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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

AECCafe’s Trends Report 2016

January 7th, 2016 by Susan Smith

Trends that are shaping the built world are powered by the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, institute BIM mandates across the globe, the need for convergence or collaboration of AEC teams, the need for the “smart city,” emergence of the owner/operator extending the lifecycle of a project into operations and maintenance, and provision of tools that are right for the job. These trends are linked, as one will benefit and nourish the other.

1 Merchant Square, London, Robin Partington & Partners Architects

1 Merchant Square, London, Robin Partington & Partners Architects

The 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) held in Paris this year called for an end to fossil fuel emissions by the year 2050. This amazing event came on the heels of the plane crash in Egypt caused by a terrorist bomb, sending shock waves of sadness around the world.

In our coverage of COP21/CMP11it was noted by Prince Charles of the UK that climate change was a huge factor in nations’ suffering from famine and drought, which caused people to need to migrate away from their homes, which caused deep distress leading to terrorism.


According to Ed Mazria, Architecture 2030 Founder and CEO, the long term goal of the resultant Paris Agreement committed almost 200 countries including the U.S., China, India and the EU nations, to keep the global average temperature increase to “well below 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees C”. The China Accord is a manifestation of the efforts of architects and planners in China and internationally to lower greenhouse emissions in the built environment.

The Future of the Smart City

At Autodesk University, Michael Thydell, BIM strategist, talked about the “100 Story Sensor” as the backbone of Smart City. “Our houses and cities are producing increasing amounts of data,” said Thydell. “Cities need to be sustainable, flexible and also producers of resources.”

He talked about the “electric city,” with electric cars that need to be produced locally. He envisions transparent solar panels that will be electrically produced. The city will produce its own food. “Future cities need to be more complex than the cities of today,” he said.

Also biogas and water infrastructures need to be open to constant change.

Owner/Operators and the Extended Lifecycle

For many years, architecture was the recipient of benefits from BIM, then the interest expanded very quickly to construction. Now, owner/operators and facility managers are able to benefit from the tangible ROI provided by BIM.

“The quantifiable benefits of BIM for the design and construction industries – increased efficiencies and reduced costs – have become much more obvious over the past few years,” says Michael DeLacey, president of Microdesk. “Going beyond design and construction, owners and facilities managers are also realizing the benefit of having a data rich model being part of the project deliverable that can be leveraged as a highly intelligence resource for facilities management….Looking ahead to 2016, we will see the owners and facilities managers increasingly drive BIM forward, requesting BIM from the very start of the design process in order to see the benefits throughout the entire project lifecycle.”

One of the more interesting areas that Bentley Systems has captured successfully is Asset Performance.

Zhiyue Youcheng Square Installation Company of the First Construction Engineering Limited Company of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau (South China) – (Foshan, Guangdong Province, China)

Zhiyue Youcheng Square
Installation Company of the First Construction Engineering Limited Company of China Construction Third Engineering Bureau (South China) – (Foshan, Guangdong Province, China)

Bentley senior vice president asset performance services, Alan Kiraly, said there is a big use case to bring digital asset data over to one platform for the owner. A lot of services in this area are built on Bentley’s eB.

Using the platform AssetWise ECM, the owner can have a map of what data should be coming in. Oil & gas owners are managing handover from their contractors with AssetWise ECM on major projects.

With Bentley’s acquisition of Amulet, “the operator guys don’t talk to reliability guys, they are taking information from maintenance and using it to make operational decisions,” said Kiraly. “We can take information we’re gathering in real time, combine with engineering and simulations and use those together to operate this further.”

SA Water of Adelaide, Australia, winner of the Be Inspired Awards this year, is an example of an Amulet user. They use a demand forecasting tool for collecting weather data and data about how people use water, accumulating real world predictions.

For those interested in the terms of access that apply to the release stages of Bentley products, they are as follows:

  • Limited access –product information shared a few users for iterate to bring something to market really quickly. Interested users can ask to participate.
  • Early access – broadens who Bentley works with.
  • General access – open to everyone

Global BIM

According to Microdesk, as BIM goes global, so does the focus on setting standards for BIM implementation such as has occurred in the UK. The Middle East has over $50 billion in BIM related rail projects proposed, Dubai has a BIM mandate for large building and infrastructure. Brazil now ranks third behind the U.S. and Sweden in university development using BIM. “Le Plan Transition Numerique dans in Batiment” in France will help determine BIM standards set by the Ministry of Dwellings, which includes a mandate to build 500,000 houses using BIM by 2017.

BIM City

One of the exhibits at AU was their own BIM City, which largely focused on the construction aspect of BIM.

Within that display was also the Eco District Washington D.C. City Model using InfraWorks analysis of energy and stormwater flows to meet aggressive sustainability goals. Rapid energy modeling, green stormwater simulation and Autocase triple bottom line automated analyses, giving users a defensible set of figures in the model.

According to vice president of Autodesk Phil Bernstein, 13 years ago when they started BIM, they thought basic representation change would occur. Architects and engineers spearheaded all heterogeneous processes.

“We are starting to see more episodic workflows come closer together,” said Bernstein. “We don’t think of BIM as a product but as a mindset.”

It is the most profound transformation in the building industry, and has the ability to rapidly transmit large data sets. BIM mandates in the UK, plus the ability of design and construction to work together have changed the way BIM is being used. Bernstein said the future of making things is linked to this.

The Right Tool for the Right Project

IMAGINiT’s manager, Reality Capture Solutions, Dan Chapek, said that reality capture is really an umbrella term for many different technologies namely, 3D laser scanning UAV photogrammetry, handheld scanners, ground penetrating radar and sonar mapping that all do “pretty much the same thing.”

Scan to BIM for Revit 2016

Scan to BIM for Revit 2016

“These technologies take the physical world and create a digitized replication for it,” said Chapek.

The way you make the determination of what technology to use involves a lot of different factors, the biggest one is accuracy, said Chapek.  “How accurate do we need to have the data in the environment? There’s also time of collection, cost of equipment. Where laser scanners cost significantly more, it takes more time to collect 3D laser scanning data, and it’s more complex as far as a specialty skill to know how to do it. Versus UAV photogrammetry, where it is easier to fly, process the data, cheaper, but we lose accuracies. Where the laser scanning is typically around 3 millimeters of accuracy range, UAVs will be up there with mobile lidar where those accuracy ranges are going to be within an inch. We go from 3 millimeters to 24 millimeters.”

Clearly, if high accuracy is needed, then 3D laser scan is the right way to go.

Two new technologies that Chapek is excited about for laser scanning are the Leica JetStream and Leica TruView. JetStream is a server based data management system for point clouds, specifically for Leica software and point clouds. It allows a significant amount of compression, to make the point clouds significantly smaller and therefore tangible and just flowing through network systems between offices, and multiple user environments. It allows these point clouds to be much more nimble through the internals of an organization.

“A field crew in Atlanta can go scan and work with data and put it on the server so that a design team in Omaha can access that data and stream it into Revit or Civil 3D,” said Chapek.  “We would never be able to do that before. Almost everyone in the industry is simply packaging external hard drives and overnight shipping them to places. This ability to make the point clouds tangible by multiple users in multiple offices is revolutionary.”

TruView from Leica, announced in June, allows us to populate a collection of point clouds, models and hyperlinks to detail sheets, videos or anything we want to put up there, we can serve up in a web viewer that anyone using any browser on any device,” said Chapek.

AU was also the scene of a lot of reality capture opportunities such as demonstrated under the umbrella of Autodesk’s LiveDesign, where the Project Expo beta solution puts Revit into an interactive gaming engine, Autodesk Stingray. Stingray can kick out to the Xbox, or other gaming devices, internet or a VR headset. Users can interact with the Revit model that is brought into Stingray with the Oculus VR headset on.

Users can decide what they want to see, in a room, including the view, furniture, etc., as the Revit model is being generated in real time as you interact with it.

At Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure in London this year, the ContextCapture product was showcased, that facilitates the gathering of real time information from photos taken with simple cameras, and LumenRT for lighting round out the visualization and content gathering vision of the product portfolio.

ContextCapture Promises Accurate High Resolution Reality Modeling Option for Infrastructure


So while technology marches along with its attention to BIM, smart cities, convergence and owner/operator involvement, it is as though “all roads lead to Rome.”

All roads lead to the urgent and critical need to reduce the global average temperature within the 2050 timeframe, to make a commitment to change the way we work to be more efficient, use the right tools for the job, build smart and use energy more wisely. The technology to do this exists, and the question remains as to how successful mankind will be at scaling the hurdles of government, regional, agricultural, agency and military regulations that hold our current global structure in place.

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Categories: 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11, 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, 3D printing, AEC, AECCafe, AIA Convention 2015, apps, architecture, Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Bentley Year In Infrastructure. YII2015, BIM, Bluebeam, building information modeling, Civil 3D, Cloud, collaboration, construction, convergence, engineering, field, field solutions, file sharing, IES, IFC, IMAGINiT, infrastructure, mobile, plant design, point clouds, project management, reality capture, rendering, site planning, video, virtual reality, visualization

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