BIM and Laser Scanning for As-built and Adaptive Reuse Projects: The Opportunity for Surveyors

Thursday, July 9, 2009

In his inaugural speech the new President made many references to using our natural resources more wisely, to reducing our carbon and water footprints, and investing in smart electric grids and other similar new energy-efficient technologies. Energy conservation and sustainability are top priorities and efforts are underway in many states to reinforce that--many offering fast tracked permitting to those projects that are "green". While many in the surveying community may view this as a nice gesture and work for others to do, make no mistake, while nothing is recession proof this opens up many doors of opportunity for surveyors, ones that are profitable and very much in demand.

Given the economic challenges facing the AEC community worldwide today, many are looking at both new areas of growth while at the same time looking to streamline how they approach projects, and the associated workflow to be more efficient and more flexible. Terrestrial laser scanning technology in the context of building information modeling (BIM) processes bode well in addressing both areas. As new building development slows down, utilization of existing buildings and sites will grow in importance. Coupled with this trend is the need to improve resource efficiency, especially of buildings, which is a cornerstone of sustainability efforts today. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and many other researchers have indicated that buildings account for more than 40% of all energy consumption, annual greenhouse emissions, and up to 30% of the water use in the U.S., even more when you add in irrigation. This puts buildings at the center of the sweeping energy reform movement. Deliberate and cost-effective renovations to buildings can generate substantial environmental, financial, and societal benefits--from reducing energy consumption to creating new jobs. Having accurate as-built data will be a vital component of the entire planning and design process in this space.

The process of adapting old structures for new purposes or "adaptive reuse" as it is called, represents quite a paradigm shift in the construction industry. Given the focus on adaptive reuse of buildings, especially in light of the current economic climate and sustainability efforts, the spotlight on this trend will become increasingly hot. We're witnessing a change in consumer perception. People want to live in an urban community where old buildings are kept and reused, some of historical value (like the textile mill buildings in the northeast), rather than bulldozed. This in turn has caused a challenge to the AEC industry, where the core focus in recent years has been on new construction. New skills and new approaches are now being rapidly adopted to meet this emerging challenge to modernize older structures--and laser scanning and BIM are the powerful tools for success that you need to understand and leverage.

While the roots of BIM are in architecture, the basic principle of working from and on accurate 3D digital models applies to nearly all infrastructure projects, including site work, subdivisions, bridges, highways and all the other things that surveyors routinely stake out. BIM is more than just a 3D model (see Figure 1); it allows you to have a better visualization of the entire project from many perspectives, and uses analysis on data within the model to more easily predict the outcome of projects before they are built.

This coordination allows for many things. Designs can change faster in response to new ideas and conditions. Designs are easier to optimize with analysis and simulation. Project documentation is of higher quality and is easier to generate. And, it's easier to visualize the way the project will work after construction. But it all starts with existing condition information in 3D, and that is starting point we surveyors provide the design professionals. But in using new technology we must examine our work processes and how they may change, and how those changes propagate downstream to the AEC ecosystem that relies on our spatial expertise. At first glance, the changes seem to threaten surveyors. But in fact, just as with BIM and laser scanning, there are opportunities for surveyors to take on new and expanded roles on today's big construction projects. Let's look at the compelling business drivers that will make adaptive reuse projects and retrofits take hold:
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005) mandates the use of sustainable principles for siting, design, and construction of public buildings.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA 2007) requires a steep reduction in fossil fuel energy usage and encourages the use of cost-effective solar hot water heaters.
Executive Order 13423--Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management, requires agencies to:
• Reduce energy consumption by 3% per year for a total of 30% by 2015
• Reduce water consumption by 2% per year for a total of 18% by 2015 • • Reduce green house gas emissions
• Increase renewable energy usage

As-builts have always been a key part of construction process and surveying workflow­it's all about verifying that the on-site infrastructure is, in fact, in the right place. This leads us to the next step in the process, as-builts and the rise of adaptive reuse. Adaptive reuse is a significant trend in the development industry. Do a Google search on the key words "as-builts" and you'll find nearly 700,000 hits. And the term is even listed in Wikipedia. In today's sustainable mindset, the old method of just raising an existing building for new developments is no longer always acceptable, no different than simply clearing land and turning it into subdivisions and planned communities. Instead, developers are paying more and more attention to the sustainability issue and looking for ways to adapt and reuse existing valuable old structures­this not only saves the resources that go into new construction, it prevents the waste and toxin release that results from demolition.

These could be old buildings, sites, or bridges, or even redoing the associated water and sewer systems, or access roads to these sites. Anywhere infrastructure is going to be repurposed or reused for something else via adaptive reuse, architects and civil engineers are going to want existing as-built data to start the process. I see this trend increasing dramatically given the economic conditions today and the need to do more with what we have already. This is tightly coupled with the need for energy retrofits on many existing buildings, and redoing miles of sewer and water lines (see Figure 2) or bridges given the influx of people from suburban to urban areas.

Ensuring our infrastructure can handle this dramatic change is key, and without a lot of existing records, surveyors are going to be called upon to build that asset database. The AEC industry is meeting this new challenge in a variety of ways and one key is the provision for rapid, accurate as-built data of large, complicated, and often derelict buildings and their supporting infrastructure (water pipes, sewers, drainage, etc.). Often these elements in older buildings, such as department stores into residences, factories into offices, brown fields into technology parks, the list goes on, are ripe for transformation. Since much of this infrastructure is quite large and complex­ bridges, water and sewer plants, factories, old department stores, warehouses, etc.--surveyors will have to step into the breach and provide accurate data and 3D models to a BIM-centric process.

Why is 3D information so critical to this adaptive reuse process, and why should surveyors care? As Simon Barnes, RICS, CEO of Plowman Craven in the UK notes: "A lot of this wouldn't happen at all without scanning and 3D models. True, it's exactly what surveyors have been doing for a long time, gathering 3D coordinates, but what we have now is a system and method that can collect all these 3D data points incredibly quickly. We're solving the same problems--defining shapes and surfaces--but we're doing it a heck of a lot quicker, and in a way that is perceived as exciting."

Simon also noted, "Surveyors must understand that we want to make that distinction, and explain to project stakeholders that there is now a lot more we (surveyors) can do for a project. We shouldn't just be delivering data and walking away. Clients may not realize that surveyors have the skills and desire to help them far more than we have previously and that you are keen to do that."

Accurate as-built data is a critical component of any planning and design process especially where sustainability and reuse of existing infrastructure comes into play in areas like energy refits. Many buildings that are more than 30 years old, that is before the mainstreaming of CAD, simply have no available design or as-built data let alone in an electronic form or in 3D. When they do exist, they are most often hard copy blueprints that may have limited value for preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, or reconstruction efforts tied to today's efforts.

Even newer buildings, which may have good plan sets, have never been surveyed to determine the differences between design and construction and those that have are often still in 2D. So there is a whole world of critical data that needs to be gathered to support sustainable building and infrastructure trends, and surveyors are the ones who will do that work. With accurate as-built data, designers can assess the reuse potential of buildings, understand the original construction, estimate the need for structural upgrade or seismic retrofitting, or simply create an accurate model for design and visualization. This is a job that surveyors could do previously, but slowly and with minimal detail, often crossing the threshold of cost effectiveness for a project. Now, accurate and dynamic 3D models employed as part of a BIM process can be used even on extremely complex structures.

The architect and engineers armed with this comprehensive model created from the surveyor can now make better informed intervention at the early design phase, and thus have a real impact on design decisions for the future of the building or other infrastructure. As-built data is being used increasingly to initiate a facilities program for the long-term management of an asset.

More and more owners are starting to understand and search out providers to assist (see Figure 3). There is no doubt that, presently, laser scanning combined with a BIM-centric process require a rethinking of traditional processes as indicated in the examples above from Plowman-Craven. But there are plenty of success stories, and it is increasingly understood that the speed, accuracy and efficiency of modern survey techniques are so necessary to modern construction that the return on investment is significant. Now is the time for surveyors to promote the power of thinking in 3D and their role as key partners in the effort to fix, refurbish and optimize our infrastructure for a more sustainable future.

Monday, April 16, 2012

iSTAR® the world’s first automatic rapid 360º camera launches in Texas

Camera design and manufacturing company, NCTech, is today launching the world’s first fully automatic instant 360º panoramic camera at SPAR International 2012 in Texas. Eagerly anticipated, the iSTAR® is widely predicted to displace current technology globally across multiple sectors including police, military, engineering, media and heritage.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Trimble Introduces New Positioning Solution for Tunnel Construction

PARIS, April 16, 2012 Trimble (NASDAQ:TRMB) today introduced three new solutions for heavy civil construction professionals, the Trimble® Connected Office, the Trimble Connected Controller and the Trimble Connected Machine.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Laser Technologies: Taking the Guesswork Out of Pipeline Condition Assessment

Every year, wastewater managers must make decisions about which portions of their collection system should be maintained, rehabilitated or replaced. With the EPA and American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) both projecting hundreds of billions of dollars of investment shortfalls facing our aging wastewater infrastructure, it is more important than ever that our wastewater managers are able to spend these limited funds most wisely to reduce risks and maintain service levels at a low cost.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Laser scanner from Faro Technologies measures up to 976,000 points/s

FARO Introduces Next Generation Focus3D Laser Scanner

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Do you have permission to scan that building?

ORLANDO, Fla. – If any presentation here at the FARO 3D Documentation Conference truly got attendees thinking it was Tuesday’s talk by Tom Kurke and Michael Weinberg: “It will be awesome if they don’t screw it up: Bringing IP issues in digital documentation into focus.”

Monday, July 27, 2009

Autodesk 2010 Certification Now Available for Design Professionals

Certified Associate and Certified Professional exams now available for newest versions of AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Revit Architecture, and AutoCAD Civil 3D Software

Friday, June 15, 2007



Thursday, February 15, 2007

3D Laser Mapping Supports Kumba Iron Ore Extraction

Nottingham, UK - 3D Laser Mapping, the UK based specialists in laser measurement technology and software, is helping Kumba Iron Ore to improve the safety of iron ore extraction in South Africa. 3D Laser Mapping has supplied and installed a Riegl LMS Z420i laser scanner, the first scanner of its type in South Africa, which is being used to monitor slope deformation in order to reduce the levels of risk to personnel and equipment that occur as a result of potential slope failure. The system uses the latest laser technology to capture highly accurate slope measurements that are then analysed to identify areas of movement and therefore potential failure.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Certifying As-built or Record Drawings

Architects should use caution when giving record drawings to clients and when creating “as-built” drawings. Examples of provisional language that might be used to mitigate the risk involved with “as- built” drawings are included.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Measuring Floor Area for Commercial Leases

Measuring Floor Area for Commercial Leases

Monday, January 15, 2007

3D Laser Mapping Launches Telecom Mapping System

3D Laser Mapping has launched a mobile mapping system designed to capture asbuilt 3D measurements of overhead telecom networks. The vehicle-mounted WireFinder system uses laser technology and specially designed software to measure the position of telecom network assets, such as poles and wires.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bentley OnSite Connects Worlds of Civil Engineering Design and Construction Speeds Project Construction, Decreases Project Risk and Costly Rework

EXTON, PA., January 4 /CNW/ - Bentley Systems, Incorporated today announced Bentley OnSite, breakthrough software that connects the worlds of civil engineering design and construction. This new offering automates and streamlines tasks for stakeout, inspection, and measurement in the field, facilitating project management and helping ensure unprecedented levels of accuracy during construction.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

GiveMePower Launches PowerCAD SiteMaster Turn-On-and-Go

CALGARY, Alberta, December 13, 2006 - GiveMePower Corporation (OTCBB: GMPW), today launched two new ultra-mobile computing solutions for building surveying and inspection, construction area estimating and reporting, and facilities asset and information management - featuring hardware from mobility market leaders Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) and Tablet Kiosk.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

3D Laser Mapping Launches StreetMapper 2

3D Laser Mapping has launched StreetMapper 2, a new modular vehicle-mounted system for rapid 3D mapping on and off road. The portable system uses lasers to 3D map assets and the landscape to millimeter accuracy at speeds of up to 70 km an hour.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Autodesk Supports Visual Studio, .NET Framework, MS SQL

SAN RAFAEL, California, November 8, 2005 - Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) today announced support for Microsoft Visual Studio 2005, the .NET Framework 2.0 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005. Autodesk and Microsoft work together across many technology areas. Autodesk's data management products, built using SQL Server, enable teams to gain greater insight and maximize efficiency by always having instant access to design information. The Microsoft products combined with AutoCAD-based products from Autodesk provide an optimal platform for application developers to realize their ideas in designing and creating a wide range of software applications, from shipbuilding to facilities management, plant design to urban planning, architecture to emergency response.

Monday, November 6, 2006

How can BIM benefit facilities management?

BIM is certainly changing the way buildings are designed and constructed, but is it changing how they're operated and maintained? There is a lot of interest in the industry around using building information for FM (facilities management), but how does this really work? Do the benefits of BIM extend to FM?

Thursday, November 2, 2006

Prime Edge Asbuilt Services proposes a new method for building field data verifications

San Francisco, California. — November 2, 2006 — Prime Edge Asbuilt Services today announced that it is underway to develop a full set of business applications for use by of professionals within construction, property management and design industries. Software applications include estimating software interface is called PrimeCue. EdgeCue is a CAD based software package and PlanCue is a facility plan management interface. Beta versions of these packages have been used by the company for the last two years and the updated version of the products will allow users to take advantage of a patent pending method for building data collection for estimating, drafting and management purposes, making it easier than ever to prepare asbuilt floor plans, estimate amount of work to be performed or provide a detailed information with regard to the occupied space for facility planning purposes. In an effort to make this technology available to the industry professionals Prime Edge had launched AsbuiltEdge Technologies which will be responsible for the software and business development associated with the system.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Building for Boomers

Preparing for the changes of aging, including declining mobility, is also a concern. A 2005 study conducted by Vista Market Intelligence of Lake Oswego found that 89 percent of boomers would like to have the master bedroom on the main floor of their home; 79 percent said they would prefer to own a single-story home.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Management of Potential Change Orders with As-builts

Every project is unique and requires an immense amount of skills and expertise to be completed successfully and on time. It is almost given that at some point or throughout the project you will be hiring an Architect and a General Building Contractor to design and build what you have in mind. This article is written with homeowner in mind as a guideline for a very interesting and education experience of remodeling your house which waits ahead of you. First thing that you as a homeowner should understand is the fact that construction project you are about to begin is complex.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Autodesk Releases FMDesktop 7.0 Product Suite

SAN RAFAEL, California, October 10, 2006 - Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK)today announced the launch of the Autodesk FMDesktop Product Suite, a powerful, easy-to-use software solution for facilities management. Developed by and for experienced facility managers, the Autodesk FMDesktop 7.0 suite of products, including Facility Manager, Facility Link, Facility Web and Facility Request, helps deliver the power of digital facility management through intuitive and easy-to-use features. The scalable computer-aided facility management (CAFM) suite of products was built on Autodesk's DWF platform, and, by incorporating the latest DWF viewing technologies, provides facilities managers with a simple, accurate method to create, manage and share building operating data throughout the enterprise. This is the first full version of FMDesktop launched by Autodesk, who acquired the application in January 2006 as part of the acquisition of Applied Spatial Technologies.

Monday, October 9, 2006

Ranal Launches CAMeLEAN/PM Project Management Suite

BANGALORE, India, October 9, 2006 – Ranal Software Solutions – one of the leading PLM products and service providers, and part of the Ranal Group – has launched CAMeLEAN®/PM, in India. CAMeLEAN®/PM is a complete project management suite that guides organizations through the entire project management lifecycle.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Your As-Builts Are Your Blueprint for Success

Most contractors know that next to the finished product, the as-builts documentation is essential part of a construction project. As-builts are the final blueprint drawings which reflect changes made in the field during the construction of a new structure or an addition to an existing. As-built drawings consist of a full set of construction documents and detail built structure in every detail. Electrical and Mechanical drawings are especially important part of the documentation due to the much higher cost associated with field changes. Most commercial property owners and property managers keep a set of current as-builts handy at all times to access essential information on daily basis. In fact, some entities consider as-built documentation such important part of the construction process, they require drawings to be completed prior to issuing final occupancy.

Monday, August 21, 2006 and Prime Edge As-Built Services to Combine Forces to Create a New Field in Stock Photography

UNION CITY, California, August 21, 2006 —, an emerging stock photography web site, which have been serving photographing community since 2004 had agreed to work on the development of new stock photography interface with Prime Edge Asbuilt Services, a professional service in SF Bay Area serving a network of Architects, Homeowners and General Contractors.

Monday, April 3, 2006

Autodesk Completes Acquisition of Constructware

SAN RAFAEL, California,April 3, 2006 - Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), today announced it has completed the acquisition of Constructware, a privately held company based in Alpharetta, Georgia that provides on-demand communication and collaboration solutions that streamline design, construction and facility management. The acquisition, announced on February 7, 2006, closed for cash consideration of US $46 million (see press release). This acquisition enables Autodesk to rapidly expand its Autodesk Buzzsaw collaborative project management solution with Constructware software’s industry leading cost, bid and risk management capabilities. The acquisition allows Autodesk to more completely meet the needs of its customers as they realize their ideas through the use of on-demand collaborative project management solutions.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Autodesk Updates Building Solutions Complete Portfolio

Autodesk Revit Building 9, Revit Structure 3, ADT 2007, Autodesk Building Systems 2007, Autodesk VIZ 2007 launched.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

As-builts – Problems & Proposed Solutions

As-builts – Problems & Proposed Solutions

Friday, May 28, 2004

How big is a square foot? It all depends on your audience

Measuring square footage is not always an exact science. There are a number of rentable square footage measurement standards commonly used in the commercial real estate market. Each method, if used on the same space, would result in a different rentable square foot number.

Friday, January 31, 1997

New BOMA standards clarify lease space

The American National Standard for measuring floor area in office buildings is changing. The new version (officially labeled ANSI/BOMA Z65.1-1996) is an improved method designed to meet the current and future needs of the many industry professionals concerned with the measurement of office buildings.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

BIM and Laser Scanning for As-built and Adaptive Reuse Projects: The Opportunity for Surveyors

In his inaugural speech the new President made many references to using our natural resources more wisely, to reducing our carbon and water footprints, and investing in smart electric grids and other similar new energy-efficient technologies. Energy conservation and sustainability are top priorities and efforts are underway in many states to reinforce that--many offering fast tracked permitting to those projects that are "green". While many in the surveying community may view this as a nice gesture and work for others to do, make no mistake, while nothing is recession proof this opens up many doors of opportunity for surveyors, ones that are profitable and very much in demand.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leica Geosystems Announces the Release of Leica CloudWorx 1.0 for SmartPlant 3D

Leica Geosystems announces the immediate availability of Leica CloudWorx™ 1.0 for SmartPlant 3D. This powerful and easy-to-learn point cloud solution is designed for Intergraph SmartPlant 3D users who want to take full advantage of accurate, laser scan as-built data directly in SmartPlant 3D. Leica CloudWorx™ 1.0 for SmartPlant 3D is the latest addition to the Leica CloudWorx suite of products that enable professionals to use rich, as-built point cloud data directly in their native desktop design and visualization platform. SmartPlant 3D is Intergraph's next generation plant design platform.