Meet our BIM Manager, Steve Faulkner – Latest

Meet our BIM Manager, Steve Faulkner

With over 30 years of design and delivery experience for some of the biggest names in the built environment, we speak to our BIM Manager Steve Faulkner about his passion for great design, the circular economy and how he believes that BIM can really drive our industries zero carbon agenda. Steve is currently delivering a series of Bitesize BIM events on the role of BIM in the circular economy. Click here for more details.

There are common misconceptions around what BIM is, what does it mean to you?

There is often ambiguity surrounding BIM and this is generally caused by the acronym itself. I think ‘Building’ is fairly logical, as is ‘Information’ as we all know that BIM is generally about the ‘data’ associated with a building. However, it is the word ‘Modelling’ which causes ambiguity, as it suggests BIM is about 3D models (noun), when it is meant to define the process or system (verb) required to manage the information relating to a building. I think of BIM as the processes put in place on a project to promote collaboration, manage information, enhance understanding, drive sustainability and reduce waste.

What does the work of the BIM team at Elliott Wood involve?

Our team of BIM coordinators take a leading role to review BIM standards, so that these are clear, concise, and most importantly offer value. We have worked on numerous projects where a client has been poorly advised to request embedded data from their team, causing additional work, cost, and bureaucracy, when in reality the client didn’t actually have any use for the data requested! To add clarity, we now provide strategic advice to our clients and lead the BIM conversation, documentation, and coordination on projects.

What are the current hot topics in BIM?

From a government guidance perspective, the work that the UK BIM Alliance is doing in conjunction with the UKBIM Framework around the ISO19650 suite of documents is excellent and there are numerous conversations regarding what these documents actually mean from a practical perspective, rather than simply ‘in theory’. At Elliott Wood we are looking beyond the guidance and are working with our clients to use BIM to drive the big-ticket items like Life Cycle Management, Net Zero Carbon, Modern Methods of Construction (MMC), Integration with Facilities Management and Smart Building Technology. These are issues that we believe will really make a difference.

What do you think people need to know about its uses and value in design and construction?

For the industry to maximise the benefits that BIM can bring, we need to look at the way in which projects are procured. It is not uncommon for the ‘contractor’ not to be involved before a project is tendered, meaning the design team coordinate to a high level without any engagement with the company who is actually going to carry out the build. This leads to inevitable design changes when the contractor is brought on board. I would like to get to a stage where we engage with contractors early to agree the best design and build sequence, consider MMC and then openly share BIM models with the rest of the project team for them to use and develop. To do this, firstly we need to increase the level of trust in the industry and secondly, we need legal teams to engage with the CIC BIM Protocol and start to embed this into contracts.

What in your opinion are the biggest opportunities for BIM at the moment? How would you like to see it used in the industry?

Without doubt, this has to be our aim to stimulate delivery of a circular economy in construction. It’s vital that the materials captured in building models are modelled accurately to enable material take-offs to be tabulated on drawings and exported to be measured. We can then look at how existing materials on a site can be reused. In line with our aim to engineer a better society, our internal process allows us to compare differing schemes in order to measure carbon weight and take educated decisions on the best structural solution. We think of buildings as material stores and are currently researching how materials can be reused in construction rather than downcycled or sent to landfill, which we hope will be a catalyst for change that can really drive our industry towards achieving our net zero carbon targets.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic clients, including Harrods, Rolls Royce, Selfridges, and The Wellcome Trust. My highlight has to be seeing Elliott Wood selected as the engineer on The Old War Office and being involved in the interview process to win the project. The architecture is amazing, and the detailing of the inner quadrangle is a sight to behold. From a personal perspective, being asked to chair the Institute of Structural Engineers BIM Panel was a close second. Oh, and I should probably mention that I was also proud to work as the project manager for our collaborative workspace in Fitzrovia, The Building Society!

You work with a number of industry bodies; can you tell a bit about what they do and you role?

I have been helping the UK BIM Alliance (UKBIMA) to drive change within the construction industry and standardise process. As part of the engagement leadership team, I liaise with industry organisations and institutes like RICS and the IStructE to align the messages that they give their members. I am the UKBIMA link for several BIM groups, including BIM4water, BIM4legal and BuildOffSite.

I have also been invited to join the Digital Twin Hub at The Centre for Digital Built Britain based at Cambridge University which is an exciting new venture. I also chair the Institute of Structural Engineers BIM Panel where we have developed a Level of Definition Matrix for engineers (detailing what should be modelled and at what stage) which will be shared later this year!