The Best Thermal Baths on The Costa Brava

The Costa Brava which means ”Wild Coast” or “Rough Coast” is a coastal region of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain. Costa Brava stretches from the town of Blanes (which is 60 km northeast of Barcelona) to the French border. There are three counties in Costa Brava- Alt Empordà, Baix Empordà and Selva. All of them are a part of the province of Girona.To reach Costa Brava, you need to take a flight to the Girona airport. Alternatively you may reach the Barcelona airport in Spain which is 92 KMs away from Costa Brava, and then travel by road. Pinar Del Mar, Planamar, Park Hotel San Jorge & Spa, Hostal Alba and many other comfortable hotels are available on this land to pamper you. After checking in to your designated hotel, you may think about taking a thermal bath to relax your tired muscles.Before choosing the best thermal bath center for you, let’s have a look at the available options:-


From the times when the Roman Empire ruled this region, the people of the Costa Brava have been exploring the region’s many medicinal mineral waters and hot baths. It is believed that this water possess relaxing and healing qualities. In the modern times, these thermal baths of the area offer the visitors some of the best facilities. The therapeutic effects of taking a bath in these thermal baths are manifold.1) Balneari Termes Orion- Hotel Balneari Termes Orion offers maximum relaxation through the thermal bath in their facility. They have recently refurbished their luxurious spa to ensure that their clients receive the maximum benefits of these treatments.At 45 degrees Celsius, the water which emerges from the spring is ideal for treatments of aches and pains. There are several kinds if treatments offered in this luxurious natural spring. This bath is surrounded by natural mountains, woodlands and meadows to ensure that the patient receives the maximum benefit from the treatment.2) Balneari Vichy Catalan- This spa contains the purest Vichy Catalan water. The trained masseurs and therapists here provide the customers with a lot of services like chiromassage, inhalations, massage shower, foot-reflexology, paraffin baths, parafango, steam bath and sauna bath. There is a swimming pool which contains the same medicinal water which can be used by the customers for their treatments.Balneari Vichy Catalan Spa will allow you to completely unwind and become ache and pain-free before you leave the place.3) Peralada Spa- This place uses a unique methodology of treatment. They use the wine extracts to help improve their customer’s health and wellbeing. The free radicals present in the wine extracts help in the production of collagen fibres and elastin and it in turn helps in the formation of red blood cells in the blood. The blood circulation is improved, and the body’s immunity increases manifolds.


This luxury spa is located on the bank of a lake in Peralada, Girona. The crystal clear water of the lake is natural and possesses therapeutic properties. There is a steam room to relax your tired muscles and a Jacuzzi to bring you back to life. There are other treatments like heated marble treatment and a barrel shower. A sauna bath will help you to remove the toxins from your body and a thermal circuit around its swimming pools can be used for different kinds of treatments. There is an exclusive “Gran Claustro” meant for the most prestigious clients of the spa.Apart from Costa Brava, the nearby town of La Garriga also has many natural springs and spas for therapeutic purposes. So go ahead and explore. You will definitely have a very relaxing vacation.

Successful Design Management for the 6 Stages of Design of Infrastructure and Building Projects

Design Management

Design Management seeks to establish project management practices that are primarily focused on enhancing the design process. For Infrastructure and Building projects the successful implementation of Design Management throughout the entire Project Life Cycle can represent the difference between a superior outcome for the project in terms of Quality, Timing, Cost and Value or failure, given the complexity of Infrastructure and Building projects in today’s environment.

Design Management is however primarily focused on the Design Process within the project framework and as such is only a part of the overall Project Management of a project, albeit a critical part of the project.

If you are going to be a successful Design Manager and achieve superior outcomes for both your clients and your own business, you cannot manage design haphazardly and expect consistent results. You must manage design projects by undertaking a proven stage by stage process. This brief article outlines those stage by stage processes and gives the Design Manager a guide to successfully design managing Infrastructure and Building projects. The Design Management role is considered in this article in the context of an in-house or consultant client side Design Manager and not a Design Manager within the design team itself. It is also on the basis of a fully documented Design and Construct only contract.

Stage 1: Early Design Management Involvement-Statement of Need

The output for this stage will be a Design Report that will directly feed into the Client’s Statement of Need and overall Business Case.

Early involvement to the Project Life Cycle is important but this may need to be reinforced with the Client to appreciate and understand the benefits this will provide. There are several key tasks during this stage:

1.1 Obtaining and Assessing all the available key design Information

  • Collation of all available data and information
  • Visit the site
  • Review contract as related to design aspects
  • Review the level of the design that has been prepared to date
  • Evaluate information and highlight critical issues
  • Review findings with Client
  • Assess the team capability requirements and resourcing
  • Assess any spend on fees required at this stage
  • Engage consultant as required to provide required technical and project inputs to assist the preparation of the design report.

1.2 Design Risk Review

  • Identify design risks and create a Design Risk Register
  • Identify any Safety in Design issues
  • Analyse and provide suggestions for risk mitigation for ongoing stages
  • 1.3 Design Report Input to Statement of Need
  • Prepare draft of design report input into the Statement of Need report and review with Client
  • Prepare final Design Report component into the Statement of Need report

Stage 2: Design Management during the Outline Design Stage

With the Statement of Need or Business Case formally approved for the project to proceed, the next step is to get the Outline Design Stage going.This stage involves clearly defining the Client requirements and project needs so as to form a sound foundation for the design process to proceed and is the right time to engage consultants and set up the formal Design Management process. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

2.1 Define Client design requirements and project design needs

  • Gather all available and updated project data from the Client.
  • Identify any gaps in the information provided.
  • Meet with the Client to review the information provided and identify additional information required.
  • 2.2 Engage Design Consultants
  • Engage all the key consultants that are required to develop the Functional Design Brief. It is critical that the consultant’s scope of work is clear for the level of input required and clearly noted in their Contract.

2.3 Prepare Functional Design Brief

  • Manage and coordinate the consultant team to deliver the Functional Design Brief that will respond to and record all the client requirements and needs and form the basis to proceed for all disciplines.
  • The Functional Brief will generally be supported by Concept design sketches that provide an outline of the proposed design.

2.4 Prepare the Design Management Plan (DMP)

The DMP provides the roadmap for the way the design will be managed and needs to be prepared at this stage of the design process for best results. The DMP is a component of the Project Management Plan prepared by the Project Manager.

The key Design headings in a DMP are as follows:

  • Introduction
  • Project Overview
  • Objectives
  • Process and related procedures
  • Status
  • Documentation & Deliverables Schedule
  • Value Engineering
  • Reviews
  • Change Management
  • Independent Third Party Checks, Permits
  • Quality Management
  • Client Approvals
  • Close Out & As Built Record

2.5 Outline Cost Plan

  • Manage and coordinate the development of the Outline Cost Plan with the Quantity Surveyor, with input from all the relevant consultants.

2.6 Identify Design Risks

  • Identify Design Risks within the overall Risk Management framework.
  • Analyse and manage risks and update the Risk Register, design out risks where possible.
  • Ensure Safety in Design requirements are followed.

2.7 Value Management

  • Arrange a Value Management workshop. Value Management is a systematic review of the essential functions or performance of a project to ensure that best value for money is achieved. It takes an overall view of the function of the project as well as capital and recurrent costs.
  • Prepare a Value Management Report and implement recommendations.

2.8 Project Approvals

  • Outline and define the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements.

Stage 3: Design Management during the Schematic Design Stage

With the Outline Design Stage formally approved for the project to proceed to the next stage, the next step is to get the Schematic Design Stage going. This stage involves developing the design across all the disciplines in response to the approved Functional Design Brief. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

3.1 Manage the Development of the SchematicDesign

  • Manage the team in developing the Schematic Design.
  • Monitor the compliance of the Schematic design with the Functional Design Brief.
  • Review Design Programme and coordinate with overall project programme.
  • Coordinate the development of the Schematic Design with the project procurement process.
  • Manage the preparation of the Schematic Design Report which contains drawings and outline specifications for all disciplines.

3.2 Schematic Design Cost Plan

  • Manage and coordinate the development of the Schematic Cost Plan with the Quantity Surveyor, with input from all the relevant consultants.
  • Identify any major design decisions to the Quantity Surveyor that could influence cost.

3.3 Identify Design Risks

  • Identify Design Risks within the overall Risk Management framework.
  • Analyse and manage risks and update the Risk Register, design out risks where possible.
  • Ensure Safety in Design requirements are followed.

3.4 Value Engineering

  • Arrange a Value Engineering Workshop, including external peer reviewers to negate any “built in” resistance to change and get a fresh perspective
  • Prepare a Value Engineering Report and present to the Client and implement approved Value Engineering recommendations within the Schematic Design Report or in the detailed design stage as appropriate.

3.5 Project Approvals

  • Review and update the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements.
  • Manage the submission of any required Planning Approval Applications.

3.6 Update the DMP

  • Review and update the DMP as required catering for the current project circumstances.

Stage 4: Design Management during the Detailed Design Stage

With the Schematic Design Stage formally approved for the project to proceed to the next stage, the next step is to get the Detailed Design Stage going. This important stage involves developing the design to tender and construction across all the disciplines in response to the approved Schematic Design Report. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

4.1 Manage the Development of the Detailed Design

  • Manage the team in developing the Detailed Design ready for tender including as required coordination meetings between disciplines experiencing coordination difficulties and the exchange of progress design drawings and specification for proper inter-disciplinary coordination.
  • Manage changes and variations.
  • Monitor the compliance of the Detailed Design with the Schematic Design Report, Value Engineering recommendations and the Functional Design Brief.
  • Review Design Programme and coordinate with overall project programme
  • Coordinate the development of the Detailed Design with the project procurement process including early issue of documents to the Quantity Surveyor to start the Bill of Quantities. Any “shortcuts” in the deliverables to accommodate the tender programme need to be fully understood and agreed
  • Coordinate the inputs to the development of the Contract documents being prepared by the Project Manager
  • Consider the requirement for lead disciplines that are producing background and base drawings, such as architects on building projects, to complete these ahead of the supporting engineering disciplines, so as to allow the supporting disciplines adequate time to complete their dependent work. The team cannot realistically work effectively all in parallel to deliver all at the same time without some lag with the lead discipline. It also allows time for the lead consultant to review the documentation from the dependent disciplines. Allow adequate time in the design programme for this lag in completion and coordination.

4.2 Detailed Design Cost Plan and Pre Tender Estimate

  • Manage and coordinate the development of the Detailed Cost Plan with the Quantity Surveyor, with input from all the relevant consultants.
  • Identify any major decisions to the Quantity Surveyor.
  • Prepare for the Pre Tender Estimate (PTE).
  • Take any required action if the PTE is in excess of the Detailed Design Cost Plan.

4.3 Identify Design Risks

  • Identify any additional Design Risks within the overall Risk Management framework.
  • Analyse and manage any remaining risks and update the Risk Register, design out risks where possible
  • Ensure Safety in Design requirements are followed

4.4 Peer Review and Value Engineering

  • Arrange for the drawings and specifications that are being prepared for Bill of Quantities or that are at 90% completion to be issued for external Peer Review to review the “tender readiness” of the tender documents for each of the disciplines. This is also the time to review the consistency of the presentation of the documents across all disciplines and the adherences to project protocols such as title sheet formats, sheet sizes, drawing extents and overlaps, drawing scales, document numbering and revision notation.
  • As part of the Peer Review, Value Engineering of the detailing within the tender documentation should be undertaken at the same time to ensure the detailed design is the most efficient possible.
  • Manage the peer review responses and issue to the team to respond to the comments and incorporate the recommended and agreed comments or mark ups. Allow adequate time in the design programme for this important process.

4.5 Project Approvals

  • Review and update the planning approval process and coordinate with the design process requirements.
  • Manage the submission of any required Planning Approval Applications.
  • Obtain any required certification from the consultants.
  • Manage any required inputs to obtain the required Planning and Building approvals.

4.6 Update the DMP

  • Review and update the DMP as required to cater for the current project circumstances
  • 4.7 Tender Readiness Report
  • Prepare Tender Readiness report to the Client recommending issue to tender including any project issues or risks and the PTE.

Stage 5: Design Management during the Tender Stage

With the Detailed Design Stage Tender Readiness Report formally approved for the project to proceed to Tender, the next step is to arrange the design documents to be issued for tender. The following are the key tasks in this stage:

5.1 Prepare Design Documentation for Tender

  • Manage the team in delivering the documents as per the DMP at the required time in the required hardcopy and soft copy formats to the required locations.
  • Collate the required document transmittals.

5.2 Housekeeping

  • Take the opportunity to catch up with housekeeping of files on the server, in local drives and hardcopies.

5.3 Tender Technical Queries and Clarifications

  • Manage all incoming tender technical queries and clarifications during the tender period and arrange responses from any of the team where required.
  • Participate in any Tender clarification meetings with the contractor as requested by the Project Manager.

5.4 Addendums

  • Manage any design and documentation requirement for addendums that are required due to omissions from the Tender due to time constraints or from new Client requirements.

5.5 Tender Evaluation

  • Manage all required technical tender review and evaluation inputs from the team to allow the tender to be evaluated from a technical perspective.
  • Where required prepare a technical evaluation report and deliver to the Project Manager.
  • Participate in any negotiation meetings where technical matters require further clarification and arrange appropriate technical inputs from team.

5.6 Manage Consultants

  • Manage the finalisation of design related fees and any outstanding variations and claims.

Stage 6: Design Management during the Construction Stage

With the Tender formally awarded and on the assumption that the Project Manager will typically manage the construction phase delivery of the project, then the role of Design Manger will generally be reduced during this stage to a support role only or where required due to incomplete or ongoing design development resulting from client variations or changes made during tender negotiations. The following are some of the key tasks in this stage:

6.1 Issue Approved For Construction(AFC) documents

  • Manage the team in delivering the AFC documents as per the DMP at the required time in the required hardcopy and soft copy formats to the required locations.
  • Collate the required document transmittals

6.2 Housekeeping

  • Take the opportunity to complete the housekeeping of files on the server, in local drives and hardcopies

6.3 Outstanding Design

  • Manage the team in delivering any outstanding design due to client changes or changes resulting from tender negotiations

6.4 Manage Contractor Design Submissions

  • Subject to the complexity of the design, assist the Project Manager to manage the team in reviewing and responding to any contractor designs.

Design Management in Action

The above methodology represents a general approach for Design Managing Infrastructure and Building Project. This methodology has been applied successfully to numerous projects undetaken by the author, however as any Design Manager will know, every project is different and every design and project team is generally comprised of different team members.

The key to making the above methodology work is studying, applying and start implementing it to suit your particular project. It offers focus and a clear direction for any design for an Infrastructure or Building project to achieve a superior outcome for your Client and your own business.

Decoding the Ductwork Design Process, Methods and Standards

Today, one of the significant objectives in MEP engineering design for HVAC design engineers is to improve energy efficiency, maintain air quality and thermal comfort. Energy efficiency, air quality and comfort in a building depend on how heating, cooling and air distribution systems are designed and this is where careful ductwork design plays a significant role. Ductwork and HVAC system design are important as it ensures indoor air quality, thermal comfort and ventilation. If the HVAC system and ducts are not designed accurately, it could lead to poor air quality, heat loss and make the conditioned space in the building uncomfortable.

The primary function of the ductwork design system is to ensure a least obtrusive channel is provided through which cool and warm air can travel. When designed accurately, HVAC air distribution systems will play an important role in countering heat energy losses, maintaining indoor air quality (IAQ) and providing thermal comfort.

To understand how ductwork can be designed in a cost-effective and efficient manner, this article decodes ductwork design and provides a brief outline of the design process, methods and standards.

What is Ductwork?

The basic principle of ductwork design is to heat, cool or ventilate a building in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The primary function of ductwork is to design conduits or passages that allow air flow to provide heating, cooling, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC).

In the duct design process, the basics of air flow must be understood. Return air goes into an air handler unit (AHU), through a filter and into the blower and with pressure it goes through the A coil or heat exchanger and then it goes out into the supply air system. If the ductwork is designed correctly it enables the AHU to produce the right amount of air through the heat exchanger. In a typical air distribution system, ducts must accommodate supply, return and exhaust air flow. Supply ducts provide air required for air conditioning and ventilation, return ducts provide regulated air to maintain IAQ and temperature and exhaust air flow systems provide ventilation.

For ductwork design to be efficient, MEP engineering design teams need to have designers with a mechanical and engineering background. Ductwork design specialists or building service engineers must also possess thorough knowledge of other disciplines such as architectural, civil and structural concepts to ensure HVAC systems are clash free.

The Ductwork Design Process

The ducting system design process is simple, provided that the specifications are clearly mentioned and the inputs regarding application, activity, building orientation and building material are provided. Based on the information provided calculations can be completed to create an energy-efficient and clash-free design. Typically, air conditioning and distribution systems are designed to fulfil three main requirements such as:

• It should deliver air flow at specific rates and velocity to stipulated locations.

• It should be energy efficient and cost effective.

• It should provide comfort and not generate disturbance or objectionable noise.

The process of ductwork design starts once architectural layouts and interior design plans are provided by the client or MEP consultants. Building service engineers then require specification requirements such as application, the number of people, the orientation of the building and architectural characteristics to make calculations on heat load and air flow. Before any calculations are carried out, single line drawings are drafted to showcase the flow of ductwork in the building. Once they are approved, calculations for heat load and air flow are conducted. Once the heat load calculations are complete, the air flow rates that are required are known and the air outlets are fixed. With the calculations, specifications and layout, the ducting system design layout is then designed taking into consideration architectural and structural details of the conditioned space and clashes with other building services such as electrical, plumbing (hydraulic) and mechanical services.

To start the ductwork design process there are inputs required regarding details about the type of application, specification requirements, building orientation, architectural characteristic and material.

• Application type - Ductwork design will vary based on the type of application the building will be used for such as manufacturing, data centres, medical applications, scientific research and comfort applications such as restaurants, offices, residences, institutional building such as schools and universities.

• Specification requirement – To create an efficient duct design, designers need to know what type of activity will be conducted and the average number of people that will use the conditioned space. This will help in calculating the air flow, velocity and heat load required to maintain temperatures and IAQ. In comfort applications, for instance, an office or restaurant will require different duct design and air velocity than a residence.

• Orientation and material of the building - The orientation of building and material used plays a key role in gauging heat absorption which will help determine the cooling and ventilation requirements. Based on whether a building faces north, south, east or west, and where it is geographically located, heat absorption can be calculated. The type of material used for construction also affects the amount of heat gain and loss of the building.

The challenges of incomplete inputs or non-availability of required inputs are discussed in an upcoming article on Ductwork Design Challenges and Recommendations.

Ductwork Design Methods

Ductwork design methods are usually determined based on the cost, requirements, specifications and energy efficiency standards. Based on the load of the duct from air pressure, duct systems can typically be classified into high velocity, medium velocity and low velocity systems. There are three commonly used methods for duct design:

1. Constant Velocity Method – This method, designed to maintain minimum velocity, is one of the simplest ways to design duct systems for supply and return air ducts. However, it requires experience to use this method as the incorrect selection of velocities, duct sizes and choice of fixtures could increase the cost. Moreover, to maintain the same rate of pressure drop in duct runs, this method requires partial closure of dampers in duct runs (except index run) which could affect efficiency.

2. Equal Friction Method – This conventional method used for both supply and return ducts maintains the same frictional pressure drop across main and branch ducts. This method ensures dissipation of pressure drops as friction in duct runs rather than in balancing dampers. However, like the velocity method, partial closure of dampers is required and this could lead to noise generation.

3. Static Regain Method – This method commonly used for large supply systems with long ducts is a high velocity system that maintains constant static pressure before each branch or terminal. While this is a balanced system as it does not involve dampering, longer ducts may affect air distribution to conditioned spaces.

While different duct design methods used vary from application to application, duct system performance and system balancing and optimisation need to be considered. After the air handling unit (AHU) is installed, the system needs to be balanced and optimised to enhance performance. In system balancing and optimisation, air flow rates of supply air outlets and return air inlets are measured, and dampers and fan speed are adjusted. Especially in large buildings, balancing air conditioning systems may be expensive and time-consuming, but it is required as it provides benefits that outweigh the cost incurred in installing the system. To minimise total and operating cost, many optimisation methods are used as such as the T-Method Optimisation described in the DA3 Application Manual of AIRAH (Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning).

To design air distribution systems that are energy efficient and cost effective, HVAC system designs must include basic engineering guidelines and adhere to certain design standards. Let us consider some of the guidelines and standards used in the industry in different countries.

Ductwork Design Standards

When designing air conditioning systems, HVAC design engineers must be knowledgeable about the basic methods, guidelines and standards applicable, from the type of units used, calculations required, methods of construction, type of material, duct system layouts, pressure losses, duct leakage, noise considerations to optimisation using testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB). Listed below are some of the standards organisations and associations in the U.S., U.K., Australia and India, that provide manuals, codes and standards for the HVAC industry.

U.S.

• SMACNA (Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association) – It provides a manual on HVAC systems duct design that includes basic yet fundamental methods and procedures with importance on energy efficiency and conservation. While the manual does not include load calculations and air ventilation quantities, it is typically used in conjunction with the ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook.

• ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) – It is an association that emphasises on the sustainability of building systems by focusing on energy efficiency and indoor air quality. The ASHRAE Handbook is a four-volume guide that provides the fundamentals of refrigeration, applications, systems and equipment. Updated every four years, the handbook includes international units of measurement such as SI (systems international) and I-P (inch-pound).

U.K.

• CIBSE (The Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers) – is the authority in the UK that sets standards for building services engineering systems. The Codes and Guidelines published by CIBSE are recognised internationally and considered as the criteria for best practices in the areas of sustainability, construction and engineering.

• BSRIA (Building Services Research and Information Association) – is an association that provides services that help companies enhance their designs to increase energy efficiency in adherence to Building Regulations, mock-up testing of systems and BIM support.

Australia

• AIRAH (Australian Institute of Refrigeration Air Conditioning) – provides technical manuals for professionals in the HVAC industry and information ranging from air conditioning load estimation, ductwork for air conditioning, pipe sizing, centrifugal pumps, noise control, fans, air filters, cooling towers, water treatment, maintenance, indoor air quality and building commission.

India

• BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) – is a national authority that provides standards and guidelines as per the International Organization for standardisation (ISO). The handbooks by BIS stipulates the code of practices applicable to the HVAC industry such as safety code for air conditioning, specification for air ducts, thermostats for use in air conditioners, metal duct work, air-cooled heat exchangers and data for outside design conditions for air conditioning for Indian cities

• ISHRAE (The Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) – provides indoor environmental quality standards and testing and rating guidelines based on common IEQ parameters standards and criteria for the classification of buildings based on energy efficiency.

While HVAC design engineers must keep relevant standards in mind and ensure that local codes are applied in designs, energy efficiency is a primary objective as well. Ductwork design plays a significant role in regulating indoor air quality, thermal comfort and ventilation. The key function of ductwork design is to provide the least obtrusive channel through which cool and warm air can travel in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

Inaccurate duct designs could result in poor indoor air quality, heat loss and uncomfortable conditioned space in the building. A well-designed air conditioning HVAC system will ultimately optimise costs. By regulating pressure loss, selecting the right duct size, balancing air pressure and controlling acoustics, ductwork designers could optimise manufacturing, operational, environmental and commissioning costs.

 

BIM Process Risks for MEP Design Service and How to Mitigate Them

Global construction practice has seen substantial changes over recent years, with the arrival of BIM being a key factor. Building Information Modelling, known as BIM, is a process that involves the creation of 3D models, which enables designers and engineers to create accurate construction scheduling, estimate costs and adapt intelligently to design changes. Accurate building information models and precise building designs are created from the outset, which benefits all stakeholders in the construction process, particularly MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) designers. MEP (M&E) designers or engineers design MEP services, while MEP contractors are then responsible for spatial coordination, detailed design, fabrication and installation. Though BIM drives an effective process for MEP (M&E) design services, there are some risks involved. We look at how these risks can be mitigated.

Firstly, it is useful to understand exactly what the BIM process contributes to MEP engineering design. A BIM model helps visualise spatial MEP requirements. Detailed views are created for analysis, and any clashes of spatial requirements are identified and can be resolved at an early stage. Designs can be altered to mitigate any clashes, and these changes can be seen in the model.

The progress of the MEP design and coordination workflow process has been supported and driven by technological advancements. BIM technology has played an important role in making this possible, especially the use of 3D models through Autodesk’s BIM 360 tool. BIM 360 is a cloud-based software platform developed primarily for construction, which employs checklists, equipment tracking and the monitoring of tasks to improve quality and on-site safety. Within BIM 360, models can be utilised for 2D construction documentation and the 3D coordination of trades. BIM 360 permits the control of processes by project managers, subcontractors, designers and architects at all design stages. It enables the sharing of vast amounts of information between stakeholders and easy communication.

MEP designers can utilise architectural, structural and trade models to plan in detail from the onset of a project by designing in 3D. In general, the process involves MEP design and installation workflows that will streamline planning, designing, coordination, fabrication, installation and construction of a project. Following architectural design, the MEP design engineer develops building services design elements, such as lighting, cooling, heating, drainage, waste, fire prevention and protection services. In most cases, the design engineer is not involved with the detailed spatial design of building services. Usually, it is the MEP, or trade, contractor who carries out the detailed spatial design and installation. It falls to the MEP contractor to convert the consultant’s design into an installation-ready MEP format and provide MEP shop drawing services. At times, fabricators creating ductwork or pipework elements, electrical ladders or sprinklers in a module also contribute.

The BIM process brings all stakeholders on to the same platform at every design stage.

Therefore, an effective collaboration tool would be required to:

  • Enable access to MEP designers, architects, structural designers, MEP contractors
  • Host various formats for files and documents
  • Ease communication
  • Permit designers and shareholders to work on the same models and share design data

BIM 360 Team with Collaboration for Revit (C4R) offers this. It integrates stakeholders and project information into a single cloud-based platform and improves quality while reducing rework. Checklists can monitor safety on site, equipment can be tracked and asset data can be collated. Any problems can be resolved early in the design process, minimising delay, cost and rework.

BIM Process Risks for MEP

Communication

If architects, modellers and designers do not communicate properly, designs may not be properly integrated and the occurrence of errors in the MEP model will increase.

Building Code Understanding

Client needs and local code requirements are of paramount importance and must be clearly understood. If misunderstandings of building codes and client requirements occur the MEP design will be negatively impacted.

Coordination

Stakeholders must coordinate effectively. Any modification executed by any MEP service should be communicated to all other trades. Failure to do so can create hazards at the project implementation stage.

Cost Estimation

The BIM process can help determine overall costs and take off quantities. MEP resources, labour and prices are considered, but materials availability and costs may vary over the duration of the design and implementation, affecting cost estimation.

Technical Knowhow

Effective BIM usage requires in-depth knowledge of BIM technology and Revit, Navisworks, etc. to develop precise MEP designs. Errors could prove costly.

Incomplete BIM Use

In common practice, BIM is used for a specific MEP objective rather than for each and every part of the design process. These include:

  • Remodelling or renovation
  • Material takeoffs and estimation
  • Design models by contractors
  • Detailed models of MEP components

Unless the BIM scope and output are accurately defined, the intended use of the BIM model may not occur.

BIM Model Not Shared with Construction Team

When 2D documents are printed from the model, some of the 3D data may not be transferred. The construction team may need to design a new 3D model, leading to unexpected changes. Designers may not share models with contractors because they are incomplete or do not tally with the construction documents, creating errors and tensions.

Not Possible to Model Everything

Creating models is time consuming. Many details, such as size, shape, location, quantity, and orientation with detailing, fabrication, assembly and installation information, can be included. It may not be possible to create models for every portion of the design, resulting in an incomplete overall picture.

MEP Design Handoff

Contractors traditionally received 2D line diagrams, schedules and specifications of the design from MEP designers. Currently, an increasing number of MEP design engineers create models, raising confusion about who is responsible for duct placement, equipment placement and coordination responsibility – designers or contractors. Models created by MEP designers may not be spatially accurate enough during the early stages.

However, there are several ways to mitigate these shortfalls, such as:

  • Early BIM Adoption (During Design Stage)

All project stakeholders should be encouraged to use BIM from the design stage, with clear guidelines for its use. If BIM is adopted at a later stage without clear specification of its purpose, the results could be confusion, wastage of time and increasing costs.

  • Defined Roles within the BIM Process

Design and modelling roles must be clearly defined before beginning design. If MEP subcontractors need to provide MEP BIM, with accurate routing, attachment details and equipment connections, they must be clearly informed of this and it should be part of the contractual obligations. They will not be able to rely on MEP consultant models in such a case.

  • Improved Coordination Skills

MEP design in BIM currently utilises improved spatial coordination skills during the design phase. This could be a result of employing more technically qualified professionals for these services, and as a consequence, contractors are presented with more accurate models to work with.

  • Accountability for Coordination

Internal coordination is necessary for a viable BIM model, much like a 2D drawing set used to be. Revisions, modifications and file versions must be coordinated as well. Since 3D models are complex, coordination must be monitored and controlled to prevent expensive and unnecessary rework. Even though files can be hosted in the cloud, it is advisable to maintain backups.

It is a certainty that precise, effective design with fewer errors is possible using BIM but there may be challenges in achieving those designs. Specifying the role of BIM, its usage, the stakeholders involved and the challenges to be expected can help optimise the benefits of using BIM and minimise its risks. The positive impact of building information modelling will be felt for some time. Analysing and mitigating the risks involved in its use can only benefit the industry and its players.