The following article was published in ASHRAE Journal, June 2008.

©Copyright 2008 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and AirConditioning Engineers, Inc. It is presented for educational purposes only. This article may not be copied and/or distributed electronically or in paper form without permission of ASHRAE.

BIM is the process of using intelligent graphic and data modeling software to create optimized and integrated building design solutions, as defined by the 2007 ASHRAE Handbook—HVAC Applications. More importantly to ASHRAE
28 ASHRAE Journal

Gaining Momentum Building Information Modeling
By Gordon V.R. Holness, P Fellow/Life Member ASHRAE .E., his article reviews recent developments in building information modeling (BIM) and interoperability and the impact of this technology on ASHRAE. Clearly, sustainability is a major focus of the Society through its 2006 Strategic Plan and all subsequent developments: Vision 2020, Proposed Standard 189, Standard for the Design of High-Performance Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, the Advanced Energy Design Guide series, etc. However, paralleling these efforts is recognition that issues such as integrated building design play a critical role if we, as an industry, are to succeed. Sustainability and many other issues associated with building design, construction, commissioning, and operation are interwoven and interdependent such that everyone involved with buildings must work together if individual objectives are to be fully realized. members, BIM encompasses the use of three-dimensional, real-time, intelligent and dynamic modeling, and can be a valuable tool in facilitating successful coordination and collaboration. This is critical to integrated building design

because it allows all interested parties to, transparently and in real time, share, apply and update information about buildings. ASHRAE can play a significant role in this effort, if it is prepared to commit resources and develop specific goals in establishing basic HVAC terminology, data dictionaries, rule sets, and schema for its Handbook and standards to support the building industry in electronic data exchange. The establishment of an ASHRAE Building Information Modeling and Interoperability Steering Committee under the Technology Council is an excellent start. It indicates recognition by ASHRAE of the role technology can play in the development of better buildings (whether better is defined as sustainable, more energy efficient, safer or less costly). As ASHRAE rolls out educational programs, seminars, white papers, and other publications on BIM, including a planned ASHRAE BIM guide, it needs to About the Author
Gordon V.R. Holness, P is a consulting engi.E., neer in Detroit. He is also treasurer on ASHRAE’s Board of Directors.

June 2008

construction-institute. the construction industry is at an all-time low of 10% fabrication. and operation. Building information modeling technology extends into as within the construction industry.facilityinformaindicate that resolution of interoperability issues alone could tioncouncil. In fact. erators throughout a facility’s life and developers to better understand cycle. although elements). ASHRAE Overview of BIM members. and $4. such as structural steel. not just on technology associated with buildings. the buildingSMART Alliance and June 2008 ASHRAE Journal 29 . constructed.8 trillion Tool and Software Protocol Developments A major key to the success of these efforts is establishing worldwide building industry. ultimately. which Office). a significant amount of work is being done worldwide on software tool and protocol developments by government agencies. to fire protection and piping waste. Alternatively. to electrical cabling and bus duct layouts. as pipe sizing. Studies done for CII by NIST (www. duct sizing. value-added and 57% waste. as well input. construction.Figure 1: Typical BIM model systems trillion U. struction Industry Institute (CII) (www. However. and the provision of automatic bills of material and generation of of greater concern. It also allows others who are involved in and. or other modular rapidly evolving and. and where transfer from the design calculaevery line and every object cartion software and spreadsheets. the responses also indicate a projected use of 80% within five years and 100% within 10 years.shtml) indicates BIM is used by approximately 20% of designers. This represents a tremendous untapped resource in the $1.).e. The National Institute of Building better buildings. The building design development can continue with have increased 125% during that same period. construction. The desired result is a BIM buildings and more effectively model where three-dimensional participate and contribute. the buildingSMART Alli. nonprofit and research organizations. Also discussed are developments in application software. f ire The technology of BIM is protection. commissioning. etc.fully integrated 4D (adding the fourth dimension of time. if not most. As discussed in this paper. or manuBIM is the assembly of a single database of fully integrated facturing side of the industry. of these developments will provide greater interoperability. A recent McGraw-Hill Construction 2007 Interoperability SmartMarket™ Report of the building industry (www. it indicates the potential of BIM having a significant impact on. Similarly. little doubt input to load calculations (such exists that this will cause a funda. e. etc. BIM technology already has proven and interoperable information that can be used seamlessly and to increase collaboration between design disciplines and between sequentially by all members of the design and construction team designers and cognizant of the bigger picture: the potential impact of BIM on almost everything it does as a technical society. whether they are in the design. Statistics from the Sciences’ Facility Information Council (www.fiatech.nist. Clearly. to facilitate and promote BIM technology.. scheduling or sequencing programs such as Primavera®) and org) under its benchmarking and metrics studies indicate that 5D modeling (adding the fifth dimension of cost for estimating construction industry productivity has decreased 25% during and budget control using programs such as Sage Timberline the past 15 years.FIATECH (www.buildingsmartalliance. compared to manufacturing industries.mcgraw-hill. and creating a considerable opportunity for. immediate and ogy can start with direct data dynamic access) data. and operated.8 billion per believes that BIM has the potential to save more than $200 billion per year in construction costs. The technology will rectly to specifications and manufacturers’ Web sites for data bring greater collaboration between design working in conjunction with such groups as save $15. The good news is that many. while manufacturing industries have taken automatic shop drawings for everything from structural steel advantage of technology and are at 66% value-added and 26% to sheet metal duct fabrication. ries real-life intelligent physical into graphic layouts (for systems and performance data. by owners/opthe process such as lenders. but the actual process of it can some interoperability issues still use the graphic layouts as direct need to be addressed. ance™ (BSA) (www. Although those numbers may seem optimistic. mental change in how buildings BIM models also can link diare designed.g. the use of BIM technology has gained wider acceptance in the past two years. owners. a resource that when tapped can provide needed revenue to support initiatives leading toward common software protocols. (3D) graphical imaging carries Intelligent modeling technolreal-time (i. as well as commercial entities.

through Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) to has developed the National Building Information Modeling Standard Version 1. Worthwhile reading is the new Journal of Building Information Modeling (www. previously organized as the IAI North American Chapter.S.IFC2X3 code (ISO 10303-11). The second 30 ASHRAE Journal June 2008 .0 to address this issue. as well as data elements that represent entire portions of a building or system. and entities associated with the building industry. organizations. The buildingSMART Alliance. The mission of IAI can be found on its Web site. its short-term activities are to identify what is needed to fully realize building SMART in the U. which incorporate HVAC schemas compatible with ifcXML . iai-na. Although not widely used in the U. The standard is available at (www. which also provides information on programmable language XML data models for information transfer between disparate software packages.wbdg.” Commercial Application Software Developments The first challenge facing private and commercial enterprises in developing integrated information modeling is the limited size of the marketplace. Work is being done to satisfy the vision and mission and then identify and help fill the gaps needed for success. IAI’s International Council has established the European Integrated Project called InPro. 026716-2).the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) at (www. The Alliance is still in the formative Unlike basic office software where a word processing program may sell tens of millions of copies. ASHRAE has a representative on the Alliance board of directors and the vice chair of the Alliance is on the ASHRAE BIM steering Although it has developed a vision and mission.XML2 ISO 10303-28. Its Capital Projects Technology Roadmap (CPTR) presents its strategy for the capital projects industry in developing “a consensus vision for the capital projects industry and a unifying initiative to achieve the vision.. Open Information Environment for Knowledge-Based Collaborative Processes Throughout the Lifecycle of a Building (European Project No. building modeling programs (of far greater sophistication) may sell only a few hundred thousand. It also offers intelligent and universal data models Advertisement formerly in this space. Of particular interest is the work being done by the FIATECH (a nonprofit consortium established by the Construction Industry Institute and supported by NIST) towards fully integrated and automated design and construction technologies. has been established as a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences and is specifically intended to address interoperability issues and foster collaboration among the individuals.

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enabling integrated interoperability between design models and. Wrightsoft Corporation (www. a wide variety of engineering analysis tools and models available today. Carrier’s HAP. Trane’s TRACE and includes an offers open gbXML schema for direct data exchange offering Web-based building energy analysis tools integrating data from the BIM into DOE-2. Of even greater benefit in the United States. EnergyPlus 1. It enables building design teams to truly collaborate and realize the potential benefits of Building Information Modeling. Graphisoft. CADline’s Cymap. the work being done by NIBS and IAI to develop an overall integrated program under the umbrella of the buildingSMART Alliance shows great promise in combining BIM technology with Information for the Construction global ISO standards to ISO/PAS 16793.Advertisement formerly in this space. three duct design and layout methods (including the current ASHRAE duct database). Bentley’s Bentley Architecture and Bentley Building Mechanical Systems. gbXML has become a defacto industry standard schema. and exporting the results back into the BIM. challenge facing the industry is developing a commonality of program protocols that enable a free exchange of data between disparate software systems. Ltd. Many software companies use gbXML in related products that are focused on the HVAC market. Elite Software’s Chvac. collaborative communication. and presentation of 3D and 4D BIMs. and EDSL’s Tas. Although still not seamless. Square One’s ECOTECT. Its use dramatically streamlines the transfer of building information to and from engineering models.wrightsoft.greenbuildingstudio. Right-Suite® Universal.gbxml. automated bill of June 2008 32 ASHRAE Journal . which supports residential and commercial applications. drag-and-drop CAD interface for thermal zoning and automatic dimensional offers a fully integrated HVAC design package. According to its Web site. is the advancement in software protocols and communication that has been lead by Green Building Studio’s gbXML (www. was developed to facilitate the transfer of information stored in CAD building information models. TRACE™ 700. “The Green Building XML schema. IES. gbXML has the industry support and wide adoption by the leading CAD vendors Autodesk. referred to as gbXML. One of the most important recent advances has been the development of open meld protocols that allow the integration of disparate software programs. eliminating the need for time consuming plan take-offs. Here. BLAST. etc. and Revit® MEP. including: Carmel Software’s Loadsoft. view. and integrate disparate software programs providing real-time navigation. Autodesk’s AutoCAD MEP®. With the development of export and import capabilities in several major engineering model tools. Revit® Architecture. Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD®. This removes a significant cost barrier to designing resource efficient buildings and specifying associated equipment. ” Green Building Studio (www. Today.’s <Virtual Environment>. these tools have significantly improved software interoperability. and Bentley. radiant panel design and layout..4. These programs have the ability to more easily manage. It includes all six current North American load calculation methods.

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are further ahead of the United States in the widespread application of BIM. VectorWorks Landmark for site planning and VectorWorks Spotlight for lighting design. In 2006 Oracle launched a new collaborative building information management platform (CBIM) and is working with Graphisoft to fully integrate building modeling tools with design collaboration.buildingsmartalliance. Major players in the field include www.Organization International Alliance for Interoperability National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART Alliance™ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Capital Facilities Industry XML Description Development of a universal framework for information sharing Umbrella organization for IAI and the buildingSMART Alliance Development of interoperable technology for design and construction Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and Standard Reference Data (SRD) The organization’s goal is to “foster www.nibs. Autodesk ( www.cfixml.iai-na.htm World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Object Management Group and other applications. It 34 ASHRAE Journal can minimize coordination errors between” Bentley Solutions (www. life-cycle management. VectorWorks. cost estimating. electrical. Finland. According to the manufacturer. MagiCAD. HVAC Building Services and 3D Viewer (plus Nemetschek’s Allplan [www.fiatech. AutoCAD MEP design and construction documentation software is built for mechanical. and bill of materials. Certainly the European community.nist. geothermal loop sizing. Recent enhancements include interface with gbXML for energy analysis using Trace 700 and tie into pipe and duct sizing. it ashrae. These modules are completely integrated. However. “Revit® MEP software is an intuitive design tool that works the way engineers think. project tracking.nist.eere. The software can read and write files in a number of de facto standard formats compatible with popular applications such as AutoCAD and Excel. and Allplan). and sales presentation. Norway. practical. and June 2008 . Bentley Systems and Nemetschek Group (which owns Graphisoft. Germany. operating cost calculations. building changes are immediately reflected in onscreen duct sizes as calculations ripple through has software that can export to load calculations software such as TRACE and input results back to the with MicroStation as the primary product for building FIATECH www.] for architectural design and modeling software).org www. developed by Progman Oy of Sweden. collaborate with architects and structural engineers using the Revit® platform and building information modeling www. ducts. offers programs such as VectorWorks Fundamentals. materials generation. NA. For example. and plumbing proposal generation. gbXML support will be added www. which is an architectural building program that can plug into Graphisoft AutoCAD and construction and operation. Nemetschek. This is done with gbXML. visualization. Europe is heavily committed to development of integrated building design technology with extensive work being done in the UK. and plumbing engineering design teams. particularly.1 structures for XML Unified Modeling Language™ and Global Regulatory Information Database Building systems-related software for evaluating energy efficiency and sustainability Building performance simulation for HVAC systems Web Site www. the latter using ddXML.allplan. Designers can try different scenarios because the entire thermal and HVAC system is a live model.w3. electrical. and gain better building performance analysis support for engineers.autodesk. cost-effective use of XML in the capital facilities industry” Capital Projects Technology Roadmap (CPTR) standard XMLs for the manufacturing industry and model library for systems to ISO 15926 Internet standard XML schema 1. designers. and to some extent Table 1: Sources of general information. Revit also uses the integrated IES tools for load www.omg.S. Department of Energy International Building Performance Simulation Association www. It is aimed primarily at duct design and equipment manufacturing. is IFC compliant and used widely in Scandanavia. The Mayo Foundation (under the Mayo Clinic) is developing Mayo Graphical Integrated Computer Aided Design using MagiCAD® software. and the Netherlands.

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Organization Bentley Systems Autodesk Graphisoft Oracle Granlund NavisWorks Nemetschek Newforma Solibri Mayo Clinic Product MicroStation. standards. Department of Energy www. life safety and fire protection requirements www. significant parallel efforts are being made in the development of software for model viewing.nemetschek. Cost estimating.e-builder. By putting www. and Professional Versions Primavera P6 Buzzsaw® Other CFX (CFD software) HDS (3D Laser Scanning Software) Table 2: Key developments in current commercial application software. model checking.allplan. standards. The 2006 IECC is anticipated for availability for the purpose of automated code compliance checking in early 2008. through its SMARTcodes™ www. iccsafe. ICC anticipates creating SMARTcodes for a significant portion of all building. to support various use cases associated with building information. www. regulations or other criteria. www. www.progman. One particular use 36 ASHRAE Journal case is focused on compliance with codes. the International Code Council (ICC) (www. These have the ability to feed data into EnergyPlus using Olof Granlund/LBNL-developed BS Pro COM server middleware (with IFC-based 3D RIM).. does include HVAC.stm Solibri CORENET AEC3 UK Octaga U. etc. as represented by the BIM. A significant component to support visualization of any use case is the development of model checking www. etc.newforma.autodesk. scheduling.S. TriForma Bentley e-Builder Primavera Autodesk ANSYS Leica Geosystems ProjectWise e-Builder: Enterprise.html energy analysis and simulation.corenet.autodesk.primavera. standards and other criteria in a smart format that can be understood and applied by model checking software it is possible to identify and prevent conflicts between the www. A use case is the task to which the information in the BIM is applied. whether mandated or market driven. Collaborator. www. facilities management.solibri. and the codes or other June 2008 .autoCAD. and conflict resolution between structural and mechanical components of a building are examples of use www. In the U. Initial SMARTcode demonstrations have taken place with the 2006 International Energy Conservation is supporting a use case to check for compliance with codes. and electrical design and application software (running on an AutoCAD platform).net Revit® (including Revit MEP) ArchiCAD CBIM RIUSKA™ Viewers JetStream IFC Viewer Allplan Newforma Project Center Solibri IFC Optimizer Mayo Graphical Integrated CAD MagiCAD® Model Checking and Code Compliance Solibri IFC Optimizer/Solibri Model Checker e-Plan and Fornax Viewer Xabio Octaga Player COMcheck™ Project Management Web Site www. Other Developments Although BIM technology is www.

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. Although the Handbook does provide basic terminology listings.xml). aec. the overall program needs to be expanded into mechanical and electrical systems and incorporated into all of ASHRAE’s document development and the results coordinated at the global level so IFDs will fully support BIM use cases of relevance to ASHRAE members. play in the process and establish a viable path moving forward. API. However. The Society needs to establish a common set of terms. This project is being coordinated with the Construction Specif ications Institute (OmniClass™ Construction Classif ication System numbers) that is being considered as part of an International Framework for Dictionaries (IFD) and global dictionary. applicable for each document type. these cannot be used for information or data transfer. import. examination of the basic structure and development of SMART XMLs is needed so that all of these documents (particularly standards) have built-in rule sets that can be read by design and model checking/compliance software. etc. however. In doing so.. gb.e. ISA. Advertisement formerly in this space. definitions. It also provides a foundation for evaluating building designs for conformance to other criteria established by voluntary sector entities. state. state. ICC has produced a data dictionary covering energy components. ASHRAE Related Activities ASHRAE needs to look ahead at the role its Handbook. and then working with federal. and local government. and others to support electronic data exchange and the ability to share. and enumerations. IFC and other files in different formats. This allows the designer to consult software for code compliance assistance and software to augment the review and approval functions of federal. Guideline Project Committee 20 is sponJune 2008 38 ASHRAE Journal .in the ICC codes by the end of 2008. ASHRAE needs to look at the work being done by the Hydronic Institute. ASHRAE needs to revisit the basic terminology used in its documents to ensure overall consistency and a common set of identities. xml and ifc. is going. guidelines.xml. The Society needs to take a step back and look at where the ASHRAE Guideline Project Committee 20: XML Definitions for HVAC&R. The Society needs to go beyond the establishment of sets of use cases and data objects within the guideline and determine a recommended HVAC schema and XML (i. Those SMARTcodes then would be used by model checking software to identify conflicts or code compliance problems associated with the BIM. and export XML. and local agencies to put their amendments to the ICC codes in a smart format for access and use with ICC’s SMARTcodes. standards. The Society uses XML source files for publishing the Handbook. properties.

as well as the new ANSI standard.A Advertisement formerly in this space. Load Calculation Data and Procedures June 2008 ASHRAE Journal 39 . soring research project 1354-RP Common Data Definitions for . Terminology (Environmental Analysis of HVAC&R Terminology) • TC 4. rule sets. HVAC&R Industry Applications. the work in the ICC dictionary. ASHRAE needs to look at the work of AIA ACC on integrated project delivery.5. Related ASHRAE technical and project committees include: • TC 1. Computer Applications • TC 1. the manufacturing industries’ project information model. and schema to support the industry in electronic data exchange. a full data dictionary. B C Figures 2a – 2c: Pipe fabrication and detailing capability. which may provide us with some guidance moving forward. to identify existing data group developments.1. ASHRAE needs to establish consistent basic HVAC terminology.6.

There are few companies that have fully integrated building owning. LUMEN.R. coupled with goals for carbon dioxide emissions reduction. G. (The Construction Industry Institute analysis indicated a potential savings of 7% for this element alone. or illumination design programs such as AutoLUX. fully integrated design and construction as a dynamic process. dynamically and seamlessly. The rapidly emerging goals of green building/ sustainable design.5% on construction cost). Although the Society has seen companies fully integrate structural design and analysis programs into those architectural models.01.V 2003. as well as the construction process. The A-E cost premium can be higher on smaller projects. “Building information modeling: technology . 2007. AG132.” CLIMA. operations and maintenance programs for facilities management. Successful widespread implementation of BIM for fully integrated design depends on the ability of architects and engineers.” . Immediate savings of 3% to 7. and reduce construction cost by 4% to 10%.5% have been seen through improved coordination and reduced conflicts.V 2006. tion with software interoperability. Experience on large industrial projects ($75 to $150 million) indicates that the added design cost represents a 5% to 10% premium on the architect-engineers (A-E) fees (or roughly 0. Holness. Yet the spatial planning.” International Building Performance Simulation Association Conference.R. Malin. EnergyPlus. requires whole building.25% to 0. Laine. The information technology required for these processes is complex and difficult to implement and is straining the limits of designers’ current hardware. “Interoperability: present trends and future roles.7. Integrated Building Design (originally TC 4.4. modeling and orientation technology embedded in 3D. IBLAST.12) • GPC 20. and SPC 183. http://tinyurl. ashrae. Bibliography Bazjanac. Increased use of shop fabrication and elimination of waste is.R.1. develop programs 15% to 25% faster.” Environmental Building News (5). eliminate 25% of all change orders. G.2. TRACE 700.• TC 4. expected to produce savings of at least 7. pipe and duct sizing programs. through daily and seasonal operational cycles. “Building information modeling and green design. Proposed Standard for HVAC&R Terminology Also of interest is the work of SSPC 140. T. 2007. N. such as automatic shop drawings and quantity takeoffs. The industry is far from that point.5% to 10%. development and use of all of this technology does not come without cost. requiring separate and distinct input and output data. “Benefits of building information models in energy analysis. BLAST. Peak Cooling and Heating Load Calculations in Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. Despite this. direction of the design and construction industry. A-Es must convince owners that this added investment justifies increased fees. HVAC-related design programs (such as load calculation programs. V 2003. Climatic Information • TC 4. to easily input and exchange data. Autodesk ESP Vision. Recent experience in the construction of major automotive plants shows that it is possible to eliminate 20% of sheet metal waste. The key is for the integrated system to continually and dynamically model the building and all of its systems. ASHRAE Journal 45(1):22 – 27. shows wider application today.) This can only increase as more trades come on board and BIM capabilities. The interoperability of software components is still not fully there. G. the tremendous opportunities for improved efficiency by integration of the design and construction process coupled with the building owner/developer seeing the economic advantages over the long haul will continue to drive the technology forward. Issues and Benefits Of course.” ASHRAE Journal 45(2):40 – 43. etc. building energy modeling/analysis programs such as DOE-2. as a design team. operating cost. then they may see the benefit associated with paying additional fees up front to have the AEC team use BIM. and life-cycle cost basis. 4D.).” ASHRAE Journal 48(8):38 – 46. Hoffmann. The greatest opportunity lies with fully integrated multidisciplinary A-Es practices and where BIM integration is being done as a continuum of the design process. Lightcalc+Art or ALADAN™) into BIM models. the industry is much closer to having an interoperable system that can enable fully integrated system design. or Radiance 3. And. only a few companies are able to demonstrate BIM model tie-ins that can fully integrate. software. BIM can help provide that integration. If they can be shown that by having a BIM they can get the building up and leased sooner with less hassle and save money on construction cost. towards net zero-energy buildings. BIM is gaining considerable momentum as the technology evolves and greater interoperability occurs between disparate software systems. reduce RFIs by 50%. More work must be done to enable the technology to be applied on a daily basis. are realized. In the interim. and 5D models seems a logical input database for such programs and recipient of the output. Holness. More than offsetting this are all of the cost savings outlined previously. The greatest potential savings may come from the application of value-added and lean construction techniques that BIM enables. 2003. “Building information modeling: the future . “Smart images for project management. “Improving building energy performance simula. To achieve all of the benefits of BIM. few companies have fully integrated natural daylighting design programs (such as Superlite 1. XML Definitions for HVAC&R • SPC June 2008 . It is clear that the economic driver is the building owner/developer. Holness.V 2007. Conclusion Research into engineering firms specifically for information related to their experience with BIM programs as design and 40 ASHRAE Journal construction tools. since this could also tie into the BIM model. This allows the “what if ” scenarios to be played out using different systems and components and allows them to be evaluated on a first cost.” CLIMA. Standard Method of Test for Evaluation of Building Energy Analysis Computer Programs. However. Energy Calculations • TC 7. itself. more work is needed. for fully integrated design and construction. and staff capabilities. T.

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