What is Building Lifecycle Management (BLM)?

By Marty R

Building Lifecycle Management (BLM) is the practice of designing, constructing, and operating a facility with a single set of interoperable data.

BLM puts into practice a BIM Level 3 approach that enables a highly efficient Extended Collaboration process based on Manufacturing industry best practices.

BLM is operationalized via a robust Product Lifecycle Management (PLM)* system, which creates an efficient environment for coordinating complex AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) data.

[*The traditional Product Lifecycle Management term commonly becomes Project Lifecycle Management when applied to AEC.]

Adding BIM data to a PLM system creates a BLM system:


Benefits of BLM

BLM enables BIM Level 3 and can increase construction predictability, long-term value for project owners, and profitability for AEC project contributors.

The core benefits of employing BLM are improved productivity, sustainability, and quality, and reduced waste, risk, and cost.

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These advantages are achieved through BLM’s ability to eliminate rework, reduce RFIs (Requests For Information), centralize data, contextualize information, and more accurately predict outcomes.

Improve Productivity

Centrally managed data helps remove version control issues, chances for human error, and even the need to manage files.

With all users accessing a single live database via web services, rework (e.g., redundant drawings) and iterations can be drastically reduced.

As users proactively resolve issues in real-time using a BLM system, inefficient RFIs, submittals, and change orders can be reduced or eliminated.

Increase Quality and Value from Suppliers

Designers can make better decisions within a richer data context and maintain greater control over the quality of the finished product with BLM.

Collaborating in a BLM environment can help construction firms and building systems manufacturers develop a greater understanding of project requirements. With reliable data, builders and suppliers can improve coordination, execute more quickly, and accurately realize the design intent.

BLM also offers built-in governance and traceability, improving accountability across the disciplines.

Reduce Waste, Risk, and Cost

Regular cost overruns of 15 to 30 percent and standard risk margins of 20 percent or more illustrate the expected waste caused by traditional construction processes. By contrast, repetitive manufacturing processes typically yield only 2 to 3 percent waste.

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BLM is designed to reduce waste by more accurately predicting outcomes, identifying potential points of conflict, and optimizing processes.

By the same methods, BLM also reduces risk to the project schedule, worker safety, and overall construction budget.

Gain a Competitive Advantage

The potential opportunity for AEC firms to gain a competitive advantage is to embrace BIM Level 3 early, before the market calls for further mandates.

Getting ahead of the curve with a BLM system enables a team to become more efficient than competitors, deliver higher quality, gain the loyalties of owners and design partners, and retain a healthier profit margin.

Example: Manufactured Systems

Manufactured systems such as curtain walls and façades are often the most complicated and costly elements of a construction project.

The façade often accounts for 15 percent of a construction budget. Façade models traditionally do not include data on the fabrication process, but manufacturing time can be reduced significantly — by up to 50 percent — if the fabrication process is defined in the design stage.

Close collaboration between the designer and the façade manufacturer is enabled with transactable BIM data and a BLM system.

When designers work with building product manufacturers to ensure the design intent is realized and improve supply chain efficiency, the entire project benefits.

Example: Identifying Conflicts Between Fabrication Models

During the Design Review process, modeled fabrication detail of a structure designed in CATIA® is imported and integrated with a pipe model created in a different system.

BIM data from a range of systems are reconciled within the BLM environment, where issues are identified and tagged for follow-up.

AlignmentFabrication models of multiple building systems in a single environment.

Case Study: Swire Properties One Island East Success Story


One Island East, Hong Kong | Wikimedia Commons image courtesy of WiNG

Swire Properties Ltd. applied BIM Level 3 processes and technologies for its One Island East tower in Hong Kong.

The 70-story, 1.75 million square foot project was delivered on time and with zero cost overruns. 3D clash detection became a primary vehicle for enhancing the coordination process.

Over 2,000 issues were identified and resolved prior to tender, but the One Island East project team issued just 140 RFIs, a 93% reduction from traditional 2D drafting processes.

This project won the 2008 AIA Technology and Practice Award.

BIM Level 3 Project Outcomes

  • 70 stories
  • 1.75 million sq ft
  • On schedule: 24 months
  • On budget: $450 million
  • Greater than 2,000 clash issues proactively addressed
  • 140 RFIs: Greater than 90% reduction vs. similar projects

Manufacturing Industries Have Blazed the Trail

Manufacturing companies and their technology partners have been refining PLM for decades, and investing heavily in advanced systems.

Case in point, the first plane ever built without a physical prototype, the Boeing 777, was mocked up using a Dassault Systèmes application in 1994.

With today’s BIM data standards, proven PLM practices and technologies are now readily available for AEC to leverage — in the form of BLM.

Digital Mock-Up Process at Airbus


AirBus, model section

Airbus and its partners collaborate around a virtual model of an airplane. The model provides a Single Version of the Truth for 3D information and all data related to the designed airplane and its usage throughout its lifecycle.

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Cover: END-TO-END COLLABORATION ENABLED BY BIM LEVEL 3 An Industry Approach Based on Best Practices from ManufacturingExcerpted from End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3 (Dassault Systèmes, 2014).

Related Resources

Download the Dassault Systèmes whitepaper, “End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices”

Green design brings nature into the urban jungle

By Catherine

Written by Catherine Bolgar*

Dense RainforestA jungle is green and leafy, and the urban jungle should be the same, right?

Since 2010, more people live in cities than in the countryside for the first time in human history. The trend is expected to speed up in developing countries, with more than 60% of the world’s population living in urban areas by mid-century, the United Nations predicts.

Bringing nature into cities can make urban environments more sustainable as well as more aesthetic, more comfortable and healthier.

“Many architects today already claim to do green design, some to a greater level of authenticity than others. I contend that in the next five to 10 years just about every architect and student will do green design as second nature in their work,” says Ken Yeang, a principal with T.R. Hamzah and Yeang, a Malaysian architectural firm focusing on ecoarchitecture, and of Ken Yeang Design International in the U.K. “Green design is just one of the criteria for good design.”

Architects often see green design as a matter of certification, such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or the Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, or the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) in the U.K. Beyond aiming for certification, “I take the holistic view of an ecologist,” he says. “I see green design as bio-integrating everything that we as humans make and do on the planet with the natural environment in a benign and seamless way.”

That requires integrating flora and fauna, water, humans and the built environment in a holistic way. “We start design by looking at the ecology of the land and see how we can bring more nature back to a location and bio-integrate nature with the physical built environment,” Mr. Yeang says.

The Solaris

The Solaris, designed by Mr. Yeang and part of the Fusionopolis research and development park in Singapore, has more than 8,000 square meters (9,567 square yards) of landscaping—13% more than the original site—thanks to roof gardens, planted terraces and a 1.5-kilometer (0.9-mile) ramp of continuous vegetation that spirals up the 15-story building’s facade, helping to insulate as well as offering a range of habitats that enhances the locality’s biodiversity.

I design buildings as ‘living systems’ and as ‘constructed ecosystems,’” Mr. Yeang says. “It’s not just about green walls. I bring back the native fauna that are not hazardous to humans and match these with the native flora selected to attract the fauna, now set as ‘biodiversity targets’ in a matrix. With this, I create the local landscape conditions to enable flora and fauna to survive over the four seasons of the year.”

The idea is spreading. A primary school and gymnasium in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, now under construction, was designed by architects Chartier-Dalix to be covered with a living shell and house local flora and fauna.

BLG 18 classrooms school and sporthall

Argentine architect Emilio Ambasz built a multi-use government office building in Fukuoka, Japan, with 14 one-story terraces that make the one-million-square-foot building look like a green hill rising from the park in front of it. Mr. Ambasz also renovated the headquarters of ENI in Rome with curtains of vegetation.

Basel, Switzerland, has required since 2002 that flat roofs be covered with vegetation, in part to save energy and in part to protect biodiversity. While the peregrine falcon, one of the first species on the U.S. endangered species list in 1974, reboundedin part through urban nesting programs to nearly 100,000 birds world-wide today, less-glamorous endangered species, from spiders to beetles, also benefit fromthe increase in habitat. In the U.K., the Bat Conservation Trust has published a landscape and urban design guide for bats and biodiversity.

A green exterior is nice, but what goes inside—the design and materials—are important, too. “The building and products sector are seeing that environmental issues are moving up the agenda,” says Martin Charter, professor of innovation and sustainability at the Centre for Sustainable Design at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, U.K. “Construction, buildings and building products are associated with high carbon dioxide emissions on a macro level and big end-of-life waste issues. The sector does have a big-life cycle impact, not just in extractive phase but at other stages of life cycle as well.”

Concrete produces as much as a tenth of industry-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Researchers studying the molecular structure of cement found that changing the recipe to 1.5 parts calcium for each part of silica wouldcut cement’s carbon emissions up to 60% while making the resulting material stronger.

Simple design considerations can make a building greener. The shape and the orientation can affect heating and cooling needs. Natural ventilation with mixed mode systems can alleviate the need for air conditioning even in tropical climates. Mr. Yeang designed the Menara Mesiniaga office building in Selangor, Malaysia, so even elevator lobbies, restrooms and stairwells in the 15-story building get natural ventilation and natural daylight.

Green design includes water management in rainfall harvesting and storing water, so potable water doesn’t have to be used to irrigate the vegetation. Design must close the water cycle within the site, combining water management, water reuse and recycling with sustainable drainage and constructed wetlands for blackwater treatment, he says.

In nature, the only energy is from the sun. If we want to imitate nature, we should use only the sun,” Mr. Yeang says. “In nature, everything is recycled. Waste from one organism becomes the food for another. In human society, we have a throughput system where we use things and throw them away, but in fact, there is no ‘away’ in the biosphere—it just goes somewhere and pollutes the environment. If we imitate nature, we should have a closed system. As a design strategy, we need to study the attributes and properties of ecosystems as the basis for designing our built environment. When this becomes mainstream, there will be a stasis of nature with our built environment.”

*For more from Catherine, contributors from the Economist Intelligence Unit along with industry experts, join The Future Realities discussion.

Adapting Manufacturing Industry Best Practices to Improve AEC Outcomes

By Marty R

The following is an excerpt from End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices.

Download the full paper here.

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Extended Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3

An Extended Collaboration model synchronizes productive interactions between designers, suppliers, and builders.

Extended Collaboration proactively addresses errors and omissions, reduces rework, enables predictive process simulations to reduce risk, resolves issues in real-time to drastically reduce RFIs (Request For Information), and improves quality and safety.

Extended Collaboration improves project outcomes.

Innovative projects delivered by industry-leading design and construction teams have shown that collaboratively planning a building’s structural, façade, HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), electric, and interior systems can provide significant productivity gains over siloed processes, which depend on RFIs to reconcile issues.

A full-spectrum collaborative workflow ties all parties together (owners, designers, contractors, suppliers), such that each discipline can provide relevant data in the context of other disciplines’ data.

Extended Collaboration in design, construction, and operations is made possible by BIM (Building Information Modelling) Level 3, where liberated data is transactable among authorized project contributors during each design, construction, and operations phase.

BIM Level 3 creates an environment where Extended Collaboration is possible.

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Extended Collaboration Model for Design, Construction, and Operations

BIM Level 3 Benefits Are Realized throughout the Building Lifecycle


High performance teams apply efficient processes proven in Manufacturing
industries, leveraging integrated data to support the entire building lifecycle.

The following processes make up the Extended Collaboration model, based on proven Manufacturing industry best practices:

Digital Mock-Up

More than: 3D Models, BIM Models
Contributors: Owner, Design Team

The Digital Mock-Up (DMU) process takes a data-rich, model-based approach and produces a representation of all systems within a building. A DMU sets the stage for a clear manufacturing context in which the team can make better design decisions based on the overall project.

Design Review

More than: Shop Drawing Review
Contributors: Design Team, Supply Team

In a Design Review, parties use the DMU to compare detailed, coordinated BIM data on a single platform. For example, a BIM model from the architect, a BIM model from the structural fabricator, a piping model from the systems designer, and so on, are checked to ensure they fit together. This is an integrated system review that is more than a shop drawing review.

The most complicated systems—those that tend to cause errors—are coordinated using Design Review at the beginning of an Extended Collaboration process and continuously resolved throughout. This approach reduces the number of issues that must be formally clarified by RFIs and submittals during project delivery.

Design Review is an iterative process and establishes a Single Source of Truth as the baseline for comparing and managing changes across multidisciplinary teams.

Process Simulation

More than: 4D Animations, Top-down Schedules
Contributors: Supply Team, Construction Team

Construction is a process. Much of what happens in construction happens around the building itself, for example, logistics, equipment, crew optimization, truck queuing, etc. Process Simulation enables project teams to make knowledgeable construction means and methods decisions, and helps produce an optimized work breakdown for construction.

Such bottom-up simulations can reveal even minor integration errors, illustrate which processes are the most cost- and time-effective, demonstrate how prefabrication will affect a project, and generate highly accurate sequence data.

Project Management

More than: Scheduling, Project Coordination, Document Management
Contributors: Construction Team, Operations Team

In the Project Management phase, the DMU containing the source BIM data is tied to resources, tasks, issues, and documentation needed to complete the project. More than just scheduling and site coordination, Project Management synchronizes BIM data with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems to accurately monitor the project status versus the detailed plan, issue invoices based on milestones, track labor costs, and manage purchased materials.

The current, as-built data model used to deliver the facility is shared with the Operations team.

Facility Management

More than: Operations Manuals, Equipment Lists, As-Built Drawings
Contributors: Operations Team

Facility managers and owners benefit from having a virtual building for streamlining maintenance and operations. BIM data is synchronized with facility management systems to create a living data set with a history.

The integration helps ensure that equipment is maintained and operated for maximum energy efficiency and optimal performance, to reduce time spent searching for key facility information, and to simulate scenarios for facility reuse and alterations (moves, adds, and changes). Compounding, long-term benefits of BLM (Building Lifecycle Management)-enabled processes are often reaped in the Facility Management stage.


When BIM data is unlocked from a proprietary system, it becomes available for use in the five Extended Collaboration processes: Digital Mock-Up, Design Review, Process Simulation, Project Management, and Facility Management.

A BLM system (using BIM data within a PLM system) manages information and formalizes Extended Collaboration with built-in governance, traceability, electronic approvals, and version control, holding all parties accountable.

The key to solving the Construction industry’s productivity crisis is BLM.


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Related Resources

End-To-End Collaboration Enabled by BIM Level 3: An Architecture, Engineering & Construction Industry Solution Based on Manufacturing Best Practices

Contact Dassault Systèmes for a consultation: Our experts can help you design the most effective BIM Level 3 deployment strategy for your organization

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