Green BIM: Successful Sustainable Design with Building Information Modeling

 Green BIM: Successful Sustainable Design with Building Information Modeling


The great pyramids remain beautiful marvels of design, engineering knowledge, fabrication ability, and precision. The architect builder(s) of the great pyramids achieved seemingly impossible feats. They imagined, visualized, and realized structures of stacked stones, dwarfing design construction accomplishments still to this day. Stones were shaped and placed one by one with rudimentary tools and slave labor. It was slow-going, and each layer of stone became the scaffold for the next. 

Gravity was overcome with each stone as the laborers lifted and carried it to its predetermined place in the composition. Finally, every stone was at rest and carried the weight of those above, stone by stone down to the sand. Many mysteries remain about exactly how these complex and precise structures were accomplished. How were ideas documented and communicated among the tens or maybe hundreds of thousands of laborers?

 In the case of Giza, what tools ensured that the lengths of the four sides varied by only 58mm? What process was in place to organize the fabrication and installation of millions of stones over decades of time by thousands of workers and achieve the parti with degrees of precision that would be considered extraordinary today? The pyramidal form is simple and beautiful.

 These structures are even more beautiful as monuments to the ingenuity of the designer builders. Each is a three-dimensional diagram of the forces of gravity at work, cementing every stone in its exact position in balance with nature. We will never know if the builders understood the science of the design or simply selected the shape for its form and because it was buildable with the tools available. 

Eero Saarinen understood the forces of nature. Many centuries after the pyramids, he collaborated with colleagues, engineers, a mathematician, and builders to achieve balance with gravity to realize his competition-winning design.

 Rising from the banks of the Mississippi River is the monument to the vision of Thomas Jefferson. The St. Louis Arch, as it is widely known, stands today as an inverted catenary curve resting in pure compression and void of all shear. Accomplishing such an undertaking demanded innovation in all aspects of design and construction.

His team approached the design utilizing mathematical formula to determine the form, sectional design, and dimensions of the entire building. High-carbon steel and concrete were combined to create a balance of form, structure, durability, aesthetics, and constructability. New elevator and other building systems were invented to provide usefulness and comfort. 

The design accommodated a construction approach relying on the incomplete structure to carry the weight of the workers and their tools and materials as they progressed toward the keystone piece joining the two legs of the curve. The meeting of the two legs that rise from a distance 630 feet apart to a height 630 feet above the earth demanded precision. An error greater than 1/64 inch could not be tolerated if the legs were to meet.

 The final section would only be allowed to slip into place with the help of nature. The only force powerful enough to align the two legs exactly into position was the sun. Solar radiation landing on the opposing legs of the arch the morning of October 28, 1965, widened the gap enough to insert the keystone section precisely and complete the arch. The pyramids and the arch were large-scale breakthroughs in design and construction. Our era is in need of similar-scale advancements in how we realize our needs for enclosure and inspired design.

 We are facing a construction boom like no other in history. Over the next 20 years, we will more than double the amount of built space occupied today. Innovation is the foundation for sustaining life on earth. We are at a critical point, and the right innovations must be incorporated in the environments of the future. Nature provides the answers—it is up to us to ask the right questions. Like the great pyramid builders centuries ago and Eero Saarinen centuries later, the authors of this book are doing just that. Eddy Krygiel and Bradley Nies are practicing a new approach to design and building that utilizes the power of building information modeling tools and integrated design thought and process with profound results.

 Their work has developed within BNIM Architects, a firm with a long history and commitment to sustainable design. Many new questions about the process of design and building have emerged from that experience. Those questions cover topics of sustainability, design, and construction process efficiency, construction quality, method of fabrication, roles and responsibilities of designers and builders, human health and comfort, durability, and the future of our industry. 

By answering those questions and more, Krygiel and Nies have provided leadership within our firm, enabling design teams to begin the journey along a new approach to design and construction. Utilizing BIM side by side with green design principles, our projects and research undergo scientific modeling during the earliest stages of design as the parti is refined. User comfort is evaluated and the design is modeled, helping client, designer, and builder understand the quality of space and experience. 

Daylight and energy is studied throughout the process. Energy needs are minimized and renewable strategies found to serve the needs of the building. Water use and waste are minimized or eliminated through the modeling and design of the building and site. Fabrication and construction process is anticipated and guided as critical elements of design. Construction waste is identified and redirected as a source for other uses and products. As a beautiful and powerful landmark for the vision of Thomas Jefferson, the St. Louis Arch is also a reminder of our need to always improve our approach to design and construction. 

The arch is in balance with nature’s force of gravity, but also very dependent on resources that tax nature in the form of pollution, waste, global warming, and resource depletion. It is time to move forward. The proposition of Krygiel and Nies will result in more beautiful, greener buildings, regenerative buildings, and triple bottom line results—good for all people, good for the environment, and responsible to the economics of their clients and communities. 

As perpetual leaders in sustainable design and building information modeling in design and construction applications, Krygiel and Nies have integrated the principles and benefits of each with innovative, high-performing results. Today, collaborative design and construction teams are creating buildings with new aspirations.

 The result has been a new approach to designing and building that has given birth to buildings that strive to achieve balance with nature. These structures harvest energy, capture and clean any water that is needed, use resources efficiently, and exude maximum beauty. The term Living Buildingis associated with this approach to design and construction.

 These sustainable structures rely on innovation and collaborative design teams. They benefit from scientific processes to understand and model highperforming results in balance with nature and achieve the contemporary needs of building occupancy. The designer and builders are achieving these results using BIM and other design and construction tools to maximize beauty, efficiency, and functionality while minimizing or eliminating impact of the environment. This is possible utilizing the tools and design approach revealed in this book at the scale necessary to address the impending construction boom spreading across the globe.

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