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  • Sara Bean
  • 17 February 2015
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BIM is heralding the convergence of FM, design and construction

During the recent Workplace Futures conference 2015, Kath Fontana, the Managing Director of BAM FM gave an eloquent explanation on why Building Information Management (BIM) is bringing about the convergence between facilities management, design and construction.

BIM in many ways is really not about building information modelling, but more about Digital Information Management, she said: "But of course that acronym would be DIM!

"But really it is about buildings being managed digitally – it's about having the graphical data so you can throw away your old plant room drawings and it's also about that graphical information being closely linked to the data so you can look at your boiler and link it to the digital information attached to it easily."

What is very important about BIM she said is its common data concept – which gives the user one set of data in a building which all links together.

And, she added:

"There isn't a single aspect of the built environment which will not benefit from having better data. We have reached a seminal moment of integration within the different industries of the built environment because a number of factors have come together."

Kath continued:

"The political will is there for a start as the Government is determined to bring in more integration, which is part of their own imperative to reduce costs. There is also a pressing need to do something about our energy hungry buildings, because something needs to change in the way we manage buildings in the future, as otherwise we're going to have severe issues with energy management."

She also cited the fact that people, from the digital natives of the younger generation to the more mature technically astute individuals who embrace technology at home, expect no less from their workplace and are "disappointed when the technology they get at work is worse than the technology they get at home”.

There is also, she explained, the impact of cloud computing – which is enabling us to share lots of data very quickly.

"BIM makes construction companies incredibly efficient, as we have reduced our costs, and increased our efficiencies to deliver projects on time and on budget much more efficiently using the digital environment."

"And because BIM drives integration and collaboration across the whole lifecycle – construction companies are forced if they want to work with BIM to come and talk to us in FM, and then they discover the true value of FM."

She also pointed out, that if the predicted growth in public sector construction comes to fruition, anyone who wants to work with central Government after 1 January 2016 will need to be able to demonstrate they have a "soft landings capacity" and the capacity to deliver some element of Building Information Modelling.

Government Soft Landings (GSL) aims to improve the operational performance of buildings beyond their completion; particularly in terms of their energy use.

The objective will apply to all central Government projects from 2016, and BIM has been identified as the tool to enable designers and developers and users of buildings to measure the operational lifecycle of their assets.

Explained Kath:

"Soft Landings is an intrinsic part of BIM, it's not an optional extra, it is all about the performance of the asset [building].

"The reason the Government is introducing soft landings is because it wants to see a 30% cut in the costs of construction (and in whole life costs), a 50% reduction in the time it takes to construct a new build, and a 50% reduction in green-house gas emissions.

“These are some big ambitions and there needs to be some serious innovation within the industry to achieve them."

BIM is also impacting on training and development – with a massive amount now specifically targeted at secondary schools – including a design and construct programme, which is about delivering the whole life built environment qualification to A level standard. University degrees are also opening up now - and a typical architecture student will now learn about FM as well as design and construction.

Said Fontana:

"The whole training and development environment is now developing to embrace the whole life building and I think people are going to start moving around within that whole discipline, so we'll all be much more multi-skilled."