Opinion Piece: Using Collaborative Technology’s to drive BC(A)R SI 9

by Bregs Blog admin team


I accept that BC(A)R SI 9 is a flawed piece of legislation design to “rectify” the mistakes of the PAST. The legislation is flawed for me because it fails to look forward and address the future of design and construction. However in a paradoxical way by not being aware of the immense changes taking place in design and construction there are opportunities to take advantage of the framework laid down by SI 9.—  I have been immersed in the industrial data revolution that is BIM, Building Information Modelling for 10 years now. I have developed the BIM programmes at undergraduate level and post graduate level in the College of Engineering and Built Environment at the Dublin institute of Technology. I have been delivering these programmes for the last 6 years. I have attended and presented at many BIM conferences across the globe and been published in Journals and trade magazines.

I had an idea some time ago and but it was not until recently that i was able to connect the separate dots of data. These dots of data have connected to form a triangulated whole and the geneses of an idea. This abstract being a proposal and draft summary of the idea.— The three sides of this triangulation were the imposition of BC(A)R SI 9, the rise of BIM Technologies and need for Collaboration in the design and construction industry.


BIM Technologies                                             Collaboration

To solve a problem there are many ways to go about it, but most follow a similar pattern,

  • Identify the problem
  • Describe the result you want
  • Develop solutions
  • Select the best solution
  • Implement the best solution
  • Evaluate the results and make changes if necessary
  • Repeat the cycle.

In order

1/ Our traditional design and construction process is what has got us into this situation in the first place. The technologies we use lead to miscommunication necessitating legal cover all to protect oneself from inevitable error in the process. It is fraught with silo located professionals who at best cooperate. Definition of co-op-er-ation in design and construction is to “work with others to achieve your own goal”

2/ To describe what we really want from design and construction it would be limiting to examine it through each domain. So we need to look above that and look at the needs of society and it is by those needs that we can measure what is required.

3/ The existing solutions don’t work. The arrival of BIM process supported by technologies which provide a visual experience of the design intent and a detailed visual explanation of the construction detail to achieve the design intent is a revolutionary solution. The added value is the ability to measure the performance of the building design.

4/ Lets think outside the box now and look at the best solution. We need to understand and implement the most startling, sophisticated, complex solution for design and construction…..Its called collaboration, co-lab-or-ation; to “work with others to achieve a common shared goal”

BIM technologies and process provide a robust platform for design and construction collaboration. One of its big advantages is that it can effectively eliminate miscommunication of design intent and detail construction. The digital model can solve the problems before they get to site. Already there are systems that use the model to check code compliance, In Singapore the “Corenet” planning application system is now mandating BIM models as the planning application.

From 1 July 2013, all architectural plans, starting with first DC submission to URA, for new building projects with gross floor area (GFA) of 20,000 sq. m. and above are to be submitted in BIM format for regulatory approval;  – From 1 July 2014, all engineering plans, starting with first submission of the project, for new building projects with gross floor area (GFA) of 20,000 sq. m. and above are to be submitted in BIM format for regulatory approval; 

– From 1 July 2015, all plans, starting with first submission of the project, for new building projects with gross floor area (GFA) of 5,000 sq. m. and above are to be submitted in BIM format for regulatory approval.

The advantages of this are enormous to both the applicant and the planning authority.

There are 3rd party applications to check code compliance like “Linear Thermal Bridge”. You can already within BIM technology, do an area rentable/gross/usable take off, a material take off complete with thermal properties and provide grand total cost estimates as you are building the 3d digital elements of the building. You can schedule and calculate the carbon cost of selected building materials, you can connect directly into manufacturers catalogue libraries and use their validated u value calculations and on and on.

5/ Using a Tablet or iPad cost 175 to 450 euro, contractors / builders can connect to your server, access your BIM model to review the weeks / month ahead construction programme with your details visualised. They can extract the data on the u value resistance of the proposed insulation, access the builders suppliers catalogue from within the digital model and order on line a specific insulation or the specified breather membrane. They can follow the manufactures instructions on line to install it on the correct side of the timber frame, use the correct tape (ordered on line) to seal the joint and … record it all on video and email it to you and the local authority as record of the construction. All this is done through Google Apps where they can

a/ access your BIM model using a viewer so they don’t have to invest in the software application.

b/ access your data on the digital model, for specification, for visual confirmation, for ordering and costing, to check code compliance, to show sub contractors what is designed etc

c/ use Google apps to share documents, to you the assigned certifier / scanned receipts of building materials for compliance. RECI Certs, Ancillary certs, checklists, programme updates, Videos of construction progress. From you, daily update checklists, inspection dates, information on specified materials, manufacturer instructions and more and more

d/Instead of lodging “dumb” PDFs with the local authority you can upload an open source IFC or DWF or an agreed format digital model that is a complete record of the proposal and smart data that can be used by the council in its GIS applications etc etc.

6/ All of the technology for this solution is currently available, it could be piloted as an addendum to the current BC(A)R SI 9.  7/ Learn from the pilot programme, makes changes and repeat on a larger area.

Performance driven architecture and construction is the future. If you cannot measure buildings then a design is just an ascetic and worse when built becomes an inefficient energy consumer and the designer will find themselves on the wrong side of current EU legislation.— The SI 9 with all its flaws is interesting because it brings a new dynamic to the design and construction industry. Gone are the B.C. 1 March 2014 hierarchies. To make a building work you now must measure its performance. To do this you will need to master a new tool set. For this you need a new breed of designer. To measure the performance you need to digitally construct the building, to do this you need to master digital building applications so you have a starting point.

What SI 9 will do, is grow organically a new dynamic of assigned certifier (the new master builder?) supported by ancillary certifiers (technical professionals) which will be a collaboration of design architects, technical architects (architectural technologists), mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, structural engineers as a core design group. While it is not mentioned anywhere in the BC(A)R legislation, it is for me jumping off the page that collaboration is the way forward. Collaboration supported by robust BIM technologies and process. In DIT we are supporting this revolution by providing BIM and Energy programmes to design and construction professionals.

The train left the station on the 1st March 2014, leave the past behind. Its time to get on board. We should take BC(A)R as an opportunity to make Ireland a world leader in BIM + Energy analysis for performance driven architecture adding to our countries already phenomenal information technology record.

The above opinion piece was submitted on 31st March 2014 by Malachy Mathews