Cartwright Pickard believe that 7D BIM will enable designers to more accurately predict whole life costs, which will help clients to understand the true long-term viability of alternative design proposals.

Supported by a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the Mackintosh Environmental Architecture Research Unit (MEARU) at the Glasgow School of Art, Cartwright Pickard (CP) are working with industry partners to model Whole Life Cost performance of buildings focusing on the Build-To-Rent sector.

CP believe that over the past 10-15 years the majority of the UK construction industry has failed to keep up with the pace of modern technology. The recently published Farmer report highlights the poor productivity in this industry and states in no uncertain terms that we must adopt technology and modern ways of working in order to survive.

In April 2016, legislation came into effect that mandated the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) on all significant centrally funded government construction projects. CP believe that the advanced application of BIM could have far reaching implications and benefits across the UK construction industry.

A large proportion of architects and designers in the UK construction industry are currently using BIM as a tool to develop 3D geometry with additional component ‘metadata’ added. More advanced users of BIM are adding a time dimension into their models, allowing the construction sequence to be planned and visualised in a virtual environment – known as 4D BIM.

The BIM model can be taken further by adding capital-cost-related information (5D), environmental performance analysis (6D), and finally information relating to the whole life cost, including operation and maintenance of the completed building (7D).

While the use of 4D and 5D BIM is becoming more prevalent, particularly amongst contractors, CP's research team estimates that it will be several years before the industry begins to widely engage with 6D and 7D BIM.

Cartwright Pickard's experience in BIM and Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) has highlighted a trend of underperformance issues in new buildings and the potentially huge benefit of linking the two together.

Their research indicates that by maximising the resolution and quality of information added to a BIM model through the design for manufacture, construction, commissioning and handover stages of the building’s life-cycle, and then injecting the model with real-world building performance data once the building has been occupied, they will be able to push the industry towards a more intelligent approach to building design and delivery.

This approach will be based on real-world feedback that can be leveraged in a virtual environment, allowing the performance of buildings in-use to rapidly, and from an early stage, inform the design of future projects. Crucially, CP believe that 7D BIM will enable them to more accurately predict whole life costs, which will help those commissioning buildings to understand the long-term viability of alternative design proposals.