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BIM @ York University, Canada

Almost 51% of energy from buildings is used to heat them. If we can design, construct and manage buildings in a more integrated, collaborative way, we can save huge sums of money to re-invest back into more worthwhile endeavours

18 September 2017

This is the view taken by Patrick Saavedra, Director of Planning, Architecture and Renewal Projects at York University, Canada.

The university is currently building a third campus and using BIM (Building Information Modelling) in order to reduce waste, save money (to re-invest back into education) and create a much smarter, more efficient building.

Case Study: York Campus

In the case of the new campus at York University, construction managers, architects, planners and university staff all came together to discuss the new university campus. Using BIM allowed for more innovative design; with the aid of 3D visuals and planning analysis, it was decided that all of the public areas around the perimeter of the building would be dedicated to students; no professors or deans have offices on the outside wall.

Research has shown that these are the areas students thrive in and the entire building has been designed with them in mind.

Additionally, the classroom concept has been flipped. Students learn by doing projects and collaborating, not by being lectured at and therefore all classrooms have been kitted out with audio-visual technology.

“You are creating a whole new mind-set for students and engineers at large… creating the entrepreneur and renaissance engineer; a leader in the industry.”

In total it took just 20 months to construct the building which is 167,000 square feet. In part, this was because everything that could have been done off-site was carried out off-site.

A recent survey conducted by Charles Russell Speechlys, showed that 75% of all respondents involved in construction and development think that off-site fabrication will be crucial in the smart building era in enhancing efficiency and lowering the cost of building.

Perhaps more importantly however, a more modular approach makes buildings easier to repurpose in future to ensure it withstands the test of time. Additionally, the landscape design was managed in BIM and the building has solar chimneys to heat/cool the building.

In total 33% of costs were saved, the building was delivered much faster with fewer risks than there would have been if traditional processes were used and the final product has far lower emissions.

Beyond BIM

A three-way contractual arrangement between the client owner, the consultant team and the construction manager/general contractor can be utilised, saving approximately 10% of the overall construction cost.

In future, the university hope to look at how information from Geographical Information Systems can be incorporated into 3D BIM models for real applications for facilities on campus. They are hoping to deliver this within the next 5 years.

"Overall, BIM gives us a new way of imagining what our cities will look like before they look the way they do; that’s a pretty impressive tool." - Patrick Saavedra

Watch this session | Patrick Saavedra, Director of Planning, Architecture & Renewal Projects, York University, Canada

The World Built Environment Forum facilitates industry leading discussions harnessing the enormous potential of the 21st century's people and places.