Paul Thompson discusses how BIM is enabling doorsets to be specified, installed and managed as a sustainable holistic solution
Sustainability is critical in the built environment, not just when it comes to the construction of a building, but also its ongoing management and maintenance to reduce cost and the overall impact that it has on the environment.
Whether that involves using renewable and recyclable building materials, reducing energy usage or minimising waste – sustainable processes must be implemented throughout all stages of a building’s lifecycle.
However, there is sometimes the misconception that sustainability and being ‘greener’ means having to make compromises when it comes to security, but that is not the case. By using BIM as a tool to manage buildings as holistic systems, it provides information to design, construct and operate facilities safely and effectively, while ensuring security provisions.
The uptake of BIM technology has been rapid, with awareness and usage rising from 13 percent a decade ago to 71 percent in recent years. The evolution of BIM technology has coincided with the introduction of The Building Safety Act, with emphasis placed on the ‘golden thread’ approach.
BIM is a tool that reduces waste and risk of error, and facilitates the sharing of detailed information throughout the design, construction and operational phases of a project, which ultimately results in more efficient buildings.
By creating virtual reality simulations that allow workers to experience a construction site before work begins, BIM can revolutionise better ways of working and outcomes, making the process easier and faster.
Having one easily accessible source allows architects and specifiers to update relevant information automatically without having to manually input each specification, saving time and money, as well as keeping those on site informed. At the specification stage, BIM can also help drive efficiency by integrating and linking to fire certifications and energy performance documents.
Contractors and installers can view all relevant information to assess precise quantities, pricing, compliance, links to supplier websites and installation instructions, as well as being able to track the status of installations across the project much more effectively.
After installation, BIM can be used to monitor the performance of sustainable building systems and elements, such as doorsets and access control. It can also help verify that sustainable buildings operate as intended by tracking energy use, water consumption and waste generation.
The ongoing performance and maintenance of a building may also be monitored via QR code asset management, where all documents and certificates are located in a central software hub.
Dame Judith Hackett first suggested the ‘golden thread’ approach to constructing and managing buildings in her report, Building A Safer Future. Subsequently, the Building Safety Act was implemented, designed to fix historic and ongoing building safety issues. This now makes building owners more accountable and holds the construction industry to higher standards of building product safety.
BIM enables greater transparency and produces the ‘golden thread’ of information, allowing building elements such as doorsets to be managed through a single platform – from specification to installation and further ongoing inspection.
However, it is also imperative that holistic systems come from one trusted source responsible for developing and producing complete solutions. Otherwise, there is the risk that suppliers might end up shopping around and piecing the solution together from individual parts, based on cost competitiveness in preference to compliance.
This can not only impact the security provided by an access solution, but it may also make the doorset non-complaint, therefore endangering the occupants of a building in the event of an emergency.
As well as providing access around the property, fire doors are a critical part of the fire compartmentation requirement. New regulations introduced to the Regulatory Reform Order 2005 (Fire Safety Order) contain a requirement for responsible persons in buildings above 11m in height to provide additional safety measures.
This includes things such as providing occupants with fire safety instructions and information on the importance of fire doors. Responsible persons will also be required to undertake annual checks of entrance doors and quarterly checks of all fire doors.
New provisions of the 2022 Building Safety Act came into force on 1 April 2023, including a duty to keep the safety and standard of buildings under review, facilitating improvement in the competence of industry and building inspectors, and a duty to establish a system for the giving of building safety information.
Full implementation of the Act is due by October 2023. So, those responsible for the safety of high-rise buildings in England must register with the new Building Safety Regulator and have their building safety regime in place by this time, or face investigation and potential prosecution.
The ‘golden thread’ approach provided by BIM is a recommended method to create an effective building safety regime in higher-risk environments such as high-rise constructions.
As well as meeting these new regulations, fire doors are already required to be tested to either BS476 part 22 or BS EN 1634-1, and ideally be certified under a third-party certification scheme, such as Certifire or the equivalent – a position that is fully endorsed by the Door & Hardware Federation (DHF).
Other standards that should be met include BS EN179 Emergency Escape for when the building occupants are aware of the building environment, BS EN1125 Panic Escape for environments used by the general public, and BS EN 13637 Electronically Controlled Escape Systems (for use on escape routes).
When it comes to doorsets and ironmongery, using BIM-enabled tools such as ASSA ABLOY’s Openings Studio can truly unlock the full potential of BIM.
Openings Studio provides a direct interface with the building design model and can be used to extract, develop and update all relevant door design information within the model, including configurations, hardware and performance criteria against each individual door.
Utilising this digital collaboration tool enables the specifier to work closely with the manufacturer in real-time to develop the design intent through to a compliant specification.
The application provides visual representations of not only the bespoke product, but also indicative imagery of product in-situ within the 3D model. Each asset carries all relevant technical and design data, and as this is a live working environment it captures and logs progressive design changes throughout design and construction
ASSA ABLOY can seamlessly use this data to provide product specific cost information, but most importantly manufacture and supply the door solution in accordance with the latest design intent.
An extension to Openings Studio has recently been launched, which, through a mobile app, directly accesses this data for capturing production-quality inspections, but also for use during the door installation process, ensuring full validity of the finished product prior to project completion.
Regular inspection and maintenance is essential to ensure safety and security – not just for Higher Risk Buildings covered by the Building Safety Act, but in every building in which the public reside, work or play.
A fully comprehensive inspection should be carried out by a company with competent and certified inspectors (such as ASSA ABLOY Door Group) every three, four, six or 12 months.
The app gives access to the as-built door data, enables easy comparison between product at last review and current review, captures details, and facilitates detailed inspections and reporting. It then can capture details of any subsequent completed works, such as repairs or upgrades so this cyclic process can start over again at the next inspection.
Following inspections, detailed reports containing any advice and recommendations on necessary improvements should be compiled, with the knowledge that identifying any potential issues that can potentially impact safety and product performance can be lifesaving.
In the event that any issues do occur, Door Group will prepare a tailored repair proposal to include anything from replacement doors to a regular maintenance programme.
ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions has used the shift towards greener operations as a driver to innovate and boost business while lowering operations costs. We have implemented a combination of focused initiatives and continuous improvements, as well as ensuring sustainability is closely aligned to, and is a positive enabler of our strategic objectives, aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Our increased focus on sustainable buildings is a growth driver and we invest in a sustainable product offering, with accompanying transparency and verification documentation.
Collaborative working is key, and ensuring the entire organisation buys into the concept of a more sustainable future – everyone from those in the factory, to office workers and senior management.
For example, we have recently created a significant reduction in carbon emissions at our Lisburn site through a variety of methods, including advances in packaging, lighting and welfare facilities.
For our business, putting sustainability at the heart of our operations only positively impacts our customers. Whether that’s using BIM to specify, install and manage doorsets as a sustainable holistic solution, or in reducing our own CO2 emissions.
Ultimately, the products and ongoing maintenance we offer not only maintain security, but also ensure the safety of a building’s occupants, now and in the future.
Paul Thompson is BIM Manager for ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions