What is BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING?
The National Institute of Building Sciences defines BIM as
Building Information Modeling (BIM) utilizes cutting edge digital technology to establish a computable representation of all the physical and functional characteristics of a facility and its related project/life-cycle information, and it is intended to be a repository of information for the facility owner/operator to use and maintain throughout the life-cycle of a facility.
In simple English, BIM technology uses a 3D model as a data base for information about the building and all operating systems; environmental, security, MEP, etc.. The diagram below, courtesy of AEC Infosystems Inc., gives an excellent example of BIM technology. As you can see, the image of the door and door frame have pop-up categories with room for myriad information about the door, the frame and hardware. The information can be retrieved for use at any time and can be altered, changed or edited by the administrator/primary user(s) as necessary.Detailed examination of the diagram provides insight into the type of information that can be stored and retrieved from a 3D model. The information from the model can be used for operations, planning, construction, facility retrofits and as-built documentation.
Facility owners can conduct a variety of simulations utilizing the information stored within the 3D model. For example, the diagram above contains a significant amount of information about the construction of the door. In addition to the dimensions of the door, the diagram includes the door's fire rating, acoustical rating, glass inserts, heat transfer rate, etc. This vital information can be used to create a variety of simulations that can help a facility owner decide what types of changes, retrofits or upgrades would provide the best results for the long term operation of a facility. Acoustical simulations, energy simulations, heat transfer simulations can all be conducted within the 3D model. The facility owner/operator can exchange the door in the virtual world, replacing it with a door that has different fire rating, heat transfer rating, different type of glass inserts and conduct simulations for sound, air flow and energy usage. Simulations like these can help facility owner/operators develop strategies to reduce operational cost.
Air contaminants are a critical concern for museums. The quality of the air, the flow, moisture and circulation can have a major impact on exhibits, especially historic items. The ability to test the quality of the air and its impact on the museum environment is crucial to the long term survival of historic artifacts. BIM technology holds the answers to the problems that all museums struggle to address.
Given the detailed information included in the diagram above, imagine what type of information can be included in an entire building that incorporates BIM technology. Windows, doors, walls, ceilings, floors, mechanical systems, electrical systems, plumbing, roofing, landscaping, there is no aspect of a building that cannot benefit from the inclusion of BIM technology.