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RESSEEPE Project – Sustainable Building Innovations at Coventry University – PCM

Coventry University and the RESSEEPE partners have been very busy over the past few months progressing the RESSEEPE research into the demo site activities phase.  It’s at this point where the practical end of the demonstrations is coming into action and the really exciting work is happening. Having been a part of the project since its initial practical kick off its great to see the technologies explored as a part of the project actually gong onto the buildings. Over the next few weeks a number of articles will be released discussing each of the technologies installed at Coventry University.

IMG_2928

PCM – Sample of the tube form unfixed and loose

The first major works at Coventry consisted of the installation of Phase Change Materials (PCM).  PCM is a passive system, which behaves similar to ice, in that the material ‘freezes’ and melts at a fixed temperature.  The PCM installed in Coventry is a S27 phase change material, which is a salt hydrate that peaks at 27oC.  In reality, the PCM may start the melting process at 25oC and be completely liquid at 29oC.  In reverse, the PCM may show signs of solidification at 29oC and be completely solid at 25oC. 

 

 

The PCM Tubes are installed and respond to the surrounding temperature of the room.  At the beginning of the day, the TubeICE are frozen.  As the room heats up due to body heat, and heat from the sun, the PCM Tubes passively cool the room by absorbing the heat until completely melted. 

PCM Passive System Throughout Day

PCM Passive System Throughout Day

The duration of the cooling effect is dependent on the intensity of the heat being absorbed.  I.e. the PCM will melt quicker if the ambient temperature in the room is 40oC compared to if the temperature is 35oC, much like a block of ice would.  As the temperature cools over night, so does the PCM.  The PCM effectively looses energy to the immediate surroundings, charging for the next day. 

 

PCM - Overnight

PCM Overnight

IMG_2927

PCM bracket System

One of the challenges with installation was due to the unknown entity of the PCM. A number of local contractors were approached to install but were put off by the increased risk factor when dealing with a technology which is very new. Contractors rightly so have to consider the increased level of risk and liability that they will take on when dealing with something they have little precedent or experience in handling. In reality once a contractor had been identified the installation was fairly straight forward. Certain protocols had to be adhered to such as a structural assessment of the space and an asbestos survey, both to ensure that firstly the structure could hold the increased loading of the PCM tubes and secondly to ensure that no surprises were found in regards to asbestos. Both were cleared and the installation was quick and uneventful. As can be seen from the image the PCM tubes were fixed using a standard tube fixing bracket system which was fixed to the underside of the ceiling.

PCM technology was installed within the Architecture Studio and 2 offices within the John Laing Building at Coventry University. The spaces and tubes will be energy monitored over the next year to gather full performance data, which will be objectively compared to controls rooms neighbouring the spaces. Below the PCM tube can be seen in-situ.

IMG_2558

PCM tube in-situ

 

PCM tube in-situ

PCM tube in-situ

Contributors – Danny McGough and PCMproducts

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RESSEEPE – Coventry University Activities

January has been a busy month for Coventry University (CU). For the latest RESSEEPE meeting CU made the trip to Skellefteå, which is one of the four demo sites within the project. The discussion of the meeting was focused around the next immediate steps to be taken. The upcoming installation phase of the project will be a critical period in which the demo sites will continue or begin to carry out the interventions upon the demo buildings. 

IMG_2193

Coventry’s demo and living lab activities including the Richard Crossman (RC) and John Laing (JL) buildings will revolve around a number of proved and state of the art installations. For the Richard Crossman demo building the focus will be on testing the performance of somewhat proven technologies looking to establish the impact on a building wide scale. Included within the demo site will be Photovoltaic panels on the roof, LED lighting upgrade throughout the circulation and common spaces, roof insulation improvements and high performance Windows, curtain wall system and a modern Building Management system. The focus will be on the integration of these systems to improve the overall performance of the building. Work on RC has been progressing well with the high performance Windows, curtain system and roof improvement works complete.

The John Laing building is within a slightly earlier phase of the project. Additionally the intervention strategy is taking on a greater experimental ethos with many of the interventions on the cusp of technology advancement. The technologies to be installed on John Laing include aerogel insulation embedded into a unique and innovative render application solution. Aerogel will be tested in 3 separate but localised areas on John Laing with each area having variations in specification and approach.  The strategy will be to use the variations to evaluate comparative critical impact. Phase change materials (PCM) will be implemented into 2 spaces with JL and progress is at the detailed design stage. A ventilated facade with integrated PV on the external face and vacuum insulated panels (VIP) on the inside face will be placed externally on one module of the facade.  VIP will also be tested in isolation in a separate facade module. Within a single space a combination of the technologies (VF, VIP, PV and PCM) will be tested which focusing on the combined impact of the interventions. The data from the isolated spaces will provide a set of control benchmarks with the combination space providing data for the integrated impact. The data gained from the JL interventions will be extrapolated to evaluate potential whole building impact.

Coventry University has also been working on stakeholder engagement and dissemination. As part of the construction based curriculum a group project has been established which all undergraduates will take part in. The project is focused on a scenario-based refurbishment of the John Laing building.IMG_2048 A significant criterion of the project is for students to consider the relevance and context of the RESSEEPE activities. This approach has a number of benefits for CU and the RESSEEPE project with students gaining a greater awareness of the proposed activities on the estate as well as experiencing a real life scenario based project brief.

Additional information can be fund through associated routes such:

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BIM, success or failure, leap or crawl? (Processes and Protocols)

BIM, success or failure, leap or crawl? In this article I’m going to question whether BIM protocols and improved collaborative and integrated working processes can be the lasting legacy of BIM regardless of technology take-up.  Should companies concentrate on getting the processes and people aspects of BIM implementation right before considering what technology aspects of BIM to adopt?

 

Picture1

http://bim.psu.edu/

Project Execution Plans (PEP) and Project Implementation Plans (PIP) are an area where quick, cheap and effective steps can be made in the early stages of BIM adoption.  Small or large companies can use these tools or documents during the implementation stages of project at relatively small costs as compared to actually implementing the technology platform needed to run a BIM project.  The documents if anyone is familiar to them will be aware are not a radical new concept, there are clear similarities to any existing planning documents that firms have set up internally for projects. Other BIM protocol documents such as the Pas 1192-2 have additional reference and guidance for a  BIM strategy outlining project  planning, structure, sharing and modelling protocols etc.

 

By at the very least adopting integrated planning structure of BIM project firms would be able to get the people and processes aspects of BIM right first, reap the benefits and then get the technical aspects ironed out either immediately after the BIM protocols and people structure has been established or even further down the line. Now some firms may be able to make the leap in one go, but others firm may require a more gentle transition period. The danger of making a great leap is that the early end spending may not be directed in the long term right direction. It’s not unheard of for companies to spend a huge amount on BIM models or technology before even having a clue on what they actually want to achieve through BIM adoption.

 

To briefly outline BIM protocols; BIM protocols are the setting up and adherence to processes and procedures that are part of BIM. Documents such as the Implementation Plans and the Project Execution Plans are used to outline the goals, skills, protocols, responsibilities and many other aspects of a BIM project at an early stage.  Whilst in their current reference these types of documents are often referred to as BIM projects tools or plans I believe they could have a wider use across a multitude of projects, from basic standard construction projects right the way through to international research projects. Protocols and Executions Plans can be used to take a team beyond the initial brief into and through a project from start to finish providing clarity on what rules and procedures the team should adhere to, in a pre-agreed and documented format.

 

pas 1192 use

http://shop.bsigroup.com/forms/PASs/PAS-1192-2/

One of the major benefits of at least adopting BIM protocols first  is that as mentioned trough reducing initial outlay the leap into BIM can be less of a leap and more of a steady passage.  Another factor to consider is that by tackling the people and organisational aspects first you can skip the nervous and often ill-informed leap of purchasing a costly full software package deal before even knowing what you want out of BIM leading to multiple problems further down the line. The kind of problems I’m eluding to are ones such as being tied into a proprietary vendor, or not considering the actual companies or clients (depending on who’s the driver into BIM)  requirements for the first or future BIM projects. Making these leaps into the technology aspects of BIM before fully understanding what you hope to get out of it, or maybe more importantly what you actually need out of a BIM project could be extremely costly. I have seen many testaments of companies purchasing astronomical amounts of software before even having a real clue as to what BIM or BIMM actual is and what it means for the firm beyond that of buzz word adoption. If a company is going to invest in BIM they need to be sure that they have sifted through the initial stages of the BIM wash and have begun to really evaluate and establish what BIM can do for them as an outfit.

 

frugalqueen.wordpress.com

frugalqueen.wordpress.com

Many people are getting BIM the wrong way round and coming unstuck when they have a flashy and pretty BIM model, or should I say 3D model as it is in most cases and not actually understanding what kind of data or processes they want to draw off from the BIM process as a whole.

 

Many people talk about the top>down approach of implementation i.e. getting the directors and managers to agree on the push for BIM and then look at the ‘down’ or general staff and assess what needs to be done in regards to training and technology etc. One step that I feel could get the ‘top’ on board more easily could be to present the notion of improving the simple and low costs things first to improve the methods and protocols of working.  By implementing BIM protocols you can make quick gains in efficiency and processes with little outlay which could then be used as leverage to encourage any doubting bosses. In an ideal world all parties would be on board at a firm from the get go but this is obviously not always possible in reality. There are still factions out there that don’t understand BIM enough yet or are simply not encouraged enough by the current arguments to wholly make any huge leap. It’s often the case in business to adopt the ‘let’s see what everyone else does first’ policy.

 

With all these fluctuating variables coming into to play, getting the people working more efficiently and truly collaborative from the outset of projects could be one of the key lasting legacies of BIM as the area naturally metamorphosis’ and evolves over its lifespan.  Certain processes, technology and aspects of BIM may fade over time, but the people involved, providing there’s no radical automated robotic takeover of the industry, will be there for the long run so getting the people aspects right makes sense, doesn’t it?

 

To put a delicate twist on my opening line; BIM, success or failure, leap or crawl, BIM protocols and improved collaborative and integrated working processes can be the lasting legacy of BIM at the very least I hope.

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What should we be assessing in BIM Education?

What should we be looking to assess in regards to BIM in education today? Also what should we be looking to assess in the future as all parties, industry, education and research knowledge of the best BIM practices and processes evolves?  The UK Government is attempting to establish BIM learning outcomes and such but I’d like to hear first-hand off people actively involved in BIM what they feel should be assessed and taught  in Higher Education

 

Over the past few months I’ve discussed many topics revolving around BIM, the what, the why and the drivers. This week I want to follow on from a previous article on ‘The challenges of integrating BIM into Higher Education’. Many parties are now in consensus that we need to be integrating BIM in some shape or form into academic curriculum at HE level. But what exactly should we be teaching and just as important what should we be assessing students on in BIM?

 

http://www.coventry.ac.uk/

http://www.coventry.ac.uk/

Teaching BIM in my opinion is just as much about the people and processes as it is the technology, maybe even more so. This is because if you don’t get the collaborative processes right than how can you expect your staff or students to begin to tackle the more technical aspects of BIM. For members of a team to be able to accept a change in their working process there needs to be an understanding as to why any change is being pushed.  For some this maybe a slight adjustment but for many this maybe a complete culture change.   The whole business view reflects the ground level people view in this respect in that some companies are already practicing collaborative working and in office protocols etc. so they will only need minor adjustments where as other companies may need to make wholesale changes to adapt to BIM processes.

 

If education is to provide the construction industry with graduates that have the applicable skills which are required by industry then education institutes need to ensure that the skills that are being taught in lectures and classes are relevant to the realities of an ever evolving industry.  One of the key challenges I see for BIM education curricular and assessment is being able to continually keep up to date with the changing nature of the construction industry. As I’m sure many of you are aware industry guidelines and practicing policy can often change almost as often as a change in the wind.  Just look at the UK planning guidelines fiasco with bringing in changes and then making abrupt turns in policy. The same can be said for schemes like the feed in tariffs for the solar panel industry.

 

sourced - google images

sourced – google images

With this in mind I feel it’s imperative that academia tries to keep their finger on the pulse as best as reasonable possible in regards to BIM curricular. And yes this may mean that lecturers may spend weeks preparing a module syllabus only to have to completely rework it a year or two later.  Gone are the days when a lecturer can get away with turning up with the same PowerPoint’s and coursework’s year on year for 10-20 years! Well that my opinion at least.  With a continually evolving industry we need a continually evolving and adapting curriculum.  This practice should not only be restricted to BIM teaching it should be the ethos across all courses.  Many courses today are based technical aspects of the industry and with anything technical it continually gets updated and altered year on year; I’m thinking Autodesk policy here!  Culture changes are generally less regular but in the case of BIM beyond the overall wider culture change aspect there is multiple smaller changes down the BIM road. This is a natural progression as BIM feels it way through it implementation.

 

With all this in mind I’d like to evoke some discussion on what should we be looking to assess in regards to BIM in education today? Also what should we be looking to assess in the future as all parties, industry, education and research knowledge of the best BIM practices and processes evolves?  The UK Government is attempting to establish BIM learning outcomes and such but I’d like to hear first-hand off people actively involved in BIM what they feel should be assessed and taught  in Higher Education. Please feel free to join the discussion below with you thoughts and opinions. 

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Drivers behind BIM Part 2

The article this week will follow on from lasts week’s article looking at the drivers behind BIM. This week I will focus on the NBS surveys from the last few years as well as looking at some of the industry take up and commitments towards BIM that has taken place recently.

wheel BIM

Drivers Behind BIM Part 1 can be found here

Another key driver in the push for wider adoption of BIM across the industry is the positive effects that BIM working practices will have in regards to delivering low impact sustainable buildings for the future, in an increasingly energy conscious time.  By increasing the BIM awareness and skills of the industry whilst at the same time parallel to these further increasing the industries abilities to analyse and design low impact buildings, the construction sector will be in the best position to contribute positively towards a low impact future.

The National BIM Report 2012 canvassed the opinions of over 1000 participants with differing levels of awareness and understanding of BIM for 2011. The results showed that 73% of participants agreed that the industry was simply not yet clear enough on what BIM actually was. Following on from this, NBS repeated the survey in 2012-13 titled the NBS National BIM Survey 2013, once again canvassing the opinions of the industry for the year 2012. The same question was asked and this time around 74% now felt that ‘the industry isn’t yet clear enough on what BIM is yet’, clearly with this continued statistic there is still further work to be done in regards to preparing the industry for full adoption of BIM.

Also highlighted within the findings was the lack of awareness amongst all participants. The National BIM Report 2012 established, “that awareness of BIM is (was) not universal, with 21% of participants stating that they were not aware of BIM (in 2011)”. In the repeated study, NBS National BIM Survey 2013 the same question was asked again, this time around however the number of participants ‘neither aware nor using BIM’ fell to 6%. This result is a marked improvement on previous years amongst the industry participants.  As good as an improvement as this last result is it would be somewhat counterproductive if the industry was to stand still in regards to BIM adoption and training. Similarly once again it would also be counterproductive if Higher Education institutions continued to allow graduates to leave university without any awareness of BIM themselves. I believe if this was to happen it could hinder the Government and the industry in their push for greater adoption of BIM.

Personally I feel it’s the responsibility of Governments, the firms who can realistically afford to, as well as Higher Education institutes to ensure that the necessary training is provided to enable graduates and existing professionals to succeed within an increasingly competitive industry, with a clear awareness and ability to work within a BIM working environment being one of those skills.  For those smaller companies who work to an ever increasing tighter staffing and technology budget I’m afraid I don’t have all the answers! Yes I feel that the smaller SME’s need to adapt to survive but at the same time I recognise the barriers. What is encouraging is various funding schemes that are popping up to assist SME’s with CPD funding etc. such as the Sustainable Building Futures (SBF) based in Coventry to assist SME’s in and the Midlands region.

http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

http://www.freeimageslive.co.uk/

The extent to which BIM is adopted across the construction industry depends on whether industry leaders buy into the Governments sentiments. Currently major players within the industry are making strong drives towards the adoption of BIM, with some already delivering projects at maturity level 2. Balfour Beatty has recently invested a considerable amount of funds into the adoption of BIM across their company. In 2012 Balfour Beatty “signed a three year, $12 million agreement that will help Balfour Beatty expand its adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM)” balfourbeatty (2012). Capita, formally known as Capita Symonds soon to revert back to Capita!, have also been investing heavily in the adoption of BIM they announced last year that from  “July 2012 all its new design projects will use BIM Level 2 as standard” capitasymonds. (2013). The Royal BAM Group have also recently signed a three year contract worth “(£2.8m) with software firm Autodesk to provide Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology across its global operations, including all BAM projects in the UK” building (2013). Speaking about the deal in October 2012, BAM Construct Design & Marketing director Chris Gilmour stated that BIM would be used across all projects, “Not just special projects – no matter how big or small the project, we will be fully embedding BIM” www.building.co.uk (February 2013). This review of the construction industry is by no means exhaustive; it is however a small indication of the commitment that industry is making towards adopting BIM.

So as you can see there are many factors at stake when we talk about the drivers behind BIM, whether it be Government, Industry or Education they all have a big part to play in the future of the construction sector. What are your thoughts on BIM, do you believe enough is being done push forward with BIM? Also do you feel it’s he to stay, or is it just another buzzword or phase that will pass?

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