BIM is a common language for every phase of a building’s life cycle

May. 6 2019

Initially used for building design purposes, BIM (Building Information Modeling) is in the process of becoming the convergence technology bringing together all construction sector players. Its recent developments, presented at BIM World 2019 in Paris, are encouraging sector players like Bureau Veritas to rethink their service offer. Spotlight on these new usages for BIM, heralding an innovative, more eco-responsible and unique approach in the construction sector.

Design offices, construction companies, project managers, architects, materials and equipment manufacturers... BIM technology is gradually being adopted by all the sector’s players, extending well beyond its original scope. While the BIM model already represents all aspects of a building and its equipment down to the minutest detail, it can now simulate the aging of materials, user movements and matter and energy flows. It can also monitor a building’s climatic and ventilation parameters, and, as with the iconic Shanghai Planetarium, model financial flows associated with construction, maintenance and use.  BIM is thus becoming established as a veritable common language, throughout a building’s value chain.

Compliance is now monitored in real time

As BIM becomes increasingly widely used, inspection services can check buildings from a very early stage i.e., a priori rather than a posteriori. The “icheck® for Building” module, for example, was launched at the end of 2018 to be integrated into the design tool used by architects. The role of this plug-in designed for Revit software[1] is to check for and flag up, in real time, any form of non-compliance on the digital model, in much the same way as a spell checker operates with Word software. A tool that is as simple as it is powerful and which extends to a number of other areas of application. In addition to regulatory compliance with respect to the detection of geometric inconsistencies, disabled access verification and, in the near future, fire safety, icheck® for Building can be used to easily and automatically monitor whether customers’ specifications are being met (number of parking spaces, size of bedrooms, etc.). New applications, which are very simple to add, are modular and adaptable depending on the needs of each specific trade. The icheck® for Building plug-in may soon be used to check the compliance of alterations made to new constructions, once they have been delivered.

BIM applies fully to the operation and management of real estate assets

To ensure BIM fulfills its promise of optimizing operations at every stage of a building’s life cycle, each player that refers to the digital twin needs to have absolute confidence in its representation of reality. It is for this reason that Bureau Veritas has developed a certification offer for BIM models, to guarantee the correlation between digital representation and “BIM as built” field data. Better still: another certification, “Ready for Operation”, offers the guarantee that a building’s “digital twin” contains all the technical, regulatory and performance information required for the operating phase, in order to be used for real estate management and Facility Management. “In practice, BIM has proved its value throughout a building’s life cycle”, reveals Anne-Laure de Chammard, CEO, Bureau Veritas Construction. “It is useful to better anticipate and reduce costs and timescales in the design and construction phases, but also during the operating, maintenance and even demolition phases.

BIM, lever for a new circular economy

This is where BIM is also a game-changer. BIM applications are now extending to the end of building’s lives, incorporating, among other aspects, demolition, recycling and re-use information. Bureau Veritas provides advice concerning the materials to be used and also ensures that recycling, re-use and re-employment criteria[2] are adhered to. Thus, a circular economy certification offer has just been launched by Bureau Veritas to integrate diagnosis, support, project monitoring, and control of re-use sectors, along with other criteria relative to demolition. The objective now is to anticipate the potential for reusing materials from a building’s design stage, thanks to BIM. This marks a veritable revolution in the approach to construction and demolition!

With this integrated building life cycle approach, the TIC[3] sector is evolving too. To address the disparity in customer maturity when it comes to BIM, Bureau Veritas is revamping its support and training provision, proposing services ranging from an introduction to BIM (definition of BIM strategy) through to 6D BIM project follow-up, via BIM managers certification… Bureau Veritas has BIM centers of excellence in Europe, as well as Asia and America, where the market is particularly mature, with a view to disseminating good practices in the field.

Towards the digitization of real estate management?

Beyond the management of a building’s life cycle, BIM is now being adapted to users. For example, BIM enables users to manage buildings’ heating and lighting as a function of occupancy and the amount of sunlight received, via connected objects (IoT). The objective? To improve user comfort while being committed to the energy transitions under way. But new uses for BIM do not stop there.

[1] Autodesk BIM software

[2] The sector refers to the 5R criteria (reduction, recycling, repurposing, re-use and social responsibility), which can simply be illustrated with the example of a “door” as follows:

  • Reduction: keep the door in the renovation project
  • Recycling: recycle the raw material: the wood, for example
  • Re-purposing: re-use the door to make a table
  • Re-use: re-use the door in its initial function in a different place/building
  • Social Responsibility: offer the door to an association/organization that helps people in need

[3] TIC: Test, Inspection, Certification