Lesson 5: Using BIM for Operations and Facilities Management

In this lesson, students explore how the powerful tools available in the Autodesk Revit platform can be used to track, update, and maintain facilities management information to support better planning, operations, and maintenance decision-making throughout a building’s lifecycle.

Students will learn how to use key Revit features, including project and shared parameters, rooms, area plans, color fill legends, conditional formatting in schedules, and highlighting in model views, to provide accurate and up-to-date information about the elements in a project model to building designers, users and facility managers. They will also learn how the Revit DBLink utility can be used to integrate the information a Revit project model with external databases and asset management systems for updating project parameters and life cycle information for the building elements.

Information Flow through the Building Lifecycle

The information about a building project that is collected and created by the project team during the planning, programming, design, and construction phases provides a vast resource of incredibly valuable data that can be used by facility owners and managers to improve the effectiveness of operations throughout the lifecycle of the building.

The expanding use of BIM models for design, analysis, construction planning, 4D coordination, and fabrication creates an opportunity to capture and unify the information in these models into a record model of the as-built facility. Rather than handing off printed documentation and static records during the commissioning phase, it is far more valuable to integrate and deliver a live BIM model of the project. The information in this model can support the day-to-day operations and planning needed to ensure that the facility continues to operate reliably and at peak efficiency.

This flow of building and operating information is actually cyclical. Information collected by continuously measuring, monitoring, and tracking history throughout a building’s lifecycle is in turn valuable for the planning and design of future renovations and improvements as well as for new construction projects. This real-world use and performance data is needed to accurately assess the performance of our designs and improve our predictive models.

Creating and Maintaining an As-Built/Record BIM Model

Building projects often undergo many changes during the construction phase as project teams respond to needed changes and unforeseen conditions. So, BIM models must be updated continuously throughout the construction phase to incorporate and capture changes introduced through RFI’s, as-built conditions, and so on.

Creating an accurate record model requires updates from all participants on the project team. Contractors must continuously update the model with constructed-related changes. Design teams must incorporate design changes and coordinate these with the contractor via RFI’s and change orders. Subcontractors and fabricators must provide the fabrication models used to produce manufactured components.

Upon substantial completion, the design team should integrate an as-built BIM for handoff to the facility owners and operators as part of the commissioning process.

Applications of BIM Models for Operations and Facilities Management

Although the Autodesk Revit platform is not a facilities management software application, it provides many tools that enable users to accurately and effectively explore, track, and manage facility information using the powerful parametric capabilities of the software. Using these tools, designers and facility managers can analyze space-related data, track inventory and lifecycle data, perform cost needs analysis, and much more.

Some suggested applications of BIM for operations and facilities management include:

  • Programming — using a spatial program to efficiently and accurately assess a design’s performance and effectiveness relative to the spatial requirements.

BIM models enable project teams to efficiently analyze the proposed spaces and compare these to complex space standards and governing regulations. Critical decisions made during the programming and early design phases of a project can be greatly improved by bringing data and analyses of the proposed design options to the owner for consideration. Using BIM models for analysis enables efficient and accurate assessment of each option’s performance relative to the spatial requirements established in the program.

  • Record Modeling—creating an accurate depiction of the physical conditions, environment, and assets of a facility.

Using BIM models, project teams can record information relating to a facility’s main architectural, structural, and MEP elements by information from BIM models used throughout the project. Creating an as-built model (from the design, construction, 4D coordination models, and subcontractor fabrication models) provides a valuable resource for owners and facility mangers to link operations, maintenance, and asset data for effectively operating the facility.

With continuous updating, the record model can serve as a living document that contains an accurate snapshot of the completed space. Record models can include links to all relevant facility information (for example, serial codes, warranties, and the operation and maintenance history of all the components within the building.)

  • Preventative Maintenance Scheduling—tracking and maintaining lifecycle information about the building structure (wall, floors, roof, etc.) as well as the equipment serving the building (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc.) to plan and schedule a program of maintenance activities that will improve building performance, reduce repairs, and reduce overall maintenance costs.

Preventive maintenance scheduling enables facility managers to plan maintenance activities proactively and appropriately allocate maintenance staff, as well as reducing corrective maintenance and emergency maintenance repairs.  Using this information, facility managers can evaluate different maintenance approaches, analyze data to make repair vs. replacement decisions, and document the effectiveness of a reliability-centered maintenance program.

  • Building Systems Analysis—measuring how a building's actual performance compares to design model predictions.

Tracking performance data from the building systems and comparing these values to design model predictions enables facility managers to ensure that the building is operating to specified design and sustainable standards and identify opportunities to modify operations to improve system performance. Building designers can also use this data to validate and refine their prediction models and evaluate the impact of proposed materials and system changes to improve performance.

Building systems analysis typically focuses on mechanical systems and building energy use, but it can also include ventilated facade studies, lighting analysis, airflow analyses using computational fluid dynamics, and solar analysis.

  • Asset Management—linking data in a BIM record model to a database of building assets to assist in efficiently maintaining and operating the facility. These assets often include the building elements, systems, and equipment that must be maintained and operated efficiently to satisfy the facility users’ requirements in a cost effective way.

Asset management systems are used to support financial decision-making, short-term and long-term planning, and maintenance scheduling. Using information in a BIM record model, facility managers can: evaluate the cost implications of changing or upgrading building assets; track the use, performance, and maintenance of a building's assets for the owner, maintenance team, and financial department; produce accurate quantity takeoffs of current company assets for financial reporting and estimating the future costs of upgrades or replacements.

  • Space Management and Tracking—allocating, managing, and tracking spaces and related resources within a facility.

Using a BIM model for space management enables the facility team to analyze the existing use of space, evaluate proposed changes, and effectively plan for future needs. Having accurate and detailed space information is especially useful for planning renovation projects, where some building segments will remain occupied and change during the construction phase.

  • Disaster Planning and Response—using a BIM model to give emergency responders access to critical building information to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their response and minimize the safety risks.

Combining building information, such as floor plans and equipment schematics, with the dynamic real-time state information provided by a building automation system (BAS) would provide emergency responders with valuable information to support better decision-making during crisis and disaster response. The BIM model could be used to clearly display where the emergency was located within the building, possible routes to the area, and any other dangers that first responders should be aware of in real-time.

Additional Resources



    • Vacik, Nocolas A. and Patricia Huesca-Dorantes (2003)
      Building a GIS Database for Space and Facilities Management
      New Directions for Institutional Research, n. 120, p. 53-61.
    • Brown, J. L. (September 2009)
      Wisconsin Bets on BIM
      Civil Engineering, p. 40-41.
    • CRC for Construction Innovation
      Adopting BIM for Facilities Management - Solutions for Managing the Sydney Opera House
    • Gregerson, J. (December 2009)
      For Owners, BIM Has Vim.
      Buildings, p. 26.
    • Madsen, J. J. (July 2008)
      Build Smarter, Faster, and Cheaper with BIM
      Buildings , p. 94-96.
    • McKew, H. (July 2009)
      Owners, Please Demand More From Your IPD Team
      Engineered Systems, p. 50.
    • Woo, J., Wilsmann, J., & Kang, D. (2010)
      Use of As-Built Building Information Modeling
      Construction Research Congress 2010, p. 538-548.
    • Construction Users Roundtable (2010)
      BIM Implementation: An Owner's Guide to Getting Started
    • Building Information for Emergency Responders
      Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics, 11th World Multi-Conference (WMSCI 2007). Proceedings. Volume 3.


    • Shared Parameters

     o   Setting Up Shared Parameter Files

     o    Adding Shared Parameters to Families

     o    Shared and Family Parameters

     o    Tagging with Shared Parameters

     o    Schedules with Shared Parameters

    • Project Parameters

     o    Creating Project Parameters

     o    Creating Shared Project Parameters

     o    Reporting Parameters

    • Schedules

    o    Creating a Schedule or Quantity

    o    Specifying Schedule Properties

    o    Applying a Phase to a Schedule

    o    Modifying Schedules

    o    Reusing Schedule Views

    o    Exporting a Schedule

    • Formulas

     o    Resizing Elements with Formulas

     o    Using Formulas for Numerical Parameters

     o    Valid Formula Syntax and Abbreviations

     o    Conditional Statements in Formulas

    • Autodesk Revit DB Link

    o    Creating a Database from a Revit DB Link Project

    o    Updating an Existing Database with Changed Project Data

    o    Updating a Project with Database Information


After completing this lesson, students will be able to:

    • Understand and use the powerful tools available in the Autodesk Revit platform to calculate, track, update, and present facilities management information.
    • Utilize and leverage project and shared parameters, rooms, area plans, color schemes, and highlighting in schedules and 3D views to provide accurate and up-to-date information for building users and facility managers.
    • Use the Revit DBLink utility to integrate a Revit project model with external databases and asset management systems for exchanging and updating project parameters such as costs and life cycle information.

Key Terms

Key Term


Facilities management

An interdisciplinary field focusing on the long-term maintenance and care of buildings and facilities to ensure their functionality and support for their primary activities.

 It is typically associated with activities performed during the operational phase of a facility and may include services such as maintenance, security, catering, and external and internal cleaning.

Building life cycle

A view of a building over the course of its entire life, viewing it not just as an operational building, but also taking into account the design, installation, commissioning, operation and decommissioning phases.

 It is useful to use to consider the building life cycle when attempting to improve an operational feature of a building that is related to how a building was designed.

Project life cycle

A view of a building project over the course of the planning, design, construction, and commissioning processes.

This view focuses on activities during a project’s active design and delivery phases. It is a subset of the building life cycle and excludes operating and maintenance activities that commence after a building is commissioned.

Commissioning The process of verifying that a new building or facility’s subsystems (for example, plumbing, electrical and lighting, HVAC, life safety, wastewater, controls, and security) achieve the project requirements as intended by the building owner and as designed by the building architects and engineers.
Programming Planning the spatial requirements for a facility (uses, areas, required adjancencies, etc.) and assessing the efficiency and effectiveness of a design in meeting those requirements.
Record modeling Creating an accurate representation of the physical conditions, environment, and assets of a facility in a BIM model.
Preventive maintenance Tracking information about the functionality of the building structure (walls, floors, roof, etc) and equipment (mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc) to record the maintenance history and pro-actively schedule maintenance procedures to ensure smooth, continuous operations over the building lifecycle.
Building systems analysis Measuring how a building's performance compares to design model predictions to ensure that the building is operating to specified design and sustainable standards. It typically focuses on how a building’s mechanical system operates and how much energy a building uses.
Asset management Linking data in a record model to a database of building assets to assist in efficiently maintaining and operating the facility.
Shared parameters Shared parameters are parameters that you can add to families or projects and then share with other families and projects. They give you the ability to add specific data that is not already predefined in the family file or the project template.
Project parameters

Project parameters are parameters you define and then add to multiple categories of elements in a project. They are specific to the project and cannot be shared with other projects.

You can use shared parameters to define project parameters and then associate these project parameters with specific categories of elements within a project.


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