IFC file of a building project imported in DIALux evo
IFC file of a building project imported in DIALux evo

Here are a few answers to frequently asked questions about BIM. BIM is not a software; BIM is not a data format; and BIM does not work only in buildings. And yes, it is possible to construct buildings successfully without BIM.

So what is the point of BIM? It is a method for networked planning, execution, operation, and implementation of building projects. The last two points are the ones which are frequently neglected in discussions about BIM but these actually provide the architect or lighting designer with many benefits. The most important element in BIM is the collection of all the data required for the building project. All disciplines involved can access the data at any time. The building project is first constructed visually and then continually updated before the physical execution of the plans starts.

The benefits are clear to see. Mistakes can be detected at an early stage. The common database makes modifications and corrections clear and easy to understand. In turn, the results are reflected immediately in the number of parts and in the delivery dates. Before construction begins, the client and planner see the results in front of them and can simulate certain situations and processes. In addition, 3D visualizations and presentations may well increase acceptance and understanding of the building project. The standardized data format—Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)—enables exchange between the specialized programs of different technical disciplines so that during planning, in the building phase and in operation, they are able to communicate with each other.

Building with BIM does not necessarily mean that more time is needed for planning, it only means that the time schedule for individual planning steps is adjusted. In return there is an increase in quality, adherence to schedules and costs.

For more than 10 years DIAL has been a member of buildingSmart, an international organization for the improvement of data exchange between different software applications. At a very early stage DIAL became involved in the model description in BIM for the topics Luminaires and Lighting. Since the very beginning, the DIALux evo light calculation software has been aligned to the IFC format.

In the new version, DIALux evo 7, which will be released at the start of 2017, it will be possible to import IFC files. This will make it much easier for the lighting designer to work with BIM. It is no longer necessary to make a 3D reconstruction of the planned project.

Photometric information and the data of products, which are actually available on the market, are added to the imported project. In turn, the software supplies the required normative evidence and provides a clear and graphic simulation of the results of different solutions with regard to energy consumption and the lighting effect. There are already plans for exporting the products chosen and the data via IFC that will complete the integration of lighting calculation software within the BIM process. DIALux is available completely free of charge to all planners and designers on DIAL's website.