Green-Washing and Cloud-Washing – Terms you must know relative to BIM – Not to mention BIM-Washing

BIM is the life-cycle management of facilities supported by digital technology – NIBS.   That said, BIM is critical to sustainability/green as is collaboration and cloud computing.

As BIM, Green/Sustainability, and Cloud Computing are considered “new” and not necessarily  “mainstream”.. and all three are “hot topics”, it’s not surprising that some organizations are engaging in BIM-washing, Green-washing, and Cloud Computing-washing.

These issues are extremely important, thus worthy of discourse.


Here’s an informal poll relative to Green-washing.   The question, asked on Linked-In was “Labels + Certificates = Sustainability. Yes. No. Or?”   The question and responses bring to mind “LEED”… a great marketing tool perhaps, but it’s value remains uncertain, especially when considering long-term/life-cycle aspects.  Also what due labels really mean… who polices product labels?  Is bamboo really green if you consider it is transported halfway around the world.  Is mercury-based lighting sustainable?  Oh and yes…. the Prius and other vehicles have the nasty little batter disposal problem to deals with…



Cloud computing is NOT taking legacy applications and moving them to the cloud via a virtual server.  Cloud computing consists of three tier technology.

Cloud Layers

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Cloud computing is viewed as a means to break down traditional data and process stovepipes.  Cloud computing encompasses four different deployment models, and in these preliminary stages of cloud development, organizations are free to determine which model best serves their needs.  The four models, as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (“NIST”), include: (1) private clouds, for the use of a single agency; (2) community clouds, shared by multiple agencies; (3) public clouds, largely for the public’s use and benefit; and (4) hybrid clouds, facilitating the sharing of data and utilities across two or more unique clouds of any type.

(Peter Mell and Tim Grance, Nat’l Inst. of Standards and Tech., The NIST Definition of Cloud Computing – 2009)

Cloud computing will enable collaborative, secure, and transparent applications and the rapid deployment of robust business process.. both so sorely needed in the AECOO sector (architecture, engineering, construction, owner, operator).

Major Shifts in Information Technology



Ok folks.  I’ve said it before, and I will say it again.  3D visualization is NOT BIM !!!   The integration all aspects and processes of facility life-cycle management is BIM.   Will all this occur in Revt, Archcad, or some IWMS system… absolutely NOT!    Cloud computing, however, integrated with existng knowledge-domains such as CPMS, Construction Project Delivery (IPD, JOC), CMMS, CAFM, GIS, BAS, ….   now that’s BIM!

BIM Strategy and Framework

Renovating Existing Buildings is the Key to Sustainability

90% of Construction dollars spent go toward maintaining / operating existing buildings, vs. new construction.  With that said, contractors, engineers, owners, architects, and policy makers should clearly focus Energy Efficiency in Existing Buildings.  By 2030, a milestone date for many sustainability initiatives, 75-85% of all current buildings will still be standing.  Investing $170B in energy retrofits would yield 25%-30%+ in energy savings, a 15% ROI ! (McKingsley Report and others).

LEED Platinum, Gold, and Silver for  new construction is a great tool for awareness building / marketing, but will do little to reduce GHG, carbon foot print, and energy usage.

The new ASHRAE Standard 189.1, Standard for the design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,  is a good start.  This provides for a 15 percent higher efficiency than the previous Standard 90.1.

What’s coming? Standard 90.1-2010, set for release this summer, is a potential minimum compliance standard, a 30 percent reduction in energy over 90.1-2004.

Attaining the above is NOT DIFFICULT, but rather a straightforward implementation of  practical, cost-effective, off-the-shelf technologies.

It will,however, be critical for large building portfolio owners to have insight into current physical conditions of their buildings (FCI – see to be able to properly allocate reinvestment dollars between energy and operational needs.

Operational efficiency is CRITICAL, as buildings typically deteriorate in performance by as much as 30 percent in the first three to four years.  Simply renovating to “green” will not be of value in itself if not coincident with better building operations, maintenance, and associated capital planning processes and metrics.  In many cases owners can save 20% in energy just by improving operational and maintenance practices.

Lastly, ROI for many of the above programs can be less than a year.