One of my most endearing traits which annoys the greatest number of people is a delight in paradigm shifts, deep thinking, and root cause analysis. No doubt that this “strategic” and “ideation” approach is the stuff of research and change. But there is something to be said for stability, normalized situations, and managing expectations. This is the advantage of human minds. When faced with a new situation, we can figure it out and store this knowledge in our “comfort zone” for the next time the situation occurs. The only time we re-analyze the situation is when we observe sufficient change in the normal indicators. But there is the story of the gradually increasing hot water, which can kill us because we didn’t notice the shift in the norm.
|Using BIM for Energy Modeling|
This is where inquisitive minds come in. At best, a mind which comes from outside the industry and asks “Why?” And so.. when we start a project, might we reconsider the traditional document flow from design, to structural, to HVAC? If we are using virtual design software such as Revit ( BIM), we might choose to lead with the structural model - for example, if our specifications call for fireproof, earthquake and tsunami resistance. And, if the project that it is being built on an island in the middle of the Pacific, this might greatly affect what materials are reasonably available. Structure can thus initiate the dialog which then is joined by space planning, exterior shell materials, and the HVAC.
Or, you are building in Iceland, and a geothermal system with radiant concrete slab is the key constraint in the specifications, so HVAC goes first. You get the idea – but do we ever even ask this question?
Construction tends to view the world based on the activity of the worker, but there are other perspectives. For example, water is the domain of not only the plumber, but the roofer, the gutter guy, the landscaper, perhaps a wetlands wastewater specialist. Oh, and let’s not forget the Tyvek guy, the below grade waterproofer, window installer….. At what point in the plan design is there a “water “ review? Who asks those questions?
And less we get distracted, who asks the real big questions? Why are we building? If we need a school to house the kids, is there any really good reason to not either re-use the existing building or take over another empty shell, other than to create conformity in the schools? Does the building really address the needs of the occupants, or the neighbors, or the globe?
Construction has been luxuriating in its own comfort zone for the past few decades. But we’ve been slowly boiling in every increasing hot water, as the productivity of the industry went down, quality went down, and cost went up. But the economic times are forcing us to change, and those bold enough to ask the right questions are pushing through the cost, design, and schedule barriers. They can reconfirm the items in the comfort zone, and push others areas to create a totally new paradigm in the built environment. Go ahead, ask the questions.