Environmentally-Extended Building Information Modeling Standards

Update: 4/11/2024

I am not going to be able to submit an application this time around due to lack of a collaborator, but I’d like to keep this post up here in case folks want to reach out about this concept. I’ve had some great offline conversations over the past week that have confirmed a need for tools to harmonize data about the built environment, so I’m going to continue to work on the prototyping process. Best wishes to everyone participating this year!

Team member names

Kyle Birchard + Collaborator to be confirmed

Short summary of your improvement idea

We are looking to extend standards in the construction/building management industries and develop a public registry to report impacts of the built environment on social-ecological systems.

Standards like the ones we propose to improve do not generally specify levels of performance, but rather the systems to measure and report performance. As the adoption of another standard - ISO 14040 for life cycle assessment - has shown, new fields have been created that provide new ways to improve environmental outcomes from human activity.

Our project title borrows from the concept of Environmentally-Extended Input-Output models, which incorporate environmental factors into traditional economic models, using life cycle assessment data made possible by ISO 14040.

What is the existing target protocol you are hoping to improve or enhance?

Building Information Modeling protocols, embodied in ISO 19650 and National BIM Standard-United States (NBIMS-US V4) standards.

What is the core idea or insight about potential improvement you want to pursue?

Building information modeling (BIM) is a category of software tools and processes that create digital models of the built environment. Their purpose is to harmonize practices for building project lifecycle planning, quality management, data governance, and technical requirements.

We propose to examine elements of the NBIMS and ISO standards with a special focus on the concepts of common data environments (CDEs) and modeling requirements. We will look at connections to the performance of projects produced under these standards, and their value in the research and public policy realms.

What is your discovery methodology for investigating the current state of the target protocol?

Discovery will consist of interviews with BIM, LCA, and environmental modeling experts in the private, public, and academic sectors. The interviews will focus on data governance, particularly as it relates to the potential use of BIM systems to support scientific research and public policy. Finally, we will solicit data from projects that have explicitly used BIM standards to use in our prototyping work.

In what form will you prototype your improvement idea?

We will prototype our public registry concept with real project data. The form is yet to be determined, but examples that could guide the work include the LCA Commons and the USEEIO model.

How will you field-test your improvement idea?

While a workshop consisting of architecture, engineering, and construction professionals would be the easiest format to test the improvement idea, we would like to explore alternatives. For example, by working with organizations like the Civic Software Foundation on a software developer/practitioner summit. There is a sizable community in Portland, Oregon working at the nexus of energy, resources, environmental justice, and the built environment, so we would likely hold an event there.

Who will be able to judge the quality of your output?

I’m hesitant to call on people out of the blue, but will add names here soon.

How will you publish and evangelize your improvement idea?

We will publish our code on GitHub under an open-source license. Ideally, we would build integrations with open source BIM software such as xeokit, the U.S. LCA Commons, and planning organizations, such as the Metro Data Resource Center.

What is the success vision for your idea?

The successful outcome we envision would be national adoption of the public registry concept for the built environment. At the heart of this investigation is the desire to make information developed under BIM standards publicly accessible and interpretable.

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It’s a little hard to tell what exactly your project is doing from a quick glance at the summary of the project, ie. it would be useful to see more precise information about what kinds of scientific research your BIM modeling would support. It seems like the proposal could also be challenging for for non-expert readers to understand, since a lot of terms are referenced without being defined.

Speaking as someone who has used BIM software while working in small architecture firms, I’m also not sure if BIM standards have yet been adopted as consistently as your proposal seems to imply, especially outside of large/corporate settings. You should definitely talk with construction industry professionals early in your process to get more insights about how they’re used in the real world.

@chenoehart you raise an important point with respect to adoption of BIM standards - I think that’s something we can focus on in the context of protocol improvement. I also appreciate your other comments. I agree I could make our purpose more clear, and dial back/better explain some of the jargon. I will be updating this over the next couple of days and confirming our second team member. Thank you for your response!

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