Building information modeling (BIM) will be a component of a new alliance that the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) recently formalized. Under their memorandum of understanding (MOU), the organizations intend to address various topics, such as using BIM as a facility-management tool. The overall goal of the two-year agreement is to promote facility management education, credentials, and research for sustainable laboratories and related high-technology facilities.
To implement the MOU, the organizations plan to do the following:
- Work together to promote good facility management practices, education, and research and magnify the importance of facility management as it relates to sustainable laboratories and related high-technology facilities;
- Evaluate their existing educational programs and credentials to identify potential joint offerings;
- Actively participate in each organization’s facility management conferences;
- Offer facility-related knowledge and benchmarking information about sustainable laboratories and related high-technology facilities to members.
- Look for opportunities for greater networking and collaboration between the members of each organization.
“Our recent facility-management forecasting report recognized sustainability as one of the top trends impacting the profession, both today and in the future,” IFMA President and Chief Executive Officer Tony Keane said. With this [MOU], we will have more opportunities to provide sustainability education and research to facility professionals working in laboratories and similar facilities.”
Added I2SL President and Executive Director Philip Wirdzek: “The agreement provides I2SL a strong partner with whom to pursue a number of common objectives that are key to the energy and environmental sustainability of laboratories and related high-technology facilities. Together, I2SL and IFMA will be able to address a variety of topics, from operations and maintenance training for high-tech facilities to using [BIM] as a facility-management tool. We are actively working with IFMA and its Research & Development Council, the National Institute of Building Sciences, and others to begin addressing these topics at the upcoming Labs21 2011 Annual Conference.”
Organizations Provide Additional Details About the Agreement
In an email interview with Construction Project Controls and BIM Report (CPC/BIM), officials from three organizations have provided additional details about the agreement. They interviewees include Philip Wirdzek, I2SL founding president and executive director; Dana Smith, executive director of the buildingSMART alliance; and Robert Blakey, president of IFMA’s Research and Development Facilities Council. Here is a transcript of the interview:
CPC/BIM: Approximately how many members (individuals + organizations) does your organization currently have?
Wirdzek: I2SL is not a membership-based organization but does have both a broad U.S. and international community. The non-profit National Institute of Building Sciences [NIBS] has alliances with many industry associations and government agencies as well as all major BIM software vendors.
Smith: We have approximately 700 members and, of those, 50 are associations, five are agencies, [and] others are primarily individuals.
Blakey: The IFMA R&D Facilities Council has approximately 400 members worldwide with the vast majority in North America. [IFMA] has approximately 20,000 members in 78 countries.
CPC/BIM: Approximately how many laboratories and facilities, as well as people, are expected to be affected in some way by the MOU and by when?
Wirdzek: I2SL with IFMA and other partners engage in various activities that are identified through similar agreements. These activities are of mutual interest to the partners with the expectation that they would be useful to and supportive of energy and environmental sustainability objectives in laboratories and related high-technology facilities. The actual number of facilities affected by these activities depends on the level of interest or commitment any lab organization or individual might have. The products or strategies developed through these agreements are not standards or codes. However, products that come from these agreements may end up as ballots for the National BIM Standard-United States (NBIMS-US), a product of NIBS.
Blakey: The RDC has members at over 300 laboratories and facilities worldwide. In addition, through IFMA, members and facilities in other industries are, or will be, involved in this effort. Particular interest has already been seen at other complex/high-technology facilities. Examples are data centers, hospitals, and universities. In some way, well over a 1,000 facilities will be impacted by this effort. Also, several thousand facility personnel or more will be impacted by this effort through the IFMA organization.
CPC/BIM: It is stated that one of the topics that I2SL and IFMA will address will be the use of BIM as a facility-management tool. Could you elaborate on this facet of the agreement by explaining how BIM could be used as a facility-management tool? How would BIM help manage facilities?
Wirdzek: I2SL and its partners believe that significant challenges exists for operations and maintenance staff of laboratories and other high-technology facilities in achieving sustainable performance. The operations of these facilities are substantially affected by advances in science and technology, by health and safety requirements, by changing user objectives, and much, much more. BIM as an archiving tool not only provides a location for building aspects but can be expected to serve as a locus for equipment manuals and operation, central plant operations, monitoring and maintaining energy and other resources consumption, monitoring indoor air quality and air management, and much more.
Smith: Many projects are now developing BIMs during design and construction. These BIMs can in fact be exact models of the facility, replete with operational and functional aspects. This information can be used for commissioning and then monitoring to ensure the facilities continue to operate the way they were designed and delivered. A BIM is rich in information about the original facility that can be used for maintenance and operation of the facility. Yet there are still very few tools that make the information delivered useful to the facility manager. There is also a cultural barrier to overcome since historically design and construction has provided very little, if any, usable information for the facility manager. Our agreement is intended to break down some of the barriers that currently exist.
Blakey: During the past decade, BIM has had a profound impact on the design and construction of facilities. The leaders of this effort envision a similar profound effect on the operation and maintenance of facilities during the coming decade. The purpose of the working group created by this MOU, and similar ones with the buildingSMART alliance, is to develop a research agenda and the development of tools and techniques in support of the transformation that will occur.
Some examples of the usefulness of BIM in operations and maintenance are:
- Creation and continuous updating of an “as maintained” model of the facility.
- Significant improvement of the “transition to occupancy” following design and construction of facilities.
- Significant reduction in the cost of operational maintenance of facilities (10-20 percent savings potential?).
- Significant reduction in the cost of follow-on projects at facilities due to reduced cost in “discovery of existing conditions.”
- Improved integration between space planning and operations functions in facilities management.
CPC/BIM: For which types of facilities may BIM be used as a tool through this MOU? Only new buildings?
Wirdzek: The memorandum does not specify the facility application. The partners believe that all high-technology facilities (i.e., hospitals, data centers, cleanrooms, etc.) as well as other less-complicated facilities will benefit from their efforts to focus on laboratories due to the dynamic and challenging aspects of laboratories.
Smith: We are actively working on ways to implement for both new and existing facilities. There are BIM-related tools such as laser scanning that can be used for capturing data from existing facilities as well as validating the location of objects in new facilities.
Blakey: This MOU envisions developing tools and techniques for both existing and new facilities. One significant area of tool development that is being considered in this effort is how to gather and input information on existing facilities. Our approach in this effort is to develop a research agenda that envisions the full range of needs for maintenance and operations of facilities. In addition, the effort intends to focus on specific “use cases” for BIM in the facilities-management environment. Not all users of facility management information need the same data or the same level of detail, yet their needs are connected.
CPC/BIM: What is the procedure for deciding how BIM could be used and promoted through this agreement? Would a board of directors for IFMA and I2SL be deciding whether BIM should be used as a standard practice at members' facilities?
Wirdzek: No. The partners are very early into this effort and expect a fair amount of work before such a comprehensive product would be available for application. Private developers are also pursuing such an approach and are expected to have great involvement with the partners. The partners have developed a research framework which will be shared at a working group meeting taking place at the Labs21 2011 Annual Conference. Information about this meeting can be found athttp://i2sl.org/labs21/conference/additional_info/working_groups.html#bim.
Smith: This is probably a pretty political issue, so I will leave it for you to respond to. However, we would like to involve the NBIMS-US effort to identify the authoritative sources for information and identify who in the phases after commissioning would need the information. There could be many others beyond the facility manager also needing the information, to include first responders. So yes, it should be a standard practice at some point, but I don’t know that anyone is specifically going to mandate from our level.
Blakey: Part of our common effort is to establish the needs and stakeholders for this type of effort. In addition, we are still early in the process. Our current phase is focused on developing working groups around each of a number of important topics within this larger effort. For example, establishment of a “clearing house” for this information, role definition for users and caretakers of this information, use-case specific information needs, funding and standards for research are all working-group areas currently being discussed and formed.
CPC/BIM: By when would such a decision about BIM use likely be made?
Wirdzek: There is no expected date for any announcement. The partners plan that the working group members will get involved in the various tasks outlined in the framework and that sufficient funding and volunteer efforts will be forthcoming to support the work envisioned in the framework.
Smith: In some aspects the decision has already been made. Design and construction is producing a BIM. The building owner needs to decide if they want to take advantage of the information already collected or have their FM team re-collect it.
Blakey: The industry is moving in this direction already. Our effort is to provide some insight and forethought into the process. Like many paradigm shifts, change will inevitably occur; all we can do is hope to provide some rationalization to the process.
CPC/BIM: About how much money, if any, are IFMA and I2SL setting aside to implement the goals of the memorandum?
Wirdzek: I2SL does not have an amount yet identified with its partners.
Blakey: IFMA does not have an amount yet identified with its partners. However, we are beginning to actively solicit research funds from interested stakeholders within our organization.
CPC/BIM: Other comments?
Smith: BIM offers an opportunity to those who can capitalize on that opportunity. Our role is to lay out the options in such a way that management will make the decision to support this new capability.
Blakey: While this Q&A has specifically addressed the MOU between IFMA and I2SL, mention and some detail should also be included in the article about similar MOUs between IFMA and the bSa and also between I2SL and the bSA. This is actually a cohesive effort between all three organizations. In addition, other efforts of [NIBS] are being brought into this discussion as well. A further note of importance is that much of the effort and initial thought on this working group was provided by Jim Jones[, a professor of architecture] at Virginia Tech University. I would strongly recommend contacting him for his insight on this effort as well. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.