Phil Marris, managing director of Jaga Heating Products UK, discusses the benefits of product manufacturers embracing BIM and the long-term impact on sustainability in building design.

The accelerating take-up of Building Information Modelling (BIM) software as a means to improve construction efficiency and design quality is, without doubt, of enormous benefit to the industry’s future. This increasingly indispensable tool, however, is also creating an opportunity for sustainable product manufacturers to guide architects, contractors and building operators towards environmentally-friendly building services solutions.

The potential of BIM is not lost on us here at Jaga — in fact we see it as a natural progression in promoting our values in sustainable HVAC solutions. The better we can demonstrate our products as viable alternatives to energy-thirsty solutions, the more likely it becomes that we can have a lasting impact on the contribution of the built environment to national energy targets.

The BIM Task Group has estimated that the successful implementation of BIM can help to strip out as much as 30% of project resources that are wasted, making it an increasingly attractive prospect to those planning new construction projects. From its time-saving potential to its sophisticated technical accuracy, BIM allows the building to be designed virtually as many times as necessary to ensure it can be built flawlessly just once when physical construction begins.

Looking beyond its use in combating construction concerns and avoiding double working, BIM can help provide detailed insights into the best ways of maintaining a building’s efficiency throughout its long-term operation — and this is where the initiative becomes particularly relevant to sustainable product manufacturers.

About the author

Phil Marris, managing director of Jaga Heating Products, is a passionate advocate of energy efficiency, carbon cutting measures and green building techniques.

Heating and ventilation systems are an excellent example of how this can be put into practice.

If a manufacturer’s BIM content for a radiator is accurate and the value of its specifications, output, cost and energy efficiency is proven, the chances of it being selected over more energy-thirsty solutions across numerous BIM-enhanced construction projects increase.

The challenge of achieving optimal sustainability in construction is often related to specifiers’ perception of cost — that is why precise product data is so important in influencing the change.

As more BIM content becomes available, there will be greater opportunity to provide comparative analysis with other buildings. As manufacturers, we would be able to show exactly how and why one building’s heating and ventilation is more efficient than another’s, and present the product that is best equipped to replicate this success.

The precise functionality of the files allows for specific fine-tuning too, for example by automatically calculating system flow rates and pressure drops to help the engineer design the most optimised system. Within the software, specifiers can switch various different product combinations in-and-out within seconds and see their suitability in-line with project targets. Different radiator sizes can be selected to see which best fits, and various fixing approaches — such as wall-mounted, free-standing or trench heating — can be experimented with to determine the ideal solution in terms of design, ergonomics, heat output and energy consumption.

On a business level, industry-standard BIM product content helps to promote a manufacturer and its products throughout the sector, with a view to showing their compatibility with modern, high-value construction projects.

Considering the UK government’s ambition to have all centrally procured construction contracts achieve Level 2 BIM status by 2016, as well as BIM’s increasing use in the private sector, it means manufacturers should start embracing the technology sooner rather than later.

With the increasing international focus on ‘future-proofing’ buildings against draining the planet’s natural resources, we can help guide architects and contractors to make the correct decisions in the building services products and systems they select by saving time, saving money, and hitting targets.

The better we can demonstrate sustainable products as viable alternatives to energy-thirsty solutions, the more likely it becomes that we can have a lasting impact on buildings’ contribution to energy targets in the future.

Failure to embrace BIM’s potential will eventually become counter-productive for manufacturers of building services products.

At the end of the day, when the highest value projects are begun to be planned and schematics produced, decision-makers will look beyond those who cannot provide them with the convenience and technical accuracy of detailed BIM-compatible product data.

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