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BIM’s benefits in sustainable heating

When the government’s Construction Strategy outlined that all major government projects worth more than £5m would require building information modelling (BIM) by 2016, it opened opportunities for manufacturers of sustainable heating and ventilation products to make their mark on the construction industry’s future.

In using BIM software, architects, contractors and building operators can create a detailed 3D representation of a building that includes information covering all of its various components over their whole life cycles.

If a manufacturer can supply BIM files of its product range, a building’s decision makers can determine a suitable heating and ventilation solution early in the design process – a solution that accommodates targets for energy efficiency and costs, and one that harmonises with a building’s aesthetic and operational needs.

This is made possible through the detailed technical information that can be incorporated into BIM files. A BIM file for a radiator product, for example can show evidence of outputs, flow rates and pressure drops that are infinitely useful for engineers.

Providing accurate 3D renderings of a product range also allows architects to pick and choose which products best fit from a design perspective.

The benefits of BIM’s functionality even stretch to facilities departments once a building is handed over, with operations and maintenance details highlighting a system’s capability to hit energy targets in the long term. It truly is the most legitimate means of demonstrating how a building can be “future-proofed” in a way that appeases any misplaced perceptions of implementation costs: short-term investment for long-term savings, both financially and environmentally.

It won’t be long before BIM becomes the standard, especially as businesses are becoming increasingly interested in its potential – and with good reason. The BIM Task Group estimates that successfully implementing BIM could strip out as much as 30% of wasted project resource, allowing a building to be designed and redesigned virtually as many times as necessary in order to erect it perfectly the first time.

For HVAC industry manufacturers, embracing this shift is logical in terms of sustainability – but being ahead of the game could potentially also lead to greater business prosperity.

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

It is essentially an extension of a manufacturer’s advertising wing: presenting a choice of products and providing legitimate, quantifiable evidence as to why the product is fit for the task, and allowing this information to be shared across the industry – a virtual “try before you buy”.

The increased emphasis on collaboration is key to BIM, and HVAC manufacturers can become an influential part of that process and help drive construction towards sustainable carbon performance.

Better demonstrating the benefits of sustainable solutions in a way that saves a project time and money in both the short and long term is key to achieving this.

Phil Marris is managing director at Jaga Heating Products

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