In the last decade, building services projects have seen many developments that have been beneficial. Most of these developments have been contributed from within the industry and also from other sources, such as government regulations and economic developments in the areas of MEP (M&E) systems design, 3D building services coordination or interdisciplinary collaboration.
Intelligent BIM Software for Planning and Design of Projects
Building information modelling (BIM) is an intelligent software tool which makes use of computable data to create accurate and detailed representation of mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection systems. BIM has been one of the biggest innovations in the modern building services industry, it is evident by the fact that there are intelligent BIM tools which work throughout all disciplines such as architecture, structural engineering and building services resulting in increased interdisciplinary coordination and reduction in overall construction waste and rework.
Building service designers can use the BIM models created on Autodesk Revit Architecture and Revit MEP for developing concept designs, drawings and schematics and contractors can create a complete installation and 3D MEP (M&E) coordinated drawings as well as multi-service coordinated plans, sections and elevations using the same parametric model. Moreover, FAB MEP, a fabrication tool, can be used in conjunction with BIM model to create pre-assembled modules for installation on-site.
Along with creating coordinated 3D models, BIM also allows for information to be added to an existing model which can be useful in project-critical purposes including cost estimation, energy analysis, schedule creation and facilities management.
Greater Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Due to increasing adoption of BIM tools across the industry, complemented with the availability of sophisticated hardware systems and online collaboration channels, there is a higher degree of interdisciplinary coordination between different stakeholders involved in AEC projects. The result is that architects, structural engineers, MEP consultants, MEP engineers, main (general) contractors, cost estimators and fabricators can effortlessly collaborate during the design and planning stages which reduces the costly rework that may happen during the construction stages.
Normally, large-scale construction projects across the world have a sophisticated project structure comprising distinct project teams. Various types of designs and models prepared by architects, MEP specialists and contractors during the pre-construction stage and are able to stay coordinated due to the sharing and interlinking attributes of the BIM model. Also, team members are able to conduct review sessions across various locations without being physically present using cloud-based collaborative tools.
Higher Degree of Pre-Fabrication and Just-In-Time Delivery for Installation
BIM models are increasingly being used for pre-fabrication purposes in order to boost the logistical cycle on the construction site as the parametric modelling techniques in MEP design and planning are beginning to be used comprehensively. BIM design data when combined with CNC fabrication applications such as FAB MEP, can be used to create fabrication drawings that are recognised by CNC machines. Similarly, BIM-driven prefabrication can simplify the installation process on site and help reduce costly miscalculations.
BIM-led prefabrication has provided various benefits such as reduced work time, cost savings and increased efficiency; especially considering the complexities of the MEP (M&E) systems industry.
Different countries have their respective design policies for promoting and mandating the use of BIM at various levels of government-funded or private projects. The General Services Administration (GSA) in the USA, established the National 3D-4D BIM Program in 2003 through its Public Billings Service (PBS) Office of Chief Architect (OCA). GSA authorised the use of spatial program BIMs as the minimum requirements of submission to OCA for Final Concept approvals of all the important projects receiving design funding in 2007 and beyond.
As an aim to reduce the cost of public-funded projects and to minimise carbon emission to meet the EU commitments, the UK Government have made the Level 2 BIM mandatory for all publicly-funded projects which initiate from 2016. Government agencies from the Scandinavian nations have played an important role. Finland’s state property services agency, Senate Properties, recommended the use of BIM for its projects since 2007. Norway and Denmark have also made adequate efforts towards adopting BIM in their public-funded projects. Statsbygg, the Norwegian government agency that manages public properties, including heritage sites, campuses, office and other buildings, applied BIM services in all its projects from 2010.
In Asian countries, Singapore was the leader in the drive to adopt BIM. The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), after successful implementation of the world’s foremost BIM electronic submission (e-submission) system for building approvals, mapped the BIM Roadmap with an aim to adopt BIM for 80% of construction projects by 2015. The Housing Authority (HA) in Hong Kong, set a strong example when they not only developed a set of modelling standards and guidelines for BIM implementation but also stated their intent to apply BIM to all their new projects by 2014-15. BIM has been made mandatory by South Korea’s Public Procurement Service, which reviews designs of construction projects and provides construction management services for public institutions, for all the projects that exceed the budget of $50 million and for all public sector projects by 2016.