Designer credits BIM with green-building success

Building Information Modeling played a key role in a new NASA building achieving LEED Platinum status.

AECOM Technology Corporation, which participated in the design of NASA's award-winning and LEED Platinum-earning Ames Sustainability Base Building N232 in Moffett Field, CA, has said that a building information modeling (BIM) approach was key to the project's success. BIM is the process of generating and managing building data during its life cycle and involves representing a design as objects, as defined in Wikipedia. Cabling products are part of the picture. As Leviton notes on its website, "BIM ... offers three-dimensional, dynamic spatial models, and can incorporate detailed product information, quantities and properties. This added intelligence has huge potential for improving construction projects and ongoing facilities service." Leviton and other cabling-product manufacturers offer libraries of BIM objects.

For the NASA project AECOM acted as landscape architect as well as architect and engineer of record. The company worked in partnership with William McDonough + Partners as design architect, and with Loisos + Ubbelohde as daylight and energy consultants. These organizations used a BIM approach along with Revit Architecture.

"The BIM process provided many advantages over traditional independent approaches -- disciplines are linked, coordination is increased, fewer errors occur, and so we were able to leverage the highest efficiency," said June Grant, AECOM project manager. "The result is the team was able to deliver a showcase design on time and under budget." According to AECOM, using BIM solutions from Autodesk allowed it to complete the drawings and design in approximately nine months, which is half the time that was originally scheduled for the project.

Grant added, "One of the most visible aspects of this new facility was its innovative steel-frame exoskeleton, which required close coordination between the architects and structural engineers, who used Revit Structure software. Revit Architecture, in tandem with Revit Structure, enabled transparency in identifying structural changes, which impacted the architecture. It was an essential component of NASA Ames's design to achieve a healtheri work environment that incorporated more natural light and increased flexibility for future space reconfiguration."

AECOM's senior vice president and chief technology officer Jim Walsh said, "BIM solutions were an integral and critical aspect in both the production of the design documents and the analysis undertaken to informt he design. The NASA Ames Sustainability Base is a great example of AECOM's continuous integration of technology software programs to offer solutions that add value for our clients' projects."

The NASA Ames Sustainability Base project won the 2010 U.S. General Services Administration Award for Green Innovation, and also won the 2010 San Jose Silicon Valley Award for Best Green Public Structure. The project has been submitted for the 2011 U.S. President GreenGov Award.

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