We hear and read a great deal about the promises- and potential pitfalls- of BIM in the context of its use as a tool for sustainable design. Accordingly, we were interested to read in the most recent issue of Dwell about the Suburban Prototype Home in Bergen County. Designed by Hoboken-based Nastasi Architects for clients in the New York City suburb of Woodcliff Lake, the designers used a BIM model to successfully execute the curves and angles of a steel and glass addition to a traditional suburban ranch residence. Essentially, BIM is colloquial for advanced computer modeling design programs that allow designers to create 3-D models of a project that are loaded with extremely detailed information, at a level of precision that reduces construction time and waste and assists in the type of integrated design necessary for a truly sustainable project.
For the Suburban Prototype, Nastasi was able to transmit electronic drawings to its detailer and fabricator that set forth both geometric dimensions for the project and details on the strength of materials. The firm was also able to build a model of the property’s energy consumption by loading data on the angle of the sun, prevailing wind speeds, and average temperatures for the exact coordinates of the project site. The drawings sent to the fabricator were extremely precise, allowing it to manufacture the addition’s structural elements at comparable cost to conventional construction. John Nastasi told Dwell that he hopes to install similar types of additions on hundreds of homes, calling BIM modeling “more flexible and adaptable than other prefab methods that rely on mass-produced components and materials that are put together the same way over and over again.”
The premise of BIM- a 3-D design model that can be transmitted from architect, to client, to fabricator- offers sustainable designers an unprecedented level of control over their projects. For example, it’s possible for a BIM model to instantaneously calculate the costs of substituting different types of materials into and out of the project, while programs like ECOTECT offer extensive energy modeling capabilities, from solar analysis and shading design to ventilation and air flow analysis, determined based on local geographic and meteorological information. Nastasi’s fusion of BIM with prefab at the Suburban Prototype demonstrates the potential power that designers can harness from technology in order to drastically increase the sustainable quotient of their projects.
- Green Insurance Law (gbNYC)