Thursday, October 4, 2012

New Research Grant for DREC

Exciting news just in....

We have heard from the Technology Strategy Board that our recent bid for funding has been successful. The title of the project for which funding has been awarded is: a BIM-enabled Collaborative Platform for Innovative Low Impact School Procurement. The project team is led by Willmott Dixon Construction and involves Atkins Global and Scape System Build Ltd as industry partners as well as the team here in the Department of Real Estate and Construction. The total cost of the project is £543k with the TSB providing a grant of £270k to the consortium for 3 years.

Congratulations to the DREC team: Esra Kurul, Franco Cheung and Joe Tah. I had a chat with Esra yesterday to see what exactly they will be doing.

Shottery Primary School - the initial focus for the project (photo courtesy of SPS)

First of all, two handy definitions for you (thanks Wikipedia):

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is the process of generating and managing building data during the life cycle of the building and can tell us important information about buildings and the effect the building itself and how it is being used, have on the environment. Participants in the building process are constantly challenged to deliver successful projects despite tight budgets, limited manpower, accelerated schedules, and limited or conflicting information. The BIM concept envisages virtual construction of a facility prior to its actual physical construction, in order to reduce uncertainty, improve safety, work out problems, establish costs and simulate and analyse potential impacts. The UK government would like all building projects to use BIM from 2016 to keep costs down whilst meeting energy performance targets and other sustainability criteria.

A Low Impact Building is one which is designed to cause minimum harm to the environment. There are many benefits of Low Impact Buildings including: significant reduction in operating costs; lower energy use, reduced carbon emissions when the building is in use; no increase in building cost; shorter construction time; potential income from surplus green energy production and carbon neutral construction. The project will be looking at the development of low impact standardised building designs for public sector clients. This type of building design is partly driven by the need to keep costs down and avoids the problem of developing a bespoke building design for every project.

The project aims to develop a new approach to standardised building design using BIM as a collaborative tool to bring together all the different professionals who have an input in the design and construction process to see what the product might look like before actually starting the project. This will enable all those involved, from architects to suppliers of materials and labour to discuss the design and any changes that could be made to improve the performance of the building whilst keeping costs to a minimum. This innovative collaborative approach would then be continued throughout the project and should close the knowledge feedback loop between construction and design that exists in the majority of building projects.

The project will initially focus on the building project at Shottery Primary School in Warwickshire where the collaborative-BIM approach will be developed. Once developed, the cBIM will then be tested and validated in a second live project.

The key outputs will include:

  • A process and product benchmarking framework
  • BIM-enabled processes and tools for collaborative envisioning of process and product innovation and learning from project experience
  • A collaborative-BIM (cBIM) with the ability to undertake real-time, simultaneous computations of performance criteria such as cost, carbon, time and waste. 
Updates are available on the project website.

For further information on the project contact Esra Kurul.

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