3D modeling technology is gaining ground as a means to drive efficient, green construction efforts. Use of 3D modeling as a design tool improves the quality of technical information that builders can get from tech specs.
Higher-quality information will help builders greatly reduce production time, waste in offcuts, abortive work, and bring an end to chronic over-ordering of building materials. When laid out in the 3D Building Information Model (BIM), new build properties can be tested before implementation, a move that can reduce the cost of property development by 20% or more.
Even better, 3D modeling can help reduce waste and costs for remodeling and refurbishing existing buildings, too. This is especially important for historic preservation efforts, where detailed historic architectural information must be overlaid with the more recent infrastructural information as well as the proposed renovations and alterations.
3D BIM begins by scanning the building inside and outside with a tripod-mounted laser scanner that is calibrated to millimeter accuracy. The laser scanner charts all building surfaces as coordinate points along an x-y-z graphical plain. The laser scans are repeated from multiple angles to make sure that nothing is missing or left out. The laser data is then uploaded to the computer and rendered to link the coordinates from each of the scans, which process creates a detailed 3D digital model of the building.
Regardless of whether it’s built from scratch or made from scans of an existing building, once constructed, the 3D model is attached to a number of cross-indexed databases, which allows for a number of different stakeholders to access real-time updates and alterations that have been made to the 3D model.
In addition to the 3D structural model, 3D models of the water, electrical, gas, HVAC, and other utility infrastructure can be superimposed on the existing model. These infrastructural renderings are also uploaded to the shared database. This allows stakeholders to easily and quickly access the specific information about particular plumbing and power junctures without having to trawl through masses of renderings and information. It also allows designers to test green technology retrofits and improvements virtually to measure the benefits before those improvements are implemented.