My thoughts on this were all well and good, but they were just my thoughts. Clearly there would be many different views out there. Being a fan of social media, I thought this would be a good subject to “crowd source” some responses, so I posted a question on one of the better-known BIM discussion boards.

Now, it’s fair to say that I was warned about the dangers of going to the wider internet-based community with a question of this (or, indeed any) kind. “Beware the internet” I was told, “there are nutters out there” was the somewhat unkindly observation. “You may be dragged into a cyberspace discussion from which you will never return”.

Of course, “what poppycock”, I thought, “this is a highly-respected BIM discussion board not the Daily Mail online, pffft”. Well, I’m pleased to say that I am not lost in the far reaches of the internet and, despite a bit of ranting here and there, my post generated a plethora of interesting and informative comments from a wide range of contributors, including a number of the BIM glitterati such as engineers, architects, digital strategists, BIM managers and even some fellow lawyers.

My post asked about the use of disclaimers by clients with regard to the use of BIM models by its preferred contractor, while at the same time mandating the use of Level 2 BIM by that contractor. The overall conclusion from the discussion that followed is that it’s pretty clear that not everyone agrees with everyone (or anyone) else! However, a few themes did stand out.

The disclaimers                                                                                                                                                            Many of the disclaimers seem to originate from professional design practices, generally to protect against a concern that their models and information will be used for purposes for which they were not intended.

Several designers pointed out that they often “over deliver”, providing information in BIM models when models are not a deliverable, or where the relevant contractual documents, protocols or execution plans are not in place, correctly pointing out that the designers are usually the first professionals involved in the construction process. This is a perfectly reasonable concern, and as one contributor, Robert Klaschka of Sumo Services noted, is “no different to stamping drawings not for construction”.

That said, in the context of a project where BIM is mandated by the client, the purpose for which information can be used really ought to be covered in the BIM Execution Plan or BIM protocol. As Robert went on to say: “until the industry as a whole is willing to use information only for what it was issued, things won’t change. Suggesting that parties want to protect themselves in an environment where other parties don’t play by the rules is at odds with the purpose of BIM and misses the real problem.

Collaboration and co-operation require trust. The Level 2 1192 process creates and environment where you can trust other parties because fair behavior is contractual obligation. This is quite right too but, but is this happening?

The clients                                                                                                                                                                    This inevitably leads us to the role of the client. If the client wishes to use BIM on his project, he needs to be dealing with this stuff at the outset, so that designers do not need to caveat their documentation and everyone knows which information can be used when and for what. This is pretty much the raison d’être for the CIC BIM protocol.

Clients need to deal with BIM use, protocols and responsibilities in their contractual arrangements at the start of a project. So, are clients doing this? The popular consensus was that they are not. Nor was it felt that there is a great deal of clarity in much of the relevant documentation used. Note to clients – they must do better.

The contracts                                                                                                                                                               The discussion then moved onto existing forms of construction and engineering contracts. One contributor noted that current forms of contract “do not cover the use of BIM …and vary between different team members as to what they have to deliver”. This is essentially true (albeit with one notable exception in the form of the barely-used CIOB Complex Projects Contract).

Of course, and as was pointed out by Robert Klaschka in a more heated part of the discussion thread, this is “directly at odds with the BIM Task Groups statement that Level 2 process should be achievable with current contract forms supplemented by the CIC BIM Protocol”.

He added: “the reason it breaks down is because the controlling party, often the main contractor, chooses to make things up as he goes along rather than taking the time to understand an use the Level 2 process, resulting in the sort of “Level 2 lite” that allows the risk to be skewed in their favour and current adversarial working practice to continue”. Ouch!

So, while it’s true existing contracts tend not to specifically deal with BIM right now, that is not to say that they won’t do in the future. Indeed, I’m aware that several of the publishers of standard forms are actively looking into ways of creating more collaborative contracts that will almost certainly include much more detail with regard to BIM. It is an inevitability of the continued and better use of BIM in the industry that contracts will need to reflect the working practices of, what is likely to be, a more collaborative and connected construction team.

So that’s for the future, but watch this space as change is afoot.

Finally, I can only sign off this article with the words of one of the last contributors to the discussion. Stephen Beadle of FES FM said that BIM is “a very difficult vision that will only succeed in an open and collaborative relationship from client, all contracted parties and satisfied end-users”. He concluded with an almost poetic ditty: “Good luck and keep trying. Believe it, achieve it”. If that’s not a mission statement, I don’t know what is.

DIT Postgraduate Certificate in BIM Technologies

Dr Kevin Kelly, DIT

Dr Kevin Kelly, DIT

DT9775 (Springboard) and DT9876 (self-funding) — The Postgraduate Certificate (BIM Technologies) (Level 9-National Framework of Qualifications) is a stand-alone qualification that also forms part of DIT’s multidisciplinary, collaborative MSc in Applied Building Information Modelling and Management (aBIMM).

This one-year, part-time, up-skilling programme is aimed at graduates of engineering and built environment programmes, including building services engineers, architects, surveyors (quantity and geomatics), architectural technologists, construction managers, and facilities managers.

On successful completion of the Postgraduate Certificate programme learners will be able to:

Define and explain the principles underpinning a wide range of current and potential Building Information Modelling and Management technologies and processes.

Use BIM technologies and processes for a variety of tasks within their discipline (domain), and will have an understanding of how BIM will impact on other domains. They will be able to select appropriate technologies and methods for domain-specific and cross-domain tasks, with an ability to work with other professionals in a BIM context, to review the BIM work of others, to lead domain-specific teams, and to take responsibility for quality assurance.

Advise clients on small to medium-scale BIM projects, selecting appropriate BIM technologies and standards for project planning and execution of tasks.

Evaluate the performance of BIM projects and assess their compliance with specifications and standards, and recommend new approaches to domain-specific BIM, with due regard to collaborative BIM processes.

Evaluate their strengths and limitations in terms of their own knowledge through critical reflection on project performance and through possessing an appreciation of the beneficial and detrimental effects that BIM processes may contribute in relation to industry and society.

Programme delivery & application process: The programme will be delivered outside normal working hours, with classes taking place typically on evenings between18:00-21:00 (see www.dit.ie/bim for timetables).

A limited number of places are still available on this highly sought-after programme. Applications will be processed on a first-come-first-served basis with a final deadline of August 31st 2014.

Anyone interested can get further information from Programme Director Dr Avril Behan: Avril.behan@dit.ie or kevin.kelly@dit.ie 

Presentation of BIM Diplomas & Certs at DIT

Ms Orna Hanly, Head of Architecture with Cormac Allen, Head of Architectural Technology andDuncan Stewart, former lecturer DIT;

Minister for Training & Skills, Ciaran Cannon, TD, recently officiated at the inaugural presentation of BIM diplomas and certificates to 65 mature students at DIT Bolton St. The evening was a major success with approximately 150 people attending to witness the awards ceremony, and to hear presentations from a diverse range of academic and industry experts.

Dr Kevin Kelly, Head of the new School of Multidisciplinary Technologies at DIT, opened the proceedings and put the occasion into context. He outlined how the demands of the construction sector have dramatically changed and explained that DIT has responded accordingly, devising a whole programme of courses to satisfy this new environment.

“BIM is especially important in this respect”, said Kevin, “because BIM is not just about software but is a paradigm shift that brings collaborative design forward in a way that combines the best design ideas with organised implementation and excellent communications. This allows for off-site construction and speedy delivery of low-energy projects in a cost-effective way.

“The creation of the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies breaks down silos between disciplines and builds collaborations, BIM being an excellent example”, continued Kevin. “BIM is not about the future … it is about now. Building professionals and contractors not adopting BIM are like airlines not using online booking … they will soon go out of business”.

Professor Gerald Farrell, Dean of  the College of Engineering and Built Environment, echoed and reinforced Kevin’s sentiments. He explained how, in response to the need for change, DIT amalgamated two areas, the Built Environment and Engineering. “One of the key drivers of this restructuring was to allow us to deliver more multidisciplinary education” he said, “reflecting a world where everything around us that we plan, build and use is developed by teams of people drawn from many disciplines.”

Following restructuring, the College now consists of seven schools. Each school covers a range of disciplines and one school in particular, the School of Multidisciplinary Technologies, demonstrates DIT’s commitment to provide all graduates with the multidisciplinary skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a diverse range of careers. The School of Architecture also reflects a strong multidisciplinary nature, through its combination of architecture and construction-related programmes.

Many of the graduates on the BIM course were funded through the Government’s Springboard initiative. This allowed DIT develop new technologies and techniques in building information management education to deliver useful CPD programmes, among them the BIM courses.

The BIM graduates have gained a fresh and very relevant set of skills and knowledge that will enhance their careers and employability. Of equal importance for Ireland is that they will, in turn, transfer their skills and knowledge into Irish industry, in particular construction. They will also redress the emerging skills deficits in the sector.

DIT will continue to collaborate in developing programmes and modules in areas with the potential not only to underpin successful careers, but also to help Ireland develop a sustainable construction sector capable of meeting the many challenges it faces. In this context teams in the College and the wider DIT have applied for further Springboard funding with a view to running these programmes, and others, again from next September.

In closing Professor Farrell thanked Minister Cannon for his support and for attending the proceedings. He also acknowledged the support of Government in providing the resources nationally for the Springboard initiative over the last few years, explaining that it was a critical component of the Government’s strategy to achieve full employment in Ireland by 2020.

Finally, he thanked DIT President Brian Norton and all his colleagues in DIT for their contribution to the success of these Springboard programmes, and in particular the staff of the College of Engineering and Built Environment. “I am only too aware that the development of new initiatives at a time of constrained resources and decreasing budgets is a very significant challenge”, he said. “However, I firmly believe that the graduates here this evening are tangible evidence of the ability, and willingness, of DIT to overcome constraints to the benefit of our stakeholders.”


Developments in Lighting in Ireland and the UK

Dr Kevin Kelly, President-Elect SLL, and Head Electrical Services Engineering, School
of Electrical Engineering Systems, DIT

In EN 12464 minimum requirements for lighting are laid down for both interior (Part 1) and exterior (Part 2) lighting. In particular, minimum values for average maintained illuminance, minimum colour rendering and maximum glare are specified. Historically, equal illuminance across the whole working plane was the goal of lighting designers. However, this is wasteful of energy because the working plane was interpreted as the whole plan area of the room.

For offices, 300/500 lux was specified, depending on whether work was mainly PC-based or paper-based. This resulted in high levels of lighting throughout the space, whether needed or not, and often for periods extending beyond the working day. These days such energy inefficiency is unacceptable.

New recommendations, such as those specified in the SLL Code for Lighting 2012, provide a pragmatic balance between adequate lighting to perform the task efficiently and quickly, and financial costs. The SLL Code for Lighting is based on quantitative recommendations that meet minimum lighting requirements, but also acknowledges there is now a need to target lighting more carefully.

Modelling of people in offices to ensure good visual interaction is now recognised as being important, and good-quality lighting and energy efficiency are now as important as quantitative specifications. Good-quality and efficient lighting in buildings also includes the need to maximise daylight penetration.

Maximising daylight offers opportunities to lift the spirit with natural light and so daylight must be carefully designed into the building, along with the artificial lighting and controls, to create good-quality and efficient lighting in a space. There is a growing consensus in industry that the way to address this challenge is to use a holistic design approach – integrating the design of the architecture, glazing and engineering design. Input is needed by the architect, structural engineer, surveyor, heating and ventilation engineer, electrical engineer, lighting designer, interior designer (click here and know where we can find fragrance home), control systems engineer and most importantly the client and facilities manager. 

Modern Building Information Modelling (BIM) software facilitates such a holistic approach with multidisciplinary interaction and the use of BIM is expected to grow exponentially in construction projects in the years ahead. The EU is encouraging the use of LENI, the Lighting Energy Numeric Indicator. SLL is of the view that the targets set by EN 15193 with respect to LENI are modest and is presently addressing this issue with the UK authorities in order to set more stringent targets for the UK building regulations (2013). 

Effectively, a good quality LENI will aid lighting designers to move away from installed load benchmarks to more meaningful consumption targets, and hence take account of the benefit of good quality controls. This is particularly beneficial in buildings where daylight penetration is high or where there is intermittent occupation of the building.

While standards, demands and design methodologies change, there is also major change happening in lamp technology. The development of solid state lamp technology is revolutionising lighting; with any revolution there is collateral damage and early adaptors of poor quality LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamps are among the casualties. A study by Philips Lighting (2012) estimates that while only 6% of lighting was solid state in 2010, 75% of lighting is expected to be LED lighting by 2020.

Similarly, McKinsey estimates LED lighting will be a €65 billion industry by 2020 but is more modest about the overall use at 60%. At present the biggest applications of LED lighting is for stage, external lighting, architectural lighting, retail, cold rooms, transport and hospitality. LED lamp technology is expected to impact upon office and general lighting in more interiors in the future.

To sum up, this is an exciting and challenging time for the lighting industry with huge growth potential for LED lighting and improved lighting controls generally. We are challenged to provide robust solutions that maximise the benefits of new technologies, while protecting our clients from poor-quality products and installations.

We must maximise light quality and minimise energy use by integrating daylight with appropriate artificial light in a way that lifts the spirit of those using the space and enables them to operate and override automatic lighting controls when required. We also have to ensure the reliability of products we specify and this is particularly challenging when

Dr Kevin Kelly is President Elect of the Society of Light and Lighting (SLL). He chairs the organising committee for the CIBSE/SLL International Lighting Conference scheduled for Croke Park on 12 April next. He will also make a lighting presentation in a seminar at the Energy Show in the RDS on 11 April next.


CITA BIM workshops – keynote address by Judit Kimpian

Last year it organised a series of ten BIM workshops to improve the awareness of Building Information Modelling among professionals in the sector, writes Judit Kimpian, Director, CarbonBuzz Project Manager, Aedas. The final session was at the Royal College of Physicians – a beautiful space, built well over a 100 years ago, entirely without any computer technology. As the keynote speaker I was asked to put Building Information Modelling into an international context, talk about barriers and opportunities globally.

Ralph Montague, Director of ArcDoc, pictured with Dr Judit Kimpian, Director ofSustainable Architecture & Research, Aedas R&D, Derek Mowlds, Chairman CIBSE and Alan Hore, Director of CITA.

Aedas has been a major global player for integrating information technology in the design process and the practice and has a great portfolio of projects demonstrating this approach. The tools and platforms used over the years have varied enormously – to illustrate this journey through the evolving technologies I showed a cross section of case studies.

A key characteristic to these was the variety of software packages used to achieve design aims, which were both aesthetic and performative. Many of the projects shown are complete, with some on site, while others are still on the virtual drawing board. Much of the recent work built on the findings of Aedas-led research, such as CarbonBuzz, as well as detailed post-occupancy evaluations.

This type of collaborative project helped the industry expose the gap between design stage predictions and actual energy use. The practice now works towards targeting low operational energy use and relies heavily on virtual information models.

Judging from the questions after the talk, what seemed to interest most was the business case for adopting BIM, ie the day to day benefits and costs. Most of the audience associated the use of Autodesk’s Revit with the ‘B’ word. Although it has taken a while, the US software house has become very successful in promoting its platform in North America and internationally.

There was some awareness in the 70+ strong audience of other platforms too, such as ArchiCad, which is big in Continental Europe and well known around the world, while Bentley is particularly popular for infrastructure projects and large design-focused London practices such as Fosters or Grimshaws.

This is not atypical – software packages like Digital Project and Rhino tend to be used mainly by complex high-end projects not because of cost but because Autodesk has done such a good job of automating what most people think BIM is: interactive drawing extraction and scheduling. Given the functionality available today one does wonder why anyone would do an area calculation or ironmongery schedule by hand ever again.

Yet the term BIM refers to more than this. At the least it gives an opportunity to get all disciplines, mechanical, structural, architectural, to use the same 3D model for coordination, reducing the risk of having to rectify clashes onsite at a high cost. Where this works, it tends to lead to much faster design times and greater  certainty of the outcome. Where it can fall short of expectations is the willingness for the whole design team to model in 3D.

Most engineers are reluctant to put anything to 3D for a “simple” project until the design is “finished” as in most cases their calculations do not rely on 3D models. If the design changes, not only do they need to recalculate but they need to remodel too, adding further to their workload – for a fixed fee. It is only the more complex projects that make sense to model early, as these would need to go through 3D based analysis.

The issue here is that interoperability between analysis packages and mainstream BIM platforms is notoriously bad. Users rightly ask why they should model twice, once for the analysis and once for BIM. Major software developers are now looking at this problem more closely and are beginning to see interoperability as a business opportunity. Platforms like Rhinoceros became extremely popular among young professionals for exactly this type of flexibility – watch this space.

To adopt building information modelling a practice needs to invest in training, new hardware and software infrastructure and allow teams the time for the learning curve, all of which is costly. When the process is well managed the gains are substantial.

But when not, the consequences can be costly. It is everyone’s worst dream to be staring at a computer screen close to a deadline unable to extract the right information for a submission. It is therefore essential to have one person on every team that understands how to set up and run a model depending on the information likely to be extracted from it.

The Holy Grail of building information modelling is to be able to manage all information relating to a project from “cradle to grave”. Use 3D scanning to model existing buildings in 3D, develop concept designs, extract information and drawings, use the 3D and the associated database of components and properties to drive facilities management and reuse/ recycling at end of life.

The catch is that different stage models need different data structures. Early stage models need to be light and nimble, provide great visuals and feedback about the impact of briefing decisions and appearance on cost, whole life cost, thermal comfort, structural performance, embodied carbon, etc. Aedas’ Tall Building Simulation model is a good example for this. In later stages a model requires lots of components and data attached to those components, such as typology, fire performance, cost, maintenance requirements, etc and provide feedback about quantities, schedules and assemblies.

Check out the following to know the reasons for increased wildfires and the measures you can take to prevent it.

It is currently difficult to “design”, “analyse” and get beautiful images from a program fundamentally geared towards drawing extraction and scheduling, while it is equally hard to schedule and extract drawings and work packages from a conceptual modelling tool.

With more evidence emerging about the productivity gains to be had from BIM and more and more projects placing an emphasis on building performance, adopting the technology is increasingly looking like a no-brainer. The trick is knowing what to use and when – after all, some things are best solved with a pencil.