The Legal Aspects of BIM

Many remain confused about the meaning and value  of BIM (building information modeling).

BIM is the efficient full life cycle operation of the built environment, with the promise of managing Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and associated physical and functional conditions in concert with an organization’s changing needs.   This is a radical departure from the  current focus upon “first cost” or ” initial cost” mentality.  BIM is NOT 3D modeling (Revit, Archicad, Bentley, etc.), although some vendors tend to perpetuate this myth.   BIM is the visualization and modeling of the built environment to assist in associated decision support, via ANY means, leveraging digital technology.

Traditionally, construction projects are managed in silos, for example – design, engineering, procurement, construction, operations, etc… all in there own neat (or not so neat) little containers.  Integrating this information, collaborating with this informati0n, and providing the Owner with the ability to leverage accurate, transparent, timely information for ongoing decision support is practiced by an elite few… likely less than 5% of the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner ,Operations) sector.    The end result it that we, and an industry sector, continue to experience rampant waste, low productivity, and an antagonistic environment littered with legal squabbles.

BIM, in its true form, offers ,significant cost savings and productivity improvements for all stakeholders, as well as long lasting, positive, and mutually beneficial relationships.

The key to BIM is the construction delivery method and associated strategic direction of all parties.   Collaborative methods such as Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC, and similar methods are fundamental requirements, in addition to several building life-cycle knowledge domains, technologies, and best practices.   Fundamental characteristics of collaboration construction delivery include:

  1. Qualifications Based or Best Value Selection
  2. Some form of pricing transparency
  3. Early and ongoing information-sharing among project stakeholders
  4. Appropriate distribution of risk
  5. Some form of financial incentive to drive performance

So… back to the legal aspects of BIM.  In short, there really aren’t any… IF… an robust, collaborative, construction delivery method is in place defining the ground rules for everyone.  That said, there are certainly considerations and components that must be incorporated:

  • Who owns the information? – The Owner must have ownership, however, this ownership can be, and should be… in most cases, shared with the creator.
  • Who was responsible for it and liable for the errors contained therein? – The Owner, and or Owner’s representative. as they are managing the process, however, a basic acceptable level of performance must be established for all parties.
  • How is the information collected and migrated? – Via open, transparent data architectures and lexicon.  For example, OMNICLASS, Masterformat, Uniformat, COBIE (once it gets sorted out).
  • Who was getting paid for what? – Pretty straightforward
  • Who was controlling the project? – At the end of the day, whoever pays the bills… always has worked best this way, thus the Owner or Owner’s representative.
  • In whose interest where the parties working? – Mutual, product completed to benefit and requirements of the owner, on-time, and on-budget.
  • How would the project be procure? IPD, JOC and similar methods that incorporate procurement, project management relationships and responsibilities, data architectures and formats, etc.

Sure, standards for guidance are evolving, however, several “best practice” business process alread exist and can easily be extended.   It is critical to remember that  business strategy,  processes, and workflow are the important area of focus, technology plays a supporting role.  Unfortunately, manner tend to approach BIM from a technology perspective…. an approach doomed from the start.

Behind the High-Performance Federal Buildings Act

Reduction of  federal building energy footprint is an important initiative.

Focus must shift to the renovation, repair, and sustainability of existing buildings and associated efficient project delivery methods.   BIM and Cloud computing can integrate the currently disparate processes associated with facility capital planning, management, renovation, and maintenance…. and make enable the widespread use of efficient project delivery methods such as integrated project delivery (IPD) and job order contracting (JOC).
The focus on BIM as 3D visualization and design is a distraction we can no longer afford.


BIM is the life-cycle management of facilities supported by digital technology.  It is the use of robust business processes and standardized taxonomies and metrics.
The tools to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of the built environment are readily available.  Products and services  manufactured here in the United States, the use of which would also help our economy.

The  High-Performance Buildings Caucus was started in 2007 with a goal to make a real difference in our economy and environment. Last year,  the “Federal Buildings Personnel Training Act”  was introduce to piece of legislation ensure that people working on federal buildings are properly trained to do the work their job requires. This bill was signed into law at the end of 2010, however, the   General Administration Services (GSA) is lagging in its proper implementation.  Knowledge of life-cycle facility management is critical to reaching the goals of efficient facility life-cycle management.

The High Performance Federal Buildings Act is intended to require analysis of the full life-cycle costs for buildings.    It also requires regulations for the use of energy and water in federal buildings to reflect the most current codes and standards.   The Act will reduce energy footprint speed compliance with mandated standards.

It is very important to use of life-cycle cost analysis on any construction, alteration or acquisition of a building.  Facility condition assessments and commissioning are also key elements in this regard that must be addressed in a standardized manner.

via – Premier software for efficient project delivery, cost estimating, and project management – JOC, SABER, IPD, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, IDIQ, POCA, BOA.

Version 2 National Building Information Modeling Standard – United States – NIBS National BIM Standard – News – November 2011

The National Building Information Modeling Standard-United States™ (NBIMS-US™) Project Committee has approved 18 submissions to be included in Version 2 of the standard.  Areas addressed include –  reference standards, information exchange standards,  and best practices.

Approved reference standards:

  • Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) 2×3
  • World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) XML
  • OmniClass Tables 13, 21, 22, 23, 32 and 36
  • International Framework Dictionary (IFD) Library Update

Approved information exchange standards:

  • Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie)
  • Information Delivery Manual/Model View Definition (IDM/MVD) Design to Spatial Program Validation
  • IDM MVD Design to Building Energy Analysis
  • IDM MVD Design to Quantity Takeoff

Approved best practices, guidelines and applications:

  • BIM Project Execution Planning Guide – V2.1
  • BIM Project Execution Plan Content – V2.1
  • Minimum BIM
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) Coordination Requirements
  • Planning, Executing and Managing Information Handovers

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DOD Sustainability Scorecard – from OMB

The DoD earned 3 out of 7 red lights on its OMB scorecard for failure to sufficiently reduce energy intensity and fleet petroleum use and to green more of its buildings.

Plan to change those red lights to green: 

Energy intensity: The agency achieved an 11.2% reduction on a goal of 15%. Going forward, the $24 billion Military Construction and Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Modernization budget will be used to fund programs to reduce facility energy use. 

Petroleum: DoD reduced non-tactical vehicle petroleum use by 6.6% on a target of 10%. Future plans include more alternative fuel vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. 

Green buildings: Fewer than 5% of DoD’s buildings greater than 5,000 gsf meet the Guiding Principles for buildings. To improve, DoD will mandate that all new construction and renovations comply with the Guiding Principles and meet LEED Silver standards, with a particular emphasis on energy and water efficiency. DoD will also work to improve reporting systems.

DoD scored a home run on reducing potable water intensity, reducing by 13% from 2007 to 2010 on a target of 6%. Most of the reduction came from an aggressive leak detection and repair program. The agency also got green lights for submitting the GHG inventory for Scopes 1-3. Finally, DoD got a yellow light for falling short of the mandate to increase use of renewable energy as a percent of facility electricity use.


via 4Clicks – Premier software provider for efficient construction delivery methods, cost estimating, and project management – JOC, SABER, IPD, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, IDIQ, POCA, BOA …. and referenced from CEIL.

Obama Missing the Point on Sustainability?

President Obama’s  State of the Union Address calls for 80% clean power by 2035, but…  WHAT ABOUT ENERGY CONSERVATION!!!!

Clean energy is great, but likely a pipe dream.  Furthermore, none of the “renewable” energy sources will meet current demands and/or be deployable by 2035.

We need to get serious about implementing energy conservation measures and associated facility system upgrades.   It is no secret that existing building energy use can be reduced 30% to 50% by upgrading systems and adopting better utilization practices.

The real issues is that appropriate incentives and efficient  transparent project delivery methods are not being used.

The combination of objective facility assessments with efficient project delivery methods such as JOC – Job Order Contracting, and IPD – Integrated Project Design, associated mandates and financial incentives is sorely needed!

Time to stop talking and start acting?



The Top Three Requirements for Sustainability – High Performance Buildings & Green

1. Facility Life-cycle Management – Visibility into accurate building information from concept to design, bidding, procurement, construction, repair, renovation, maintenance, and demolition is a basic requirement for both new and existing buildings in order to impact sustainability on any type of broad scale.  Associated physical and functional conditions, costs, and what-if analysis tools are just an examples of the information needed.

2. Efficient Project Delivery Methods. The best high performance building concepts, for new or existing buildings, are of no value if they can not be implemented in a timely, cost-effective, and quality manner.   The AEC sector is notorious for waste, poor planning, and lack of efficient business processes.   “Newer” construction delivery methods such as IPD – Integrated Project Delivery and JOC – Job Order Contracting must be employed on a widespread basis.

3. Performance-Based Building Codes and Legislation. Existing buildings are responsible for the lion’s share of carbon output and energy consumption.  Current green initiatives in the private and public sector have been mostly “window dressing”, and strong legislation is required, inclusive of ongoing monitoring and associated incentives and penalties.

Green / Sustainability Building Regulations & Laws


Effective January 1, 2011,  CALGREEN Code is the first state high performance building / green / sustainabilitys building code.

CALGREEN is mandatory and targets new residential, commercial, hospital and school buildings and a  3 million metric tons greenhouse gas reduction by the year 2020.

Designers, contractors, and owners can plan and build to a certifiable green standard without  for third-party certification and requires field inspections using a public service.

Key targets/requirements.

  • 20% indoor water use reduction (voluntary goal standards for 30%, 35% and 40%)
  • Separate water meters for indoor and outdoor water use for commercial buildings
  • Moisture-sensing irrigation systems
  • Reduced land-fill waste
  • Mandatory inspections commercial buildings over 10,000 square feet
  • Use of low VOC materials


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Federal Government to Spend $4.5B on Sustainability

$4.5 billion allocated for spending in 2011 for federal green building and renovation projects.  The  goal of the federal government is a 28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions  2020.


“We have an opportunity to be an example for American building, a proving ground for what works,”  – Bob Peck, Commissioner of public buildings, U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)


High Performance Building Legislation – 2010 – Cities and Town

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City and Town Governments continue to push legislation requiring high performance buildings.

-1- Ord. 2010-42Presented by:   The ManagerIntroduced:

Drafted by:

J.W. HartleORDINANCE OF THE CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU, ALASKASerial No. 2010-42An  Ordinance  Amending  the  Land  Use  Code  To  RequireConstruction and Renovation of Municipal Public Facilities toMeet a Sustainable Building Standard.  WHEREAS, the City and Borough anticipates that it will be facing unprecedentedincreases in fuel and electricity rates in the future; andWHEREAS, in the United States, buildings account for 12.2 percent of freshwateruse, 38 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, 40 percent of material use, and 39percent of energy use; andWHEREAS,  the  City  and  Borough  desires  to  reduce  it’s  building  operating  andmaintenance costs, provide a healthy and productive indoor work environment for itsemployees and the public, promote the community’s ongoing economic vitality, andsupport energy efficiency; andWHEREAS, the City and Borough recognizes that the practice of sustainability, asit relates to buildings, is the use of key resources like energy, water, materials and landin a more efficient manner than simply constructing buildings to code; and1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526-2- Ord. 2010-42WHEREAS,  building  sustainability  creates  healthier  work,  learning,  and  livingenvironments  with  more  natural  light  and  cleaner  air,  contributing  to  improvedemployee and student health, comfort, and productivity; andWHEREAS, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) RatingSystem  is  a  third-party  certification  system  developed  by  the  United  States  GreenBuilding Council.  This system quantifies sustainable design, and awards rankingsbased on achievement; andWHEREAS, these third-party certification systems are not expected to significantlyimpact CBJ staffing; andWHEREAS, government is ultimately responsible for leading by example and settinga community standard for the sustainable planning, design, construction, renovationand   operation   of   buildings   to   support   economic,   social,   and   environmentalsustainability.NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ENACTED BY THE ASSEMBLY OF THE CITY AND BOROUGH OFJUNEAU, ALASKA:Section 1.   Classification. This ordinance is of a general and permanent natureand shall become a part of the City and Borough Code.//////1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526-3- Ord. 2010-42Section 2.   Amendment  of  Chapter.    CBJ  49.35  Public  Improvements, isamended  to  add  a  new  section,  CBJ  49.35.800  Sustainable  building  standards  forconstruction and renovation of buildings, to read:49.35.800 Sustainable building standards for construction and renovation ofbuildings.(a)  New construction and renovation of existing buildings and facilities  by the Cityand Borough.  The City and Borough shall construct and renovate its public facilitiesand buildings to sustainable building standards through the use of the U.S. GreenBuilding Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ratingsystem, and shall be responsible for ensuring that public facilities and buildings meetthe requirements as set out in this section and are operated accordingly.(1)  LEED shall be the quantitative measurement for how well standards aremet;(2)  All public facilities and buildings utilizing municipal funds and costingover  $5,000,000  (either  general  or  bonded),  including  new  privateconstruction  for  Municipal  leasing  or  renting,  shall  be  designed  andconstructed in such a fashion as to achieve a minimum level of LEEDCertified;(A)  The City and Borough Engineering Department shall determine ifattainment of specific LEED credits will be required within the creditspursued  for  LEED  Certification.    These  required  credits  shall  bedocumented in CBJ policy and shall be reviewed and updated each1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526-4- Ord. 2010-42time a new version of the LEED standard is issued.  Such update shalloccur within three months of the issuance of a new LEED standard.(b)  Application.  The sustainable building standards for municipal buildings andfacilities,  including  but  not  limited  to,  the  Juneau  School  District,  the  JuneauInternational  Airport,  and  Bartlett  Regional  Hospital,  shall  apply  to  facilities  andbuildings where the principal use is regularly occupied space, including, but not limitedto, buildings occupied for office, retail, classroom, healthcare, or assembly purposes.(1)  As  used  in  this  section,  occupied  means  a  facility  or  building  whoseprimary  purpose  is  for  people  to  work,  assemble,  or  intend  to  remainwithin  to  perform  functions  (other  than  routine  maintenance)  of  theprincipal use of the building.  Industrial facilities, such as maintenance,warehouse, and vehicle storage, are excluded from this section.Section 3.   Exception  Procedure.    If  the  Manager,  with  the  consent  of theAssembly, after consideration of the recommendation of the Sustainability Commission,determines that it would not be economically feasible to satisfy the prerequisites forLEED Certification in the case of a specific project, that project shall be exempt fromthe requirement for LEED Certification.////////////1234567891011121314151617181920212223242526-5- Ord. 2010-42Section 4.   Effective Date.  This ordinance shall become effective on July 1,2011.  Existing projects with fully executed contracts for design services on the effectivedate shall be exempt from this ordinance.Adopted this      day of                2010.____________________________Bruce Botelho, MayorAttest:____________________________Laurie J. Sica, Clerk


Hopefully New Building Code Revisions will Create More Focus Upon Sustainability

via – Leading Cost Estimating and Project Management Software for JOC, SABER, SATOC, MATOC, IDIQ, …..

November 2, 2010—Local and state building code officials last week approved a package of revisions to the commercial section of the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) that represent the largest single-step efficiency increase in the history of the national, model energy code. The changes mean that new and renovated buildings constructed in jurisdictions that follow the 2012 IECC will use 30 percent less energy than those built to current standards.

Attendees voted nearly unanimously on a series of proposals to effect the change at the International Code Council’s (ICC) final action hearings held in Charlotte, North Carolina, October 27-31, 2010. The improvements were part of a major comprehensive proposal submitted jointly by New Buildings Institute (NBI), The American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that addresses measures such as cooling, lighting, quality assurance and renewable energy standards. Several other key proposals that contribute to the savings were approved independently.

The comprehensive proposal is largely based on NBI’s Core Performance protocol, a direct approach to achieving energy savings in commercial buildings. Utilities and public benefits administrators in six states and two Canadian provinces have adopted Core Performance as part of their voluntary efficiency program offerings.

“Increasing the efficiency of commercial building energy codes provides the best opportunity to bring about significant savings and helps move us along the path toward low-energy commercial buildings,” said Dave Hewitt, NBI executive director.

“The often contentious process of developing codes was largely avoided in this case because of the extensive outreach and collaboration that was undertaken to gain industry support for the proposals. As a result, we were able to successfully resolve differences prior to the hearings and put forward our best option for consideration,” Hewitt said.

“The overwhelming support we saw during the votes tells us the marketplace is ready for these practical, feasible and affordable improvements,” said Jessyca Henderson, AIA, director of sustainability advocacy at the AIA. “The nation’s code officials are to be commended and congratulated for seizing this historic opportunity to move the country toward more efficient buildings and help us build an economy that is less reliant on fossil fuels—now and into the future,” she said.

Computer modeling of the 2012 IECC shows more than 30 percent better energy efficiency on average than the ASHRAE 90.1-2004 model code, and payback periods on the new code measures are estimated at less than seven years depending on climate and building type. The energy savings in the 2012 IECC meet national calls from Congress, the Secretary of Energy and industry leaders to improve the efficiency of commercial buildings by 30 percent. In addition, the 2012 IECC will serve as the baseline standard for the International Green Construction Code (IGCC) currently under development.

The 2012 IECC contains many important, first-ever technical features including a new section on commissioning, pathways to use daylighting, and options for the use of on-site renewable energy. It will be published in April 2011 for adoption by state and local agencies.

New Buildings Institute is a nonprofit organization working collaboratively with commercial building professionals and the energy industry to promote better energy performance in buildings, including advocating for advanced design practices, improved technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency. Visit

For over 150 years, members of The American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes.  By using sustainable design practices, materials, and techniques, AIA architects are uniquely poised to provide the leadership and guidance needed to provide solutions to address climate change. AIA architects walk the walk on sustainable design. Visit