Review of USIBD (US Institute of Building Documentation) Inaugural Symposium

I had the privilege of covering this event held in Las Vegas September 16-17, 2015. Any first event is often times a letdown, as we know in this industry pioneers take arrows so I expected a lackluster gathering. I was pleasantly surprised with what this organization presented, here is the report;

Per their web site, the Mission statement is:

  • Building Documentation as a distinct industry; establishing standards, guidelines and best practices to foster excellence in the productivity, quality and safety of the documentation process
  • The codification of ethical practices to support and further the growing network of professionals dedicated to Building Documentation
  • Cooperation and the exchange of information among documentation professionals who are responding to growing interest in Building Documentation by owners/operators, service providers, government agencies, and the public
  • The establishment and promotion of "Certified Building Documentation Professional" certification (CBDP)
  • The institution of a core educational resource dedicated to the pioneering technology of the Building Documentation industry
  • Recognition of individuals for outstanding dedication and service to the Building Documentation profession

The group has six main committees that help to drill down in critical areas to maintain the standards they strive to. With the industry at such an early phase of development it is refreshing to see this group taking the lead for an ethical approach to conduct, standards and promotion. Everybody agrees the technology is maturing and is necessary for efficient construction and management. We will now find out where we are in the journey.

The conference left me with many solid ideas as well as many questions. The 15-minute TED Type speaker arrangement kept the pace fast with nothing but the facts. It was nice to not have to listen to a speaker wax poetically about their upbringing in the Midwest half way through 2 hours of mostly filler information.

There was a good balance of what is currently being done with an eye on the future. We all need to be aware of what we should be doing right now but it’s important to look to the horizon so the fast pace of the industry does not get ahead of us. Avideh Zakhor, of UC Berkeley brought, demonstrated and spoke about her development work on rapid 3D modelling for building interiors. A multi-sensor backpack system capable of photorealistic rendering of interiors as well as exteriors is real and being refined by the minute, results are amazing.

Segway to Brandon Kelley and Josh Engelbrecht with McCarthy Building Companies discussion on “why general contractors want to scan” grounded the group in current work being done and the positive effects. Brandon featured a complex health care facility, we all know the nightmare that is feeding utilities to hundreds of rooms, everything from electronics to gasses and liquids make healthcare a perfect fit for the BIM. Triumphs and troubles were outlined and we all learned some practical knowledge only available from field experience.

Quenten Smith, Core Construction took us from a conceptual aerial view of a proposed project to scanning for the remodel of a historic theater. Conceptual models are a great tool for stake holders to verify their intent as well as neighbors to gauge impact. The use of LIDAR scanning prior to a remodel can greatly reduce change orders and surprises mi construction, especially true in the era of limited budgets.

Topics from business start-up to the value of 3D printed models were covered. There was a good blend of status updates and big picture. My complements to Ken Smerz and Ted Mort of Eco3D for spearheading this event.

I walked away with a lot of things to think about. Our company has been providing BIM services to our clients for some time now and this meeting reinforces my commitment to the technology. Some additional thoughts;

  • Integration is not there yet. When all parties involved are not at the same level of proficiency with BIM, projects suffer.
  • Cross platform compatibility is still an issue. Several programs claim the ability to read multiple file types. The issue is often the loss of detail in the elements when working outside the native platform.
  • The long view of 6D BIM is still in the future. Full implementation will give the owner the usual 3D model along with schedule (4D), cost (5D), and life cycle management (6D). Don’t get me wrong there is success out there but unfortunately 50% of promises in BIM are not delivered.
  • Training is critical. We can learn several types of software related to our specific trade or in my case as a project integrator. The place for consultants like me will always be perfecting the next best technology.
  • Marketing BIM is an issue, “Hollywood BIM” shows the sizzle but is not precise enough to be used for construction. The industry needs to look at it from the position of the building owner. This works well with CM at risk projects due to the fact that BIM helps with cost pre-control. Owners need to see perceived value to pay for taking the model to full 6D.
  • Data is and will always be the issue. When you have a model with 6 floors of heavy detail down to girder bolts and welds these things get huge. LIDAR data is still being overnighted to the mothership for processing because web based services cannot handle it well. As we become able to provide richer information in our models file size continues to grow. I feel there is no answer besides how to get massive files from point to point more efficiently.

Ted Mort was an exemplary host, keeping the speakers on time and providing humor and experience to the proceedings. You should strongly consider attending any learning opportunity presented by the USIBD. They have the future and reputation of the industry first and foremost in their minds.