buildingSMART alliance COBie Case Studies

Construction-Operations Building information exchange (COBie) Case Studies

DECEMBER 7, 2011
by Bill East, PhD, PE, F.ASCE - Engineer Research and Development Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Executive Summary

At the December 2011 COBie Case Studies session documented business cases showing the costs and benefit of COBie, as is currently implemented, were presented by those engaged in the effort. Important contributions of this meeting the presentation of a recommended case study methodology that should be applied when conducting NBIMS related case studies and the presentation of three complete sets of Building Information Models, and associated analysis tools and files, that may be used for future NBIMS development and may be used to support project-team testing and benchmarking efforts.

Case Study Methodology

The majority of case studies conducted today focus on specific results obtained through the application of a given new process or technology without properly describing the scope and context of the case. Without a clear understanding of the scope of the case study it is not possible to compare the results of the case with the possible results that might be obtained if an interested reader adopted the proposed new process or technology. As presented at the May 2011 COBie Case Study meeting held in conjunction with the Construction Owners Association of America a proposed methodology (PDF) for case study development was presented. This process contains the following critical steps designed to eliminate waste inherent in business processes that does not contribute to the resultant value of the product.

  1. Identify the Case Study Project
  2. Prior to Executing the Case Study
    1. Identify the Problem to be Addressed
    2. Document Current/Previous Business Process
      1. unit of measure in man-hours
      2. outsourced processing costs
      3. information exchange costs
    3. Identify the Precise Change to to be Achieved
      1. Predict result in man-hours and cost
    4. Predict the Cost Accounting Impact of the Change
      1. Define the minimum cost metric(s) for success
      2. Define the minimum time metric(s) for success
      3. Define the minimum quality metric(s) for success
    5. Identify Changes Needed to Capture Actual Data
      1. information system modifications
      2. pre-printed form or other documentation changes
  3. Prepare Case Study Plan
    1. All team members to sign off on project plan
  4. Conduct the Case Study
    1. Measurement of activity using modified IT systems (if needed)
    2. Measurement of activity using pre-printed forms (if needed)
  5. Evaluate the Results
    1. Compare plan to actual
    2. Determine accuracy of prediction
    3. Determine causes of deviations
    4. Recommend action plan
    5. Publish result
  6. Implement Action Plan Company-Wide

While this case study methodology represents a significant amount of work, it is the only way to provide the level of defensible business-case information needed to motivate changes to the complex business of facility acquisition to senior leaders and management. Without such rigor case studies most case studies simply resolve to the following statement "Here's what we did and it was pretty cool." Our industry and leaders must take their business seriously if they expect anything to change. The proposed methodology is a recommended approach to begin to allow owners to treat facility acquisition with the same care that they treat any other business decision.

The two case studies below provide a good contrast between the level of discussion that can be achieved through the rigorous process discussed above and a highly qualified case study that is based on traditional after the fact extrapolation of the results in a specific context.

Health Science Center Case, Hyde Griffith, Boraddus and Associates (PDF)
University Health System Case, Gary Cox and Kerry Joels, TMA Systems (PDF)

Additional projections of benefit of COBie from CMMS/CAFM vendors participating in the Dec 2011 COBie Challenge may be found in their presentations.

ARCHIBUS predicts savings of $50,000-$75,000 per 3 story admin building (see page 14) (PDF)
TMA Systems predicts savings of 85% of current cost (see page 13) (PPT)

Common Building Models

Most areas of scientific inquiry have common experimental models that are widely used to evaluate the benefit of one new technique or method over another. A set of such models for use by the buildingSMART community are now available as Common Building Information Model Files. There were several presentations related to the need for and production of these models.

Impact of Common Models and Tools, Bill East, ERDC (PDF)
Creating Common Design Models in Revit, Robert Feldman, Kristine Fallon and Associates (PDF)
Cost of Correcting Design Models for Handover, Danielle Love and Mariangelica Carrasquillo, ERDC (PDF)

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