Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Visibility Graphics Overrides for Systems in Revit MEP 2012

New for Revit MEP 2012 is the ability to control graphic overrides directly from within the system properties pallette. No more having to make filters for every view or apply View Templates to views to display systems the way you want.

The only catch to this is, unlike Filters that can override Pattern and Line Graphics, this new functionality only allows for Line Graphics to be overriden.

You can now also in Revit MEP 2012, give duct and pipe systems an actual rendering material for visualization purposes, not just a physical material for calculating flow, friction, etc.

The only hangup with this approach is that now everything on that piping system for instance, such as accessories like valves, meters and backflow preventers get the same material. It may not be realistic but it sure does look pretty!.

 The traditional approach for Duct and Pipe Rendering materials in Revit has been through the Object Styles Dialogue, but even worse with that approach is that now all your pipe systems such as Sanitary, Domestic Water and Storm which could range from PVC, Copper and Ductile Iron respectively, are now all made rendered with the same material, If you are only showing one pipe type per rendering, then you'll be ok with this approach.

The most painful and tedious method of all, which would be very laborious in a large project, but would actually deliver the most satisfying results, would be to use the paint tool on all that Piping and Ductwork. Better be banking on that presentation and Good luck!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Setting up worksharing in Revit 2011

Setting up worksharing in Revit allows users of different disciplines or even different portions of the same discipline to simultaneously work on one central file. In other words, instead of several disjointed files referencing several different Xrefs or overlays such as in AutoCAD, this central workshared file in Revit becomes a repository for the complete building. There are some exceptions to this however, sometimes there might be three linked Revit files that were previously workshared and those would be the Architectural model, the Structural model and the MEP model. This usually happens when either the file is too large, there are several buildings in the project or the different disciplines are in different firms. For smaller firms, where all the disciplines reside in in the same building, a central Architectural, Structural, MEP Model is about the closest thing you can get to a virtual building. One of the many benefits of a central model, besides the obvious advantage of constant coordination, is the ability to set up worksets for displaying the different systems and their visibility as the company sees fit.

One thing I will advise before any worksharing is enabled is to make sure the template you are using is completed first, because a template cannot be created from a workshared file.

While the concept exists that all users are working on one central file, they are actually working on local files that relay and reflect the changes made by the user back to the central file, which resides on the network server,  and vice versa This central file should never actually be opened directly unless the BIM Manager needs to do some form of auditing.

There are two methods for creating a central file, but before any of them is attempted, worksharing has to be enabled from within the main file, or the main finalized template. This is done by clicking on the worksets button in the Collaborate tab of the ribbon.

Worksets should be named and divided into the many different aspects of each discipline, for example, even though there is one plumbing discipline, my preference is to instead set it up as Sanitary Piping & Domestic Water. Mechanical Air could be divided into HVAC and Mechanical Piping. Electrical could be divided into Lighting and Power. Structural could be divided into Foundation, Framing, Grids/Columns & Walls. Architectural could be Core/Shell & Interiors. Fire could be Fire Protection, Egress & Fire Alarm.

Some people prefer to have less worksets to eliminate confusion, but it's actually not confusing at all if you spend some time with it. Worksets will also allow you display your line types, line weights, colors, etc just by defining them on the workset.

Creating a Local File
I previously mentioned there are two methods for creating a Local User file after worksharing has been setup in the main file. These are;

Method 1
Navigate to the network folder using Windows Explorer and simply right click on the Revit File and select copy. Now navigate to a folder of your liking on your local machine and paste. I have a folder I created in my Documents called Local Projects and would paste there. Before you attempt to open the newly pasted file, rename it as "username_projectname_local" Now when you open this file, Revit will warn you that the Central file has been moved or copied and just click ok.

Method 2
Using the application menu in Revit select Open and navigate to the location of the Central File on the network server. If you look at the bottom of the Open Dialog Box you will see Create New Local, check that box and Revit will automatically create a local file in the location you instructed in the File Locations tab of the Options menu for the Default Path for User Files.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

MEP industry failing to take advantage of BIM

A new article found here on Construction Week Online briefly describes some of the advantages MEP firms can gain from using BIM models. One of the main points is the saving of prefabrication costs of ductwork. One major point I see not mentioned in the article, is the obvious  interference and clash detection of the above mentioned ductwork with other disciplines, namely structural.

The MEP industry is failing to take advantage of BIM modelling of projects to cut costs and improve efficiency, said buildingSMART ME president Tahir Sharif at the Construction Week Abu Dhabi conference.

“In this region, BIM has perhaps the greatest opportunities in the MEP industry, where 3D modelling is virtually zero, or it is outsourced.

“In the US, for example, even fabricators produce such models. The major benefit is that the MEP industry can introduce prefabrication, such as HVAC ductwork, which will have huge cost implications,” said Sharif.
“We must look to improve our ways. Professionals must work together and bring information together at an early enough stage. This can save up to 3% on the total project cost,” said Sharif.

“If the construction industry improves its way of doing things, which is actually easier to do rather than try to fast-track everything, component costs can be reduced significantly. This will also promote honesty and transparency, which is perhaps a challenge in such the claims-conscious construction industry.”
BIM with virtual modelling “will reduce wastage, increase efficiency, boost quality and improve delivery," said Sharif.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

3d Plumbing Visualization

I found this extraordinary video at a great resource. The video is a visualization of an innovative hot water recirculating system by Viega. They term it an "Internal Recirculation System" and definitely encompasses sustainability from the waste, energy and cost savings viewpoint. Check out this great 3d vid and see what I mean. It just reminded me of how important the visualization aspect of BIM is for being able to really illustrate points like these. I know that the "I" for Information in BIM is definitely the most important, but you can never deny the power of a great presentation.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Miami Building takes Sustainability to New Heights

I Came across this story on and although it's not necessarily about BIM or Revit I bet they sure used some aspect of BIM in the designing of it :) It seems that BIM is has not quite taken off in Miami and very  few people are even aware of what it is. Either that or some are just keeping it as their secret weapon! Regardless kudos to Spinnaker for this wondrous achievement of a structure.

Office Tower Saves 2.5 Million Gallons Annually

The 1450 Brickell office tower in Miami, Fla., has implemented a wide range of energy-efficient features and technologies that help save over 14 percent more energy and over 40 percent in water use than standard buildings built to code.
These savings helped the 35-story office tower earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for core and shell category for new construction. Rob Hink, a LEED Accredited Professional and Principal of the Spinnaker Group, the office tower’s environmental consulting firm, said 1450 Brickell is the only newly constructed LEED Gold certified office tower in Downtown Miami.
Other key features of the 582,817-square-foot office tower include low-flow water fixtures that are projected to save more than 2.5 million gallons of water per year, preferred parking spaces allocated for low emission, fuel-efficient vehicles, and pedestrian and cyclist-friendly amenities including 44 bike racks and shower and changing facilities.
However, the highlight of the building is its glass curtain wall system, which played a central role in attaining LEED Gold status, while setting a new standard for commercial building strength, according to the Spinnaker Group. The curtain wall system is said to improve impact resistance, solar performance, energy efficiency, sound attenuation and UV blocking.
The glass fa├žade, fabricated entirely of large-missile impact glass, was tested to withstand wind loads over 300 mph, which makes 1450 Brickell one of the nation’s most wind-resistant office buildings, according to Spinnaker. The tower also has two generators, one for use in emergencies and another that can power tenants’ basic electrical needs during outages.
During construction, the project recycled about 78 percent of construction waste and purchased 40 percent of all materials from sources within 500 miles of the construction site.
Other office towers that have recently earned LEED certification include Larimer Office TowerWells Fargo’s Duke Energy CenterMetro Park Towers, and Bank of America Tower.

Link to article here

How might contractors benefit from Building Information Modeling?

Here is a great article recently posted on in the business section. The article goes on to briefly describe some of the key benefits immediately available to the contractor and owner before RFI's even arise.

Building Information Modeling, or BIM, has long been used by architects and engineers to design buildings virtually. The technology is now turning up in construction-site trailers, where general contractors have begun using it to make sure work schedules and material orders are accurate.
BIM is useful in coordinating a project and resolving design issues. For example, general contractors and subconsultants use BIM to see exactly how plumbing and mechanical systems are routed through a building that is under construction.
General contractors can put their construction schedules into the model to see a project's progress and make changes, if necessary. This functionality helps the general contractor phase a project by determining more accurately when to, for example, open a section of a remodeled building or close a corridor to allow work to proceed.
By having a virtual presentation of the project available on a laptop, the general contractor can share BIM information with the project's owner and make any necessary changes on the spot.
Revisions take place in the computer — not on the job site — and help eliminate costly downtime and material reorders in the field. General contractors are also able to retrieve BIM information quickly to resolve issues that arise with other contractors at the project site.
Rest of article here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Older Document but Timeless Information on BIM

Although now in it's second edition, the Original Contractor's Guide To BIM in it's first edition published in 2006, was an incredibly forward thinking document by the Associated General Contractors of America. Here is another definition of BIM from the text:

Building Information Modeling is the development and use of a computer software 
model to simulate the construction and operation of a facility. The resulting model, a 
Building Information Model, is a data rich, object-oriented, intelligent and parametric 
digital representation of the facility, from which views and data appropriate to various 
users’ needs can be extracted and analyzed to generate information that can be used to 
make decisions and improve the process of delivering the facility.

The article goes on to explain all the basic functions and advantages of BIM and misconceptions...

Setting aside a couple of myths already spreading…
Myth #1: BIM is only for large projects with complex geometries
Fact: The benefi ts of using BIM on all projects, regardless of size and
shape, are being proven by contractors using BIM today.
Myth #2: BIM is only for large contractors who can afford the investment.
Fact: The benefi ts of using BIM are being seen by contractor

Here is a comparative chart of Traditional CAD based drawing as opposed to BIM.

This Guide is actually a very quick read yet very informative and serves as a great introduction to the world of BIM for those unfamiliar. Among the topics are:

The Competitive Marketing Advantage of BIM
Partial BIM Uses such as Visualization
Different Methods of arriving at a BIM Model
Risk Management and Legal Implications
Clarification of Responsibilities
What is 3d, 4d, 5d?

Just don't venture into the Hardware/Software Section unless you want to have a giggle or too, remember how fast Computers have progressed even in the last 4 years.

Here is the complete 1st Edition available for free. If you would like the 2nd updated Edition, you could purchase it here for around $50 for AGC members.  This Guide goes into finer detail on points such as how to incorporate BIM into your company and joint stakeholder collaboration.