The Importance of BIM In Facilities Management

by Hai Falor on December 9, 2021
Workplace Technology Assessment

There are many people who contribute to the success of a building project, from the corporate real estate leaders and architects collaborating on the design to the facilities managers overseeing critical building systems.

Building information modeling, or BIM, combines 3-D modeling and software with a collaborative process that enables everyone to work together on the planning, design, construction and maintenance of a building. In short, it’s a way to build better buildings from the ground up and use predictive analytics to maintain them.

Though building information modeling first developed in the 1970s, the race is on to see who can provide tools for smarter, more technology-rich buildings. A common misconception is that BIM is a more robust version of software such as CAD. A better view is that CAD and other software solutions are individual tools that fuel the entire collaborative and data-sharing process of BIM. Software is an ingredient in the larger, complex recipe of the design process.

What’s driving BIM in facilities management?

The global building information modeling market was valued at $5 billion in 2019, and is projected to triple to $15 billion by 2027.

BIM offers many benefits, including:

  • Consolidating information into a single database
  • Enhancing collaboration between teams involved in construction
  • Making data actionable
  • Helping stakeholders understand how occupants will interact with a built environment before construction starts
  • Allowing engineers and architects to experiment with innovative workplace design

So what happens when you connect BIM to computer-aided design programs such as AutoCAD, Revit, and Autodesk? The marriage of BIM and facility management software became a reality this year when Autodesk and iOFFICE joined forces to provide integrated solutions to companies that need more efficiency in their building assets.

The Archibus Smart Client Extension provides a BIM application designed from a facility manager’s perspective. This solution provides a way to easily scale to different information levels and connect with the business data to optimize daily and long-term operations.

This combination allows facilities managers to glean quantifiable information from the physical environments of a building, so they can make data-driven decisions.

One of the most important outputs of BIM for a facilities manager is the idea of digital twins. A digital twin is a 3D digital map of a physical building that creates the baseline model for a building information modeling record. A facilities manager uses a digital twin to see specific parts of a building — including information relevant to that section — and make decisions based on the relationship of that section to the rest of the building and its systems.

Schematics and blueprints are no longer the most efficient way to collaborate on modern building projects. As a building takes shape, the data points associated with every part of the project may change with the fluidity of scope, budget, and other influences. BMI coupled with a design software such as Autodesk keeps all data up to date and existing in a single system.

The complexity of information shared is based on the BIM dimension. Each dimension builds on the previous one to include additional data about the project. The five current BIM dimensions include:

  • 2D: Two-dimensional construction drawings with an x and y axis
  • 3D: Three-dimensional drawings with an added z-axis
  • 4D: Three-dimensional drawings with the added element of scheduling
  • 5D: Three-dimensional drawings with scheduling and budget information
  • 6D: Three-dimensional drawings with information on scheduling, budget, maintenance and sustainability

5 ways BIM benefits facility management

The International Facility Management Association’s BIM FM Consortium reported that developing a plan to implement Lifecycle BIM is imperative to a facility manager’s success. The group’s BIM for facilities management implementation guide said creating a global system will improve space management; streamline maintenance; use energy more efficiently; save money on renovations; and enhance lifecycle management.

Improves space management

Space management and real estate management directly impact facilities costs.

With 6D building information modeling, facilities managers can factor scheduling, budget, maintenance, and sustainability into the equation. By fully understanding space utilization, a facilities manager can reduce vacancies, manage schedules, and identify opportunities to consolidate or reconfigure spaces.

Including this data in building information modeling helps facilities managers better manage real estate costs, enable flexible work arrangements, and support job satisfaction. Space management software makes this critical easily accessible. Sensors add another layer of data to the BIM process, providing deeper insight into how employees use office space in real time.

Streamlines maintenance

BIM systems store key information about building equipment and assets facilities managers use to develop maintenance plans. Creating information streams between departments help managers develop cohesive and fluid processes. Compliance documentation becomes easily shared and accessible, while creating cross-department triggers for automatic workflows. By storing information in the single system of a BIM model, facilities managers can save time – and therefore money – transferring information from system to system.

Improves energy efficiency

Different functions of a building use energy in different ways. Building information modeling helps facilities managers analyze and compare various energy alternatives and the different environmental impacts and costs of each. Research reported by the Journal of Earth Science and Climatic Change shows that buildings including residential, commercial, light commercial, and institutional account for almost one third of the total energy consumption. In fact, reported that these structures release up to 33% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Using the modeling, planning, and collaborating elements of BIM helps facilities managers see where their building functions are leaking or wasting energy so they can improve building energy efficiency.

Improve economy of renovations

BIM systems are populated by living information that is constantly updated and adjusted. This provides more accurate information on the conditions of your assets, which leads to more accurate, fast, and effective preventative maintenance and capital planning. This saves money, manpower, and time because your facilities manager has more dependable data to communicate to contractors so they can schedule downtime to maximize efficiency and mitigate any issues that may arise.

Enhances building lifecycle management

Some designers are starting to embed data on items such as life expectancy and replacement costs of pieces of a smart building into the BIM models. This data helps decision makers determine materials and technology that will make a stronger investment in the long-term productivity of the building. Consider factors such as the durability of one type of material over another, which may be more expensive at the initial build but will save money on infrequency of replacement over time.

The future of building information modeling

The ability to plan smarter from the beginning and use truly connected building systems leads to more informed design decisions.

Learn more about how you can incorporate BIM into your facilities management with Archibus. Request a demo today.


Hai Falor

Hai worked in the corporate real estate division of BB&T for 10 years focusing on facilities management, vendor management, and IT systems before coming to work for iOFFICE. With extensive experience in the IWMS software industry, where he served many years in sales and as a solutions engineer, Hai knows his facilities management stuff.

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