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Rich_Stu_thumbThere is increasing scrutiny on the efficiency of buildings along with their carbon emissions, because the inefficiencies inherent in our buildings are a huge source of carbon in our atmosphere. Penbay Solutions has been hard at work applying GIS to all aspects of facility management. V1 editor Matt Ball spoke with Stu Rich, chief technology officer at Penbay Solutions about the role of GIS for facility management and the increasing importance of model-based design.




Rich_StuThere is increasing scrutiny on the efficiency of buildings along with their carbon emissions, because the inefficiencies inherent in our buildings are a huge source of carbon in our atmosphere. Penbay Solutions has been hard at work applying GIS to all aspects of facility management. V1 editor Matt Ball spoke with Stu Rich, chief technology officer at Penbay Solutions about the role of GIS for facility management and the increasing importance of model-based design.

V1:
We are seeing a lot more interest in GIS from the Facility Management community lately. What do you think is driving this interest?

Rich: There have been a lot of factors driving this new interest, with Google Earth on your laptop, the Garmin in your car, and Bing Maps on your cell phone we are becoming much more aware of geography in our everyday life.  We have come to expect that we should be able to see the things we care about represented on a map.  As we become more aware of geography, we are starting to appreciate that geographic relationships matter and geographic analysis and visualization can help us become more efficient and effective in the things we do.

V1: Are there particular ways that GIS can help us to be more efficient and effective in the world of Facility Management?

Rich:  Absolutely.  There is tremendous value that can be realized by facility owners and operators across the facilities life cycle.  For some organizations we work with, that value is realized by GIS helping to drive revenue as a result of selecting the best sites for retail operations.  For others, that value is seen in GIS helping to cut maintenance and operations costs. There are still others that use GIS to help make their facilities safer and more secure.  GIS is becoming increasingly important in the area of sustainability.  While the value of GIS may look very different depending on what stage of the facility life cycle you are focused on, there is significant value for all segments.

V1: Esri’s Jack Dangermond recently gave a keynote address at the Ecobuild conference in Washington DC.  Esri has had a long interest in environmental and sustainability issues.  How can GIS help address the questions of sustainability for facility owners?  

Rich:  There are a lot of interesting answers to this question.  As a geographically-based enterprise systems integration platform, GIS is a natural dashboard tool to visualize differences in energy use patterns across the facilities portfolio.  There are a number of companies offering some level of this approach.  However, this is only the tip of the iceberg. 

If you think about it, the greenest building is the one that is never built because we have increased the efficiency of our existing facilities portfolio.  The next greenest building is the one that has been re-purposed, and so on.  Another thing to consider is that the amount of energy consumed by a particular business function that may be housed in a facility should probably be measured in a much more holistic way. 

If your office building houses 150 people, how many miles do each of these people drive each day.  If you do some simple math, you will find that the fuel consumed by personnel transportation each day can often dwarf the fuel consumed to heat and cool the building. Modeling and understanding changes that transportation policy can have on overall energy impact is an area that is ideally suited to GIS analysis.

V1: There has been a lot of excitement in the architecture and engineering community over the past few years about the emergence of Building Information Modeling and the promise that this technology represents to increase the efficiencies of the design/build cycle and drive cost and schedule out of the system.  How do you see the relationship between BIM and GIS evolving?

Rich:  BIM is a truly wondrous advance in the technology approach for those involved in the design and construction of buildings.  BIM is highly structured and object-oriented.  BIM allows designers to understand their creations in full 3D space and see any potentials for different systems to interfere with each other.  BIM allows the construction community to more quickly estimate bills of materials and understand how the whole building goes together with all of the systems in the same model.  On building commissioning, BIM can deliver to the facility manager a richly detailed set of information about the building. 

Yet, facility managers have a number of challenges beyond design and construction that needs more than BIM to solve. For example, many facility managers have portfolios of buildings that span large geographic areas.  They need a tool that can help them understand their challenges at a regional, and sometimes global, scale. Another consideration is that enterprise facility management systems need to support secure transactional database systems.  Some BIM systems are not well suited to this type of integration. 

Additionally, there are a number of facility management business problems like network analysis, geographic grouping of work orders, etc. that require geographic analysis to implement.  For these reasons, and many others, we believe that there is a necessary and appropriate marriage that should evolve between BIM and GIS.  The question is not “Is GIS or BIM the better tool for facility management?” but rather “How do we use the complimentary capabilities of BIM and GIS together to enable a more effective and efficient system for all involved?”

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For more information, be sure download and read the free International Facility Management Association (IFMA)’s whitepaper Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Facility Management available here.

Please also join us for a free webinar on GIS for Facility Management to take place Wed., Jan. 12, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST. Register here.

Join us for a Webinar

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