Building Information Modeling – Strategies for Green Building Technologies

bim4.jpgIn a previous post (link), I covered how BIM (Building Information Modeling) was changing the Architectural, Engineering & Construction (AEC) industry, and also provided insights on the market drivers that green technology vendors in this space should be aware of, to leverage BIM for growth. In this column I will cover some insights on growth strategies for the federal buildings sector, as well as general growth strategy insights from key thought leaders in the market.
BIM (Building Information Modeling) is not just the adoption of new technology, but also incorporates new collaborative workflow. There is more emphasis on collaborative design and planning in the beginning phases of a project, so that costs and risks in later stages like construction and operations (where most of the costs are incurred) may be managed and contained. Green tech vendors should be involved in these early planning stages, so that a realistic assessment of cost savings and improved environmental performance are identified. Also, they can add value to the optimization process (conducting ‚Äòwhat if’ scenarios), which may lead to additional savings and benefits that may not have been readily apparent.

Emerging Market Segments for Green Building Technologies
There are two interesting market segments for green building technology providers to consider: the international buildings market and the US federal buildings sector. (note: other viable market segments, such as facility management, will be covered in another post).
International markets are proving to be quite viable for BIM deployments and green tech. Increasing awareness of global warming, green house gas emissions, and sustainability have driven significant market opportunities in international markets of Europe and Asia Pacific as well. John Kennedy of Green Building Studio provides advice to green tech start ups: “Look outside the US to both the EU (European Union) countries as well as to Australia”.
Buddy Cleveland of Bentley Systems mentioned that the UK facilities market is farther advanced than the US market, in terms of green certification tools. “New regulations for improving building performance require quantitative assessment of carbon emissions; not just a qualitative assessment”. In this market, it is conceivable that green technologies may assist to “pull” the growth and adoption of BIM, given the regulatory climate.
Another key market segment is the US federal buildings sector. The GSA (General Services Administration) has created the National 3D-4D BIM Program, designed to allow for advanced and superior cost effective management of federal buildings and facilities. Currently, GSA has over 35 projects utilizing BIM, and has mandated that every new facility and major modification project should utilize a BIM model for spatial validation.
Along the lines of green technologies, GSA’s Office of the Chief Architect is currently encouraging, documenting, and evaluating the implementation of Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies to assist energy performance analyses and operational practices.
Executive Order 13123 is a national initiative to reduce the average annual energy consumption of the GSA’s building inventory. With the use of BIM, more complete and accurate energy estimates earlier in the design process, improved life-cycle costing analysis, increased opportunities for measurement and verification during building occupation, and improved processes for gathering lessons learned in high performance building should result. In general, advancements from BIM may increase the role energy modeling and alternative materials play during both design and building operation, leading to an overall reduction in energy consumption by GSA buildings.
Patrick Suermann of the NBIMS has conducted a number of BIM projects for the USACE. “They have allocated approximately $24B in military construction (upgrades and new facilities).” The USACE also will spend additional monies of $15-20B for upgrades and base reconstruction efforts; creating a broad market for BIM adoption, and as a consequence, BIM – add on applications in the green tech area.
Why should green tech vendors monitor the GSA’s BIM program as well as other agencies such as the USACE? As Suermann states:” Federal agencies have to compete against each other to be the most efficient constructor and manager of assets, which lead to higher budget allocations from Congress. Cleantech firms should pitch to both agencies and their prime contractors to assist them in successful deployment of BIM”.
Partnership and Exit Strategies
Go to Market’ strategies should also reflect the importance of leveraging established companies in the AEC space for sales, branding, and deployment channels. A key component to this strategy: identify a technology partner who may bring brand awareness, marketing, and channels access. “Plan to partner in order to scale your business”, said Kennedy, who has partnered with a number of leading AEC software companies.
It should also be noted that the ‚Äòexit strategy’ for successful green tech start ups could be acquisition by a larger established software provider in the space. Kennedy’s Green Building Studio was recently acquired by Autodesk, and Bentley Systems acquired a smaller software firm last year that it had partnered with called Hevacomp, which provides MEP (Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing) and energy analysis modeling. Both Autodesk and Bentley are advocates of BIM adoption, and one would assume that these new acquisitions will allow them to integrate green technologies into BIM software platforms.
(Note: some of this content was previously published in a column for; link is here).
Scott Boutwell is a management consultant and former AEC executive from Oracle and URS Corporation; providing tech commercialization, M&A advisory, and ‘go to market’ strategy services to cleantech, sustainability, and global AEC firms. His blog covers anecdotes and growth strategies in the engineering design and sustainability sectors. Scott can be reached at
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