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Saturday, 11 May 2013
Nation Burned while Government played the Fool
Topic: Strategic Planning

William Saunders, Energy Consultant, penned an article titled: More Lessons from the Past – Missed Energy Opportunities in Jamaica’s Sunday Gleaner, dated 21 April 2013.  In it, he outlined Jamaica’s failure to act upon initiates to diversify its energy mix and promote development of indigenous sources of energy: beginning in 1978, when Jamaica first formulated its energy plan.  He ends the article with the statement:

“Can you imagine where we would be today had a small fraction of these (available) funds been used to finance the hydro power development, waste-to-energy, as well as wind energy?  Furthermore, since the fuel they would have replaced is US $-denominated, loans for renewable energy projects are essentially devaluation risk free.”

The dollar devalued by an average annual rate of 212.6% from 1970-2005.  Devaluation in a globally competitive economy normally boosts exports and increase GDP growth, but not in Jamaica.  Dr. Michael Witter documented his assessment of Jamaica’s exchange rate policy from 1962 onward in an academic paper titled: “Exchange Rate Policy in Jamaica: A Critical Assessment”.  He concluded that devaluation had the effect of inflating the value of imports significantly over that of exports.    From 1990-2006, GDP grew 1.1% on average while energy use grew 2.5% per annum.  In 2006, the value of oil imports amounted to 87% of export earnings.

Zia Mian, a retired senior World Bank official and international energy consultant, states in an article entitled “Jamaica’s Energy Challenge – part III”, in the Sunday Gleaner dated 30 March 2008, that: “Jamaica’s economy is relatively energy intensive.  Per capita energy consumption is estimated at over 10 barrels of oil equivalent (boe)”.  Jamaica has one of the highest rates of energy consumption in Latin America and the Caribbean region.  This is mainly due to the heavy usage of the bauxite/alumina sector.  The oil consumption per sector from 2004-2011 is shown in table 1.  It should be noted that there was a marked decline in total oil consumption in 2009, more in 2010, and an increase in 2011: the exact pattern of the bauxite/alumina sector.

Table 1: Jamaica's Oil Consumption per Sector (‘000BBLS)

         
                 

SECTOR:

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Transport

6,076

6,248

6,373

6,080

5,835

6,403

5,648

6,012

Electricity

6,226

6,555

6,390

6,654

6,275

6,662

6,578

6,529

Bauxite/Alumina

9,444

9,799

9,552

8,808

9,392

3,494

2,885

3,753

Shipping/Aviation

2,161

3,203

5,224

5,904

4,404

3,882

3,768

3,514

Other

1,629

1,521

1,625

1,281

1,212

1,157

1,139

1,195

TOTAL =

25,536

27,326

29,164

28,727

27,118

21,598

20,019

21,003

Source: Data derived from Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining

Carlton Davis, former Cabinet Secretary and chairman of the Jamaica Bauxite Institute, stated in an article entitled: “Energy Cost and our Economic Future – Future of Alumina Sector Hinges on Energy Cost”, in the Mona School of Business Nov/Dec 2011 issue, that:

 “Given the importance of the cost of energy in the production of alumina and the consensus that oil will be more expensive over the long-term than natural gas or coal it is incumbent that oil is replaced by one of these two fuels.  However, it is necessary for the industry to increase the efficiency of whatever fuel is used.  Given what is at stake the Government has a lead role in affecting this transformation.”

However, the volume of oil consumed by each sector is not commensurate with their actual energy cost.  In 2008, the transportation sector used 21.52% of oil by volume, but this represented 40% by cost, because it uses a more refined product which is more expensive.  The cost to import fuel into Jamaica between 2008 and 2011 is shown in table 2.  Fuel is by far the largest expenditure on imported goods.  With the exception of 2009 and 2010, the cost of importing fuels was greater than half of the returns from exports.

Table 2: Trade in Goods  & Services [J$’000]

     
         

Year:

2008

2009

2010

2011

Exports:

418,360,800

367,316,800

361,232,600

383,865,600

Goods

180,630,391

116,355,584

116,449,101

139,533,852

Services

237,730,409

250,961,216

244,783,499

244,331,748

 

 

     

Imports:

714,509,600

558,285,200

571,607,900

668,087,200

Fuels

226,802,098

124,996,495

147,081,190

209,816,388

Other Goods

361,461,471

161,141,521

174,444,804

312,036,055

Services

126,246,031

272,147,184

250,081,906

146,234,757

Source: Data derived from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica

Going forward, there are a number of promising signs in the electricity, bauxite/alumina, and transport sectors.  But, the shipping/aviation sector should not be overlooked.  Its consumption has risen through the years and prior to the global recession, which started in 2008, was almost on par with the transport sector by volume.  As the global economy recovers and Jamaica completes its logistical hub, in preparation for the widening of the Panama Canal, this sector could easily overtake the electricity sector in energy use.

The existence of relatively cheap oil imports as prevailed in the 1950s through to the OPEC action in 1973 factored in Jamaica’s economic growth.  But, the international oil market has changed.  Oil prices have hovered around US$100 per barrel since the end of the last decade and prices of US$150 – US$200 per barrel are projected on recovery from the global recession.  Table 2 shows that Jamaica has a serious trade deficit, and oil is a major contributor to this.  As in the case of the bauxite/alumina sector, the economy has become uncompetitive significantly due to the high cost of energy.  So, promising signs seen on the horizon need to produce tangible results.  Otherwise, foreign governments and merchants who have profited from trade with the nation shall stand at a distance to lament over its passing.


Posted by phcjam at 2:40 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 29 May 2013 10:38 PM EDT
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Singapore: Example to the Caribbean in Doing Business
Topic: Strategic Planning

In the Competitiveness of Small Nations: What matters?, Densil Williams and Beverly Morgan analyze the competitive performance of Singapore, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago under the “Global Competitiveness Report” over a period spanning 2004/5 to 2010/11.  Singapore consistently outperformed the Caribbean nations.  Smallness is typically seen as a disadvantage to competitiveness, but Singapore shows that this can be overcomed.  Since 2007/8, it has ranked in the top five most competitive nations in the world.  But with a per capita income rivaling western European nations, one could argue that this is an unfair comparison.  However, Williams et al explain that all these countries had similar economic structures, history, and institutions during the 1960’s: Singapore has just attained a greater level of development.

 

In “Doing Business 2013” – the Global Competitiveness Report for the period 2011/12 – Singapore was ranked the most competitive nation of the 185 nations examined.  Puerto Rico was the highest ranked Caribbean nation at 41.  Trinidad and Tobago was highest Caribbean nation studied by Williams et al, at 69, overtaking the usually more competitive Barbados, which was ranked 88; just ahead of Jamaica, at 90.  An article in Jamaica’s Daily Observer of 5 April 2013 read: “Gov’t to improve Jamaica’s Ratings for Doing Business – GG”.  The Jamaican government plans to improve  on laws, procurement procedures, use of information and communication technology, risk management, government services and macroeconomic management.

 

The Global Competitiveness Report analyses ten criteria across four stages of the business cycle, namely: start-up, expansion, operation, and insolvency.  In the interest of time, I shall focus on the operation stage, which involves four criteria: dealing with construction permits, getting electricity, paying taxes, and trading across borders.  Since my expertise is primarily in the Real Estate and Construction Industries, I will further narrow the scope of this discussion to the criterion “dealing with construction permits”.

 

For this criterion, rankings of the Caribbean nations are significantly different from the overall ranking, but Singapore still excels, with a rank of 2.  There construction permits undergo eleven procedures; this lasts 26 days, and costs 16.7% of the per capita income.  Jamaica ranks next highest in the group at 50: requiring eight procedures, 145 days and costing 212% of per capita income.  Barbados follows closely with 53: requiring ten procedures, 416 days and 83% of per capita income; followed by Trinidad and Tobago at 101: requiring 17 procedures, 297 days and 5.3% of per capita income.

 

For this criterion, St. Vincent and the Grenadines ranked 5th and Grenada 10th.  So, these could be case studies for the larger Caribbean islands considered here.  But, it is unacceptable for Jamaica to issue a construction permit in the time it takes Singapore to issue five; or, Barbados to issue a construction permit in the time it takes Singapore to issue sixteen.  It should now be obvious how Singapore has developed more than its Caribbean counterparts since the 1960’s. 

 

In fact, Singapore had less than 2% unemployment in the third quarter of 2012.  It had a budget surplus of o.7% of gross domestic product in 2011.  And, its construction industry grew by 11.6% from 2007 – 2011, by which time it was worth £14.6 billion: this industry is also projected to grow by approximately 5% per each year up to 2016.Technology is used to advantage by Singapore.  According to Williams et al. “The state of technological readiness in any country will impact on its ability to increase productivity, for technology helps to drive greater efficiency and thus improves output and performance”; and “technology as an enabler to improved competitiveness in the Caribbean is clearly an area that needs much attention”.

 

As early as 1995, Singapore’s Ministry of National Development implemented a project called CORENET: which stands for COnstruction and Real Estate NETwork.  Its objective was to re-engineer processes in the construction industry to achieve faster turn-around times, as well as increasing productivity and quality.  CORENET was implemented by the Singapore Building and Construction Authority in collaboration with other public and private organizations.  An IT infrastructure was developed to facilitate integration of processes in a building’s lifecycle, namely: design, procurement, construction and maintenance.

 

The current effort provides information services to speed up business planning and decision making; electronic building plan submission, checking and approval; as well as IT standards for communication between involved parties.  The benefits involve provision of one-stop convenience for private and public sectors alike; one-stop submission of plans to multiple agencies from any location at any time; online access to check submission status; and single billboard for approving authorities to post submission status.

 

While our Caribbean nations are still submitting paper-based drawings, which to a large extent are hand-drawn, Singapore has for almost two decades developed a digital one-step process of dealing with construction permits.  The moral of this story is that development takes foresight, planning, and diligent implementation of our plans. We have to acknowledge that Caribbean nations are uncompetitive, be willing to change, and apply bold and innovative solutions.  We cannot expect to improve our competitiveness by doing the same thing day in and day out.    Fortunately the global competitive report allows us to benchmark our performance against competing nations.  Low growth results from a lack of competitiveness.  Competitiveness results from using resources more productively, and “when productivity is high, economic growth is high”.


Posted by phcjam at 2:25 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 11 May 2013 7:21 PM EDT
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Leadership for Vision 2030 Jamaica
Topic: Strategic Planning

PH5DRTFUDMGA

One line of the Jamaican National Anthem reads: “Give us vision lest we perish”.  Vision 2030 Jamaica provides a national development plan for making “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business”.  Michael Porter, of the Institute of Strategy and Competitiveness, Harvard Business School, states that competitive advantage of nations accrues from distinguishing itself from competing nations and developing on differences in history, infrastructure, institutions, culture and factors involved in the ways people live and do business.Porter’s framework for achieving this strategic advantage requires government to play a purely facilitatory role.  But, Dr. Densil Williams, co-author of Competitiveness of Small Nations: What Matters? disagrees: stating that government needs to play a pivotal role in small developing nations, like Jamaica.  This needs to be clarified if Jamaica is to achieve its Vision 2030 objectives: especially since “transformational leadership” is one of the guiding principles on which Vision 2030 is based.  I would recommend that the government seek the path of partnership, which happens to be another of Vision 2030’s guiding principles: partnership internationally, regionally, and locally: as well as inter-ministerial collaboration.Jamaica needs these guiding principles in operation right now to achieve Vision 2030.  As an illustration, I will now refer to Jamaica’s proposed logistics hub, which promises to be the logistics hub of the Latin America and Caribbean [LAC] Region, as well as the U.S. Gulf and East Coasts.  When complete, it will be the fourth global transhipment logistics hub: the others being located in Singapore, Dubai, and Rotterdam.  Dr. Williams’ book presents the performances of Singapore, Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago as recorded in “The Global Competitiveness Report” over the last five (5) years and he concurs that Jamaica seems to have a competitive advantage in port infrastructure.  An ideal location midway between North and South America, in close proximity to the Panama Canal contributes to this advantage.  The Panama Canal will be widened by 2015 to accommodate wider ships and Jamaica hopes to capitalise on this by expanding its port facility and affiliated infrastructure spread over four south coast parishes: namely Kingston, St. Catherine, Clarendon and St. Thomas.An IDB (2010) study on the productivity of the LAC region concluded that “ports and airports are grossly inefficient.  Dr. Williams’ book also points out weaknesses in Jamaica’s current port infrastructure that needs to be addressed by the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce [MIIC] and the Port Authority.  He states that it takes twice as long to export a shipment from Jamaica compared to Singapore; and it costs four (4) times more.  Bear in mind that Singapore is the reputed leader in port infrastructure since 2003, and its scale of operations is significantly larger.  But, this indicates partnership with international expertise should be explored to correct these weaknesses: be it inter-governmental or with the foreign private sector.

 

To MIIC’s credit, it has recognised that the logistics hub will generate 10,000 jobs and has formed a human resource working group with stakeholders the Ministry of Education in its logistics task force;  this group being headed by Dr. Fritz Pinnock – Executive Director of the Caribbean Maritime Institute.  Speaking at the recently concluded stakeholders-consultation at the Shipping Association of Jamaica, the MIIC Minister Hon. Anthony Hylton emphasized that Seventy percent (70%) of employees at the Dubai logistics hub are foreigners, but “we want to train our people to fill the jobs and vacancies that are here”.  However, two (2) years is not enough time to train the amount of people needed.  Even though this is an example of inter-ministerial collaboration, regional and international assistance is required.

The previously mentioned IDB study pointed out that the poor performance of LAC ports and airports was partly to blame on inadequate physical infrastructure but, more importantly, on support activities involving the movement of cargo and inefficiencies due to inadequate regulations, lack of competition for services, and deficient operation procedures and information systems.  Furthermore, Dr. Williams states that “high transportation cost for moving goods in Caribbean countries has been cited as one of the major drivers of low levels of productivity”.  This begs the intervention of the Ministry of Transport and Works.  Jamaica also has no railway network, and this could be helpful in connecting the four parishes over which the logistics hub is spread.  Possibly partnership with regional concerns could also prove beneficial here.

Dr. Williams also notes that “Jamaica is highly uncompetitive in the supply of electricity”.  This needs to be addressed by the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, electricity providers, and the Port Authority themselves.  No single ministry can accomplish all that is required and, with limited resources available, partnerships with other governments and the private sector is inevitable.  The World Bank Group has already endorsed the establishment of the logistics hub and has “pledged to help find funding”.  The MIIC Minister has also been to Europe, Asia and Panama to promote the logistics hub, as well as the Jamaican Chamber of Commerce.  Nevertheless, Porter instructs that everything is important for competitiveness, and Dr. Williams states that countries with a colonial past that have achieved high levels of productivity have adopted not only their political, but also their legal and economic institutions to the reality of their environments.  So, much more remains to be done.

PH5DRTFUDMGA


Posted by phcjam at 11:12 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 27 June 2013 9:02 PM EDT
Saturday, 9 February 2013
Solar Energy can improve Our Economic Future with Conservation
Topic: Renewable Energy

According to the “Energy Policy and Sector Analysis in the Caribbean (2010 – 2011) ", the “Caribbean islands have the potential to lead the world to a new energy future ...”.  Research on this paper was the cumulative effort of the Department of Sustainable Development, in the Organization of American States (OAS), National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory, of the University of California (Berkeley).  It assessed the Bahamas and nine  Eastern Caribbean Islands, namely: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St, Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and made note of the availability of extensive solar and wind resources and geothermal potential in several of the Eastern Caribbean islands. However it also recognised that use of fossil fuels would remain significant over the long term because all islands were signatories to the PetroCaribe Accord, under which Venezuela supplies oil to them on concessionary terms.

Winston Hay, author of “Energy Cost and Our Economic Future: Can Jamaica Reduce Electricity Costs?” in the Mona Business School (MSB) Business Review, Nov/Dec 2011, states that the limitation of most renewable energy sources is their inability to consistently generate electricity on a 24-hour basis.  He indicates that the real benefit of renewable energy is in its use of indigenous energy sources and promotion of a cleaner environment, but cautions that it is currently unlikely to result in lower electricity rates.  In other words, renewable energy generated under the prevailing state-of-the-art technology is unlikely to reduce our electricity bills below the current electricity rates, without energy conservation.  More specifically, Mr. Hay states that “Solar Energy is unlikely to become economic for grid supplies in the near future, despite the intensive research being undertaken internationally.  

Grid-connection is the most economic use of solar energy.  It feeds electricity into the electric grid, which requires a license, and must allow for the grid to provide electricity in the night, when there is no sunlight.  Use of solar energy in the Caribbean should not be discouraged.  Rather, our effort at energy conservation cannot wane, but must intensify.  Solar energy provides a means of import substitution, whereby valuable foreign exchange can be saved by use of this indigenous source and, coupled with energy conservation, dependence on the use of fossil fuels will be reduced.  Our balance of payment accounts should improve; our foreign debt and liability reduce under the PetroCaribe Accord to finance purchase of the fossil fuels;, and the environment in our tourism-dependent economies can be protected.

The former paper seems to corroborate that use of solar energy will not reduce the electricity rates.  It indicates that a peak of only 174 kW of solar power was generated in the 927 MW of peak energy demand experienced in the target islands in 2010, but there was potential for use  of 205 MW of solar electric energy.  The 2010 electricity rates varied from a low of 21 US cents/kWh in St. Kitts and Nevis to 46 US cents/kWh in Dominica, with the mean being 33 US cents/kWh: which is also the mid-range value for the Caribbean at large, based on a 2011 survey by the Caribbean Electric Utility Service Corporation (CARILEC).  Local rates for solar energy were unavailable, so the researchers made reference to rates of the Pacific Islands: where electricity generated from grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) panels costs between 35 – 70 US cents/kWh, from large-scale solar PV with battery storage 75 US cents/kWh, and from off-grid solar PV between US$1.50 – US$2.50/kWh.  So, only grid-connected solar PV (which cannot provide electricity at night), could provide electricity at a rate equivalent to the mean rate stated above; and electricity bills would not fall at those rates.

On the website of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), a page titled “Solar Power in Jamaica” states that the amount of direct solar radiation received by the island is equivalent to five-times the annual energy requirement, but only 1% of that requirement is actually provided by solar energy.   The Jamaican Government recently invited proposals for the connection of 115 MW of renewable generating capacity to the national grid on a build, own, operate basis.  The acceptable rate specified for solar energy was 26.73 US cents, compared to 40 US cents currently being charged for public electricity supply in Jamaica.  Roger Chang, president of the Jamaica Solar Energy Association (JSEA), in commenting on the process, stated that the rate was reasonable and there was interest, but many investors, including the members of his association, had not placed bids because the conditions were not attractive enough.  This observation is particularly relevant to local investors who lack  experience in financing and installing systems of that scale.  Whether there will be any successful bids for solar energy is left to be seen, and how their rates will compare to the new LNG plants that are to be installed is another matter.  Typical diesel/oil plants in the islands studied have thermal efficiencies ranging from 30 – 40%, but some Jamaican plants are over 30-years old and have thermal efficiencies of 28%.  But, the new LNG plants are expected to be significantly more efficient.  Also, peak use of electricity occurs at night in Jamaica, so if grid-connected solar PV installations provided most of the 12.5% of renewable energy sources planned for 2015 the electricity rates would still not be significantly reduced.

I have noticed a regional effort to implement renewable energy options, but the effort to effect energy conservation seems to have been left to the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality (CROQ), which for the last decade has sought to establish regional building standards, based on the International Building Code.  It is a misconception that use of renewable energy, and solar energy in this instance, will allow us to continue disregarding energy efficiency and conservation.  Compliance with Modern energy codes, for instance, permit energy usage to be reduced by as much as 30% without  use of renewable energy.  Energy efficiency and conservation will also reduce the need for increased generating capacity allowing reduction of the costs associated with supply and installation of power plants.  As was stated earlier, use of renewable energy is unlikely to reduce our electricity bills below the current rates, but foreign exchange can be saved by use of an indigenous energy source, such as solar energy, and coupled with energy conservation, dependence on the use of fossil fuels can be reduced.


Posted by phcjam at 10:01 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 16 March 2013 7:15 PM EDT
Saturday, 1 December 2012
Energy Generation Needs to Change in the Caribbean (part 2)
Topic: Government Policy

 

In part 1, I made the point that Caribbean states cannot depend on monopoly power providers to implement their renewable energy policies.  But, a strategy needs to be effected that enables operation of independent power providers (IPPs) and self-generation.  However, renewable energy goals tend to be moving targets.  If renewable energy generating capacity does not increase at a faster rate than non-renewable capacity, these goals will never be met and the whole effort, though well meaning, will be self-defeating.  Such has been the experience of Jamaica.

Jamaica first promulgated its energy policy in 1995.  In 2001, the government privatized the sole power provider, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS).  It also rehabilitated six mini hydro-electric plants, with a combined capacity of 22 MW, to JPS.  At that time, this represented 4% of the generating capacity; and, neither IPP nor self-generation was permitted.  In 2003, renewable energy comprised 10% of the gross energy supply mix.

Full liberalization of non-renewable electricity generation was attained in 2004, coinciding with the government’s commissioning of the 20.7 MW Wigton Wind Farm: the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean.  By 2005, 30% of electricity was generated by several IPPs.  The use of renewable energy then increased to 12.5%: which includes 23.2 MW of co-generation capacity by two private sector firms that was not connected to the grid.

A green paper titled “The Jamaican Energy Policy 2006 – 2020” was prepared in order to update the previous energy policy.  In analyzing the 1995 policy, the drafters of the green paper concluded that: “Jamaica has achieved several of the objectives ... but weakness remain in areas of diversification from fuel oil and expansion of renewable energy”.  Discounting for non-electricity usage of renewable energy, they estimated that 6% of the island’s electricity supply was generated from renewable energy sources.  The energy demand was expected to grow by 3 – 4% per annum over the medium term; and, it was proposed that 10% of the electricity supply be generated by renewable sources in 2010, increasing to 15% in 2020.

The energy policy was again updated to align with the island’s long-term goal to achieve developed status by 2030, and the energy policy further developed into the National Renewable Energy Policy 2009 – 2030.  Instead of proposing goals based on electricity supply, it reverted to contribution to the gross energy supply mix.  The document states that renewable energy comprised 6% of the gross energy supply mix in 2008. This is less than half the value that pertained four years earlier.  In 2009, it rose to 9%, which was below the level six years earlier.  The document also proposes that renewable energy should be 11% of the energy-mix this year, 12.5% in 2015, and 20% in 2030.  The goal for 2015 was actually achieved back in 2005, 10 years earlier.  So, no real improvement could be expected before 2030; and, this is below the 25% of global capacity now being contributed by renewable energy.

This year, intermittent renewable-energy supply, as generated from photovoltaic cells (PVs) and wind turbines, can be connected to the grid for capacities up to 100 kW.  And, renewable energy generation has finally been liberalised for capacities up to 115 MW.  The website of the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica also states that the 2030 goal for contribution of renewable energy has been increased to 30%.  There may yet be hope.  But, it should now be obvious that partial and tardy implementation of a renewable energy policy, though better than no effort, will not lead to a rapid adaptation of renewable energy.  Implementation of renewable-energy generating capacity must grow at a faster rate than non-renewable sources.


Posted by phcjam at 7:08 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 26 December 2012 4:01 PM EST
Tuesday, 2 October 2012
Energy Generation Needs to Change in the Caribbean
Topic: Strategic Planning

Energy Generation Needs to Change in the Caribbean

Bahamas’ only privately-owned power provider – Grand Bahama Power Company – recently commissioned an additional 52 MW power plant.  Speaking on the occasion, Minister of Grand Bahama – Dr. Michael Darville – urged the owners to support the government’s thrust to reduce the cost of electricity.  He stated that: “...the use of alternative forms of energy will bring real change to the cost of electricity and open new doors for the industrial sector to grow, thus attracting many foreign and domestic investors to Grand Bahama...”.  He further stated that high dependency on fossil fuels had negatively affected that nation’s development.

Bahamas was the largest of ten Caribbean nations studied by the Organization of American States’ Department of Sustainable Development, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley.  A report was produced titled: Energy Policy and Sector Analysis in the Caribbean (2010-2011).  One of the stated objectives of this study was to identify renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities within the nations studied.

At that time, Bahamas’ energy capacity was 585 MW, none of which was from renewable sources.  It was determined that 73 MW of technical potential existed for renewable energy development, which represented 12.5% of that capacity.  However, Bahamas’ National Energy Policy targets 15% use of renewable energy by 2020.  In other words, the nation needs to fully utilize its renewable energy potential within eight years.  As if this is not difficult enough, Bahamas like most of the other nations studied does not allow the operation of independent power providers or self-generation of electricity, except on private islands. So, the task of achieving its 2020 objective is solely dependent on their two power providers, and mainly on the larger government-owned Bahamas Electricity Company which produces 80% of its power.

The report concludes that: “Caribbean islands have the potential to lead the world to a new energy future, this will not happen without consistent, thoughtful policies and plans”.  It is my considered opinion that the Caribbean needs to reconsider its restriction of independent power providers and self-generation if we are to realise our potential in renewable energy development.  This is particularly relevant to Bahamas if it is to have a chance of achieving its 2020 goal.  Very few governments, even within developed nations, can unilaterally undertake the transition to renewables.  But partnering with private enterprise will make this achievable.  New policies and standards must be developed and implemented to allow for distributed energy generation from renewable energy sources, to augment existing central power plants.  The use of Renewable Distributed Energy Generation is emerging as a growing sector of the global electrical power industry.  This is particularly so in developing countries, where electricity costs are high and a significant proportion of the society has no access to electricity.  But, business and technology practices will have to change.


Posted by phcjam at 4:32 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 26 April 2013 3:26 PM EDT
Friday, 31 August 2012
2012 Interim Report on the Jamaican Construction and Real Estate Industries
Topic: Strategic Planning

 

 

In my last post “Status of the Jamaican Construction and Real Estate Industries to 2011”, I concluded that “if the (construction) industry growth can equal GDP growth this year (2012) and return to superior growth rates in subsequent years, the industry should regain pre-recession (2007) value-added in two years (2014)…; and, the real estate “…industry should return to pre-recession levels this year”.  But, the Planning Institute of Jamaica [PIOJ] released their “Review of Economic Performance April – June 2012” on 21 August 2012 and this conclusion seems unlikely to be achieved within the specified time-frames.

                The economy had 0.1% real GDP growth over the quarter relative to the equivalent period in 2011.  The goods-producing industries, which includes construction, had real growth of 0.1%, while the services industries, which includes real estate, was flat.  Growth rates for construction and real estate remained below GDP growth: construction at -3.2% and no growth for real estate.  The GDP growth for the current quarter is projected to be between -0.5% to 0.5%.  By the end of 2011, the construction industry was 13% below that of 2007, and real estate 0.5% below 2007.  The present “growth” is not sufficient to achieve pre-recession levels of value-added anticipated.

                On the positive side, quarterly value-added for real estate industry has consistently improved since the last quarter of 2011, all-be-it slowly.  At the current rate of improvement, it is likely that this industry will return to pre-recession levels in the second quarter of 2013.  The prognosis for the construction industry is however inconclusive.

                Quarterly value-added for construction has consistently fallen since the third quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, with an improvement in the previous quarter.  But, this gives no indication of a trend that can be expected over the current and next quarters.  The down-turn has been blamed on a 69.9% reduction in expenditure on telecommunication projects and 22.3 – 69.9% reduction in various government infrastructure projects: neither of which is expected to improve in the short term.  Particularly worrying is the 80.9% reduction in housing starts.

                The prognosis is not bad for the real estate industry, but only time will tell what will happen with the construction industry.  The government has made mention of significant private tourism projects in the pipeline.  If these materialize, there may yet be hope for a return to pre-recession levels of value-added by the end of 2014.  Otherwise, the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies is undertaking significant construction projects, and a number of commercial developments can be seen in the corporate area.  We will just have to wait on developments within the year to determine the future state of the construction industry.  One thing is however clear, improvement in the construction industry will be led by the private sector, not government; and, it is highly likely that academic and commercial developments will exceed residential, developments.


Posted by phcjam at 5:15 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 August 2012 5:51 PM EDT
Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Status of the Jamaican Construction and Real Estate Industries to 2011
Topic: Strategic Planning

 

 

 

In 2008, Dean Burrowes recorded his analysis of the global recession in “The Jamaican Construction and Real Estate Industry and the Impact of the Global Economic Crisis”.  He noted that bankruptcy of major U.S. financial houses reduced liquidity in the local banking sector “drying up funds available for construction projects”.  Some developers scaled back or suspended projects under construction, fearing local job losses would impede sale of the completed buildings.  Then developers with projects in-the-pipeline then took a “wait-and-see posture until economic prospects improve(d)”.

               Economic data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica for the period 2002 - 2011 confirms that the rate of growths in the construction and real estate industries did decline from 2008 – 2010, with construction being the worse affected.  The low rate of growths experienced in 2011 indicate that the real estate industry should return to pre-recession levels this year, but restoration of the construction industry may not materialize before 2014.

Table 1:  GDP, Value-Added by Industry at Constant (2007) Prices and Rates of Growth

 

Total GDP

Construction

Real Estate

Year

Value

Growth

Value

Growth

Value

Growth

2003

718,990

3.7%

54,162

5.0%

73,333

2.2%

2004

728,508

1.3%

58,784

8.5%

74,792

2.0%

2005

735,019

9.0%

63,435

7.9%

75,823

1.4%

2006

756,133

2.9%

61,078

-3.7%

77,237

1.9%

2007

766,972

1.4%

63,829

4.5%

79,827

3.4%

2008

760,892

-0.8%

58,992

-7.6%

80,980

1.4%

2009

737,442

-3.1%

55,873

-5.3%

79,968

-1.2%

2010

726,840

-1.4%

55,314

-1.0%

78,998

-1.2%

2011

737,804

1.5%

55,650

0.6%

79,394

0.5%

Source: Statistical Institute of Jamaica

     

* GDP and Value- Added at constant (2007) prices, J$ 'million

 

               From 2003 – 2011, Jamaica’s construction industry represented approximately 8% of its gross domestic product (GDP).  During this period, the industry showed negative growth in 2006 and from 2008 -2010.  In 2006, a major problem with the quality of locally-produced cement literally shut down the industry until alternative supplies could be imported.  The -3.7% growth in 2006 was followed by 4.5% growth in 2007.  So, the industry recovered from one crisis only to be thrown into another.  The pre-recession value added in 2007 was J$ 63.8 billion, only J$0.4 billion more than that of 2005, at constant (2007) prices.  So, the pre-recession value added is only slightly higher than that of 2005.

               In 2010, the value added at constant (2007) prices was J$55.6 billion, approximately 13% lower than 2007.  Growth in 2011 was only 0.6%, below the 1.5% GDP growth that year.  Previously, positive growth exceeded GDP growth and typically ranged from 0.9 – 3.4%.  If the industry growth can equal GDP growth this year and return to superior growth rates in subsequent years, the industry should regain pre-recession value added in two years, and as stated before this would only be marginally higher than that existing nearly a decade earlier.

               In contrast, the real estate industry represented 10% of GDP up to 2007, but has been 11% of GDP since 2008.  Its growth rate fell in 2008 and was -1.2% in 2009 and 2010, exceeding the GDP growth rate for the respective years.  In 2007, its value added was J$79.8 billion and fell by 1.0% to $79.0 billion in 2010.  It had a 0.5% growth rate in 2011, uncharacteristically lower than the GDP growth.  But typical growth rates range from 1.4 – 3.4%, so this industry should return to pre-recession levels this year.

Table 2:  Loans by Commercial Banks for Land Purchase and Construction

Year:

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

Loans

8,045

8,997

12,902

19,909

21,962

18,488

Value-Added

56,317

63,829

69,792

72,405

79,255

83,843

% Loan

14.3%

14.1%

18.5%

27.5%

27.7%

22.1%

Source: Bank of Jamaica

         

** Value-added at current prices, J$ 'million

     

 

               Interestingly, economic data from the Bank of Jamaica for loans by commercial banks for land purchase and construction does not confirm Burrowes’ observation that banks reduced funding for construction projects.  In 2007, commercial banks provided loans amounting to 14.1% of the value added by the construction industry.  This actually rose during the recession to a high of 27.7% at current prices in 2010, subsequently falling to 22.1% in 2011.  It is therefore likely that developers unilaterally suspended, scaled back and took a “wait-and-see posture” while awaiting improvement of the economy.  Loans from commercial banks should therefore not retard the construction industry’s return to pre-recession levels; and baring diminished confidence of developers, this should be achieved in 2014.


Posted by phcjam at 5:43 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 31 August 2012 6:00 PM EDT
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Is Energy at Government's Strategic Thinking?
Topic: Energy Conservation

THE EDITOR, Sir:

 

The Science, Technology, Energy and Mining Minister, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, at a press briefing on 2 May 2012 launched the Government of Jamaica/Inter-American Development Bank’s (GoJ/IDG) Energy Efficiency and Conservation Programme, which was the end product of the IDB Energy Efficiency and Conservation Technical Assistance (EECTA) Agreement signed on 2009 for US$20 million.  He explained that the current programme would make investments in energy efficiency and conservation to effect $2.6 billion savings in electricity bills of government ministries, agencies and public institutions.  He further directed these bodies to use their latest electricity consumption as a benchmark and reduce their consumption or be penalized.  This he said he spoke “the firm authority of the Minister of Finance”.  But, have we not heard this before?

                On 19 April 2011, the then Minister of Finance and Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, reported that budgetary allocations to a number of departments had been reduced by cutting the amount for utilities.  The year before that, Minister Shaw had issued the same directive without much success.  Since Minister Paulwell mentioned the electricity costs of February 2012 as being the highest at J$ 1.2 billion, are we to assume last year’s effort was also without success?

                Since the Minister spoke of using the last electricity cost as a benchmark, I suspect the effort of the last financial year was also without much saving.  In my article of 16 May 2011 titled “Energy Woe”, I made mention of the IDB Project Profile titled Jamaica Energy Efficiency and Conservation Program which estimated initial savings of 6.7%, not the 15% proposed by the then administration, and concluded by stating that “…failure to control expenditure cannot be attributed to the implementing ministries and agencies but to poor planning and unrealistic expectations”.  How is the pronouncement of the present administration different?

                The IDB profile mentions three components: institutional strengthening, investment in energy efficiency, and the demand-side management and public campaign.  It is not clear whether any of these components overlap.  But assuming no overlap, the first began when public sector workers were trained under a UNDP program to equip them to be energy monitors.  They received their certificates at a ceremony at the PCJ Auditorium on 21 April 2011.  This was the only component dealt with under the last administration.  When Minister Paulwell mentioned replacing 90,000 light bulbs, improving insulation and sealing building envelopes, and replacing 5,000 air-condition units he was announcing the beginning of the second component.  He also made mention of the third when he referred to workshops for public and private stakeholders on energy efficiency and conservation.  So, we seem to be better prepared this time around, though he gave no time-frame for implementation.

                The IDB profile made reference to 25% savings by 2015, which is consistent with their country strategy 2011 – 2015.  This projected saving is approximately equivalent to the $2.6 billion savings mentioned by Minister Paulwell.  But if the benchmark is this year, 2012, then we should only realize the stated savings by 2016.  According to the profile, “preliminary calculations for the program confirm the potential for savings in the public sector of up to US$ 7 million per year”.  Nevertheless, the Jamaica Information Service states that the project will be executed over a 4 year period, with savings of US$ 9 million per annum and a net present value of US$ 133.1 million after 20 years. This would indicate that a greater degree of planning has gone into this year’s programme.  But at the current exchange rate, the savings less amortization will be less than half the savings mentioned by the minister, after 20 years.  it is not clear whether this 20 year period is for the repayment of the loan, or the project life cycle.  Nevertheless, the second component, estimated to cost $9.6 billion will be spread over the next 4 financial years, and should provide jobs for local engineers and suppliers.

                It should now be apparent that, the outcome of the project as commendable as it is will not be as significant as alluded to.  More than likely, the investment referred to will be funded by an external source and will have to be repaid.  So, Jamaica will not benefit from the full extent of the savings even after 20 years.  If this time is the project lifecycle, then further funds will be needed to replace the investment.  This should not serve to discourage such an exercise but should be an example of what can happen when we wait too long to implement necessary energy efficiency and conservation measures.  The government should benefit from some savings this financial year, let us hope the expectation will be realistic.  Let us hope that energy will be at the forefront of this administration’s strategic thinking during their budget presentation.  We expect specificity and announcement of specific initiatives relevant to goal of saving energy and creating a competitive economy: attainable plans based off realistic objectives.  That should be our realistic expectation.

 

I am, etc.

 

 

Paul Hay MBA, BA(Arch.)
Managing Partner
PAUL HAY Capital Projects

Caribbean Capital Projects Management



P. O. Box 3367
Constant Springs, Kgn. 8
Jamaica, W.I.

tel: 1 (876) 756-0631
cel: 1 (876) 324-4274
fax: 1 (876) 756-0631

e-mail: paul.hay@phcjam.com
skype name: phcjam
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Posted by phcjam at 12:05 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2012 10:04 AM EDT
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
IFC Building Models for productivity
 

Paper for AXIS

IFC Building Models for Productivity

Paul A. Hay

30 March 2005

 

Early in 1970, software developers marketed computer-aided design [CAD] systems, which had three-dimensional [3D] draughting features, to large mechanical engineering firms.  UK-based developments such as RUCAPS, and software from Applied Research of Cambridge, introduced CAD to the practice of architecture, but the goal was to conceive a novel method of 3D design, not merely to replicate manual draughting.[1]  In the United States, architectural firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill [SOM] used CAD software to draught building plans for Pacific Bell, in November 1983, hoping to "fast-track" the design process by facilitating design changes during the construction phase of works.[2]   Later, IBM partnered with SOM to develop the IBM/SOM AE Series [AES], and is reputed to have licensed 3D CAD technology from the Belgian firm, BricsWorks, about the same time AES was being developed.[3] 

 

Currently, SOM has been commissioned to design the first tower to rise on the World Trade Center site, and Autodesk - the world's leading design software company - has announced its collaboration with SOM on the project.  Construction commenced on 4 July 2004 and the fast-track schedule required close collaboration initially between over one hundred team members to expeditiously complete tasks and secure approvals from the project's diverse stakeholders; but is expected to facilitate collaboration between thousands more members before the completion of construction.  Autodesk's "AutoCAD" [ACAD] is the primary CAD software being used.     ACAD is a 2D CAD program with limited 3D capability.  So, Autodesk's "Revit" and "Architectural Desktop" [ADT] - which are both 3D architectural CAD programs - are also being used: the latter to enable energy analysis to be undertaken by a third-party application, directly from the drawing file.[4]

 

Notwithstanding, Dr. Paul Teichoiz - Professor Emeritus at the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, California - has bemoaned the decline of productivity in the U.S. construction industry over the last forty years and stated that adoption of information technology over the past thirty-five years has failed to improve productivity because it has not facilitated collaboration between project members.  He explained that stand-alone applications hinder quick implementation of changes by their reliance on paper output, which has to be manually checked, and data subsequently re-entering into other programs.  To correct this anomaly, he recommended that project teams use 3D CAD programs for design and the internet for communication.  He further explained that fast and error-free sharing of information between dissimilar computer applications would result from the use of 3D CAD models which implement data standards developed by the International Association for Interoperability [IAI].[5]

 

Dr. Teichoiz makes specific reference to the U.S. Construction Industry, but his observation and recommendation would no doubt be relevant to the Caribbean, particularly if we accept the premise that improving collaboration between members of a project team will effect the productivity gains which are still being sought by SOM after twenty years of effort.   Change is therefore inevitable and this change has to be concurrent between education and practice within the building Industry.

 

In education, CAD training needs to extend to discipline-specific, 3D programs compliant with IAI standards: ideally as an inter-faculty venture.  In practice, use of similar programs is required; sharing of CAD files needs to replace blueprints; and all members of the project team: client, consultants, contractor and sub-contractors, need to collaborate by the Internet or Intranet.  The technology already exists.  But, it needs professionals trained to realize the productivity gains expected with improved collaboration.

 

CARIBBEAN ARCHITECTURE: EDUCATION & PRACTICE

Students of the Caribbean School of Architecture [CSA] are trained to use ACAD over a local area network [LAN].  Although CSA does not use the stand-alone version, ACAD is used in stand-alone mode: as a group of students do not modify a single file simultaneously, but individually modify separate files .  Also, ACAD is not currently IAI certified and Autodesk CAD programs are not currently available for McIntosh [Mac] computers.

 

The typical Caribbean practice uses either manual draughting, or stand-alone 2D CAD programs which save in propriety formats that are not readily transferable between different versions of the same program, let alone dissimilar programs.  Internet usage is also limited to e-mailing, rather than linking computer systems used by the project team.  Both personal computers [PCs] and Macs are used.  In 2002, I conducted an informal survey in which members of the professional institutes in Barbados, Trinidad, and Jamaica were asked to identify the computer systems they used.  One-in-six responded that they use Macs: Jamaica having the highest proportion and Barbados the least.  This group of architects used either VectorWorks or ArchiCAD.  The former is the 2D offering of Nemetschek North America [NNA] and the latter Graphisoft's 3D program.  So, 3D CAD programs, such as Graphisoft's ArchiCAD [as well as, Autodesk's Architectural Desktop (ADT) and NNA's VectorWorks Architect] are already in use in the Caribbean, though small in number.  But, CSA graduates have to be re-trained in the use of them.

 

BACKGROUND TO 3D CAD

RUCAPS and AES represent an initial effort to move architectural and engineering design away from the "orthogonal drawing process" to a "model-based design process", in which paper-based drawings are simply reports generated from a data-base model.  Many of the RUCAPS developers later established another modeling program called "Sonata" by the end of the 1980s.

 

By the mid-1990s, Autodesk purchased Softdesk - the developer of an AutoCAD add-on - and developed ADT.  Some of Sonata's developers created a new modeling application called "Reflex".  Reflex was sold to Parametric Technology Corporation [PTC] in 1997, and PTC developers created Revit that same year.  This early version of Revit bore remarkable similarities with Reflex technology,:but its developers claim there is no connection between the two.  Nevertheless, Revit was later acquired by Autodesk.[6]

 

3D CAD EDUCATION: ARCHITECTURAL CASE STUDY

Ronald Filson - Professor of architecture and Dean Emeritus at Tulane University -- developed a course in 2002 using Revit.  Initially, some faculty members "..expressed concern that using Revit might limit creativity because the students select elements and objects from Revit's (and some manufacturers') libraries rather than drawing each component from scratch".  But, their concerns waned as they became familiar with the program.  In fact Professor Filson remarked that:

"In the past, my students would design in plan and section almost to the end of the semester.  Now, they can work with perspectives, renderings, and 3D models as well, at any time during the semester, because Revit calculates these automatically from the building model

            Student design projects are now more thoroughly developed and refined.  Revit also requires students to think more deeply about how to integrate mechanical and structural systems into the design."[7]                     

 

IAI's INDUSTRY FOUNDATION CLASSES [IFC]

IAI is a non-profit organization responsible for the development of  new standards for describing  buildings.  These standards have been called Industry Foundation Classes [IFC].  No software developer holds rights to the IFC format and it is independent of operating systems.  Linear description by line, arc, etc., used in 2D CAD, is replaced with descriptions of building components (e.g. roof, walls, floor, doors, doors, etc.) according to their geometry, material, finish, and other required specifications.[8] 

 

The IFC model is designed to facilitate interoperability across individual and discipline-specific applications used in the design, construction and operation of buildings.  In 2002, it received ISO certification and efforts are being made to extend its usefulness.  Each IFC version describes more entities and relationships relevant to a building's life-cycle.. These include spaces, organization, schedules, costs, and other more abstract entities.  The seventh and latest version, released in 2003,  is IFC 2x2.  It defines 623 different components or concepts. 

 

The "IFC Model Server Project" in Finland, stores model data for use by IFC compliant applications over the Internet; and Singapore is investigating use of IFC models to automate their building-code checking and approval process.

 

BUILDING INFORMATION MODEL [BIM]

Autodesk's Revit is currently not IFC-compliant[9], neither is NNA's VectorWorks Architect.  But, both developers claim their respective products are Building Information Model [BIM] Applications.   Phillip G. Bernstein -- Lecturer in Professional Practice at Yale University's School of Architecture, and Vice President  at Autodesk's Building Solutions Division -- states that Autodesk coined the concept in 2002 and defines it as:

"A design approach that uses the power of information technology to solve problems across the building cycle.  On-going access to reliable up-to-date, and fully coordinated building information (integrating the parameters of design scope, schedule, cost, quantity and performance) offers a potent capability for architects, engineers, builders and building owners to dramatically transform how buildings are designed, built and managed."[10]

 

Many "BIM concepts" were present in RUCAPS.  These include a building model stored in central database, which comprised data on 3D building components; multi-user access to the building model, and a clear distinction between model data and reports: drawings being interpreted as "graphical reports".  The benefit of this approach was that drawings were kept up-to-date.  Early adapters discovered that conceptual designs had to be given more thought before drawings could be produced.  But, it became easier for other team members to work out the details.  Nevertheless, implementation was short-lived and had no marked impact on the design process.  RUCAPS would however be considered crude in comparison to contemporary products from Autodesk, Graphisoft, and Nemetschek.[11]

 

Dr. Lachmi Khemlani - founder and editor of AECbytes Newsletter,  who specializes in intelligent building modeling - confirms that the concept of interoperability between programs was the subject of architectural research early in 1970, when an effort was made to develop an integrated design system capable of supporting a suite of applications operated individually or collectively.  She describes four categories of CAD software products.  "General-purpose CAD" programs, like ACAD, use geometric data models; as do "General-purpose 3D-modeling" software, like Autodesk VIZ.  But, "Architecture-specific 3D add-ons", like ADT use a building data model on top of a geometric model; and 3D parametric applications, like Revit and ArchiCAD, only use building data models.[12] 

 

To avoid the confusion, this paper makes no distinction between 3D programs and is strictly relevant to IFC-compliant 3D CAD products.  Consequently, the term IFC building model is used, rather than the more popular BIM.  Autodesk, Graphisoft, and Nemetschek are all IAI members, and each has an IFC-compliant offering: all being specific to the design discipline targeted.  In the following, we will therefore examine a single product from each vendor which is  specific to architecture; mechanical, electrical and plumbing [MEP]; or structural engineering. 

 

ARCHITECTURE WITH ARCHICAD

A-E-C Automation Newsletter states that ArchiCAD was the first 3D architectural CAD program developed for micro-computers.  It was introduced in 1984 exclusively for Macs, but a MS Windows version was introduced in 1993.  ArchiCAD is IFC compliant.  ArchiCAD uses a central data base to store building data.  ArchiCAD's TeamWork feature allows groups of architects to share information across a local-area network [LAN] or Intranet.  Each member signs in to a project over the network and saves a "satellite" version of the master project file to their workstation, thus eliminating dependence on the network's server.  Later, changes can be uploaded to the master file, and the latest revisions downloaded to the "satellite" file.  Thus, the building model remains up-to-date as the work proceeds.  Users are able to instantaneously generate complete plans, sections, elevations, quantity take-offs, schedules, and presentation materials such as renderings and walk-throughs.[13]

 

ArchiCAD TeamWork feature is used to assign rights to each member of the project team.  The Administrator can add users, define security access and sharing of resources.  The team leader has more rights than the typical user and can change basic project attributes: such as the number of storeys.  But, he cannot otherwise edit the building form.  Typical users can create and edit elements of the building model defined in their workspace. A "mark-up participant" can view the building model, add comments, and mark-up model elements; while a  "view-only participant is only allowed to view the model and add comments.

 

ArchiCAD was used by Fender Katsalidis Architects to design the Eureka Towers.  This building commissioned by the joint-venture company, Grocon Riverside Developments and Michelmersh, commenced in 1998 and is scheduled for completion in 2005.  It is located in Melbourne, Australia, comprises 92 storeys, and is reputedly  the world's tallest residential building at 300 metres high.   The complete model file was 330 Mb in size and took twenty minutes to load.  So, it was broken down into sub-projects: each sub-project being linked together using ArchiCAD's "hot-link" feature.  One member of the project team was designated "Model Manager" and was responsible for validating the accuracy of the 3D model, thus maintaining the careful arrangement of sub-projects.  Any changes made to a sub-model was automatically represented in the "parent-level models" to which the sub-model was hot-linked.  However, collaboration between the project team was limited to distribution of one thousand individual sheets of drawings, because consultants and other team members only possessed 2D CAD capabilities.[14]

Typical users define both a spatial and a conceptual workspace in which they can edit elements of the building model.  The spatial workspace can comprise a specific floor zone or a space of several floors.  The conceptual workspace can be specific building systems, such as exterior walls, core, partitions, etc.  It is possible to create objects outside of one's workspace and propose changes to the workspace owner.  When the main project file is updated, new elements can be made available to other users and, when the owner of the workspace sees recommended changes, he may choose to accept it or not.  Mark-up entries are represented as a 3D place holder and a 2D revision cloud, which must be revised before the document can be issued.  When saved to the main project file, the entry is automatically added to the respective teammate's To-Do list inclusive of comments.

 

Dr. Khemlani used ArchiCAD to evaluate the interoperability of multiple applications certified as IFC 2.0 compliant, and concluded that some issues needed to be resolved but interoperability was definitely possible.  A floor plan was first drawn using Microsoft's Visio: a template-based 2D CAD program, which uses a drag-and-drop drawing interface.  The plan was exported as an IFC model to ArchiCAD, where it was developed as a 3D model.  Again the file was exported as an IFC model to Solibri Model Checker 1.0, where it was checked for proper relationships to enable reliable analysis (e.g. energy analysis, quantities and cost estimation) by other applications.  Finally, Timberline Software's Precision Collection 6.2 used the IFC model to estimate the cost of the building.[15] 

 

Dr. Khemlani concluded her investigation of interoperability by adding structural elements to the previous floor plan, repeating the process with the same suite of applications, and came to the same conclusion.  But, she noted that structural analysis tools were not interoperable with CAD applications, nor able to evaluate the suitability of structural entities at that time.  She postulated that this would not be resolved until IFC 3.0 was released: which was expected to include information on structural connectivity in building models.[16]

 

STRUCTURAL ENGINEERING WITH ALLPLOT

Besides the VectorWorks line of products, marketed by NNA, AEC Magazine states that their German parent-company Nemetschek AG has been active in the United Kingdom since 2001 and  produces the AllPlan suite which comprises modules for urban planning, architecture, mechanical and structural engineering.  Their structural and civil engineering application -- AllPlot - is credited as making the process of detailing of reinforced concrete "a whole lot more efficient".

 

It automatically produces plans, elevations, sections and bar schedules from 3D models.  IFC models can be imported from other CAD programs, or created in "AllPlan".  The shape, size, number and steel-grade of the reinforcement bars are selected from a "bending catalog", along with concrete cover, and the program correctly puts them in place without prior calculation of their exact lengths.  Bar marks are inserted and linked to a central steel database from which schedules are generated.  AllPlot also provides tools for detailing area and mesh reinforcement for large areas.  Recesses are accounted for and changes made to the shape of the building results in corresponding changes to the reinforcement.[17]

 

MEP ENGINEERING WITH ABS

ADT is Autodesk's IFC-compliant 3D architectural CAD program, and Autodesk Building Systems [ABS] is the equivalent MEP CAD program.[18]  In a review of ABS 2004, Cadalyst Magazine stated that ABS was developed according to the "object-based" technology of ADT.  It uses catalogs of standard parts and equipment as well as an extensive collection of pre-defined objects used in the architecture, engineering and construction [AEC] industry: all being compatible with ADT.  It also has interference-detection capability to determine conflicts between MEP objects and those of other disciplines: such as conflicts between piping or ducts with structural elements.  However, there may be traditional or cultural resistance to its implementation , as greater input is required from the engineer early in the design, and engineers are required to work closely with the CAD operators during the design process.

 

Most of the electrical content is of a single-line or schematic nature appropriate for the majority of electrical drawings.  Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning [HVAC], as well as piping is the most developed discipline and a duct flow calculator is provided to assist in duct sizing.  A flow calculator is also provided for sizing plumbing pipes, and all plumbing can be automatically rendered.[19]   Drawing tools automatically insert fittings where needed and suggests layouts to complex routing problems, including symbols that can slide or be anchored along the layout.

 

 ABS 2005 includes tools to convert ACAD floor plans into "intelligent engineering models" storing results of analysis, as well as dimensional information. HVAC analysis that once took over a week to complete is performed in hours.  In fact, it is described as " the only truly integrated object-oriented application created specifically for Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Engineers".  ABS 2005 also facilitates use of "BIM data" by third-party applications for analysis of energy-use, load, fire protection and hydraulics.[20]

 

CONCLUSION

Change is therefore inevitable if productivity is to improve, and has to be concurrent between the education and practice of building professionals.  This can be illustrated by description of a scenario based on Dr. Khemlani's experiment.  A Caribbean architect works on his laptop awaiting a flight back home having received a major foreign commission.  He quickly completes a floor plan and uploads the IFC file to his company's project website and e-mails to his assistant as the plane descends for landing. 

 

Arriving at the office, the plan has been transformed to a three-dimensional model.  Elevations are completed periodically glancing at the 3D renderings and an occasional walk-through.  As works proceeds, the plan, sections and schedules are automatically updated.  Next, the master file is updated and e-mails sent to consultants to start working on it.  Later, the interior designer, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and structural engineers all commence work on the same model.

 

His to-do list includes a request from the mechanical engineer to increase the floor-to-floor height because the air-condition ducts need more space.  He makes the change, which updates all elevations, sections and perspectives.  The structural engineer's plans, elevations, sections and bar schedules are also updated.  The plumbing engineer places some openings in the floor slabs to allow pipes to pass through, and the structural engineer's drawings are again updated.  As the interior designer works to conceal the pipes, the electrical engineer suggests a light fixture. 

 

The IFC drawing of the fixture, complete with lighting characteristics, is downloaded from the manufacturer's web-site and placed in the proposed building.  Photo-realistic interior renderings illustrate the illumination expected from the fixture and it is approved.  The quantity surveyor then generates the quantities from the model and the client is invited to view the model on the website, complete with an estimated building cost: but without a line being drawn, no prints made, and no courier needed to deliver the drawings.



[1] Day, Martin.  "Intelligent Architectural Modeling", AEC Magazine, September 2002. .

[2]  Donelan, Jenny. "Part 6: Architecture Retrospective". Computer Graphics World, June 2002 . PennWell Corp., U.S.A.

[3] Laiserin, Jerry.  "Some Other Brics in the Wall".  The Laiserin Letter, Issue 16, December 2003.  www.laiserin.com/features/issue16/feature01.php

[4] Autodesk, Inc.  "World Trade Center Design Team Partners with Autodesk to Help Facilitate Freedom Tower Design and Construction Process".  PR Newswire, 16 June 2004, www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=www/story/06-16-2004/0002194217&EDATE=

[5] Teichoiz, Paul. "Labor Productivity Declines in Construction Industry: Causes and Remedies", AEC bytes Viewpoint No. 4, 14 April 2004.

[6] Laiserin, Jerry.  "Some Other Brics in the Wall".  Laiserin Letter, Issue 16, December 2003.

[7] Filson, Ronald & Ron Nyren. "Students Learn with Integrated Building Modeling". Architecture Week, 27 August 2003, pp. T1.1 - T1.2.  www.architectureweek.com.

[8] Nannetti, Maurizio. "Inside the Virtual Building", Multi-CAD Magazine, Dec. 2001/Jan. 2002.

[9] Khemlani, Lachmi.  "The IFC Building Model: A Look under the Hood".  AECbytes Newsletter, 30 Mar. 2004. .

[10] Bernstein, Phillip G.  "Going Further Process Evolution in the Building Industry".  AECbytes Newsletter, 11 Feb. 2004. .

[11] Day, Martin.  "Intelligent Architectural Modeling". AEC Magazine, Sept. 2002, .

[12] Khemlani, Lachmi, "Building Information Modeling". CADALYST Magazine AEC Tech News No. 90, 29 Jan. 2003. .

[13] Newton, Randall S. and David S. Cohn.  "Graphisoft Leads in the Move to Virtual Building Technology".  A-E-C Automation, Feb. 2003, Vol. 26, Issue 1.

[14] Khemlani, Lachmi. "The Eureka Tower: A Case Study of Advanced BIM Implementation".  AECbytes Newletter, 2 June 2004, .

[15] Khemlani, Lachmi. "An Exercise in Interoperability - Part 1".  CADENCE Magazine AEC Tech News No. 69. 28 Feb. 2002. .

[16] Khemlani, Lachmi.  "An Exercise in Interoperability - Part 2".  CADENCE Magazine AEC Tech News No. 70. 13 Mar. 2002. .

[17] Corke, Greg.  "AllPlot", AEC Magazine, 18 Mar. 2003.  .

[18] Autodesk Inc. "Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2005 Ships, Offering Immediate Productivity Gains to Architects". PR Newswire. .

[19] Dakan, Michael, "Autodesk Building System 2004" Cadalyst Magazine, 1 Dec. 2003.  .

[20] Autodesk Inc.  "Autodesk Delivers Increased Productivity and Process Benefits to Mechanical, Electrical & Plumbing Engineers".  PR Newswire.  .


Posted by phcjam at 2:51 PM EDT

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