BIM in renewable energy projects

The #BIM methodology (Building Information Modeling) has revolutionized the way buildings are designed, built, and maintained, including infrastructure such as photovoltaic installations. As a result, at ATBIM, we apply BIM methodology for the design and execution of these installations. Harnessing the power of data to optimize design, positioning, placement, and wiring or sequencing.

Is in these engineering disciplines like renewable energies (particularly those dedicated to improving building energy efficiency) which design, calculations, and generation of project graphics doc are often resolved in shorter periods (days and even hours), where we can take advantage of BIM programming.

In these cases, study and engineering processes tend to be highly standardized and/or simplified due to some of the following reasons:

  • Detailed studies from previous design phases are available and only need to be reviewed or updated. As is often the case in new construction, where photovoltaic panel installers or other technologies, like aerothermal, typically join the project when it has already been executed.
  • Existing buildings or renovations interventions are sometimes of small scope or size.
  • The decreasing final product cost makes it economically more profitable to oversize, simplifying design and execution processes. And also reducing indirect installation costs, even if direct costs increase slightly.

But, what if we could rely on standardized processes that, in an automated way, make this study, analysis, and modeling process as agile as it is accurate and standardized? Here

YouTube video

Example of development with DynamoBIM and Revit 2018 for the initial study of solar fields based on terrain shape, corridors, shadows, etc.

After several years working in the sector:

Our experience tells us that the implementation of BIM in these types of companies, besides being transversal and interdisciplinary, must be oriented towards maximum simplification of processes. Adapting to the already standardized processes of the companies themselves and providing specific solutions to their needs.

Some of the uses that the application of these methodologies can bring to companies include:

  • Conflict identification: BIM applications allow simulating the operation of different building systems, enabling the detection of potential conflicts between them before they happend. Here is an example: a photovoltaic panel installation company can verify that there are no shadows projected onto them by other building elements that may affect their performance and that have been projected or modified in coordination models.
  • Material lists generation: BIM applications can automatically generate needed materials schedules for each installation, simplifying the purchasing process and avoiding calculation errors. For example, a cooling system installer can obtain a detailed list of pipes, valves, compressors, and other necessary elements for the installation.
  • On-site execution control: From the BIM model, we can both plan execution processes and stockpiles and establish a monitoring process for the installation that allows us to coordinate our teams internally. And also with other trades.
  • Delivery of BIM model for maintenance: The BIM model can include detailed information about each building element, even regarding the maintenance and operations phase. So it is becoming increasingly common for building operators to include among their requirements for installation companies the delivery of a BIM model with this associated information.
YouTube video

Example of a BIM project of the installation of photovoltaic panels on a roof developed by ATBIM.

In summary:

The development of automations that simplify processes, coupled with a good strategy of simplified implementation, makes the BIM implementation process much more agile, efficient, and profitable for these types of projects and companies.

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