Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become an optimal technique for designing, constructing, managing, operating, using and maintaining buildings (Autodesk2, 2016). The technique is undoubtedly revolutionizing the building and construction industry (Slowey, 20015), which has been purported to be slow at adopting new technological tools. In this regard, principles of BIM will be very useful in selecting the most suitable hot water unit for the proposed new house.
There are various ways in which the principles of BIM can be applied when selecting the hot water unit. The ultimate goal of applying these principles is to ensure that an efficient unit is selected so that the project can be completed successfully.
How BIM will help in selecting the hot water unit
Visualize and simulate the unit
BIM principles will be used to visualize and simulate the hot water unit using a variety of simulation tools. This will help in identifying potential designs that will fit in the new house. These simulation tools will also be used for calculating energy performance and efficiency of the hot water unit. BIM contains all information associated with the building, including the building’s physical characteristics, functional characteristics and any other information related to the life cycle of the project (Azhar, 2011). So the project team will be able to analyze, visualize and have a feel of the design (Carter, 2013), which will assist in selecting a unit that will provide maximum performance and efficiency. It will be easier to generate 3D renderings and shop drawings/fabrication of the unit using BIM tools. This means that BIM principles will be used to select a hot water unit with high performance efficiency and lower operational and maintenance costs throughout its useful life.
One of the principles of BIM is to facilitate collaboration among the different teams working on the project. The hot water unit is just one of the different systems that will be installed in the house. It is necessary for the entire project team to know the details of the unit and how it will be integrated in the house. The BIM principles will be used to facilitate better planning, designing, building and managing of the project (Autodesk, 2011). With this model, all necessary information will be available to all team members. Different members of the team working on the project will be allowed to propose their suggestions on the design of the hot water unit (Mott, 2016). Any new changes will also be updated and all members will see them from wherever they are. With BIM approach, members from different disciplines will be sharing their combined knowledge, understanding, skills and expertise in an open, respectful, and trustworthy environment (Mignone, Hosseini and Chileshe, 2015). This will ensure that the entire team works together from start to end of the project, particularly to select the best option for the hot water unit.
BIM will make it possible for members of the team to collaborate without the hindrance of their geographic locations (Wood, 2008). All these members will access the necessary details and updates of the hot water unit’s design options from wherever they are. This is similar to having a virtual office where members can pass information easily among themselves.
Optimize the design
Before selecting the final design for the hot water unit, different design options will be analyzed. This is so as to collect adequate information that will help in making the final decision on the design option to select. BIM will be used to develop several design alternatives and analyze them simultaneously using one model. These alternatives will be visualized, quantified and analyzed before making that final decision (Revit, 2007).
The different design alternatives will be analyzed based on the heating requirements of the homeowner, heating capacity of the hot water unit, cost of purchase, installation, operation and maintenance of the unit, performance efficiency of the unit, energy requirements of the unit, and environmental impacts of the unit, among others. When any modifications are made to the design model o as to satisfy these requirements, they will be automatically updated on all views of the design. This means that the designs will be optimized effortlessly thus making it easier to understand the implications of each modification (Graphisoft, 2016)
Analysis of energy use
Water heating systems are some of the biggest consumers of energy in buildings. For example, buildings (both residential and commercial buildings) in the US are estimated to consume about 40% of the total energy used in the country (Revit, 2007). Numerous efforts are being put in place to reduce energy consumption by buildings, not only in the US but across the world. Reducing energy consumed by water heating systems is a significant step towards reducing total energy used by buildings. Many companies and clients have been outsourcing energy analysis because of the large amount of time and costs associated with the analysis. It will not happen for this project because BIM has different tools for energy analysis of buildings. These tools will be used to analyze energy requirements for different design options so as to select the most efficient design.
This being a system that will be installed in specific locations of the house, its elements have to fit perfectly in the designated places. BIM tools will be used to detect clashes automatically thus making it easier to make changes so as to come up with the most suitable hot water unit (Matt, 2016). This will not only help in developing a perfect fitting unit but will also avoid additional costs that would have been incurred when installing the imperfect unit.
Besides resolving conflict between the unit and the house, BIM will also help in resolving conflicts among the project team members. BIM models are synchronized tools that enable early detection of clashes between different members of the project team (InfoComm International, 2008). Early identification of areas of conflict aids in early and speedy resolution of these conflicts. This will have a greater impact on the entire project because it means that the time and cost of completing the project will be reduced. Other members of the project team will access all the information about the design options being analyzed and give their suggestions for consideration in the final design option (Centre for Window and Cladding Technology, 2012).
BIM will be used to analyze essential physical and functional features of the hot water unit digitally. There are several factors that affect the efficiency of water heating systems, including design of the system and materials used to make the system, among others. If these factors are not analyzed meticulously, they can easily lead to leaks or failures. This will definitely mean high repair and maintenance costs or replacement of the unit. However, this can be avoided by use of BIM principles. BIM has multiple tools for forensic analysis of system designs. These tools will be used to analyze how the hot water unit operates (Messner, 2011), especially its potential leaks and failures. This will be useful in developing strategies on how to resolve them even before the unit is installed. Since each design option has different potential leaks and failures, BIM principles will help in identifying the design with the least probability.
Forensic analysis is very important in this project because there are numerous adverse effects associated with failure or leakage of hot water units. If these units fail or start leaking, it means that the user’s hot water needs will not be met. It may also cause injuries or property damage, or even death. Therefore BIM tools will be used in selecting a design option with the least chance of failing or leaking. Additionally, these tools will also be integrated in the unit model so that they can be used for early detection of leakages or failure when the unit is in use.
Cost is a very crucial element in this project. It is every engineer’s and/or client’s wish to get the best product at the lowest price possible. However, this does not mean compromising the quality of the product being developed. BIM will be used to select a design option that will give the best price possible for the hot water unit with the highest quality (Calvert, 2013). BIM tools have integrated features for cost estimation. These tools extract material quantities automatically from the design models and estimate their costs. This will make it easier to compare the total cost of the unit for different materials, sizes and shapes. So BIM will help in selecting the design with the best price, which will save costs both for the design team and client (Competitive Advantage, 2012).
All designs works involve a lot of documentation and paperwork. As a matter of fact, maintaining these papers is quite challenging, cumbersome and time consuming. If any of the papers gets lost, damaged or misplaced, the entire design gets affected and most of the time it will mean redoing the work again. BIM combines both design and documentation in a single model. People who use BIM do not have to deal with design and documentation separately because both of them are in a single interface. This does not only make work easier but can reduce the total time used for designing by almost half (Yan and Damian, 2007). This improved efficiency will also be passed to all stages of the unit’s lifecycle thus saving costs during the design, construction, use and maintenance of the unit (Autodesk1, 2016).
In addition, BIM combines information modelling and management. This helps in ensuring that all persons involved in a project are working from the same page and as a team. Their combined efforts are also valued and it makes each member accountable for his/her duties. In this regard, it will be easier for the project team to work together, share ideas, identify and fix errors, and combine their efforts in making sure that they select the best design option (Mineer, 2015). All these will be achieved without the hustle of moving around with papers from one member to another or having to call each member to inform them about new changes made to the designs being analyzed.
Understand unit lifecycle
The main purpose of selecting the hot water unit in this project is so that it can be used to meet the needs of the client. Therefore it is not just about designing the unit but also looking at how it will be built and used in its entire lifecycle. When in the process of selecting the most suitable unit, BIM will be used to demonstrate the whole unit lifecycle. This will entail its life during design, installation, use, demolition and reuse (NBS, 2016). Understanding these elements will be useful in selecting a hot water unit that will serve the intended purpose optimally with the least possible negative impacts.
Considering the direct and indirect impacts of energy consumption on the environment, especially climate change, understanding the lifecycle of any water heating system is very crucial. This is because these systems consume a lot of energy and this translates into negative environmental impacts. In this project, BIM will help to understand the impacts that the unit will have on the environment throughout its lifecycle. This will help in selecting a unit with the least environmental effects, if any.
This is one of the greatest objectives of BIM because everything done in any project is aimed at ensuring that the client is fully satisfied with the final product or work. The house owner definitely wants a hot water unit that will meet his/her needs fully. For this to be achieved, it is necessary to involve the owner, as a member of project team, when designing or selecting the unit. But this has to be done with the least efforts from the owner. BIM will be used to share visual information of the hot water unit during the selection process so that the client can give his/her inputs. Considering the client’s inputs is undoubtedly the best way to ensure that the client will be fully satisfied with the design option that will be selected at the end.
BIM has been designed to facilitate project implementation from start to finish. If used appropriately, this technological process enables collaboration among project team members, visualization and stimulation of the project, comprehensive analysis of the design, saves time and cost, improves efficiency, optimizes design, and boosts client satisfaction. Therefore BIM is very useful in this project as it will ensure that that the selected hot water unit is of the best quality, has lower construction and operating costs, has a shorter turnaround time and meets the client’s needs.
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