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Building Information Model Techology: Enabling the transition from facilities management to recapitalization planning

15 June 2007

This article is reprinted from EuroFM Insight Issue 3 - All building owners ask the same questions:
....What is the best investment for my next dollar? Do I put it into people and equipment or the
....What funding level is appropriate to sustain the asset?
....When should I consider recapitalization?
New technologies that automate and integrate facility life-cycle business processes can help building owners, facility managers and planners answer these questions.

The problem: facility life cycle curves
Deterioration is minimal during the early years of a building's life cycle, but eventually, systems and subsystems will need repair or replacement. For the building as a whole, Pareto's Principle generally applies: A facility deteriorates 20 percent during the first 80 percent of its estimated service life, and 80 percent during the last 20 percent of its service life. This bend in the deterioration curve is the "sweet spot" for building owners, since investments made as the facility approaches this point produce the greatest return on investment (ROI). Afterward, there are significant penalty costs. Facility managers who understand risk management will order inspections to track this deterioration and schedule repairs that generate the greatest ROI. The building's condition will continue to deteriorate based on the level of sustainment dollars invested.

Over time, the facility also will become functionally obsolete, no matter what the investment in sustainment. The purpose or mission of the building occupants may change. Building codes will change, and there will be new regulations concerning health and safety, environmental compliance, energy efficiency, water conservation, security, and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access.

While changes in function are not necessarily predictable, they are more likely to increase incrementally rather than decrease. These new requirements, including achievement of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) rating goals, must be included in the scope of any recapitalization or replacement project. Restoration addresses concerns about condition, while modernization addresses concerns about functionality and obsolescence. The goal is to ensure that the resulting facility meets the intended requirement at the least lifecycle cost.

Ideally, facility managers and planners should collaborate during the transition from sustainment toward capital planning for facility replacement. But such collaboration does not always occur. Traditionally, facility managers focus on condition, investing funds at the proper time for maintenance, repair and minor alterations; planners are more concerned with functionality, evaluating whether a facility still meets users' requirements.

During this transition, facility managers and planners need to share information about a facility's condition, functionality, performance and importance to the organization's mission-information often lost from one phase of the facility life cycle to the next. As a result, facility data often must be recreated-at a cost of $15 billion annually, according to the National Institute for Standards and Technology.*

Much effort is wasted if facility managers and planners fail to collaborate. For example:
....A planner without access to condition data collected by the facility manager during the years may unknowingly recollect condition information.
....If a project begins as a simple restoration, the facility manager may bypass the planner altogether. But if the project evolves because of new code and regulatory requirements-and the judgment is made to recapitalize the facility in a few yearsdecision making must start over from scratch, since certain sustainment investments can be curtailed in the meantime, and capital planning will be required.

The solution: BIM-enabling applications
An integrated system for facilities management would help facility managers, planners and others better manage facility life cycles. BIM technology can serve as the integrating platform that captures information from the beginning to the end of a facility's life cycle, including that critical transition period from sustainment to recapitalization planning.

....Is the virtual representation of a facility in an electronic format, which captures and retains all facility information, such as graphics, tabular data, and images, in an object model.
....Allows data created or updated with an application in one phase of the facility life cycle to be shared across all phases of the facility life cycle.
....Provides a common database for applications that automate business processes.

Because object model data can be used interactively with all other BIM data and applications, users can:
....Check both the design model and the as-built model against the owner's changing requirements
(e.g., utilization, code changes, and legal and environmental regulations).
....Rapidly and cost-effectively simulate alternative designs, which consider durability, maintainability and energy efficiency of selected materials and equipment, to identify the lowest total ownership cost.
....Automatically produce materials breakouts, cost estimates and workshop drawings directly from the BIM model, which ensures that the model continuously reflects the as-built condition.
....Perform spatial navigation, which allows facility managers to retrieve information, such as warranties, quickly.
....Use inventory data in the BIM for Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) applications.
....Perform graphical analysis of the building's current and predicted performance-condition and functionality-during its life cycle. This helps decision makers determine the annual sustainment budget, when to recapitalize the facility and the financial consequences of any delays.

Recent achievements in advancing BIM technology
Because data collection is the most expensive aspect of creating the BIM model, it is most cost-effective to begin developing the BIM during the planning phase and then build upon the model in subsequent phases of the facility life cycle. This ensures that data is entered once and leveraged completely.

Ultimately, the BIM should become the sole reference point for all applications and business processes throughout the facility life cycle. However, the vast majority of existing buildings were designed and constructed before BIM technology or even CADD existed. Therefore, the BIM must be built up throughout time during the sustainment phase as the requirement for a virtual model evolves.

As sustainment projects are initiated, and a facility progresses through its life cycle, facility managers and others will continue to add data to the BIM. For example, when the chiller is replaced, it makes sense to add HVAC information into the BIM. As the BIM develops further, and becomes an even richer information model, facility managers will be able to use the BIM for making even better operations and maintenance (O&M) decisions. The as is BIM likely will be completed during recapitalization planning.

BIM technology for the sustainment, or O&M, phase of the facility life cycle
For the sustainment phase, the Construction Engineering Research Lab (CERL) of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the federal government's research and development laboratory for facilities, has developed the Sustainment Management System (SMS) methodology, previously known as the Engineered Management System (EMS), to assess the condition of existing facilities.

The SMS methodology differs from the Facility Condition Index (FCI) deficiencybased approach defined in ASTM E 2018-01. The SMS is a distressed-based approach that asks an inspector to report on the type, severity and density-extent or quantity-of observed distresses. Some examples of CERL's SMS applications include PAVER for pavements, ROOFER for roofs and RAILER for tracks.

CERL's BUILDER SMS for buildings helps users make better sustainment, restoration and modernization decisions. BUILDER 3.0 applies deduct values to the inventory of facility systems, subsystems and components (and lifecycle attributes such as age) to predict condition for each component. Based on input from an inspection, BUILDER uses knowledgebased algorithms to generate a Condition Index (CI) on a scale of 100 to 0: 100 to 70 is adequate, 70 to 40 is degraded and 40 to 0 is poor or failed. The recorded condition will fall on a deterioration curve with the sweet spot at 70, in this case.

The SMS approach is advantageous because it is objective and repeatable; plus, an inspector is not asked to identify corrective measures or rate criticality. The condition can be predicted, so inspections can be scheduled only for components approaching an unacceptable condition, not for every component every three to five years. As a result, this approach saves inspection costs.

In addition to generating a CI, BUILDER 3.0 also generates a Functionality Index (FI) using the same knowledge-based methodology but applied to functionalobsolescence issues for 28 building-area types. The combined CI and FI provide an overall building Performance Index, which helps prioritize investments when there is a large portfolio of assets. BUILDER, in conjunction with IMPACT, a simulation engine, identifies projects that should be performed to minimize penalty costs, and the impact of various funding levels on building performance.

Facility managers use BUILDER to assess condition and make sustainment investment decisions. Planners use BUILDER to assess functionality, and thus reuse condition data. Information about both condition and functionality can be used to make decisions when transitioning from O&M to recapitalization. Users can get BUILDER software, training and support from the Technical Assistance Center at the University of Illinois at U r b a n a - C h a m p a i g n (

Another EMS application is MACTEC/ NexDSS's Vertex (, which uses deterioration curves to identify which investments generate the highest return on investment. In 2005, the U.S. Navy contracted with MACTEC to use Vertex to assess the condition of its entire inventory of shore installations.

BIM technology for the planning phase of the facility life cycle
Facility Composer is a suite of facility modeling tools for documenting detailed facility requirements during the planning phase for a new or replacement facility. By accessing libraries of standard facilities, or the model of an existing building, planners can use this application to rapidly create an initial BIM model for the recapitalized project. Currently under further development by CERL, Facility Composer can be used to document the results of a planning charrette, or determine requirements for people and equipment, organizational functions and tasks, security, building codes, or energy and environmental efficiencies before project funding is sought.

Facility Composer, software tutorials, a user manual and training materials are available through ERDC's Facility Composer Web site (

Telligent's Affinity application (, a commercial product addressing requirements identification and early design, is based on many of the same concepts as Facility Composer.

BIM technology for the design and construction phase of the facility life cycle Great strides have been made in advancing BIM technology for the design and construction phase. Software developers already provide a wide variety of commercial, off-theshelf (COTS) products and continue to develop applications. The three dominant products are Autodesk's Revit, Bentley's MicroStation TriForma and Graphisoft's Archicad.

Enhancing BIM-enabled applications
A BIM provides the building inventory and integrating platform for various applications during the entire facility life cycle. These applications, and others under development, will create data for the model and use data from the model to help facility managers, planners and others make better decisions about the life cycle of a facility.

While development work still remains for some of the BIM-enabling tools mentioned here, the U.S. government, as well as other public and private organizations, share the same vision for a BIMcentric integrated facilities management information system, which can break down the stovepipes so common among those involved in managing facility life cycles. Once this vision is achieved, users finally will have a decision support system so they can sustain their real property inventory at the least life-cycle cost. FMJ

* Gallaher, Michael P., et al. Cost Analysis of Inadequate Interoperability in the U.S. Capital Facilities Industry.
National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., August 2004.

About the Authors:
J. Robert Carlsen is project director, enterprise information management, for Woolpert, Inc. Carlsen, who served for 33 years with the Department of Defense, was associate director for facilities planning and integration at Headquarters, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, where he implemented policies reflecting best business practices and developed IT solutions. He also has served as the U.S. representative to the NATO Infrastructure Committee and the Senior Resource Board, responsible for capital investment and O&M of NATO installations and command and control systems.

Harry Singh is project director, facilities management and assessments, for Woolpert, Inc. He provides clients with decision support systems for facilities life-cycle management, total cost of ownership models, and facility condition assessments. Previously Singh served as a director in the Facilities Sustainment Division, Navy's Public Works Directorate, Headquarters, Naval Facilities Engineering Command. During his 25-year Navy career, Singh was the highest technical and professional authority for preventive and predictive sustainment, restoration, and modernization (SRM) of facilities and provided advisory services for business process engineering, facility planning, engineering design, commissioning, and new technology issues.

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