How to Use BIM in Facilities Management

  July 5, 2011

Today's tip is about how to use a building information model as a tool for facility management.

Facility managers are used to getting a CD of a CAD drawing at the completion of a construction project from the designer, and if they’re lucky, as-built drawings from the contractor. Building information modeling is revolutionizing this process, as it allows designers to pass over a complete 3D model of a building, complete with as much or as little information as a facility manager requires.

The real value of BIM for facility managers, though, may be by retracing steps to create BIMs of existing buildings. A BIM is a bottomless filing cabinet for information, says Peter Strazdas, Associate Vice President Facilities Management at Western Michigan University.

The American Institute of Architect Document E202 specifies five different levels of BIM - from the equivalent of a conceptual model up to a full 3D as-built. At Western Michigan, Strazdas has just completed a project where he supervised architecture and engineering students in creating BIMs of all 130-plus buildings, totally more than 8 million square feet, on the WMU campus.

Strazdas can now take those models and dump the spatial data into energy models to look for energy conservation measures. Eventually, he'll connect the models with his CMMS tool to create a much more robust and efficient operations and maintenance tracking tool. For now, though, he says the main benefit of the models is that when renovation projects are planned, the models help non-technical people visualize the space, and thus identify how best the space should be reconfigured to meet needs. And on bigger projects, the exiting models save the architects lots of time in the design process - which saves money.


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