Virtual Design Analysis Group is a division of NVentum, LLC.

This unique collaborative endeavor; to utilize the latest reality capture technology to document the artifacts, buildings and campus of History San Jose, provides opportunities for private sector, non-profits and institutions of higher education to work together to solve some of today's most pressing engineering issues. The protocol for retrofitting as-built historic facilities and the use of new technologies to preserve our most prized historic treasures are vital to the continued success and expanded influence of our museums.
This blog will document the challenges and successes of this ambitious, one of a kind project.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Relevance of "Capturing History"

              Green Building Standards
The "Capturing History" project is comprised of several important components; each brings it's own unique contribution to the museum's life cycle management and operations plan.  Whether the emphasis is on indoor environmental quality, preservation, condition monitoring, energy conservation, virtual design, asset management or BIM the project cannot move forward without the reality capture, laser scanning and surveying of the campus. The 3D model is the data base and  hub for each and every aspect of the project.
San Jose City Hall
 Though each component of the project has its importance, new green building regulations and future legislation towards sustainable construction can't be overstated. Many communities have adopted green building standards aimed at new construction. Eventually, these regulations will be extended to affect building remodels and retrofits. 
 Those individuals looking to enter the workforce will need knowledge and training in disciplines that embrace sustainability, energy efficiency, environmental stewardship and conservation; all major components of the "Capturing History" project. 
Here is an example of the trend towards green building standards and the importance of this project's BIM/sustainable energy component:
From the webpage of the US Green Building Council- Northern California Chapter:
Out of 109 cities and counties throughout the Bay Area: 
• Most cities and counties began adopting required green building standards starting in
• Forty-four cities and counties have adopted required new commercial green building
standards and nearly all of them are based on the LEED rating system.
• Fifty-one cities and counties have adopted required new residential green building
standards and all of them are based on the Build It Green rating system.
• Local approaches to standards typically require higher standards for larger buildings
and more flexibility for smaller buildings.
New Commercial Construction
• Thirty-nine cities have adopted their green building standard based on the LEED rating
system for new commercial construction. For projects greater than 30,000 square feet,
24 of those cities require a LEED rating level such as Certified, Silver or Gold, while the
other 15 cities at least require a LEED checklist.
• LEED Silver is the most frequently used level and LEED Certified is also common.  San Francisco  Oakland  San Jose  California Energy
New Residential Construction
• Forty-six cities have adopted green building standards, all based on the Build It Green
rating system. Thirty-seven require Green Point Rated and nine of them only require
completion of the Build It Green Checklist.
• Twenty-three cities require a minimum of 50 points  for new residential construction.
This is the most common level among Bay Area cities for new residential construction.
• Fourteen cities require more than 50 points, in which the most common range lies
between 60 - 90 points. San Rafael, San Anselmo and Rohnert Park, require in between
75 – 200 points depending on the threshold.    
• A few cities offer the option of using LEED for Homes certification as an alternative to
the Build It Green rating system.                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Oakland City Hall
Other Findings
• Forty-two cities and counties require a LEED rating level, such as Certified, Silver or Gold
for new municipal construction.
• Twenty cities and counties require a LEED rating level or checklist for commercial
remodels or renovation projects depending on the project size or valuation. On the
SF City Hall
other hand, six cities require a minimum number of points in the LEED Checklist (usually
ranging from 10 – 35 points).
• Twenty-two cities and counties require 25 – 50 points Green Points Rated for existing
residential buildings depending on the project size or valuation on either the Elements
or Whole-House Build It Green Checklist.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Evolution Of Capital Facilities

Much of the innovative automotive technology we've witnessed over the past 40 years has been inspired by concerns for the comfort and safety for owner/operators, environmental legislation, advances in energy conservation, and the desire for enhanced performance. The same innovations witnessed in the automotive industry, driven by the same need for comfort and safety, energy conservation and enhanced performance capabilities are the inspiration behind the evolution of today's capital facilities.
My First Car
1968 Mustang
I was sixteen years old when my parents agreed to help me buy my first car. It was a 1968 Ford Mustang with a 289 V8 engine and and automatic transmission. At the time,  I did my own maintenance out of necessity. Back then, automobiles were fairly simple; basically an engine and drive train were all you had to maintain. You maintain the fluids levels, check your points and change plugs and you were good to go. If your car didn't start, you make sure you had gas. If you had gas, then you had to make sure you had spark. If you had spark and gas, then you "listen" to the car: does it sound like it wants to turn over but can't? Does it sound like you battery is too weak to crank the motor? That was how you diagnosed car problems in the early seventies. If you took your car to the shop, their process for diagnosing car problems was not much different. Concerns about the care and upkeep throughout the "life" of the vehicles were unheard of or secondary at best. Automobiles were originally designed with the idea in mind that owners would eventually want to replace their vehicle with  new, more modern models. The idea of an automobile owner purchasing a vehicle and keeping it for life was not part of the industry's business plan.

Carbon Emissions and the Environment
Catalytic Converter
In the late 1960's and early 70's when environmental issues were really taking root in our communities and concerns about  gasoline and fossil fuels were becoming more prevalent, people started to push for stricter environmental laws and regulations. In California, concerns over smog and air pollution led to some of the strictest environmental laws in the country. Strict new regulations regarding automobile emissions were implemented to limit the amount of pollutants in our atmosphere. Smog test and catalytic converters became a way of life, and business, in California.
CO2/Volatile Organic
Compound Sensor-
In reality, carbon emissions from automobiles are not the major culprit in the air quality, pollutant and global warming issues that we initially thought. The fact is, the majority of carbon emissions do not come from transportation sources, the pollutants come from buildings. We do everything in buildings; people eat, sleep, work and congregate in buildings. In the United States, buildings account for 38% of carbon emissions, more transportation or industry. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings account for 48% of carbon emissions world wide.
In response to the problems associated with carbon emissions in the capital facilities industries, many municipalities are adopting sustainable, green building policies. These new policies require owners,  architects, designers and general contractors to adhere to sustainable environmental practices when designing and building new facilities. These new green standards are a step in the right directions however the vast majority of the problems rest in existing facilities. There are many more existing building than there are new buildings under construction. In order to have a truly positive impact on the environment and carbon emissions, we must address the problems associated with energy retrofitting of existing facilities.
Tesla Motors
The Evolution Of The Automobile
Today's automobiles have more computers, actuators and sensors than the original Apollo Space Craft.  For me, the days of looking under the hood of my car to diagnose a problem are long gone. Modern automobiles store information about the vehicle, it's maintenance schedule and performance within the on board computer systems. There's no need for you to keep paper records about your vehicle's history any longer. When you take your vehicle to a "service technician", the technician plugs in a laptop computer and the vehicles maintenance records are right at his/her fingertips. Not only are the records accessible, the automobile's computer systems will explain what the current maintenance issues/and or problems are so the technicians don't waste time with long costly diagnostic procedures. Computer systems on today's automobiles monitor everything from electrical and fuel systems to road conditions. This data is processed and used to make adjustments to the vehicles operating systems to help maximize the vehicles performance while limiting fuel consumption and reducing carbon emissions. 

The Evolution Of Capital Facilities
San Jose City Hall 1948
Carbon dioxide emissions in our atmosphere and the emissions of other GHG's (Green House Gases), are often associated with the burning of fossil fuels like natural gas, crude oil and coal. Though carbon emissions from the transportation industry were the early focus of many environmental groups, the research conducted over the past three decades have led to a better understanding of the impact of buildings on the environment and to the creation of new legislation regarding the design and construction of sustainable, green buildings.

San Jose City Hall 1975
 Much like the changes witnessed in the automobile industry over the past thirty years, the design, construction and operation of today's buildings are driven by the same forces at play; comfort and safety of the building's occupants, energy conservation and enhanced performance. 
San Jose City Hall 2008
An added incentive for the evolution of capital facilities is the financial benefits realized through the reduction and proper management of energy resourcesAccording to the U.S. Green Building Council, buildings consume 70% of the electricity load in the U.S. A recent report conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology said, "approximately 84% of the life cycle energy use of a building is associated with operating the building rather than the materials and energy used in construction. Building systems almost never achieve their design efficiencies at any time during the operation and their performance typically degrade over time". Understanding how your building distributes and consumes energy is key to finding ways to reduce cost. 
Building Management System
Johnson Controls
Additional cost savings will result from the health and increased productivity of the building's occupants. Studies show that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has a tremendous impact on the productivity of the American workforce. According to an August 2000 report from the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the estimated potential savings and productivity gains in the U.S. alone are $6 Billion to $14 Billion from reduced respiratory disease, 2 to $4 Billion from reduced allergies and 20 to $160 Billion from direct improvement to worker performance related to health.

Today's Smart Buildings
Smart  buildings provide the most cost effective approach to the design and implementation of building systems. Traditionally, buildings are constructed by designing, installing and operating each system independently. A smart building integrates the design and installation of all building systems. This process reduces the inefficiencies in the design and construction process, saving time and money.

What does this mean for the building's owners and operators? A building that monitors the "health" of its own systems means less costly repairs and down time due to unforeseen mechanical problems. It gives the owner/operator the ability to conduct long-range planning and scheduling of preventive maintenance which minimizes disruptions to daily operations. There is the elimination of long, costly diagnostic procedures when problems do arise. The building's iinteractive capabilities means faster response to the needs of occupants/tenants. Modern actuators and sensors provide real-time information about a building's performance allowing for real-time energy audits and simulations. The overall result is a major reduction in operating cost and the positive environmental impact of  reducing the carbon footprint of the facility through energy conservation and proper resource management.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Museums And Environmental Management

My introduction to the unique world of museums came in 1996 while working for the City of San Jose. I was responsible for coordinating the America's Smithsonian Tour which was scheduled to visit San Jose in August of 1997. I was about to get a crash course in indoor environmental management from people who were not only experts in the field but charged with the unbelievable task of protecting our country's greatest treasures as they are being transported from state to state and from facility to facility.

Prior to this, I had some experience with clients who had stringent environmental standards, or so I thought. In my early career working in concert production, I worked with several artist who were extremely particular about the condition of their "space". Issues surrounding room temps, humidity, types of bedding,  food, transportation; you name it, I've dealt with it in some way shape or form.

San Jose Center for the Performing Arts
Later, while working in San Jose's Downtown theaters I ran into similar challenges with clients, lessees and guest. The SJ Ballet needed the rehearsal areas above certain temperatures or the dancers would experience leg cramps and other discomfort. Symphony San Jose needed the theater's temperature between certain levels at all times; if the room got below a certain level, the brass instruments would go flat. If the room exceeded a certain temperature, there were problems with string instruments. These seem fairly simple issues to resolve however you are dealing with a rehearsal space that is 2000 square feet and you are trying to maintain a set temperature not only in that space but the entire 30,000 square foot room, you are going to have inconsistencies, cold spaces, drafts, etc.. This is especially true when you are dealing with buildings that are decades old and maintained on shoes string budgets. In short, I was quite accustomed to being cursed at by conductors, directors and production managers for our inability to control the environmental and mechanical systems in our facilities.

Welcome America's Smithsonian to San Jose. Can you imagine being responsible for transporting and caring for treasures like Martha Washington's Inaugural Gown, Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat or NASA's original lunar rover? I don't want to minimize the Ballet Dancer's leg cramps but these exhibits definitely kicked the conversations about our internal environmental problems into another gear.
Mary Todd Lincoln's Silver Service
America's Smithsonian

When I received the list of items to be exhibited at our facility, I was immediately taken by the enormity of this project. Yes, they were bringing Martha Washington's Inaugural Gown and Lincoln's top hat but they were also bringing $40 million worth of rare gems, The Hope Diamond, the Freedom 7 Space Capsule, a collection of Jackie Kennedy's formal gowns, rare insect collections, priceless paintings, rare photographs, an Apollo 15 Space Suit, Tiffany Lamps, dinosaur fossils; a traveling sample of every aspect of the Smithsonian's vast collection of artifacts and treasures. There were rare items made of every type of material, both natural and man-made; from moon rocks to synthetic fibers, from wood to titanium, each of these rare items had its own unique requirements. I spent the next nine months immersing myself in the world of the Smithsonian curators. I was fascinated with the many facets of artifact preservation and the amount of care and detail required to maintain these treasures for public display. Over the next nine months, I learned from the industry's leaders about the harmful effects of poor environmental conditions on artwork, fabric, wood and metals.

Apollo 15 Space Suit
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum
The effect of the indoor environment on museum objects has received much more attention from museum and conservation staff during the last 100 years. Negative effects caused by variations in the relative humidity of air have been observed and described for at least the last one hundred years, and so has the effect of temperature, and light exposure. But pollutants in the indoor museum environment receive much less attention. One reason is the effect of indoor air pollutants is not always obvious. Some deterioration types are easily recognized, like corrosion, mold and mildew. But other decay processes are more hidden and harder to detect, such as loss of fiber strength in a material. In fact, pollutants are rarely the only factor in a deterioration process. It is the interaction with relative humidity, temperature, and even other pollution compounds which cause deterioration.

Abraham Lincoln's Top Hat
America's Smithsonian
Indoor air pollution is not an easy problem to address. There are literally hundreds of compounds in the average indoor air environment that are considered "pollutants". These compounds originate from just as many sources, and while a compound may be very aggressive towards one type of material it may be harmless toward other materials.

Modern approaches towards fighting indoor air pollutants have been adapted from the human health and ergonomics field of science. While the technology from that field, such as air measuring methods, will be a useful tool, other approaches are not necessarily adaptable when dealing with the preservation of museum objects. Unlike human beings, museum objects are intended to last for centuries. Unlike the human body which can heal again if exposed to small doses of poisonous substances, toxic materials in artifacts will accumulate from any attack, slowly decaying more and more. Therefore even small exposures to pollutants will have a cumulative effect on artifact preservation over time.
Apollo 15 Lunar Rock
America's Smithsonian

Museums and Special Indoor Air Quality Issues
Many museums tend to store objects in airtight and confined boxes like display cases or storage containers. If a display case is made of a pollution emitting material, the pollutants will be released and kept within the case together with the museum objects. An example of this could be a display cabinet made of oak wood, which is known to release formic and acetic acid vapors.

The Hooker Diamonds
America's Smithsonian
In open galleries or storage rooms these problems are less common, except when large surfaces acts as pollution sources, like newly painted walls or new flooring coverings. Larger open galleries and warehouses have a different set of challenges when it comes to pollutants and air quality. Maintaining uniform temperatures, consistent circulation, sufficient filtration and acceptable humidity levels are the biggest source of concern for these types of operations.
The Hope Diamond
America's Smithsonian

We've all seen the affects of moisture and humidity of fabrics and clothes. We've all seen blacken and/or tarnished silver but probably weren't aware that the cause is often the affects of various sulphur compounds in the environment. (The source of the sulphur may be sulphur containing materials like wool or rubber found in carpets.)
'Modern' metals like aluminium, zinc, and magnesium has also shown to be sensitive to attack from pollutants originating from common construction materials, like wood, paints, and adhesives.
There are "self-polluting" artifacts like certain plastics and cellulose acetate used in film that give off various pollutants as the deterioration process progresses. There are the well documented negative affects of light pollution on artwork, specifically paintings. The list of materials and concerns for their preservation goes on and on. It's much more extensive than I can articulate as a layman.
This was my introduction to the world of the museum curator and the business of artifact preservation.

San Jose McEnery
Convention Center
The Exhibit Environment
America's Smithsonian was schedule to begin installation at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in late July of 1997. The space they would occupy is a typical "Black Box" exhibit hall; 4 walls, a floor and a ceiling. The space was 100,000 square feet with 30' tall ceilings and 24" thick reinforced concrete floors. Under the best of circumstances, cooling the exhibit halls in the summer was a time consuming process.  The exhibit halls had two 25' wide x 18' tall loading dock doors which were open to allow the tractors trailers that were transporting the exhibits to drive into the building to drop off their cargo. We would use this same process to facilitate the set up for the Smithsonian exhibit. The challenge with this strategy was the weather. This was the month of July with average temperatures in the low 90s. The open loading dock doors meant we would be unable to adequately cool the exhibit space in time for the installation of the artifacts. Even if the air conditioning system was operating at peak performance, which it wasn't, it would be 24 hours after the loading dock doors closed before the thick concrete floors would cool down enough to sustain an acceptable room temperature to display the various exhibits. This was one of the major logistical concerns for the building of the exhibit.
Freedom 7 Space Capsule
America's Smithsonian

However, the logistical concerns came late in the game.  It was the preservation of the artifacts that were first and foremost in the minds of the exhibit organizers. (You'd think it would be security but the U.S. Marshall and the  FBI  left nothing to chance.) I got my first indication of the enormity of the task at hand when one of the  curators told me that Abraham Lincoln's top hat was so delicate that if it were exposed to ambient air and light for any extended amount of time, it would literally fall apart. The environmental concerns started in August of 1996; one year prior to the installation of the Smithsonian exhibit. Those environmental  concerns didn't end until the last tractor trailer left San Jose.

Martha Washington's Gown
America's Smithsonian
How would we achieve and maintain a 68 to 72 degree temperature range in an exhibit space that large during the month of August? Can we sustain that temperature level with 10,000 people per day moving through the exhibits? There are other events happening in adjacent exhibit halls. What type of events are happening and are there concerns about contaminants from other shows impacting the Smithsonian exhibits? How will traffic from these other events effect airflow and temperature in the facility?  How about insect infestation? Fumigation of the entire facility is a must but when and how does it affect other operations in the building? How about the fluorescent lighting throughout the facility? Convention Center lighting would have to be replaced by temporary theatrical lighting systems to protect the artifacts. The questions were constant and the task was daunting, to say the least.
Aggreko Air Conditioning Unit

Long story short, we rented supplemental air conditioning system at the cost of $1 million for the month of August. The curators went through the building with a fine toothed comb checking for things that could negatively impact the artifacts and exhibits. They thoroughly examined the facility's HVAC system, they made sure all air filters were replace, they had the entire building fumigated, including the lower level garages; they left nothing to chance and no stone unturned in preparing the facility for the installation and exhibition of the nation's artifacts.

By the close of the 30 day exhibit, over 330,000 visitors attended the America's Smithsonian Exhibition at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. The monumental task of maintaining the strict environmental standards of one of the world's premiere museums was a major success for the City of San Jose. However in retrospect, the thought of the environmental impact of this event never crossed our minds. This was 1997 and the concept of an exhibition having a "carbon footprint" of any kind was unheard of. Though by today's standards of "green" or "sustainable" events, it does raise a few questions. For example, the convention center's 100MW CoGen system operating at full power 24 hours per day for 36 straight days, the 60MW Generator rented from Aggreko to supplement our HVAC system, the thirty plus tractor trailers, the support vehicles and aircraft used to transport the artifacts; not to mention any of specialty vehicles or altered vehicles that were need to transport the most fragile artifacts.

The general public has no idea of the cost associated with managing, operating and sustaining a public assembly facility. If the general public was more in tune with the expenses of maintaining and operating museums, theaters, convention centers, arenas and auditoriums, there would be a much more aggressive move towards sustainable construction and retrofits. The cost to the City of San Jose for hosting the 30 day America's Smithsonian Exhibition was well into seven figures 14 years ago. The need to maximize the performance of our public facilities is not only a environmental necessity, it is an economic necessity.

 NVentum and the San Jose History Park
When we decided to find a facility to demonstrate BIM technology and showcase its' myriad applications, my experience with the curators of America's History Museum was first and foremost in my thought process. What better way to demonstrate the benefits  or explore new applications for  this technology than to feature a world class history museum? A local museum with a vast array of artifacts that span centuries of culture and technology. History San Jose is that institution. We are fortunate to have this rare opportunity right here in our own backyard. I am also very fortunate to have an opportunity to apply the knowledge I've gained over the years to a project that  I am passionately committed to.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

3D Model vs BIM

A major component of this project is the creation of a 3D model of the San Jose History Park. However, the main goal of this project is to create a fully integrated BIM project for the San Jose History Museum and campus. While many people believe BIM and 3D models are synonymous, there is a major difference between to two.

Laser Scan of History San Jose Printers Office by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

3D Models
There are a number of ways 3D models can be beneficial for building maintenance and operations.

A 3D model can be a tremendously useful cost containment and budgeting tool on Capitol Improvement Projects.
Laser Scanning Services and 3D modeling are more cost effective than manual measurement processes, which are error prone and require a greater length of time to complete. Additionally, because Laser Scanning and 3D modeling are significantly more accurate than manually created documentation there is less need for costly field fit-up. Field trips are also reduced as there is less need for field crews to return to correct inaccuracies. Better visibility of the areas and objects also improves operation and maintenance review.
Many older facilities lack proper blueprints, original construction plans or documentation. Often times, build outs, renovations and upgrades occur and the documentation is not done properly, lost or just non-existent. This is true for historic buildings as well as buildings that were built in the last 40 to 50 years. A 3D model of an as-built facility is not only the most accurate way to monitor conditions, it may be the only truly accurate documentation of a facility. Once again, this process works throughout the life-cycle of a facility. Future expansions, renovations and/or upgrades to the facility can be added to the 3D model to insure proper documentation.

Coordination of Team Information and Improved Scheduling
One of the greatest obstacles in planning repair work may be the ability to share comprehensible information and communications between different project teams who may be impacted by a change in procedure. With a 3D model, existing conditions and documentation can be shared among a number of different project members or teams from a number of different disciplines using electronic files, allowing immediate access to critical information. This fact holds true from the design and construction phase, through commissioning and continues throughout the entire life-cycle of the facility.
Planning scheduled maintenance and facility upgrades is another one of the essential functions of a 3D model. Building operations managers are responsible for completing maintenance and modification plans within a tightly monitored timeline. Each unplanned interference or unanticipated problem resulting from inaccurate existing condition documentation can result in extended outages, possibly a loss of income. The 3D model is an important tool in minimizing these types of problems.

Facility Use Agreements/Sales and Marketing
Operations and administrative staff can use the 3D Model to coordinate events, plan and manage internal projects, assign/allocate space, manage onsite programs and negotiate facility lease agreements. The 3D model is an excellent sales tool, providing perspectives that traditional 2D floor plans simply cannot match.

The bottom line is,the purpose of a 3D Model is to provide a platform to share information between the various individuals and teams involved in the construction, maintenance and operation of a facility. This shared platform provides a seamless exchange of real-time information to optimize productivity, minimize operational cost and maximize revenue throughout the facility's life-cycle.

Building Information Modeling

According to the National BIM Standards Committee (NBIMS), building information modeling as “a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility, forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle, existing from earliest conception to demolition.”

BIM encompasses more than a 3D computer-rendered model of a building. In addition to architectural information, the complete BIM contains all of the building’s information, from wall systems, structural systems, electrical systems, HVAC equipment, plumbing fixtures, door and window schedules, and finishes, right down to the manufacturer, supplier, and square footage of every material specified on the project. In other words BIM is an "Intelligent 3D Model" . BIM is intended to be used as a tool for facility owners and operators to better manage their facility throughout its entire existence.

Throughout NVentum's 7 year existence, we've worked on a variety of projects for government, nonprofit and for profit entities. Basically, our role has been to provide laser scanning services for condition monitoring, construction, expansion and/or renovation of as-built facilities. I don't recall any instance where the 3D model we've produced has been expanded for use as an intelligent facility operations system. Unfortunately, very few 3D Models are currently being used in this manner. Condition monitoring and construction is just a fraction of what this technology is designed to achieve. BIM technology provides us with a way to reduce the carbon footprint of older facilities through sustainable retrofits. BIM systems incorporate state of the art actuators and sensors to monitor and control Indoor Air Quality. This allows owner/operators to monitor airflow throughout a facility, conduct real-time energy audits, monitor and adjust a facility's mechanical systems to insure peak performance.

An example of one way BIM can assist owner operators with energy savings is through virtual simulations. If your building has a functioning BIM program, you could enter all information regarding the building's exterior windows into the 3D model; the thickness of the glass, the reflectivity of the the windows, the manufacturer, date of installation, etc..The building's operators can perform simulations within the model by exchanging all of the building's exterior windows with new windows that have different specifications and standards. From there, a variety of simulations can be conducted to determine changes in the buildings performance in a virtual world:
1. Does exchanging windows affect the ambient lighting in the work areas?
2. Are there any changes in airflow throughout the facility?
3. Do the new windows affect changes in heat or temperature?
4. If we were to change windows, what types of windows would be the most cost effective for the company?
This is one example of many types of virtual simulations that BIM offers facility operators. These same tools can be applied to all of a buildings operational systems; electrical, mechanical, environmental, asset management, security, etc..
Simulations can be done at little cost to building operators and they provide critical information that can have a major economic and environmental impact on the management and operation of a facility(s).

The major benefit of BIM for building operators and owners are the cost savings. The majority of the life-cycle cost of a building does not come from the design and construction phase, but from operating the building over 20 to 50 years. Federal studies have shown that operations and maintenance account for between 60 and 85 percent of total costs of ownership.

A 2004 study conducted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) estimated the efficiency losses in the U.S. capital facilities industry from inadequate interoperability among CAD, engineering, and software systems. According to that study approximately $15.8 billion in annual costs of inadequate interoperability in the U.S. capital facilities industry in 2002. Of these costs, two-thirds are borne by owners and operators, who incur them predominantly during ongoing facility operation and maintenance. Examples of inefficiencies resulting from inadequate interoperability include manual re-entry of data, duplication of business functions, and the continued reliance on paper-based information management systems.
BIM's shared platform eliminates these concerns and results in increase productivity and significant cost savings for facility operators.

From The U.S. Energy Information Administration Webpage 
"Eighty-two percent of all greenhouse gas emitted by human activity is energy-related carbon dioxide. Since 1990, 48 percent of the increase in U.S. carbon emissions can be attributed to increasing emissions from the building sector."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Where History Meets Art and Technology

Laser Scan w/Texture Mapping
Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan of SJ History Park Plaza
by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan w/Texture Mapping
by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan w/Texture Mapping
by Ken Hanna, NVentum, LLC

Frank Greene Scholars Students- "Takin' it all in".

Laser Scan Of SJ History Park

Laser Scan
by Ken Hanna- NVentum, LLC.

Laser Scan of History SJ Printers Office
by Ken Hanna- NVentum, LLC.

Photo and Forensic Scans
by Leica Geosystems

Forensic Laser Scans
by Leica Geosystems

Forensic Scans
by Leica Geosystems

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Details, Details

When I first envisioned this project, I saw a very complicated, thought invoking process that would require hundreds of hours of planning in addition to the actual on-site, physical processes involved in developing the end product. At initial presentation, the museum and campus present quite a challenge for any skilled professional let alone a project involving community college students. It's definitely challenging but it can be accomplished with proper curriculum, guidance and instruction.

After touring several of the restored homes on the property, I realized the amount of detail in the reality capture of the building's interior spaces would be one of the most critical aspects of the the project. Capturing the detail of the architecture is routine and there are no surprises from that aspect. However, when touring the homes and seeing the details involved in the artifacts, furnishings and objects on display, the scope of the project expands 3 fold. Obviously, there are paintings, antique lamps, photos, and furniture; everything you'd expect in a traditional home. Where it gets complicated is the "little details"; for instance, the kitchen, all the utensils

and "stuff". There are drawers full of antique cookware, eating utensils, food storage bins, an "Ice Box", salt & pepper shakers, etc..That's expected too, however the point of the 3D model is to provide the museum's operators with a detailed operational model that contains all artifacts and objects in the museum.

How do we account for cooking utensils that are in the kitchen but not visible, obstructed because they are stored in the cabinets and drawers? Sounds like a minor problem but as we get into this project, it becomes much more of an issue. The deeper you delve into this project, the more layers you discover; and "layered" is the best way to describe this project.

Logic says we start with a survey of the property. We follow the survey with the reality capture of the exterior of all the structures. We follow that with the reality capture of the interior of the structures. Now, we must attach the interior scans of the buildings to the exterior scans scans taken earlier, making sure we have the proper coordinates. These recently joined building scans must be attached to the GIS survey model. Next, artifacts must be scanned, documented and placed within the 3D model. The artifacts must then be attached to a coordinate within the 3D database as part of the asset management process. Simple, right?

Before I get too carried away, let's not forget I was just discussing the documentation phase of our project. Reality Capture and documentation is just one component of the overall plan. This began as a BIM project and we are squarely committed to the concept(s) of BIM and its relationship to environmental sustainability. Integration of intelligent systems to control and monitor building(s) performance, energy consumption, maintenance and operations are essential to the success of this project. Museums are particularly concerned about the quality of the environment where the artifacts are housed and maintained. Contaminants, pollutants, humidity, heat, cold, insects, larva and a host of other environmental concerns are a constant threat to the preservation of historical treasures. This was a major factor in NVentum's decision to develop this project in collaboration with a museum.

Indoor air quality has a major impact on our health and productivity. According to a 2009 report for the U.S. Department of Energy, in the United States commercial and residential buildings account for 39% of the country’s carbon dioxide emissions and 70% of electrical consumption per year, according to the US Department of Energy. Buildings consume more energy than any other sector of our economy including transportation and industry. Proper Building Information Management (BIM) technology can have a major impact on the health and productivity of our community. Existing SMART technologies and procedures can improve Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) in a manner that significantly increases employee productivity and health. According to an August 2000 report from the Environmental Energy Technologies Division of The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the estimated potential savings and productivity gains in the U.S. alone are $6 Billion to $14 Billion from reduced respiratory disease, $2 to $4 Billion from reduced allergies and $20 to $160 Billion from direct improvement in worker performance related to health. The importance of the sustainability questions that will be addressed through this project simply cannot be overstated.

When I was given access to the museum's warehouse which is located off the main campus, I was struck by the enormous responsibility we've assumed. For some reason, the History Park has always seemed to be more of a local "neighborhood museum" to me. This is probably a sentiment that is shared by many locals and San Jose natives. The reality of what we have in our own backyard is simply staggering. History San Jose is truly a treasure trove containing bits and pieces of every possible aspect of the human experience in San Jose and Santa Clara County. I am amazed, not only the enormity of the collection but the range and variety of artifacts. In one hour, I saw a prototype of the first Apple Computer mounted on a wooden board, a wooden bicycle built in the mid 1880's, five (5) antique motorcycles from pre-1920, native american pottery and handwritten notes from the valley's first Spanish settlers to the Royal Court of Spain.

The responsibility for implementing a proper procedure(s) for preserving these artifacts takes on a whole new meaning when you are face to face with treasures that chronicle the lives of the individuals and families of that helped establish and settle Santa Clara Valley.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Evergreen Valley College's VDC/BIM Programs

"Evergreen Valley College’s new BIM certificate program is designed to provide you with the necessary skills to compete for a growing number of jobs in the field of Virtual Design and Construction.  If you are already working in the Construction field or have an interest in finding out how you can enter this new occupation, take time to sign up for this new and exciting certificate program that begins in the Fall."
From Evergreen Valley College Webpage,

Santa Clara University
One of the driving factors behind the "Capturing History San Jose" project has been the lack of training opportunities available to people interested in laser scanning, VDC, BIM and many related emerging technologies. Several months ago, NVentum began the process of building relationships with various institutions of higher learning with the goal of creating a comprehensive laser scanning, VDC/BIM certification methodology and the support network necessary to sustain the program. In our minds, local universities, vocational schools and trade unions were the most likely candidates to adopt such a progressive program. The problem is the economy has many institutions reducing their curriculum. For example, the CSU system is cutting classes, raising admission and limiting students exposure to anything but core, essential components of their curriculum. At a time when we should be immersing our next generation of engineers and scientist in the technology(s) that will be in demand most, we are cutting back on educational and training programs. With the high unemployment and large numbers of members unable to pay dues, labor unions have seen major declines in revenues and have also found it necessary to reduce the amount of educational and training opportunities available to their members. This is the wrong time to reduce the amount educational resources for our citizens.

During a presentation at the San Jose campus of the Center for Employment Training (CET) a student said he was really excited to about our presentation on Reality Capture and he was hoping to find a training program to learn more about the process. He went on the mention that he was from Cambodia and he could get a laser scanning certification there but he wasn't sure it would be recognized here. He also mentioned that in Cambodia, they were studying 5D programs, not 3D!

Stanford University
This invites one very serious question; this is Silicon Valley, the cradle of technical innovation. How is it that we are not leading the world in the application and training of  VDC, BIM, 3D, 4D, 5D, reality capture? We have some of the leading engineering schools in the country yet these cutting edge concepts are not part of the curriculum. There is of course, one exception to this situation; Stanford University's Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, or CIFE research institute. CIFE is the premiere facility engineering project in the world and if you are in the Masters or PHD program at Stanford University, you've got an opportunity to apply. Otherwise, the Silicon Valley offers little in the form of education and/or training for these emerging and technical fields. Interestingly, many of the visitors to this blog are from Asia and Europe where it appears that the interest in this technology is on an upward climb.

San Jose Normal School-
Now Known As SJSU
Last summer, I heard that Evergreen Valley College was about to start the first BIM program at the Community College Level in Northern California. (Originally, I heard it was the first Community College level BIM program in the state however the L.A. Community College District's recent decision that all future L.A. Community College buildings must meet BIM established standards throws doubt on that claim.) Of course, this required my immediate attention so I emailed the Engineering Department to find out more about the programs offered. I was pleasantly surprised to find an entire department dedicated to the cutting edge technology that will become standard office tools for tomorrow's engineers and designers. Combined with the critical science of surveying and geomatics, reality capture and virtual design construction provides a unique collection of skills unavailable at most 4 year universities.

San Jose State University
Of course, it helps to have knowledgeable teachers, which Evergreen certainly has. One of them happens to be my partner at NVentum, Ken Hanna. For those of you who know Ken, you know he eats, drinks and sleeps BIM and Virtual Design Construction. When it comes to laser scanning technology, there are few who know more about the topic. The instructors in these specialized disciplines have years of instructional and practical experience however until now the program(s) were lacking a major component.

We are very excited about the partnership we've developed with Evergreen Valley College's BIM/VDC, Survey and Geomatics programs. Our collaborative efforts to map, scan and model the History San Jose campus will provide the practical learning experiences necessary to master the skills required in today's and tomorrow's job markets. The project offers opportunities for students to work directly on projects such as sustainable energy retrofits of both historic and non-historic buildings, working with cutting edge asset management technology, working with point cloud technology, software development/programming, reality capture technology, preservation and museum sciences applications, surveying and geomatics, virtual design construction/re-construction, seismic retrofits of historic and non-historic buildings, 3D models as management/operations data base, 4D VDC processes.

Evergreen Valley College
San Jose, CA.
We shouldn't have to worry about these jobs being outsourced. Most of the jobs requiring these skills are right here in the U.S.; sustainable retrofitting of as-built facilities, seismic retrofits, infrastructure monitoring and upgrades, new construction, etc.. The expanded use of these technologies will undoubtedly spin off other supporting businesses and industries that will further spur our economic growth. Before we can really begin to realize these changes, we have to provide training programs for our citizens. We shouldn't have to worry about these jobs being outsourced, unless we fail to establish training programs here, at home. Fortunately, Evergreen Valley College has taken the first major step in establishing a comprehensive program to address the void in technical training for our next generation of construction professionals, designers and engineers.

If you know of people who are looking for interesting careers and new technology(s), have them check out Evergreen Valley College in San Jose.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Keepers Of San Jose's History

Photo Courtesy of History San Jose
"One of the most promising uses of 3D technology is heritage conservation. Museums are filled with priceless artifacts – bits and pieces of history that tell the stories of our ancestors – but war, 
Photo Courtesy of History San Jose
earthquake, handling and time cause irreplaceable historical treasures to be lost, damaged or even destroyed. Yet museums have a mandate to present the nation's heritage to visitors, students and scholars. 

 By creating virtual 3D models of museum artifacts, museums could limit the handling and movement of artifacts. Displays of virtual artifacts have the potential to last indefinitely, ensuring generations to come will continue to admire and learn from them, without causing damage."...
National Research Council Canada. January 2010
Photo Courtesy of History San Jose

Photo Courtesy of History San Jose