Green BIM: Successful Sustainable Design With Building Information Modeling by Eddy Krygiel and Bradley Nies . Hoboken , NJ : Wiley , 2008 , 241 pp., ISBN 9780470239605 , $49.99 (paperback) .

By the authors’ own admission, this is a book “for everyone,” and, as such, it makes a serious effort at spanning a very broad range of topics of concern for the allied design professionals of the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. With such a broad scope, it should be obvious that the book cannot cover any of the topics in great detail; nonetheless, it is a useful introduction to the subject of sustainable design and, in particular, to those parts of sustainable design that are enabled or made easier by the use of building information models (BIMs). The first two chapters introduce both sustainable (or “green”) design and BIM. In addition to a brief history of the evolution of the environmental movement, these chapters outline some of the opportunities to exploit new design technologies, such as solar position and shading simulation, as well as commercial software packages to change existing architecture and design practices. These topics are likely to be of general interest, particularly to new users of 3D computer-aided design (CAD) and design and construction professionals who are just beginning a migration to sustainable design.

In the third chapter, the authors advocate a fundamental change in architecture and engineering design practice. Through the use of largely anecdotal case histories, they make a case for integrated design teams, including construction delivery techniques, such as design-build or negotiated price contracts. Although the proposed changes have received relatively wide publicity in recent years, the authors do not present any new analysis of why BIM technology specifically enables these new techniques other than to assert that the master builder construct, wherein the architect is also the builder, is “no longer tenable ” and that BIM technology therefore offers an opportunity to reclaim much of the integration that characterized successful architecture and construction in the past. There is a substantial literature on the topic of design integration and the data requirements imposed thereby—a pointer in that direction would have made the authors’ case succinctly.

Chapters 4, 5, and 6 are a primer on sustainable design practice from an architect's point of view. Because the authors are architects themselves, it is probably no surprise that this is the strongest section of the book. This entire middle section is an effective general introduction to design principles that require an understanding of climate, culture, and place in the creation of building types, form, massing, and resource utilization. In this section, the anecdotal case histories are illustrative and to the point, covering practical advice to practitioners and elementary but effective technical direction for design goals, such as daylight lighting and energy modeling for major building subsystems (e.g., building envelopes; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning [HVAC]; and domestic hot water). This section also introduces calculation of embedded energy of materials and design techniques for water conservation, including demand reduction, harvesting of rainwater, and reuse of gray water. The energy modeling discussion includes an introductory discussion to the topic of on-site production of solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, and wind energy. Unfortunately, the authors do not discuss waste heat recovery—in the form of cogeneration, enthalpy wheels, use of low-grade heat from boilers, and so on—other than to admonish readers to make use of energy efficiency experts who will implement the BIM technology to improve their work output.

The final chapter is a speculative musing on the overall direction of the AEC industry and an assessment of the potential for achieving some of the goals set out by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Bruntland Commission, and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The authors identify at least 13 measurable benefits to labor productivity, capital cost reduction, efficiency of resource utilization, and schedule improvement that should be possible through the successful deployment of BIM-related technology.

Overall, the book does achieve its goal of being for everyone, especially if the technique used is to serve as a lowest common denominator for integrating a very wide set of subdisciplines. Experts in any one area will find their specialty given a minimal treatment, but at least its integration importance to the others is covered. Some of the frustrating parts, especially given that BIM is a central theme, include a less than intensive discussion of the underlying power of BIM for true model-based design and automated design procedures (e.g., compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, egress planning, pipe routing). The fact that the Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) are not discussed until page 131 and interoperability is not mentioned until page 220 is a symptom of the authors’ assessment of market-ready technologies as much as the introductory nature of the BIM discussion. For the more rigorous academic reader, the repeated use of ecology as a substitute for environment will be annoying.