The Idealization of an Integrated BIM, Lean, and Green Model (BLG)

The Idealization of an Integrated BIM, Lean, and Green Model (BLG)

José L. Fernández-Solís (Texas A&M University, USA) and Iván Mutis (Texas A&M University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-928-1.ch014
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Idealization, “a very high level view,” is defined here as looking at the possibilities of integrating Green socially responsible requirements with Lean principles of construction practices with well-developed Unifying Models, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM). BIM, Lean, and Green (BLG) will allow a rapid prototyping of design and construction, the integration of drawings, specifications, and manufacturing in a Green best practice ambient that employs benchmarked Lean principles. This chapter explains our propositions on Green as a concept that gives direction on what to do right (effectiveness), on Lean that captures how to do it right (efficiently), and on BIM as an enabling platform that will facilitate the implementation of this effort. The integration of this concept addresses the quest for economically viable construction projects with the purpose of finding the best optimum performance. We consider the design as a theory, the project as an experiment, and the resulting products as a test that validates the theory. BLG allows for multiple executions of a theory to find the best option, and then test it against the final product. This chapter contributes to the body of knowledge but does not cover all aspects of the subject.
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1. Introduction

According to Garcia-Bacca (1963, 1989), one invention does not necessitate the next logical invention; that is, inventions and creativity are not predestined (Mitcham, 1994). However, the fact remains that past inventions, innovations and technologies created the current background of tools, knowledge and practices in the construction industry. In particular, the advent of Computer Aided Design (CAD), first in two dimensions, then three dimensions, and now in nth dimension axiomatic design (Suh, 2001) capabilities has improved design aspects (Fowler, 2003; Iansiti, 1995). If Garcia-Bacca is correct, Building Information Modeling (BIM), defined as: 3D, object-oriented, Architect-Engineer-Contractor (AEC) specific CAD (Tang and Ogunlana, 2003), or Building Product Modeling (Eastman, 1999; Eastman et al., 2008), and now BIM-Lean-Green (BLG), are not predestined from CAD by necessity but by human intentionality.

The construction industry’s needs are different than they used to be and require tracking an ever increasing number of parameters in a robust platform that can interoperate among multiple actors such as suppliers, vendors and the entire organization of a construction firm. The industry has focused its attention on Unifying Models that are rich in parameters to supply its needs. The unifying models prescribe product design and performance requirements (Foliente, 2000) through parameters, a concept known as Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the industry. BIM is a well-developed Unifying Model that can be understood as a model developed to support interoperability, which is the sharing, exchanging, and integration of information among project stakeholders and possibly during the entire project lifecycle in a collaborative fashion (Mutis 2007a). BIM unifies within a single model the information that is going to be shared, exchanged, and integrated among stakeholders from the design to the commissioning. Functions of the Unifying Model can be extended to facility management of the project.

The problems of interoperability remain significant at this point in time and is therefore an issue that cannot be brushed aside or minimized. Gallaher et al. (2004) in the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Report to the U.S. Department of Commerce estimated that approximately $15.8 billion (US Dollars) in annual interoperability costs were quantified for the capital facilities industry. Respondents also indicated that significant inefficiency and lost opportunity costs exist but were beyond the scope of the NIST report. The International building SMART efforts, processor of the International Alliance for Interoperability, are part of an IT culture dedicated to the interoperability problems and issues. European interoperability experts generated a STANDINN report and developed a handbook on interoperability between BIM and Green. Part of the problem is the rooting of platforms that do not have an open architecture. An open object format that can support the industry, such as an open architecture that allows Life Cycle inventory data to support sustainability and the proper measurement of embodied energy in accurate 3D representations with rich data describing key physical, performance and commercial properties, is relevant to the idealization of BIM, Lean and Green.

Multiple benefits have been attributed to BIM such as early and more accurate visualizations (Forsberg et al., 1996), lower levels of design corrections, earlier collaborations with other disciplines, energy efficiency, and sustainability evaluations (Eastman, 1999; Eastman et al., 2008; Krygiel et al., 2008; Kymmell, 2008), among others. The model captures however, only some aspects of design, materials, and few of the construction processes (Slaughter, 1993, 1998, 2000). Although BIM methods have motivated architects, owners, engineers, and other construction project actors to evaluate the traditional methods of working with architectural designs (drawings and specifications) and contractors’ tools (estimating, scheduling project management, cost controls and tracking requests for information change orders), the industry must be aware of the limitations of the unifying models. BIM is trying to redress the current lack of collaboration between planning, design, construction and operations with sustainment practices and inefficient construction processes due in large part to the systemic nature of the industry (Fernández-Solís 2008).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Chaos: The effect whereby minor deficiencies or miniscule changes occurring in any phase of the project, but particularly in the beginning of a process, create significantly different outcomes. See Bertelsen, Gleick, Lewin, Lorenz, Scott, Thiétart and Waldrop.

Idealization: The process of looking at possibilities before the considerations of probability and actualization are investigated. Ideation is based on heuristics and the theories of Garcia-Bacca that one invention does not necessarily pre-determine the next. Ideation looks at what the next invention may look like based on the integration of disparate disciplines based on scenario playing. See Gunderson.

Heuristics: The theory that all is heuristics or rules of thumb; based on Heidegger’s notions and the Popperian principle of three worlds where we as a subjective world only know the world of reality through the world of symbols. See Heidegger, Koen and Popper.

Unifying Model: BIM platforms have evolved from the evolution of two, three and multiple dimensions with parametric object-oriented information. However, this platform is now required to adapt an open architecture where other disciplines and areas of interest can be integrated in a resultant unifying model. The Unifying Model proposed has economic, accounting, design, constructability and maintenance characteristics that are driven by green sustainability performance requirements and lean principles of project delivery. See Lean Construction and Mutis.

Sustainability: There are multiple interpretations of sustainability. In this chapter sustainability is defined as the force that tames an exponential growth that is not sustainable. The exponential growth is composed of one resultant force which translates in a simple algorithm but actually is much more complex, as it is composed of multiple forces vectorial in nature that conspire to create the resultant exponential unsustainable growth. Therefore if this unsustainable force must be tamed, it can only be done by re-aligning the multiple forces that create it. These forces need to meet one or preferably two requirements: whatever we do has to be scalable, that is, be able to be done in very large numbers without detriment to the environment and depleting resources and second, it has to be able to be carried out for a long time horizon. See Fernández-Solís dissertation, based on Garcia-Bacca.

Meta-Systems: A system of systems. The construction industry, because of the variability and number of suppliers and providers is akin to a meta-system more than are other industries, such as automobile and aircraft where suppliers and providers are more integrated into a system of production. See Palmer and Fernández-Solís.

BLG (BIM, Lean and Green): The conscious and elaborate integration of BIM, Lean and Green into a Unifying Model that provides visualization of a project throughout all of its phases. See Mutis, and Fernández-Solís.

Efficiency: The secondary quest for finding how to do a thing right, better, faster, cheaper; a quantitative issue that is scientific in nature answering the when, where, how and by whom a process or product takes place. See Emerson and Fernández-Solís.

Local Optimum (of a project): Construction project performance comparisons are difficult, if not impossible, due to the complex and innate nature of construction that has multiple variables in a dynamic setting. In this sense there is no project type optimum. However, a project’s own local optimum and chaotic conditions at the start may have major effects on the local optimum. A scientific way of finding the project local optimum is to have a model that rapidly prototypes different versions and issues a comparative report for a decision support system, what BLG aims to provide. See Fernández-Solís.

Systemic Thinking: The concept applied to construction by the Lean Construction movement where optimizing a part or a process is done at the expense of the whole. Therefore we need to optimize the whole so that a continuous flow is achieved with value creation as its landmark and objective. All transformations are analyzed from the whole rather than the part. Systemic Thinking accepts the meta-systemic theory and searches for a local optimum in value generation. See Lean Construction and Meta-systems.

Lean Construction: An alternative to traditional construction methods with the aim of minimizing waste (embedded in all processes and products) and maximizing value to the owner (understood as the value of final product) (nCRISP 2004). Lean Construction re-conceptualizes construction processes and products with techniques borrowed from the manufacturing industry, especially systemic thinking for maximizing the whole rather than maximizing the parts of a process. See Alarcón, Ballard, Bertelsen, Coventry, Howell, and Koskela.

Visualization: The process of translating typical design documents, drawings and specifications into the Unifying Model that allows a smart cockpit view of the process in detail and as a whole, according to the needs of the inquiring party. A virtual reality of all the phases, systems and subsystems, and processes for the project, with real data and in an information rich context. See Mutis.

Effectiveness: The primary quest for finding what is the right thing to do; a qualitative issue that is philosophical in nature answering the why within the context of the benefit to the whole. See Fernández-Solís.

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