GSA Moves Toward Building Information Modeling

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Having conducted a successful Building Information Modeling (BIM) pilot program, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) is now mandating BIM be used in its new buildings.

To read TFM’s coverage of this topic in the November 2006 issue, see “Building Information Modeling” by Tom Condon.

An article written by Michael Hardy for Federal Computer Week yesterday began:

The General Services Administration has mandated that new buildings designed through its Public Buildings Service use building information modeling in the design stage.

BIM is an emerging technology that involves creating a structure as a 3-D virtual model and linking it with data. GSA’s mandate covers the design phase, but advocates of the technology say it has far-ranging potential for use in ongoing facility management.

“We are making this fiscal ’07 requirement as a minimum requirement,” said Calvin Kam, GSA’s BIM project manager. “We are encouraging [people], project by project, to go over and above the minimum.”

The 3-D design is the most visible and striking aspect of BIM, but it is only one manifestation, Kam said. By connecting the spatial representation to data, agency officials can quickly calculate a building’s heating costs or see where design elements don’t correctly fit together.

“Were we add the most value is working with customers to leverage the data they already have,” said Juliana Slye, director of government solutions in the infrastructure solutions division at Autodesk, a BIM vendor.

GSA is just dipping its toe into the water, said Deke Smith, chairman of the National BIM Standard Project Committee.

“Where they’re now requiring BIM is on space planning,” Smith said. “It’s only a piece of what BIM could be, even for a new building. It’s a very small first step. The long-range benefits are just huge.”

GSA’s Office of the Chief Architect began working with BIM in 2003 and has completed 10 pilot projects, with 25 more under way, said Charles Matta, director of the Center for Federal Buildings and Modernizations.

Technology has become increasingly important as GSA’s workforce has shrunk from more than 40,000 to about 12,500, Matta said. “When an [architect or engineering firm] brings in a design and says ‘Yes, it does have the efficiencies we require,’ we don’t have the means to go into their documents and confirm,” he said. “We don’t have the resources and staffing to do so. When they present a model to us, it’s easy.”

Read the rest of the article here…

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