Big data, LEAN Construction Delivery, High Performance Buildings = Productive Life-cycle Facility Managment

I recently read an article about  concepts that will shape the future of the construction industry.

Three concepts were highlighted-

  1. Big Data
  2. High Performance Buildings
  3. Collaborative contract approach (substitute “collaborative LEAN construction delivery”

While indeed the three are arguably required for efficient life-cycle management of the built environment, none are “new”.

The relatively low level of awareness and education, especially among commercial (non-residential) real property owners must be addressed.  Our education and professional development systems are failing to properly address the fundamental concepts of life-cycle and total-cost-of-ownership management specific to the built environment. Education and practices continue to be “silo-based” with the result that the AECOO sector remains largely unchanged and inefficient (AECOO=architecture, engineering, construction, operations, owner).

LEAN, collaborative construction delivery has existed and been successfully implemented for decades, albeit by a limited group of “innovative” owners, contractors, and AEs.

Notable examples include Integrated Project Delivery, IPD for major new construction, and Job Order Contracting, JOC for renovation, repair, maintenance, sustainability, and minor new construction.

Job order contracting, LEAN construction delivery

Until industry, oversight groups/regulatory bodies, and the global community focus upon BEST VALUE life-cycle costing and collaborative LEAN construction delivery versus first-costs/low-bidder design-bid-build, CM@R, or design-build, economic and environment waste and negative impacts associated with built structures will continue rampant.

job order contracting



Forget “BIM”, and Get on Board with BLM – Building / Built Environment Life-cycle Management

BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology.  That said, BIM has been preoccupied with 3D visualization to the extent that many/most feel that Revit, Archicad, et al are all that’s needed to implement BIM.

BLM – Building Life-cycle Management requires fundamental process changes within all participating organizations / stakeholders and the associated integration and use of multiple competencies, processes, and technologies.

Here’s a short list of considerations, features,  requirements, and realizations associated with BLM.


1. A robust ONTOLOGY – While not “sexy”, a clearly defined glossary with robust definitions and associated metrics is the first step. An ontology enables replicable processes, reusable data, information sharing, low cost of decision support, etc. etc. etc.  Enter… OMNICLASS, COBie, MasterFormat, UniFormat …

2. Organizations don’t deal well with change.  Some will succeed, many will fail.

3. Many/most organizations are dealing under an “information scarcity” model, when in reality we are all  in an world of
information abundance.  “Big Data” is here.  Large amounts of data (volume) and it has brought an ever increasing rapid pace of data acquisition, complexity of the data,  structured and unstructured data, multiple data sources.

4. Cloud computing technologies and new storage and indexing strategies are rapidly being developed and deployed to handle volume and velocity of information: Schema mapping, Controlled vocabularies, Knowledge representations, Ontologies and semantic technologies,.

5. Despite the above there remains surprisingly little collaboration within the AECOO sector(s) (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, Owner).  As as result advancements are slow and productivity gains remain elusive.

6. Traditional techniques, processes, and methods…such as design-bid-built, are ineffective/inadequate and giving way to collaborative construction delivery methods such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), and Job Order Contracting (JOC).


via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner

Big Data, BIM, Cloud Computing, and Efficient Life-cycle Management of the Built Environment

In 2010 the amount of data collected since the dawn of humanity all the way up until 2003 was equivalent to the volume produced every two days in the new age of information. 

– Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google

“Big data” — the ability to acquire, process and sort vast quantities of information for timely decision support is critical to the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.  To be certain, big data is NOT just a buzzword, but a term for rich information streaming in from multiple competencies which, leveraged appropriately, can be used collaboratively to drive better outcomes with respect to an organization’s core mission as a member of a larger community.

Big Data - BIM

Leveraging BIG DATA to achieve efficient life-cycle management of the built environment is not a trivial task, nor  is it “rocket science”.   It does however require the integration of robust business process, especially collaborative construction delivery methods, technology, and a standardized ontology.

Building Information Management, BIM is defined as the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology (NBIMS – NIBS).  Yet far too much emphasis to date has been upon the 3D visualization component of BIM vs. collaborative construction delivery methods, a standardized and robust ontology, and the use of open cloud computing technologies.   These are far more important than 3D visualization when it comes down to improving how we improve total cost of ownership with respect to the built environment from both economic and environmental perspectives.   The world is not flat, so why are out business processes within the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, Owner) linear and static?

Life-cycle management is on ongoing, dynamic process… actually the integration multiple ongoing/dynamic processes, with each having its own, yet inter-related “cycle” of planning, procuring, constructing, operating, and reusing.

Using Big Data for life-cycle facility management is NOT just about technology.  In point of fact, technology, process, people, and ontology must be viewed as inseparable and ever changing.  Considering “ripple effect” of every decision is central to life-cycle management, thus “what-if” decision support systems are equally important.

The new “rules of engagement” require a more “holistic” perspective of all stakeholders.

Thus BIM far more “about” the creation, sharing, and use of Big Data than it is 3D visualization and pretty pictures.

So, how do we  get from “A”, where we are now, to “B”, a more collaborative, transparent, and productive approach to managing the built environment?

1. Focus on process – the construction delivery method drives success/failure more than any other single component.   Collaborative construction methods such as Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC, also referred to as IPD-lite, are examples of proven, transparent, and performance based approaches.

2. Robust Ontology – the use of standardized terms, definitions, and data architectures are critical to enabling transparency, collaboration, and reducing waste.   For example the use of standardized cost databases, such as RSMeans, and associated Uniformat/Masterformat…and eventual OMNICLASS frameworks as the foundation for development is one of several key considerations.

3. Leverage Technology – technology is a enabler, and not an a solution.  Technology can, however, cause disruptive change to fundamental business processes.    It is critical to adopt technology that is in concert with core strategies and dismiss those that are in conflict.  For example, open cloud computing platforms that promote collaboration, scalability, information permanence and reuse are enablers, while dated monolithic software programs and even traditional relational databases should be seriously evaluated.

via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software solutions for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, MATOC, SATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, BOS … featuring an exclusively enhanced 400,000 line item RSMeans Cost Database, visual estimating/automatic quantity take off ( QTO),  and collaborative contract/project/document management, all in one application.   Our technology is currently serving over 85% of United States Air Force bases and rapidly growing numbers of other DOD and non-DOD (United States Army Corps of Engineers,  Army, GSA, Homeland Security, VA..) federal departments/agencies, as well as state/county/local governments, colleges/universities, healthcare,  and airports/transportation.  RSMeans Strategic Partner

BIM – Building Information Management, PLM – Product Life Cycle Management, TCO – Total Cost of Ownership, Life-cycle Management of the Built Environment

BIMF - Building Information Management Framework


Building Information Modeling is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology.   As such it multiple Activities, Business Processes, Competencies, and Technologies.

BIM goes well beyond geometry, spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, quantities and properties of building systems, assemblies and components.

BIM spans all aspects of the entire building life cycle, including but not limited to Needs Analysis, Capital Planning and Management, Construction Delivery Methods (IPD, JOC, PPP …) Design, Procurement, Construction, Repair, Maintenance, Sustainability, Renovation, Operations, Space Management, Deconstruction/Reuse…

BIM addresses not only form, fit and function but activities that are traditionally not addressed with 2D or 3D CAD/Visualization.

In the manufacturing world, PLM, product lifecycle management (PLM) is the process of managing the entire life-cycle of a product from its conception, through design and manufacture, to service and disposal.  That, however, is where the similarity between BIM and PLM ends.   PLM is a much “simpler process”.  BIM spans a much wider range of Activities, Competencies, Business Processes, and Technologies than PLM.   In addition, built structures are actively used, adapted, and reused far longer than most “products”.

PLM integrates people, data, processes and business systems and provides a product information backbone for companies and their stakeholders.  Computer Aided Design (CAE) goes beyond CAD.  While CAD is  used for detailed engineering of 2D drawings or 3D models of physical components, CAE is a tool used throughout the engineering process from conceptual design and layout of products, through strength and dynamic analysis of assemblies to definition of manufacturing methods of components.  CAE tools spans simulation, validation, and optimization of products and manufacturing tools.  CAE, like PLM, however, still doesn’t encompass the aspects required of BIM.

So, how do we address BIM?

1. BIM is NOT single large model across all life-cycle phase definitions.  But rather, BIM is a linkage of multiple data models, processes, procedures, activities, in logical, coordinated, consistent manager.  This ca be viewed and/or has termed a “federated structure”.

2. BIM requires a robust ontology, complete with metrics and benchmarks.

3. ‘While BIM is primarily used a visualization-based toolset for design, it’s true value is the integration of previously disparate processes, information, and goals.

4. The single most important aspect og BIM is NOT technology.  Technology is an enabler, and a catalyst, however, collaborative construction delivery models (IPD-integrated project delivery, JOC-job order contracting, PPP-public private parternships…) and other process related aspects are the critical component of BIM.  


Construction Disruption – BIM, Cloud Computing, and Efficient Project Delivery Methods

By Peter Cholakis
Published in the March 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Emergent disruptive technologies and construction delivery methods are altering both the culture and day-to-day practices of the construction, renovation, repair, and sustainability of the built environment. Meanwhile, a shifting economic and environmental landscape dictates significantly improved efficiencies relative to these facility related activities. This is especially important to any organization dependent upon its facilities and infrastructure to support and maintain its core mission.

The disruptive digital technologies of building information modeling (BIM) and cloud computing, combined with emergent collaborative construction delivery methods are poised to alter the status quo, ushering in increased levels of collaboration and transparency. A disruptive technology is one that alters the very fabric of a business process or way of life, displacing whatever previously stood in its place. BIM and cloud computing fit the profile of disruptive technologies, individually, and when combined these stand to create a tidal wave of change.

BIM is the life cycle management of the built environment, supported by digital technology. While a great deal of emphasis has been placed upon 3D visualization, this is just a component of BIM. The shift from a “first cost mentality” to a life cycle cost or total cost of ownership is a huge change for many. Improving decision making practices and applying standardized terms, metrics, and cost data can also prove challenging. An understanding and integration of the associated knowledge domains important to life cycle management is required, resulting in what is now being referred to as “big data.”

Cloud computing is also a disruptive technology, and it’s one that impacts several areas. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing is as follows, “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. The cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”

It is perhaps helpful to define cloud computing in terms of its benefits. Cloud computing enables far greater levels of collaboration, transparency, and information access previously unavailable by traditional client/server, database, or even prior generation web applications. Multiple users can work on the same data set with anyone, anywhere, anytime, in multicurrency, multilanguage environments. All changes can be tracked to “who did what” within seconds (potentially the best form of security available), and information is never deleted.

The disruptive technologies of BIM and cloud computing will accelerate the adoption of emergent construction delivery methods and foster new frameworks. Design-bid-build, the traditional construction delivery method for decades, is inherently flawed. As a lowest bid deployment it immediately sets up adversarial relationships for involved parties. Owners prepare a solicitation for construction projects based on their understanding of them1, with or without third-party A/E assistance, and in most cases they go out in search of the lowest bidder. Then without a thorough understanding of the owner’s facility, bidders base their responses on the owner’s solicitation, plans, and specifications. Owners typically allow a period of time for bidders’ questions and clarifications; but the quality of this interchange is at best questionable if based solely on a written scope, plans and specifications, and/or a meeting with suppliers.

Design-build, arguably a step in right direction, falls short of bringing all stakeholders together. More responsibility of design and construction is shifted to the contractor and/or A/E. However, the dual level participation structure doesn’t assure the interests of all parties are equally addressed. Furthermore, the design-build process is typically reserved for major new construction projects versus the numerous sustainability, repair, renovation projects, and minor new construction projects typically encountered by facility managers (fms).

Because BIM brings together previously disparate information into a framework that enables decision support, using the technology requires a collaborative construction delivery method. The integration of the domain knowledge and robust processes required to allow fms, A/Es, and other stakeholders to achieve heightened levels of information sharing and collaboration is enabled by methods that include Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC).

Key characteristics of these emergent construction delivery methods include: choices based on best value; some form of pricing transparency; early and ongoing information sharing among project stakeholders; appropriate distribution of risk; and some form of financial incentive to drive performance.

Both IPD and JOC allow, if not require, owner cost estimators and project managers to “partner” with contractors, subcontractors, and A/Es to conceptualize, create, cost, prioritize, start, and report upon projects—in the very early phases of construction.

IPD, JOC, and Simplified Acquisition of Base Civil Engineering Requirements (SABER)—the U.S. Air Force term for applying JOC practices—are practiced simultaneously by a growing number of organizations and supported by digital technologies. These construction delivery processes are embedded within software to allow for rapid, cost-effective, and consistent deployment as well as the associated level of collaboration and transparency.

BIM and cloud computing are disruptive technologies that will accelerate the adoption of emergent construction delivery methods such as IPD and JOC. Construction delivery methods set the tone and level of interaction among project participants and can be viewed as the management process framework. When supported by BIM and cloud computing, the life cycle management of the built environment, and the associated management of big data, can be expected to become commonplace for many construction projects.

1303 profdev a 150x150 Professional Development: Construction Disruption


Cholakis is chief marketing officer for 4Clicks Solutions, LLC, a Colorado Springs, CO provider of cost estimating and project management software. With expertise in facilities life cycle costs and total cost of ownership in various market segments, he is involved in numerous industry associations and committees including the American Society of Safety Engineers, Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering, Society of American Military Engineers, BIM Library Committee-National Institute for Building Sciences (NIBS), and National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee.

1 “The Art of Thinking Outside the Box;” Vince Duobinis; 2008.

Open BIM – What’s it going to take to get there?

1.  Robust, collaborative construction delivery methods – IPD, Integrated Project Delivery, JOC – Job Order Contracting, et al .  Collaboration in the building industry requires the integration of complex inter-related workflows whereby multitude of stakeholders are incorporated into a common pool of information, decision-support, and activities over an extensive period of time.

2. Standardized “Glossary”.. terms, acronyms, definitions.

3. Benchmarks, metrics.

4. Life-cycle perspective and management techniques/processes… vs. a “first cost mentality”.

5.  Technology focused upon enabling robust processes…vs. current focus upon 3D modeling.  Embedding vetted processes with technology enables consistent, scalable deployment.

6.  Current examples of “open’ and standardized knowledge domains, processes, terms, and  technologies.

Capital planning and management systems (CPMS) – physical and functional condition monitoring and associated capital reinvestment planning.  traditionally dealing with expenditures in excess of $10,000.

Computerized Maintenance Management systems (CMMS) – inventory, repair, maintenance of ‘movable equipment’.  Typically involving expenditures of $10,000 or less.

Computer-Aid Facility Managements Systems (CAFM) – space planning, move management, space utilization.

Building Automation Systems (BAS) – security, life/safety, access control, environment systems management.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – computerized location management / positioning.

Create, read, update, delete) operations (CRUD)

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) – structure enabling native storage of instance models

Simple Object Access Protocol, is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in the implementation of Web Services in computer networks.

Representational State Transfer (REST)  is an architectural style for large-scale software design

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) a specification used in the handover of Facility Management information.

OMNICLASS  in simple terms, a standard for organizing all construction information. The concept for OmniClass is derived from internationally-accepted standards that have been developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Construction Information Society (ICIS) subcommittees and workgroups from the early-1990s to the present.
ISO Technical Committee 59, Subcommittee 13, Working Group 2 (TC59/SC13/WG2) drafted a standard for a classification framework (ISO 12006-2, more information below) based on traditional classification but also recognized an alternative “object oriented” approach, which had to be explored further.

UniFormat is a standard for classifying building specifications, cost estimating, and cost analysis in the U.S. and Canada.

MasterFormat is a standard for organizing specifications and other written information for commercial and institutional building projects in the U.S. and Canada.

BIM and Big Data
BIM and Big Data

Open BIM Standards – COBIE, OMNICLASS – IFC / COBIE Report 2012

BIM adoption remains a challenge due to the fact that its many supporters don’t focus upon it’s true relevance, the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.

While any new technology has  barriers to adoption, changing the “status quo”, the fundamental nature of how a business sector does business requires a major event.   The cultural and process changes associated with BIM, namely the need for all stakeholders to collaborate, share information in a transparent manner, and share in risk/reward, remain chasms to be crossed by many/most.    Fortunately, those currently or previously involved with Integrated Project Delivery and Job Order Contracting (the latter a form of IPD specifically targeting renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction) have experience with these “novel” business concepts.  Both IPD and JOC have proven track records and have clearly demonstrated the ability to get more work done on-time and on-budget to the benefit of all involved parties.

A key aspect of BIM, collaboration, can only be efficiently accomplished with a commonly understood and shared taxonomy including terms, definitions, and associated metrics.

So called “open BIM”, such as buildingSMART International’s Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), are important to enabling collaboration as well as interoperability between BIM software applications.     COBie, a naming convention for facility spaces/components, etc., and its counterparts OMINCLASS, including MASTERFORMAT and UNIFORMAT,  etc. … can be leveraged and generated by IFC appears a goal worth additional focus on a local and global level.   That said, support for COBie, OMNICLASS, IFC, etc. varies and,  far from mainstream.

As noted in the IFC / COBIE Report 2012, BIM’s success depends upon the ability to:

  1. Create model data in a consistent format
  2. Exchange that data in a common language
  3. Interrogate the data intelligently.

There are multiple knowledge domains, technologies, and process involve in the life-cycle management of the built environment, all of which need a common data architecture, taxonomy, set of metrics, etc.

The IFC / COBIE Report 2012 correctly points out that pressing needs remain:

  1. The need for standards

  2. The need for guidance

  3. The need for enhanced IFC import export routines from BIM applications

  4. The need for agreed descriptions of who requires what data and when

  5. The need for an improved audit trail to allow greater confidence in collaboration.

Also, and I paraphrase / embellish…

  1. “Enforcement” of IFC by buildSmartalliance and all BIM “proponents”  is required.
  2. Domain experts must leveraged and queried to deliver structured data templates accordingly.  The industry needs well defined model view definition for each COBie data drop. From this can come clear guidance on the “level of detail” required at each COBie data drop. This will give a shared understanding of what information is required from and by whom and at what stage.  For example needs of Facilities Managers are required to inform the content of the COBie data drops. Facility management must be considered as early as the briefing process.
  3. Weaknesses in the IFC import /export processes exist in current software product implementation. These weaknesses make manual checking necessary and reduce confidence.  Improvement  is vital here.
  4. While IFC can be used when generating COBie data, people will use whatever works and is available. The market requires.  complete flexibility to choose what systems they use. Innovation should not be stifled by mandating a process to achieve the required data.
  5. COBIE is far from complete, but a good starting point.
  6.  Microsoft Excel  provides a view of the structured info of COBie data and one way 0f reporting data, however, in NOT a good authoring tool, nor does it support hierarchal relational data schema.





BIM Confusion Abounds… Why?

The following is a direct quote from the “BIM Experts” forum on Link in.    Is there any wonder that BIM has yet to become truly mainstream?

BIM Confusion

In my cruising through discussions and posts it has become apparent that BIM means different things to different people.
I’ve come to the view that BIM has been hijacked.
Building Information Modelling is just that: modelling information about a building.
It is not data management for FM, not life-cycle management, nothing to do with new procurement methods & contracts.
Now it is true once you are using BIM you can do those things. But they are not BIM, they are only possible uses of a BIM.

I’m not sure when or how this hijack happened, but it needs to be nipped in the bud.

My brain misfired upon reading this.   Virtually (no pun intended) every definition of BIM from professional groups to NIBS, to buildingSMART, on an international basis includes the term “life-cycle management” and/or “physical and functional” management of the built environment.   BIM includes all aspects of the built environment from cradle-t0-grave, 0r cradle-to-cradle, whichever you prefer.   Let’s get on with defining more important aspects of BIM…. common data architectures like OMNICLASS, and cloud-based open systems….integration of efficient project delivery methods (IPD, JOC, …)  so that BIM can be realized?

BIM and Big Data
BIM and Big Data
BIM and Big Data
BIM and Big Data


Project Delivery Methods of the Future – IFMA World Workplace 2012 Paper and Presentation

IMFA – Presentation

Project Delivery Methods of the Future – IFMA WORLDWORKPLACE 2012 – San Antonio, TX  

Job Order Contracting (JOC) and Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) converge with Cloud Computing, Big Data, and BIM.

Project Delivery Methods FINAL FOR PRESENTATION


BIG DATA, Life-cycle Management JOC, SABER, Cloud Computing and More!

Big Data – BIM

Big Data - BIM

BIG Data – BIM

Why has the construction industry been virtually the only major business sector that to show a decades long trend of productivity decline?  The authors suggest that cultural, technological and supply chain barriers endemic to the AECOO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner, Operations) sector create inefficiency and waste. As a result facility managers continue to struggle with cost effective facility life-cycle management.   These barriers, however, are in the process of being broken down by 1.) worldwide changes in the economic and environmental landscapes, 2.) the advent of disruptive technologies – specifically BIM and Cloud Computing, and 3.) the associated application and integration of transparent and collaborative project delivery methods.

Learn more at IFMA World Workplace – IFMA’s World Workplace 2012 Conference