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Midcity-Place-Model

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

 

Energy-Model

With a new year upon us, exciting times are ahead as we announce that IES will be sponsoring the Practitioner Modeling Competition which is being organized by the IBPSA-USA San Francisco Bay Area Chapter as part of Building Simulation 2017! The challenge, which is open to individual practitioners or teams, provides a competitive forum for non-student members of the building simulation community and aims to encourage wider participation in the conference.

This year’s competition requires entrants to use computer simulation to design and test a laboratory building with mixed uses including labs, offices and classroom spaces located in downtown San Francisco, CA, USA. You can download the competition brief here to find out more.

Not only will the winning entrant have the opportunity to showcase their submission at the Building Simulation conference, due to take place in San Francisco between 7-9 August 2017, we are pleased to confirm that the winning entry will also receive a cash prize of USD $1,500, courtesy of IES!

If you feel like giving it a go, interested candidates are invited to register before the deadline on 6th February 2017, with completed entries then due by 31st March 2017.

So, good luck to all you prospective entrants – we look forward to seeing the winning entry at BS2017 in August!

Glasgow Future City

Posted: February 21, 2014 by , Category:Research & Development, Smart City

glasgow-future-cities

There’s no doubt 2014 is going to be a big year for Glasgow; the Commonwealth Games, the MTV Europe Awards, the Ryder Cup and the Independence Referendum.

But 2014 is also the year that Glasgow gets ‘smart’…

At the start of 2013, Glasgow City Council won the Future Cities Demonstrator competition, securing a £24 million fund from the Technology Strategy Board to spend on projects and technologies to help “make life in Glasgow smarter, safer and more sustainable”. With the IES headquarters based in Glasgow, we were keen to be involved in this Future City project.

IES is now working with Glasgow City Council to develop an online system which will enable citizens to evaluate the energy efficiency of their dwellings and get recommendations of possible improvements, including retrofit solutions, renewables and other energy conservation measures.

We will develop a 3D web portal that will allow users to view the city’s energy performance at both district and building level. A mobile app will also be created for building and home owners to understand their energy use, examine simple energy conservation measures to help them reduce their consumption and provide them with potential retrofit solutions that will be applicable to their buildings.

The app will act as a gateway between users and technology suppliers and will ultimately facilitate city-scale assessments of energy use. The importance of providing a means to conduct the latter cannot be overstated, in terms of the associated potential economic and environmental benefits for Glasgow.

This is an exciting project for IES and Glasgow, and one that continues to move the focus from the building to the city. You can visit the R & D section of our website to find out about our other research projects that are exploring how cities can operate intelligently; in order to benefit its inhabitants and our environment.

2014 – let’s make it a smart one.

Star of Building Science

Posted: August 23, 2013 by , Category:Green Building, Sustainability

don-building-science-star1

This week our Founder and Managing Director, Don McLean was announced as one of fourteen nominations for Building4Change’s Stars of Building Science Awards.

So what makes a Star of Building Science? Well according to Building4Change, it’s somebody who is promoting the very best in building science to improve the quality, sustainability and resilience of the built environment, and ultimately to make people’s lives better. Needless to say, we think Don fits the bill…

Don founded IES in 1994 and since then has grown it into a successful business and research base, providing innovative performance analysis technologies at the cutting edge of building science. Don’s passion for sustainable building analysis and his vision for creating better performing buildings and cities that consume less energy has been the key to his success.

Pre-IES building performance technology was too complex to use and remained in the hands of academics making very little impact on mainstream commercial design. Recognising this, Don saw this opportunity and in the late 1990’s released the first major commercial version of the Virtual Environment software suite.

Since then Don has invested heavily in Research and Development, constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved in building performance analysis and promoting integrated working partnerships between all those involved in building design to create more sustainable buildings and

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cities.

If, like us, you believe that Don should be recognised as a star of Building Science, then you can vote by emailing your selected nominee to Building4change@bre.co.uk. Voting will remain open for six more weeks, when they will announce the list of the top scorers, who together will form a virtual academy of scientific excellence.

Electric meterAs Lord Kelvin said “if you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.”

Being based on the Kelvin Campus in the beautiful West of Scotland Science Park through which runs the River Kelvin this always seems like an appropriate quote to use, especially as IES specializes in building analytics…

We’re currently in the process of undertaking independent research with a company called Opinium into the systems, services and software that organizations use to monitor and optimize energy consumption in their buildings, with a view to helping bridge the performance gap between design and operation. As such, we’re keen to speak to people on the front line – energy and facilities managers struggling with data overload and measurement of return on investment on refurbishments and energy saving measures – in return you’ll get a summary of the research findings which will include:

  • An overview of the market structure for BEMS software and technology for monitoring, analysis and optimization of energy data.
  • Summary of the market outlook and trends observed and anticipated by users.

Interviews shouldn’t take more than 10minutes.

But why I hear you ask?

Our research and development department, in conjunction with Europe wide project partners, has been looking over the last few years at advancing smart building technology to bring around a new era in energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction during operation. Looking at how new-generation smart solutions can provide dashboards, algorithms and other tools for interpreting building data, identifying anomalous data, pinpointing causes and even addressing some issues remotely.

The aim is to enable the use of our powerful analytics software for design performance simulation during operation, in conjunction with data from BMS and other sensors/controls. We’re already able to link a lot of this up in beta software and are further exploring the development of this technology through select special consulting projects.

As such we recognize that we potentially have a very powerful solution to the problem of design intent not matching up to actual as-built performance, as well as a way to manage operational drift and refurbishment / energy conservation strategies.

However, we really want to understand things from your point of view – so if you want to have your say on optimizing energy consumption in buildings please contact me for a 10min phone conversation. We can schedule them to take place at a time convenient to you. Get in contact by dropping me an email: edwina.cramp@iesve.com

So as with every release our expert team of software development, QA, and Support guys have been working extremely hard to bring you a whole host of new features that will sweep you off your feet. There’s a small difference with this year’s release though… it’s been created especially for you, our loyal customers!

We’ve taken your feedback on board over the last year and we’ve focused on refining our core applications to build upon the power and flexibility of the VE for delivering resource efficient, low-energy buildings. We understand how important it is to have competitive advantage, so with this in mind we’ve introduced a series of new exciting improvements and time saving, enhanced reporting features across our core modules.

The core applications that we’ve enhanced include, ApacheSim, MacroFlo, VE-Gaia, ModelIt, ApacheHVAC and our VE-Navigator for ASHRAE 90.1 (LEED Energy). For a more detailed list of all the new features take a look at our VE2013 New Features document.

And as usual you can download the new version from our Download Centre. If you need any assistance, don’t be shy – email keys@iesve.com for help with your licence keys or its support@iesve.com for technical help. Happy downloading!

P.S For those of you waiting on our new VE-Navigator for LEED 2009, the beta version is now available for testing. Info on this is also available in the new features document (linked to above). If you’d like to trial this version, click HERE to drop us a line.

scotland_america_flagScotland has given the world many things – the telephone, the television, Scotch whisky, Irn Bru, tartan, and of course; Integrated Environmental Solutions. Our CEO Don will be flying the Scottish flag this week as he has been invited to New York to participate in a panel debate on sustainable cities with the American-Scottish Foundation on April 5th. Celebrating Scotland-Tartan week, the event is to showcase Our Energy Future: The Power of Partnerships in America and Scotland.

IES was formed in Scotland by Managing Director Dr Don Mclean in June 1994. The roots of the company go back to 1979 when the 1973 energy crisis, the three-day week, power cuts and predictions that oil would run out by 2000 were all high in the public’s consciousness. Against this backdrop, Don started his PHD work in detailed simulation of renewable energy devices at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.  Don’s time at Strathclyde, along with subsequent research and commercial activity consolidated three fundamental observations that IES is built on:

  • Buildings are major consumers of energy and they have to be made more efficient to cut CO2 emissions, conserve fossil fuels and preserve the environment for future generations.
  • Buildings are generally designed on experience and simplistic performance calculations even though it has been proven that the use of performance based building simulation can achieve much better performing buildings that consume significantly less energy.
  • Pre-IES building performance tools were too complex to use and remained in the hands of academics making very little impact on mainstream commercial design.

Although our roots are Scottish, the outlook at IES has always been global. We understand that the problem of increasing C02 emissions is a global problem; not a local one. And that’s why we now have offices across the world in Glasgow, Dublin, Atlanta, Vancouver, Melbourne and Pune {India}. Our ties with America have always been strong – we opened a Boston office in 2004 and have had an office in San Francisco and IES consultants in Minnesota and north of the border in Vancouver.

Our ambition to collaborate within America took another step forward last year when IES acquired North American consulting firm BVM Engineering (BVME), who now act as our South Atlantic Division in Atlanta.

So as far as IES are concerned, partnerships between America and Scotland have never been stronger, with the future looking particularly bright…

We’ll toast a dram to that!

Getting ready for the start of THERM

Posted: February 22, 2013 by , Category:Research & Development

THERMIt’s always good to get recognition from the industry for the products/services we bring to the market – it’s even better getting it for one of our Research & Development projects that is yet to be officially released. That’s what happened this month at the Rushlight Awards when our work on, THERM, was commended in the Energy Efficiency category (the 2nd most entered category of the night).

THERM (THrough-life Energy and Resource Modelling) is a software tool for sustainable manufacturing, which integrates modelling of factory processes within their environment, assesses the materials, energy and waste of the processes and uses data analysis tools to understand the opportunities that exist for reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions, integrated with the factory building.

THERM is one of several IES Research projects currently coming to successful completion. Funded by the UK Technology Strategy Board, the THERM team consisted of IES, Toyota, Airbus, Cranfield and DeMontfort University. With UK

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manufacturing accounting for 23% of UK producer carbon dioxide emissions (Defra, 2008), the THERM project was created to solve the demand for manufacturing to become low-carbon and resource efficient.

THERM addresses this issue through the examination of sustainable manufacturing practices and the ability to model and understand what is possible. Currently, no ‘tools’ in regular use assess environmental performance, identify improvement areas and help suggest concrete actions. The final prototype tool has been tested at Airbus and Toyota pilot sites to significant success – figures confidential sorry guys!

THERMInitially being released as an IES consulting service, THERM will in due course be available as part of the IES software suite. Check out the THERM microsite and consulting page for updates.

Research is now very much at the heart of what we do at IES. We are successfully involved in 10 publicly funded research projects: 4 from the Technology Strategy Board in the UK; 2 from SMART Scotland; 1 CIP-PSP and 3 FP7-PPP projects from Europe. We have also just won 6 new European FP7 grant submissions to add to our ongoing Research and Development work.

With ¼ of our turnover being invested in R&D, watch this space for more envelope pushing tools like THERM coming from IES – and hopefully more recognition from award ceremonies like Rushlight too.

Winning BIM at Build Qatar Live 2012

Posted: January 11, 2013 by , Category:BIM

Just as 2012 came to an end; another feather was being added to the IES cap. A group

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of us at the India office took part in Build Qatar Live as part of the BIM Unlimited team, winning the award for “Best use of BIM for technical assessment”.

Build Qatar Live is a “48-hour virtual competition in which participants use cloud-based technology and a variety of software platforms to design a multi-use development for an internationally known site”. The brief of the competition was

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to design the ‘Museum of Architecture’ for Doha. The key component of the brief was to build a ‘Zero Carbon’ built environment, in compliance with the Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), LEED and QSAS.

The BIM Unlimited team was made up of members from the Dominican Republic (Architects), UK (BIM Management), France (Energy analysis), Brazil (HVAC/ MEP) and India (Energy analysis). We were one of 12 teams competing among participants from 41 countries. In our team, different software such as Vectorworks, DDS-CAD, ArchiWIZARD, CadFaster, SimTread and of course IES VE, were used as part of the challenge.

Adopting a true Open BIM workflow using the IFC file format, it was refreshing to see a range of different disciplines, from architects and structural engineers to energy analysis experts, collaborating to meet one common goal. Being presented with the award for “Best use of BIM for technical assessment” was great recognition for the collaboration that had taken place over the course of the 48 hours.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience and a great opportunity to work on a multidisciplinary collaboration in the BIM domain. Working successfully with the BIM Unlimited team reminded me of the basic ethos we have at IES – “One team culture” and “work smarter not harder” – and showed me how these principals can also help a team achieve a successful BIM project.

TLC Energy Modeling Competition

Posted: December 19, 2012 by , Category:Modeling, software

During the summer you may have read the case study on our website that reported on TLC Engineering for Architecture and their commitment to selecting the Virtual Environment (VE) as their primary energy calculation tool, to utilize its advanced capabilities for HVAC loads and energy modeling, as well as helping their architectural clients with daylight analysis and modeling. The case study shows that with 300 employees and 11 offices, rolling out our software and educating their staff was not without its challenges, but a combination of face to face training and an internal user forum (initially monitored by IES) assisted the process.

I was curious to see the progress TLC were making with the VE since the case study was published, and that’s why I jumped at the opportunity when I was asked to be on the judging panel for an internal Energy Modeling competition that the company were running as part of their 1st Annual Green Week.

The competition was open to all VE users in the company and had two categories. The first was Best VE Project to Date, which required entrees to present their most interesting and significant project modeled in the VE to date. The 2nd competition was for Upgrade Design and Model, which challenged the company’s VE users to take a base building model, upgrade the design and present the results of their energy model. The winner for this category would be selected on the basis of greatest energy savings.

Each member presented their models for the competition in a live webinar on September 27th, with the winners being announced as Edward Gillet (Upgrade Design and Model) and Socorro Jarvisto (Best VE Project to Date). The video below is taken from the webinar which took place during the TLC Green week and features the competition’s two winning presentations.

So what did I think of the competition entries?

TLC’s commitment to sustainable design puts them in the highest echelon of integrated design firms in the US and I’m amazed with how quickly TLC Engineers have become VE-Pro experts.
The passionate leadership shown by the company is clearly complimented by the truly talented daylight, airflow and energy modeling capabilities their engineers express through VE-Pro.

For me, the ‘Best VE Model to Date’ project presentation highlights included the statements:
– “By modeling the solatubes, we achieved all 19 points available for LEED EAc1; Optimize Energy Performance.”
– “At an pEUI of 35 kBtu/sf/year; we realized our AIA 2030 commitment with a 60% energy saving.”
– “The resulting pEUI of the hospital was 108 kBtu/sf/year.”
– “I used the VE-Pro model to give the architect a small lesson in heat transfer”
The ‘Upgrade Design & Model’ Competition allowed some really innovative ECMs (Energy Conservation Measures) to be evaluated. The ECMs included double-skin façades, daylight harvesting, HE heat pumps, demand controlled ventilation and underfloor air distribution.

All in all I was hugely impressed with the modelling skills the team at TLC have shown and I’d like to thank them for letting me be a part of their Green Week celebrations. I can’t wait to see the future long list of net-zero buildings they will soon have on their resume.

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