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What is BIM? - and what are the advantages for a HVAC planner?

What is BIM? - and what are the advantages for a HVAC planner?

Access to information, priority setting and proper communication between industries are of key importance to the success of designing systems. 

  • Blog
  • End customer - Investor
We currently have files at our disposal, which can be used in 3D modeling of these buildings and building systems. This will enhance the design process and ensure a constant flow of information between all the participants of the process. And that is what BIM (Building Information Modeling) is all about.

Building design - architects vs. HVAC designers

A traditional building design process assumes long-term cooperation of the architect with the investor, during which, the body, type and size of the building is determined, as well as the materials needed for construction.

The architect also determines the preliminary assumptions concerning the building’s systems - e.g. by specifying the locations of boiler room, heaters, technical rooms for the ventilation unit, stack and riser shafts, etc.

Comprehensive designers, who subsequently receive the buildings blueprints, are sometimes met with rigid obligations imposed by the architectural designers. These obligations are usually a source of conflicts resulting from the incorrect specification of space needed for the industry specialists (of structural, sanitary, heating/ventilation and electric).

In the closing phase of the design, the system designers come to a conclusion as to whether the area or height of the technical rooms prevents the correct placement of equipment.  Sometimes the dimensions or location of shafts obstruct the routing of pipelines inside them, and this requires changes in the initial architectural assumptions.

New model of cooperation

The building design process can be improved by starting with the creation of an object model, and including industry designers in the space development process. The designers (in cooperation with the architect and based on the adopted assumptions) may determine the location of stacks/risers, the routing of cables or the location of system devices. With such a solution, designs are drawn up in a faster and more effective way - complete data is also helpful for the investor when making vital decisions regarding the designed object.

What is BIM?

BIM technology (Building Information Modeling) is being discussed more often nowadays as a concept that assumes three-dimensional modeling of building information. The model is made of three-dimensional elements of a given object, with previously assigned attributes. We can model anything - the building’s fabrics, system ducts and detailed elements - fittings or valves. In order to make the modeling mechanism most similar to the real world, we should define a significant number of elements, with attributes assigned to them. For instance - an element such as a window contains not only dimensions, but also material it was made of, price, heat transfer coefficient U, solar transmittance g, as well as all kinds of relations with the environment, e.g. its location versus potential heat gains in a room. Any virtual object created in BIM technology should be a digital prototype of the real one, with all its parameters. 
In traditional designing, a fair share of time is devoted to working with source and design documentation - some changes, corrections, updates and remarks made by the participants of the investment process might be overlooked. With BIM, all the documents are gathered in one place, and the changes made are recorded and controlled.

Advantages of BIM technology

With BIM technology, the obtained models can be used for calculations, simulations, analyses and reports - which allows for verification of the consequences of any changes being made. An example of such action can be interference with the building insulation - what will be the effect of changing the Styrofoam thickness on all external walls from 15 to 17 cm, or of replacing all double-glazed windows with triple-glazed, but 20% larger ones?

With BIM we will learn how the expenditures on materials and labor, the construction works schedule, the buildings heat load, or the estimated costs of its maintenance vary. When speaking of BIM technology, multi-industry cooperation should be emphasized - all the participants of the building creation process work on one digital model at the same time, and can see the changes and progress made by the other design teams.

Another important asset of BIM technology is the possibility of shared usage of the three-dimensional model, data sharing, adding of information by current and new participants representing all the involved industries. Working with the model may be done in two ways - the first one is a remote group work - with this method, the designers work with the model in real time. The second way consists in the continuous export and import of data files using the IFC format - with this solution the working party compares their own file with the newly loaded replica of the model - this way they are able to assess the correctness of the newly introduced elements, e.g. the route of heating system pipes.

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