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On 12th September 2017, CIBSE launched the brand new Society of Digital Engineering (SDE). The society has been formed to provide a community for accreditation, training and career advancement for engineers working digitally across building services. It draws together all players within the supply chain, including designers, contractors, manufacturers, clients, facility managers and software vendors. IES has partnered with CIBSE in a number of capacities over the years, with members of our team serving on the CIBSE BIM Steering Committee and Building Simulation Group. We were proud to be amongst the group of Launch Partners who lent their support in bringing the new society to fruition.

In a recent blog, we addressed some of the challenges (and unfair criticisms) faced by energy modellers today and highlighted the need for further education and in-depth, industry wide accreditation to promote enhanced digital engineering practices that can help eliminate the ‘performance gap’. The formation of the SDE is an important step towards realising these goals, with specialist online courses and knowledge sharing resources designed specifically for those engaged in all aspects of BIM and digital engineering.

Prior to the formation of the SDE, there has been no obvious group or society which brings together all aspects of digital engineering under the one umbrella. The society will provide a forum through which specialists in digital engineering technologies and practices can join together with like-minded peers, while simultaneously offering recognised professional progression through the SDE Associate, Member or Fellow grades. In an industry where digitalisation is ever on the rise, it is important to see that practitioners will be commended for their specialised expertise at a professionally recognised level. The SDE will also provide a new route towards attaining MCIBSE and EC Registration.

CIBSE are currently offering Affiliate grade SDE membership to existing CIBSE members free of charge, with an introductory membership rate also available to non-CIBSE members, up until 31st December 2017.

For further information on the SDE and how you can join visit: http://www.cibse.org/Society-of-Digital-Engineering-SDE


In a recent interview with Leah Wimpenny of BIM Journal, IES’ Sarah Graham shared her latest thoughts and insight on the various shortcomings, strategies and approaches to BIM. Read on to see what she had to say…

Sarah Graham (Head of Global VE Sales) works for IES, a world leader in 3D performance analysis software used to design tens of thousands of energy efficient buildings across the globe. The technology IES uses is helping to create sustainable cities and is leading the way with its BIM4Analysis solutions.

Her expertise lies in the areas of BIM and the positive impact it can have on a design process, low energy efficiency, collaborative working, sustainable design, assessment and energy management. She provides her clients with expert knowledge and advice, specialist modelling and simulation on a diverse range of projects including archive buildings, schools, offices, hotels and leisure facilities.

Regarding the present BIM landscape, what do you feel are some of the shortcomings of traditional, closed BIM, and do you feel that a more open, transparent and collaborative approach based on open standards and workflows can resolve some of these concerns?

Many practitioners consider BIM to be a tool, an application, when in fact BIM refers to an environment within which various tools and processes are applied. It has been easier for organizations to invest in technology to ‘do BIM’ than to affect the sort of organizational change that true BIM exploitation requires.

Is there sufficient understanding, appetite and momentum within the industry for the scale of change required to fully exploit BIM? There is a mandate but few construction clients who understand their role in setting out their Information Requirements (EIR) in a BIM brief at the start of the project and are led by the industry and their suppliers into paying more for 3D models that are of very little value downstream, particularly from an FM perspective. What we see is ‘new’ technology shoehorned into existing process and that is the fundamental issue currently causing frustration amongst our customers.

A more open, transparent and collaborative approach based on open standards and workflows can certainly resolve some of these concerns, and it is something we’ve been pushing for some time now with our BIM4Analysis educational campaign. BIM4Analysis is a campaign designed to integrate analysis within the BIM process, this enables practitioners to take advantage of valuable information during design, commissioning and operation. The strategy is concerned with implementing BIM as a mechanism to deliver Value, Cost and Carbon Improvement on all projects.

What benefits can see you a transparent and collaborative workflow, with a common language and translation, bringing to construction projects, both in comparison to those already utilizing BIM and also those which are perhaps not.

The Holy Grail is a single workflow. From an engineering perspective this means engineers inputting information into a 3D model format to inform coordination. When the coordinated layout changes, the update is seamless and bi-directional, there is currently no robust solution on the market to facilitate this. Engineer’s use a mix of formats including spreadsheets and standalone analysis and some integrated analysis (eg MagiCAD).

At IES we consider the VE as a single platform for creation and capture of performance data useable and useful during design, commissioning and operational life of the building. Compliance (Part L, BREEAM, LEED) is a necessity on most projects. Currently this requires a separate workflow to Design. Our solution is to develop a single analysis model from the BIM model at the appropriate stages of the project and to run the calculations from that one ‘analysis’ model, thus ensuring that the designers are using the most up to date information.

When the design changes, the BIM model is again imported with the relevant data and the various calculations are run again with results sent back to the BIM models. When the project is set up for collaboration and the process is understood it becomes easier.

What limitations or challenges might you also see stemming from collaborative workflow, and can you see this means of working being one to stunt creativity and relationship development, or perhaps complement it in the alternative means of working, with clear controls over personal design data?

I think the benefits far outweigh the limitations, elsewhere we see exponential advantages when technology enables connection of different applications. Collaboration between project stakeholders facilitated by technology within a framework where roles, responsibilities and timescales are transparent is where we should already be.

How do you see openBIM altering the landscape with relevance to small and medium enterprises, the alteration or boundaries to entry, and potentially increased competition from smaller software vendors and the impacts of this on those already-established core brands?

Open BIM creating competition is healthy. Smaller firms can be more agile to respond quickly to market demands, accelerating change. Tech will move forward apace as we see in other walks of life. It’s the people and process change that takes time.

At which points of the project lifespan do you see the primary effects, be they negative or positive, of openBIM on any given project? This could include anything from initial concepts and plans all the way through to the asset management and planned renovation of structures in future years.

I think the ability to connect design to operation so that we can continuously improve operation or more intelligently answer questions based on real data from existing buildings is extremely powerful. Operational data to shape business outcomes is also powerful. As we move forward to BIM Level 3 – Digital Built Britain this is the vision: Akin to the concept of ‘wearable technology’ for buildings, cities and organizations, I have the data and I can ask questions which will help to improve performance.

In which areas, be they part of the lifespan or with regard to throughout the supply chain and partners, do you perceive challenges with regard to the implementation of openBIM, and how can you perhaps see these challenges being overcome?

At the moment the resistance is largely down to the fact that processes have not changed, contractual arrangements do not need to fundamentally change for Level 2 but as we move forward to Level 3 the contractual arrangements will have to change because it will force sharing of data. This is where the real transformation needs to happen to the industry. The understanding is that if we can track information right through the design process, construction process and operation, then we are in a better place to make the right decisions to achieve the desired outcomes so it is of benefit to us as individuals and organizations.

What experience have you personally had with openBIM? If this is somewhat limited, could you instead entail experiences with traditional BIM and purvey opinion on how the openBIM approach could have changed, be that positively or negatively, project outcomes or experiences? This could, and perhaps should, include any case studies you have on both notes.

We have been members of BuildingSMART and held a position on the Energy Sub Group for many years, Building SMART are the main proponents of openBIM in the UK and worldwide. As a vendor organization it is essential we stay up to date with what is happening in the market. As mentioned the technology of openBIM is only part of the shift to BIM adoption, people and process needs to change to and this is the most difficult change to effect.

The construction industry is traditionally adversarial, risk averse and the perception is that sharing data, information, which is the central tenet of openBIM is dangerous, opening individuals and organizations up to risk and exposure. This is where we see the current inertia in the uptake, however if we have a situation where the client is educated, understands how to ‘ask for’ what they want and is clear in setting out their requirements then we have a good basis for successful collaboration. On a Level 2 BIM project individuals and organizations can choose what information they want to share, in which format and for what purpose because a framework exists to manage this and there are exchange formats agreed to.

Where there is no framework and no agreement by participants as to what formats should be used, where we are trying to force design tools to talk to one another without adhering to any process, model or level of detail, which is a fairly regular occurrence at the moment, then we see limited benefit on projects. OpenBIM can facilitate collaboration, decision making and mutual success in the correct project environment. The reality is that we are still at the early stages of understanding how this is supposed to work and there are few success stories out there that practitioners can learn from.

How can you see the openBIM approach, methodology and philosophy being adapted in the given years? In which ways might you support this development with any given reasoning and purpose?

We are at the early stages of this phase of evolution of our industry. I think there will be a convergence of the natural progression of technology and greater understanding of the potential benefits. There may also be a bit of a realization that if we don’t move forward and embrace change, whether in the form of openBIM standards/philosophy or more generally, then there is a good chance we will be left behind.

The irony is that we adopt quite an ‘openBIM’ attitude when it comes to our personal data, we use smartphones therefore we are sharing data all the time, but when it comes to sharing data on a project, which arguably belongs to our client, we recoil. I’ve mentioned Digital Built Britain previously, I consider that vision very useful for putting what we are trying to achieve now with openBIM or BIM level 2 into perspective.

There are lots of examples in our everyday lives data is capturing and sharing amplifying the potential benefits. Over the next few years the Internet of things will see the amount of data available increase, everything will be producing data and we as designers will benefit from being able to capture and utilize that information. That is what openBIM is preparing us for.

This article was originally published by BIM Journal on January 11, 2017: http://www.bimjournal.com/digital-construction-news/bim-news/shortcomings-strategies-approaches-bim-sarah-graham


Going-Green (2)Last month I had the pleasure of being involved in the 4th Going Green Conference, which took place in Gauteng from 18-20 October. Hosted by the Green Building Design Group in partnership with the Gauteng province, the organisers aimed to “create a more connected platform for all the various actors in government to engage and to recognise that public assets can be used as a test case and lead by example to the wider country objectives on these policy directives.”

What set this event apart from some of the others I’ve attended was the focus on knowledge sharing and creating a platform for the private sector to share their knowledge with the public sector and with final year university design students from both Architectural and Engineering fields. Click here for an insightful synopsis of the event from Songo Didiza, Executive Director at the Green Building Design Group.

IES have a wealth of practical experience and measurable results from analysis of various buildings across the world. There is a global awareness of the power of data, but we need to further exploit this data to improve our buildings in South Africa. With this in mind, the topic I chose from my presentation was: OMG! Operational data + Modelling = Great Savings.

The presentation focussed on the need to evaluate building performance against design intent, and quantify operational gaps in the same level of detail with which we analyse design in simulation software. To do this, we need to consider the feedback loops that can exist within building lifecycle data, and how this should be managed by BIM processes. Designers can benefit from lessons learnt on previous projects, and the O & M team can benefit by an audit trail of the design intent and records of commissioning procedures and tests for the building they are managing.

At present, buildings are often an untapped data asset. By taking the operational data from buildings and using it to calibrate the operational model, we can generate highly accurate calibrated models, which enable owners and FM’s to analyse planned interventions and evaluate their impact with a high degree of accuracy, to assess viability before commencing work.

Let us consider a single data stream from a building. If we view monthly metred data, we have 12 data points, but if we have data measured every 30 minutes by a smart meter, we have 17520 data points! If we then collect data from several streams, the potential for a clear image for comparative analysis increases, especially where this data is logged effectively, clearly named and well managed.


It is estimated that 80% of cost lies beyond the construction team involvement. For any client with a portfolio of real estate, there are real benefits available from data analysis:

  • Creation of benchmarks, to identify low or high performers and outliers, indicating a need for further investigation of the building fabric and systems, and its operational strategies.
  • Support both better informed design of new buildings, and future strategy for O & M

In my presentation I presented various healthcare examples of where our IES consulting team have assisted with BMS Data Logging and collation on a cloud-based platform, enabling data reviews for:

  • BMS analytics, including tracking and monitoring building performance
  • Independent performance review through auditing the building against its Key Performance Indicators
  • Energy consumption benchmarking Building Simulation was then used to propose suggestions and evaluate their impacts and compliance.

The unique skillset of our consulting team enables our analysis to compare different results and postulate reasons for the differences. For example, we utilised BMS data logging and analytics to evaluate a portfolio of 6 similar healthcare facilities. In reviewing the supply air pressure data for the operating theatres, we identified many opportunities for immediate savings from operational decisions, as shown below.


The technology is available now to deliver projects that incorporate BIM and energy modelling in an integrated design process that extends to building hand-over, commissioning and facilities management. As owners start to demand buildings which operate closer to design predictions, we can start to use operational data to inform dynamic building simulations of improved design and retrofit, and provide enhanced operational models that enable ongoing monitoring of performance and great savings.

If you want to find out how more about how operational data + modelling = great savings, drop me an email and I can provide you with more information about my presentation. I have no doubt that the 5th Going Green Conference will be even better and I look forward to being involved in more knowledge sharing again next year.

H&V Awards 2016

We are delighted to announce that last night IES received a coveted H&V News Award in the ‘BIM Initiative of the Year’ category. The award was in recognition of our ongoing BIM4Analysis Campaign for best example of promoting, educating or implementing Building Information Modelling within the industry.

The results of the H&V News Awards were revealed at the esteemed Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London, where 1100 of the HVAC industry elite came together for a night of recognition and celebration of the sector’s achievements. With 22 targeted categories, the awards cover every aspect of the HVAC and building services industry, from Air Movement Product of the Year to Renewable Project of the Year.

With the UK Government mandate for BIM Level 2 deadline fast approaching, we felt it was essential to educate and engage the industry on the important role performance analysis has to play in the BIM process. Our educational BIM4Analysis campaign, launched in January 2015, seeks to show the industry how performance metrics can be integrated within the BIM process, throughout design, commission and operation, in order to deliver value, cost and carbon improvement on all projects.

To date the campaign has involved a series of educational events in which we have looked closely at the BIM enabled analysis workflow and the benefits it can offer projects using real case study examples from VE users including HLM Architects and CBG Consultants. We also created informative online and print content which was disseminated to the industry at exhibitions such as Ecobuild, and through respected publications such as CIBSE Journal, Construction Manager and MBS. As part of the campaign our experts have also given talks at high profile events such as Build4Quality, Digital Construction Week and we also sponsored BIM Prospects 2015.

Our next educational IES Faculty event, Big Data in Building Services, will take place in London on Wednesday 27th April. During the session, our speakers will be looking at how the huge amounts of data created by BIM can be used to optimise building performance. You can register for the event here.

To find out more about the campaign visit our BIM4Analysis page, view the flyer or watch recordings from previous BIM4Analysis events on our YouTube playlist.

Do you know what BIG DATA is? You must have heard of it? The exponential growth in the volume, velocity and variety of data generated each second and the corresponding increase in processing power, algorithms and databases which have developed side by side. These databases are used to collate, store, analyse and leverage insights from the multitude of data lakes, warehouses and ecosystems which we are discovering every day. Many industries such as financial services, aerospace, health, biotech and manufacturing have benefitted from applying big data tools and techniques but it has been slow to permeate building services, design and operation.

Buildings generate more data than you might think? We started with simple monthly energy and gas bills. Now we can get sub-metered data on a half hourly basis for electricity, gas, heat and water. Not to mention the thousands of BMS points you find in a typical building, each generating and storing data every minute. Layer on top of this, occupancy and climate data, indoor air quality data, data from connected devices and you get a rich, granular, high velocity, voluminous and varied data set being dumped in your Amazon database each night. The question is what do we do with it?

Using operational data to inform the design and optimisation of our buildings hasn’t been the traditional approach used by designers and engineers. We now have the tools to be able to link accurate building performance models to real data. Leveraging these enhanced operational models is a superior way of not just designing with the end performance in mind, but also to better manage existing assets. By integrating this capability into our Virtual Environment (VE) software, IES are enabling and empowering users to put to good use the new wave of big data being generated by our buildings and cities and combine this with our core building physics and building services applications.

IES are running a free faculty event. ‘Intelligent Big Data in Building Services’ will be held in London on the morning of 27th April. You can register for the event here.

My colleague Dan Tuohy and I will be sharing our thoughts on using big data in the built environment and how, at different stages of the building lifecycle, that data can be put to best use.

I’m also excited to announce a special guest speaker. Thomas Bouriot, from TFT Concultants will be sharing his insight from the client’s perspective and how buiding owners/users’ needs can be met by leveraging and combining real data with building performance modelling tools.

The Power of Outstanding Collaboration

Posted: April 6, 2016 by , Category:Big Data

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When it comes to getting the most out of your data, collaboration is the key.

Nowadays there is masses of data available at every stage of the building lifecycle. And nowhere more so than at operation. The increasing volume, variety & velocity of data available presents its own organisational and analysis challenges. As does getting hold of and storing that data in the first place. However, what’s clear is that in order to derive value from operational data building owners, controls companies, BMS operators and specialist consultants need to come together and work in collaboration.

New trends in technology are making it increasingly cost effective to instrument and collect data about the operations and energy usage of buildings. So much so that we are now awash in data and the new problem is how to make sense of it. Today most operational data has poor semantic modelling and requires a manual, labour intensive process to “map” the data before value creation can begin. Pragmatic use of naming conventions and taxonomies can make it more cost effective to analyse, visualize, and derive value from our operational data. Data collected from operational sites can also be used to feedback into new design and ‘seed’ the design process from a grass roots level, leading to better designs, and better buildings!

Now I’ve spoken about our work for John Lewis in York on 2degrees before. However, last month, along with Lateral Technologies and Next Controls, we scooped the CIBSE Building Performance Award for Collaborative Working Partnership, for this very project.

Using IES SCAN technology, Lateral Technologies worked with IES Consultants to collect data directly from BMS systems and calibrate it with the design model to show any gaps in terms of predicted and actual performance and help deliver a soft landing. The controls company, Next Control Systems, were responsible for extracting the data from the BMS system to share with IES and Lateral Technologies.

Together this team helped John Lewis to create its most sustainable store to date and achieve a reduction of 43.8% in absolute carbon emissions compared to the benchmark, equating to 13.8% further savings than the original expectations of 30%.

CIBSE have published an article with more information on the project which you can read here and you can also read more in our John Lewis, York case study.

For me this is an excellent example of how collaboration can help facilitate Data Driven Design. Data Driven Design is a term we’re using to describe this cost effective approach to analyse, visualise, and derive value from operational data. By incorporating this approach into an integrated (BIM) design process it is possible to understand better the difference between performance models created solely for Part L compliance and how a building actually operates in real life.


A report by the Green Construction Board from 2013 explains the cause of the gap between predicted and actual energy use as down to the following headline issues:

  • Predicted energy use that is based solely on energy use regulated by Part L of the Building Regulations;
  • Energy modelling that does not simulate the occupied building with all its vagaries of operation, control and patterns of use;
  • Construction that does not carry-through design intent
  • Commissioning that is not carried out adequately and which may often require a seasonal approach;
  • Operation, management and occupant use that has a significant impact on actual energy consumption.



The Performance Gap: Causes & Solutions (Green Construction Board Buildings Working Group)

So in conclusion, the power of outstanding collaboration comes from not only collaboration between design/operation team partners to effectively use data, but also integration across the different stages of a buildings lifecycle.


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