California State University, Long Beach
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Going Green By Design

Published: September 2, 2014

Civil Engineering and Construction Management’s Jin-Lee “Jin” Kim is a director of the College of Engineering’s Green Building Information Modeling lab. According to Kim, “green building” refers not to the physical structure as much as to the environmentally aware thought that goes into the structure.

“It is the way we design, build, operate and maintain a modern building in an energy and environmentally friendly way,” said Kim, a member of the university since 2009. “Energy and environmental design are part of the project from the beginning. This is great, not only for the owners, but for the project managers and general contractors. This is a great moment in the national history of construction. Our campus’ new Recreation and Wellness Center is an example of a green building. The center is certified by LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design) and offers many technological advances, such as biometric hand scanners for entry, filtered water fountains and flat screens with touch technology.”

“Green building is a way of enhancing our environment as well as being a part of the larger concept of sustainable development,” said Kim. “Green building is not just an assembly of environmental components nor a modification of an already designed standard building, but a holistic approach to programming, planning, designing and the construction of buildings and sites. In order to deliver sustainable design and construction in a built environment, my research focuses on utilizing a computer technology such as Building Information Modeling (BIM).”

BIM is a comprehensive, integrated graphic and alphanumeric database.

“This is a great design tool,” he explained. “It is no longer CAD or merely a 3D computer model. BIM is generally defined as a modeling technology and an associated set of processes to produce, communicate and analyze building models. In terms of scheduling, BIM can help construction planners use 4D CAD which requires linking a construction plan to the 3D objects in a design to simulate the construction process and see what the building and site look like at any point in time. This graphic simulation provides considerable insight into how the building will be built on a daily basis. For cost estimation, BIM can extract an accurate bill of quantities and spaces for cost estimation in the early design stage, in the design development state and in the final design stage. BIM and green building are two big driving forces in the construction industry.”

According to Kim, there is nothing new about green building because for the last 15 years, architects have taken into account energy efficiency.

“Nowadays, it is important for the engineer to contribute to society,” he said. “Wasting energy and water do not do this. Using BIM allows us to evaluate energy use during the early design phases because of its capability to link the building model to various analysis tools for better quality.”

There are misconceptions about green building, however. Generally, there is a large original investment, but with an eye toward a building’s lifelong cycle.

“Green building saves lots of money in terms of energy,” said Kim. “It brings tax incentives both locally and in the state. Plus, green building encourages better productivity in the workplaces. The basic idea is to give the building’s occupant the ability to control the indoor environment. With better productivity comes a better product.”

The use of information technology in scheduling also represents a great leap forward in the ability of engineers to plan.

“How could I use planning to optimize the resources available for building?” he asked. “Say the plan is to use a pair of cranes. Two cranes for one job site may be deemed too expensive. How can the engineer decide which crane is best? Artificial intelligence techniques can allocate resources for various construction activities.”

New software can improve project scheduling as every single building element, from walls to slab, from beams to windows, can be measured for dimension, materials and even color.

“Today’s software packs information into each building element,” said Kim. “If the designer changes one thing, everything changes with it. It is a great tool with which to implement building schedules.”

Kim received his BE and first ME degrees in architectural engineering from Chungbuk National University in Korea as well as his second ME and Ph.D. in civil engineering from University of Florida, majoring in construction engineering management and minoring in statistics.

A big reason for his use of BIM is its ability to better prepare CSULB students for the job market.

“It is the responsibility of the faculty to stay current with the industry. That means a CSULB civil engineering and construction management major must have a skill set that includes BIM,” he explained. “The department is offering its first class in BIM technology this fall. This is a computer-friendly generation. I remember teaching BIM technology to a class of juniors several years ago. Two students eventually got jobs in a large construction company because they knew how to use BIM. Industry needs expertise like that. Our students are ready to hit the ground running the minute they graduate.”