AEC Design Practice Survey: 3D-CAD/BIM and Green Building Design

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff September 29, 2004

A recently completed industry survey of CAD use in building design practice updates results from previous surveys conducted in 1999 and 2000. The new survey was expanded to address the movement to building information modeling (BIM) and 3D-CAD tools, data exchange between design team members and applications, as well as green building design and LEED rating.

The survey was sponsored by GeoPraxis, an architectural, engineering and construction software and services company, and Pacific Gas & Electric, in conjunction with McGraw-Hill Construction, Autodesk, Inc., and Bentley Systems.

According to the AEC Design Practice Survey, which included 585 architects and engineers, the use of next generation 3D-CAD and BIM building design software is happening more rapidly than originally thought, and will accelerate with the release of a wider range of engineering analysis tools that can interact and share data across design teams. Of the CAD using respondents, 52% percent indicated they produce a 3D model on 75% or more of their projects. This movement will streamline the design process, and reduce the costs of reviewing alternatives and making informed building design decisions, at the earliest project stages.

Architects and engineers report that integrating whole building energy analysis, cost estimating, energy code compliance, and LEED certification into 3D-CAD and BIM applications are key drivers for the expanded use of 3D-CAD and BIM modeling at their firms. They also report that 3D-CAD and BIM approaches would be used more if clients and design team members simply asked for BIM files rather than 2D drawings. This suggests that building departments, utility efficiency programs and green building rating organizations could become major drivers of change by specifying documentation derived from BIM or 3D-CAD models as part of their regular programmatic requirements.

“The survey confirms that adoption of building information modeling is definitely accelerating,” said Jon Pittman, senior director of strategic research at Autodesk. “The survey offers new insight into which key engineering design and analysis applications are necessary to drive changing design processes and BIM adoption within the AEC industry. The sharing of critical information between architectural design and engineering analysis applications to facilitate green building design, for example, is a real testimony to the value of this new way of working.”

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