Sheryl Staub-French


Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

Understanding the changes resulting from the virtualization of BIM-enabled collaborative design processes in the building construction industry (2023)

The Canadian construction industry contributes significantly to the country's economy but faces various challenges, such as inefficiency, delayed projects, and negative environmental impact. Building Information Modelling (BIM) has been identified as a key driver for the industry's digital transformation and a potential remedy to its challenges. However, the adoption of BIM has been limited in the construction industry, which remains among the least digitalized sectors. Enabling digitalization in the construction industry, such as adopting BIM-enabled tools, requires change management competency. This study aims to understand how the virtualization led by BIM-enabled tools changes building design processes, specifically collaborative design processes. The study investigates three collaborative design processes with increasing complexity levels that employ various BIM tools. The impact of BIM-enabled tools on the collaborative design processes of maintainability design reviews, multi-disciplinary design coordination, and lean design management was investigated in this study. These design processes were studied within the context of different real-world case study projects that were selected to ensure diverse collaborative environments and contractual structures. The study utilized an action research approach, and mixed methods of data collection consisting of direct observations, interviews, and document and model analysis were used. The findings suggest that adopting BIM-enabled tools can improve collaborative design processes by enhancing communication, increasing efficiency, and improving information exchange between project stakeholders. The contributions of this study are threefold—first, the usability of virtual reality tools to improve communication and decision-making for maintainability design reviews is empirically demonstrated. Second, a framework for categorizing the changes from adopting cloud-based collaboration tools is developed and operationalized to illustrate the impact of cloud-based collaboration tools on the design coordination process. Finally, empirical evidence and practical insights are provided into the efficacy and challenges of executing lean design management processes in completely remote and virtual collaborative work environments. The findings from this study can help design professionals and project managers better plan and implement BIM-enabled tools in practice and enable the virtualization of design processes in the building construction industry.

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A framework for sustainable development management in the construction industry (2021)

The most common way to deal with sustainable development in the construction industry is through sustainability-related standards and certifications that identify and systematize sustainable business practices in diverse fields. However, certifications often focus on the same or overlapping areas. The construction industry is endeavouring to become more sustainable and spends extensive management and administrative effort to accomplish this through standards and certification processes. Notwithstanding, the business comprehension of achieving broad sustainability, the viability of accreditation as a system and administration practices of organizations remain under-developed and disconnected.This research identifies gaps in the studies of sustainability management, contributing to a solution that defines the scope of sustainable development in the building construction industry. Moreover, it helps organizations implement sustainable development management at both the strategic and tactical levels. It formalizes sustainable development management practices into a body of knowledge framework and implementation templates. The validation step of this research consists of an investigation based on multiple data sources, consolidating information in the current literature that partially addresses sustainability and sustainable development management.As a qualitative research method, the epistemology of this research uses a document analysis method to consolidate a diverse source of information existing in the current literature, focusing on the three perspectives of sustainability—environmental, economic and social—and in business and project management. The research presents an in-depth analysis of the scope of sustainability for the construction industry and how to implement it, based on the participation of organizations from Canada and Brazil. They shared their current practices at the strategic management level.The systematic review of the documentation provided background information to understand the construction industry's economic, social and environmental aspects and sustainable development management body of knowledge.This research contributes to the field of construction management by (1) identifying the scope of sustainable development, introducing the 100 SDI—a consolidated list of sustainability targets for the building construction industry and their contribution to the UN-SDGs—and (2) the SDMBOK—a framework to implement sustainable development at the strategic and tactical level and templates to assist in implementing the framework at the strategic level.

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A systematic investigation of thermal comfort compliance criteria (2020)

Thermal comfort impacts occupant health and productivity and is responsible for a significant portion of the total building energy consumption. However, the compliance criteria in current standards to assess thermal comfort in a building’s operation phase are mostly based on a theoretical thermal comfort model (predicted mean vote—PMV) derived from laboratory studies and lack validation from data in real buildings. The research objective is to use field-based data to systematically investigate whether current point-in-time and long-term compliance criteria can reliably predict subjective evaluations of thermal environments. First, an extensive bibliometric analysis of 146 post-occupancy evaluation (POE) projects introduces the state-of-the-art and state-of-the-practice of approaches for field data collection. Then, an analysis of ASHRAE Global Thermal Comfort Database II demonstrates that tiered PMV classes are not appropriate for thermal comfort assessment at a point of time, and we proposed a new approach to derive acceptable temperature ranges as the point-in-time compliance criteria. The derived acceptable temperature ranges in real buildings using this new method are wider than the current standards mandate. Last, using continuous thermal measurements and occupant feedback in four air-conditioned office buildings in Sydney, an assessment of 23 existing and 36 new long-term thermal comfort indices (as the long-term compliance criteria) and their correlation with the occupants’ long-term thermal satisfaction found that the majority of existing indices, especially those based on PMV index, had a weak correlation with thermal satisfaction. The percentage of time outside specified temperature ranges was the best-performing index from the standards (r=-0.63). The newly proposed index based on the percentage of time that daily temperature range is greater than a threshold reported the strongest correlation (r=-0.8) with thermal satisfaction for the used dataset. The results suggest that occupants in real buildings can accept a wider temperature range at a point of time than expected, and their long-term thermal satisfaction with a space is dominated by the frequency and severity of temperature excursions outside an acceptable range and beyond a daily variability threshold. This research informs future amendments of the point-in-time and long-term compliance criteria in international standards to reduce energy consumption in building operations.

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Requirements for BIM-based building design coordination processes (2018)

Building design coordination is a critical and challenging task to ensure that the design meets the functional, aesthetic, and economic requirements of project stakeholders. The cost of design coordination can be significant, with some estimating as high as two percent of the total cost on projects. It is therefore imperative that coordination issues get resolved as efficiently as possible, particularly given that thousands of conflicts may be identified during design coordination.Even with implementation of Building Information Modelling (BIM) project participants still face significant challenges that disrupt and hinder the coordination process. I have identified three critical issues that impact the successful implementation of BIM in design coordination processes: (1) the extent of BIM-based design coordination processes and protocols implemented, (2) the efficiency and ease in which practitioners interact with state of the art of BIM tools, and (3) the effectiveness in which design coordination issues are captured, represented and documented. Very little research has specifically looked at the BIM-based building design coordination with such focus.This dissertation investigates BIM-based building design coordination through the lens of two state of the art public sector projects. The research involved embedded case study analyses and a mixed-method contextualist research approach that included iterative grounded theory and co-production of knowledge. The investigation of BIM-based design coordination resulted in the formalization of design coordination processes, identification of bottlenecks faced by practitioners, and development of design considerations for BIM tools. The exploration of design coordination meetings resulted in taxonomy of interactions with design artifacts, outlining the relationships between goals, artifacts, interactions and transitions. The research on design coordination issue representation resulted in a classification taxonomy that explicitly represents process-based, model-based, and physical design issues. This research has many practical implications to the construction industry, as well as the BIM software development community. The research enables practitioners and researchers to better understand the challenges of BIM-based design coordination processes, helps the software development community to design state of the art BIM tools to better support practitioner interactions and navigations with BIM, and better manage and represent design coordination issues encountered throughout the coordination process.

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Understanding the transition to BIM for facility owners (2017)

Building information modeling (BIM) is emerging as a potential solution for facility owners to address the challenges of poor information quality and interoperability during project handover and inadequate facilities management during building operations. However, implementing BIM in an owner organization is a complex challenge that necessitates reconfiguration of work practices and internal structures to fully realize the benefits. Although previous studies have documented the potential benefits of BIM adoption for owners, such as improvements in work order processing, very little research has specifically looked at the transition to BIM and the scale of the effort required for large and diverse owner organizations. This dissertation investigates the transition to BIM through the lens of two large public owner organizations in Canada. Specifically, the research involved embedded case study analyses to investigate the alignment of facilities management (FM) practices across the organizational and project contexts in relation to owner requirements. The resulting case study analysis is unique in terms of the richness of the data collection and analysis methods used, the research approach investigating alignment across two interrelated contexts at the organizational and project level, and the focus on information in terms of understanding how facility information is affected by the organizational processes, technologies and requirements.The investigation of current owner practices enabled a better understanding of the gap between available and required information, processes and technology, and the challenges owners face when considering the transition to BIM. A significant contribution resulting from these studies is the framework I developed to characterize the alignment between organizational constructs, available technology, project artifacts and owner information requirements. The research into two different owners provided a rich understanding of owners’ information requirements and led to the formalization of computable requirements in relation to BIM, and the development of a 3-stage methodology to help owners develop and deploy BIM requirements. This research demonstrates that the transition to BIM for facility owners necessitates the development of explicit and computable BIM requirements, the reconfiguration of internal work practices, and the formalization of stages of compliance to support BIM-enabled project delivery.

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Automated extraction and querying of construction specific design features from a building information model (2011)

In recent years, several research and industry efforts have focused on developing building information models (BIMs) to support various aspects of the architectural, engineering, construction and facility management (AEC/FM) industry. BIMs provide semantically-rich information models that explicitly represent both 3D geometric and non-geometric information. While BIMs have many useful applications to the construction industry, there are enormous challenges in getting construction-specific information out of BIMs, limiting the usability of these models. This research addresses this problem by developing a novel approach to extract construction features from a given BIM and support the processing of user-driven queries on a BIM. In this dissertation, we formalized:(i) An ontology of design features that explicitly represents design conditions that are relevant to construction practitioners and supports the generation of a construction-specific feature-based model; (ii) A query specification vocabulary which characterizes spatial and non-spatial queries, and developed query templates to guide non-expert BIM users to specify queries; and(iii) An integrated approach that combines model-based reasoning and query-based approach to automatically extract design features to create a project-specific feature-based model (FBM) and provide support for answering queries on the FBM.The construction knowledge formalized in this research was gathered from a variety of sources, which included a detailed literature review, several case studies, extensive observations of design and construction meetings, and lengthy discussions with different construction practitioners. We used three different tests to validate the research contributions. We conducted semi-structured, informal interviews with four construction experts for the four building projects studied to validate the content, representativeness and the generality of the concepts formalized in this research. We conducted retrospective analysis for different features to evaluate the soundness of our research in comparison with the state-of-the-art tools. Finally, we performed descriptive and interpretive analysis to demonstrate that our approach is capable of providing richer, insightful and useful construction information.This research can help to make a BIM more accessible for construction users. The developed solutions can support decision making in a variety of construction management functions, such as cost estimating, construction planning, execution and coordination, purchasing, constructability analysis, methods selection, and productivity analysis.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

Project delivery with Indigenous communities and methods to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowing (2022)

Influential inquiries, such as the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the 2019 National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, have emphasized the need to advance reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples. The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is influenced by such societal goals, but there is no definitive roadmap to reconciliation. AEC projects take place on treaty or unceded Indigenous land, which contributes to the imperative of developing project delivery methods that reflect the cultures and world views of the original inhabitants of the land. The problematic acquisition of Indigenous land by settler colonial society, combined with the increased acknowledgement of Indigenous knowledges, has elevated the practice of incorporating Indigenous ways of knowing in project design and delivery. As Winona LaDuke described, ‘Indigenous knowledge is the culturally and spiritually based way in which Indigenous people relate to their ecosystem’ (2002, p. 78). The challenge is creating the conditions for project teams to collaborate and learn from Indigenous Knowledge Keepers. This thesis aims to understand the project delivery methods used by two owners to incorporate Coast Salish values and knowledge in projects and to develop a framework to assist owners in choosing project delivery methods that facilitate the incorporation of Indigenous ways of knowing. Case studies for the City of Vancouver Sea2City Design Challenge and the University of British Columbia Gateway Building were completed to better understand the strategies and methods used by the project owners to facilitate the inclusion of Coast Salish knowledge in project design. The case studies were combined with findings from a literature review to create a framework to aid owners in this process.The Framework to Incorporate Indigenous Ways of Knowing is divided into three phases and four guiding principles. The phases include pre-project preparations and actions, project delivery actions and options, and post-project actions. The phased processes and considerations are iterative as owners complete projects. The framework’s guiding principles of responsibility to relationships, flexibility, Indigenous protocols, and continual learning were shown to be essential throughout the framework phases.

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Exploring digital project delivery in renovation projects: a case study of UBC's Bioenergy Research Demonstration Facility expansion project (2021)

In recent years, there has been a significant growth in the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. Numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of BIM implementation across a range of project types and scales, and throughout the project lifecycle and the construction industry supply chain. Although interest in using BIM for existing buildings and renovation activities has been growing among researchers and practitioners, the level of BIM implementation for renovation projects has been limited. This research seeks to address this gap by providing a detailed case study analysis of the Bioenergy Research Demonstration Facility (BRDF) expansion project, a renewable energy generation facility located at the University of British Columbia’s Vancouver campus. The objective of this research project was to examine the use of BIM tools and processes to support collaborative and digital project delivery, and to identify the impact of BIM on project management practices and outcomes. This study investigated this renovation project from the perspectives of technology, organization, process and context using an embedded case study methodology. BIM was used for a variety of purposes throughout the design and construction process, including 3D laser scanning, visualization, design authoring, design review, design coordination, constructability review, communication and documentation, and construction sequence analysis. This research showed that BIM had positive impacts on the project management process and the project outcomes, including streamlined processes for communication and decision-making, and increased quality of design and construction outputs. The BRDF team also faced many challenges with BIM implementation and use, including a lack of skills and experience with BIM among the project team, insufficient BIM standards and requirements, and unclear data management processes. Future research is needed to better understand the usefulness and impact of BIM on a broad range of renovation project types and scales, project delivery methods, and organizational contexts.

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Using SARIMAX to forecast electricity demand and consumption in university buildings (2020)

Forecasting electricity demand and consumption is critical to the optimal and cost-effective operation of buildings. Time-series forecasting methods identify and learn patterns with data sets and then use these patterns to predict future values. However, the traditional methods tend to fall short in working with seasonal data and external variables. As a result, many time-series forecasting methods are not applicable to electricity consumption data. This type of data is seasonal and highly affected by external factors such as outside air temperature or humidity. Seasonal AutoRegressive Integrated Moving Averages with eXogenous regressors (SARIMAX) is a class of time-series forecasting models that explicitly deals with seasonality in data and external variables. This research used SARIMAX to predict daily average electricity consumption and daily peak demand in two university buildings. Electricity consumption data from 2017 to 2019 were split into training and test sets. The data from 2017 and 2018 were used as the training set, while values from 2019 were used as the test set. Daily average temperature and humidity were used as external variables. A grid search was conducted to find the best model for each building. Next, the residuals of the models were checked to see whether they satisfied the modelling assumptions. Afterwards, the models were used to predict values in 2019. The performance of the models was calculated using 2019 as test data. The method was able to successfully use temperature and humidity as external variables and identify weekly patterns. The degree of forecast accuracy was different between the two buildings. The mean absolute percentage error (MAPE) of predicted values in 2019 was 4.1% in the first building and 12.8% in the second building. The models can be used to make informed decisions about the renovation or recommissioning activities in the building, detect abnormalities in consumption trends, and quantify energy and cost-saving measures. They can also be used to identify and quantify the effects of sudden changes or disruptions in the system or the way occupants behave.

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Identifying the key innovative and collaborative strategies of integrated project delivery method to achieve owner goals in housing projects (2019)

The fragmented nature of tradition project delivery in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry causes many inefficiencies and results in missed project goals and expectations. Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) is new procurement method that has a potential to address these inefficiencies by overcoming traditional fragmentation and fostering collaboration through new contractual arrangements. As IPD is an emerging construction delivery method that is highly driven by the owner’s initiative, vision, and continuous involvement, there are very few IPD projects that focus on large-scale residential or multi-unit housing projects. This led to a finding that IPD implementation is not very common in housing projects and related case-studies are not widely available in Canada. In addition, there is a lack of information about key characteristics of IPD that facilitates success of the project.The focus of this research is to address a current research gap by developing and analyzing housing project case studies that implemented IPD principles or adopted formal IPD approaches. The overall objective of the research is to assess the implementation of key IPD principles on the housing projects and to identify the key innovative and collaborative strategies of IPD through case study analysis.To analyze IPD/IPD-like projects and to develop detailed case studies, a case study framework was developed for this study. The thesis documents four IPD/IPD-like Canadian housing projects, namely priMED Mosaic Centre, St. Jerome’s University Student Residence and Academic Centre, UBC Brock Commons, and Jacobson Hall at Trinity Western University. The case study for each project has been documented using the developed framework. The project case studies document project context, organizational setup, processes, technology implemented, and project outcomes in detailed.This research summarizes key features and lesson learned from the four case studies through cross-project analysis. The identified IPD-like innovative and collaborative strategies in this research can be considered for implementation in future housing projects to obtain better outcomes.

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Interactive visual analytics for BIM compliance assessment and design decision-making (2018)

The widespread adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Owner (AECO) Industry has led to data-intensive projects. The growth of data in the digital environment may affect compliance with the Owner’s BIM requirements and the overall project goal to utilize BIM for downstream purposes. Existing compliance assessment practices utilized by industry are very cost and time intensive, and ineffective at supporting design decision-making. Three specific challenges were observed in our research. First, the quality of information integrated in the BIM models may be inaccurate, thus impacting the integrity of BIM and posing a risk to the project. Second, the inundation of unstructured data generated in the BIM environment impacts the team’s ability to manage information and extract useful insights to drive actions. Third, project stakeholders are often less involved than BIM experts in the BIM compliance process due to limited understanding of BIM platforms and drive their business-level decisions without understanding the status of design data.The objective of this research is to address these three specific challenges using an action-research (AR) methodology. We present the outcomes of an action-research (AR) project undertaken with a global design consultant, Stantec, in the context of the design of a large healthcare facility. The objective of AR was to create a robust yet simple-to-use compliance assessment workflow. The key metrics for BIM compliance were identified and evaluated over the course of this study. An automated data analytics and visualization workflow was developed to simplify the compliance assessment process of BIM-based projects. Visual programming was used to automate the BIM data analytics to represent key compliance metrics and streamline complex workflows. The interactive visualization provides actionable information to project teams in a way that enables project experts to gain insights more effectively to inform decisions and to help manage compliance with Owner’s BIM requirements. The workflow developed in this research was utilized by the design consultants on the case study project to achieve compliance with the Owner’s BIM requirements, and the Regional BIM Lead at Stantec decided to use this workflow on all their BIM projects across the province.

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Quality control and quality assurance in hybrid mass timber high-rise construction: a case study of the Brock Commons (2018)

Wood has seen a resurgence recently as a construction material driven by technological advances and a growing concern for the environment. Although an increasing amount of mass timber high-rises are being built all around the world, lack of information and outdated preconceptions are some of the obstacles that are keeping mass timber products from increasing their market share in high-rise construction. Academia and industry leaders must keep track of the progress that is being made and inform the general public as innovation and technological advances continue to take place.In this context, the University of British Columbia has recently completed the construction of the Brock Commons Tallwood House. This 18-story residence building employs two reinforced concrete cores and a mass timber structure composed of cross laminated timber panels, glued-laminated columns, and parallel strand lumber columns. With this, the building is currently the tallest wood building in the world and a testament to the suitability of engineered wood elements for high-rise construction.Aiming to address the lack of information surrounding mass timber high rise construction, this thesis documents the quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) practices that were put in place during the delivery of the building. The main objective of this research was to identify and present lessons learned from the application of these QA/QC practices. To do this, various QA/QC practices were identified and analyzed by reviewing the project specifications and other project documents, reviewing recognized industry standards, and interviewing various members of the project team.This study found a series of comprehensive and well-planned QA/QC practices that were put in place by the project team and that were appropriate to comply with the project requirements. This study concluded that most of these practices are replicable and advisable for future projects. The different QA/QC practices that were identified and the lessons learned from their application are presented in this thesis.

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Space programming requirements representation, analysis and visualization at a large scale architectural firm (2018)

Space programming is a primary task during the schematic design process, to produce a geometric configuration of a space layout that is in accordance with the project's requirements. By nature, space programming is an iterative process that evolves according to the client’s requirements. A critical challenge of space programming is the limitation in the link between the client’s requirements and design tools. The rigorous process of analyzing, structuring and extracting meaningful information often leads to requirements being overlooked or important requirements failing to be satisfied. Failure to meet the client’s space program requirements, could possibly lead to decline in the performance of the building, cost increase, client dissatisfaction and penalty fines charged by the client which are usually clearly stated in design contracts.This study adopted an observation-based empirical research approach to investigate the current practices and challenges of space program requirements data management, and design workflow at a large scale international architectural/engineering firm. Following the case study and recording challenges, I developed a smart Microsoft Excel® template to structure and parse a client’s space programming requirements data. This was essential to extract significant information such as the name of the rooms that have a proximity relationship requirement. This data was used to develop a dashboard to visualize space programming information and to validate the compliance of a building project’s space programming requirements in conjunction with a visual computational tool through a visual floor plan overlay.The developments were made to help designers extract space programming requirements in an automated manner and improve the iterative design process of space programming by automating visualizations to assess the compliance of space programs.

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An Investigation of the Implementation of Lean Philosophy Within a Specialty Trade (2017)

Construction projects are dynamic and complex systems; their planning, execution and delivery involve considerable collective effort and coordination on the part of multiple individual stakeholders that come together to form a temporary project organization (TPO) for a project’s duration. In contrast, traditional construction project management practices are static. They often rely on inadequate and early assumptions of a handful of individuals in the TPO that try to predict and plan the execution of the project in great detail in the early stages of a project. To manage uncertainties, contingencies and buffers are introduced into the planning process. This static approach to construction management often results in variability which leads to waste and loss of value. Innovative tools and approaches such as building information modeling (BIM) and Lean construction have emerged over the years and aim to eliminate waste and inefficiency resulting from current practices in the construction industry. These approaches, however, require significant reconfiguration of the interactions within a TPO, among other things, which introduces significant challenges in their adoption and implementation. This manuscript presents the findings of a 16 month action-research project undertaken with a specialty trade. The research project aimed to investigate the implementation of lean principles within the organization and the potential impact on a complex, mixed-use project. Several performance metrics, such as planned percent complete (PPC) and degree of change in scheduled tasks, were utilized to measure and assess the reliability and efficiency of the planning efforts on the project. Reliance and dependency of following specialty trades on upstream trades performance was also analyzed. The findings highlight the challenges a specialty trade faces in shielding their production from upstream uncertainties when they have no control over the tasks assigned to them or the preceding tasks to their work. The planning efforts undertaken by the project team were also compared to guidelines of the Last Planner System to uncover differences in planning approaches. Suggestions for further performance enhancement and evaluation such as more collaborative planning and continuous look-back and learning processes are proposed to bridge the gaps uncovered between traditional and novel approaches to planning.

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Data visualization of requests for information to support construction decision-making (2017)

The construction industry is dependent on effective communication among project team members. Construction data has varied formats and size, and are communicated through a variety of mediums over the course of the project. This often leads to potential discontinuity and delays in communication between project team members. Requests for Information (RFI) are the standard form of communication between the design team and the construction team. RFI’s are not just a means of construction communication; the fact that the RFI has been generated points out that there is something wrong, missing or unclear with the existing documents and designs. Past studies have suggested that RFI’s are an indicator of deficiency in design documentation. Current RFI management systems are not sufficient to provide project participants with a medium to analyze the problems, their cause or even to easily look for information required in these RFI documents. From past studies, we know that visualization helps humans to analyze complex and vast amounts of data easily. In this study, we develop visualizations of data in the RFI documents and investigate if it has potential benefits for construction project members. To extract and transform data from the semi-structured RFI documents, we develop a framework by employing the qualitative technique of content analysis. A case study approach was employed for this study. Approximately 1,400 RFI’s were analyzed from Project A and around 500 RFI’s were analyzed from Project B. In this framework, we identify several quantitative and qualitative dimensions including time (when), spatial context (where), actor (who), reason (why), RFI Type, Domain, Property, Attribute, Entity (what) that can be used to visualize the data for analyzing the information in the RFI’s. The RFI dashboard was developed with constant feedback from industry personnel who stated that the dashboard had promising benefits for both the consultants and the owners. The contribution of this research is the development of a framework to structure and organize the information in RFI documents, the creation of a prototype dashboard visualization of RFI data, and the assessment of the potential benefits of RFI data visualization for decision making in the construction industry.

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Framework for assessing the potential of new technologies to capture the as-built information from project sites (2017)

As-built information from construction project sites is often required by project participants to address various user-specific needs such as assessing the construction quality or planning for upcoming renovations, or guiding future repairs during building operations. However, most of this information is still being captured through traditional methods like tape measure, or referring to 2D drawings which are found to be inefficient. Although many data acquisition tools such as 3D laser scanning and photogrammetry currently exist, they suffer from numerous limitations such as the lack of affordability or requiring expertise to operate. This has encouraged both researchers and technology vendors to look into new alternative capture technologies that are cost effective, easy to use, and efficient. This need for better alternatives led to the rapid development of various new capture technologies that are now needed to be evaluated for construction industry purposes. With such new technologies being released regularly, there is also an increased confusion among industry professionals to identify the best suitable capture technology for addressing their specific needs. Thus, the objective of this research is to develop a framework for evaluating the potential of new as-built information capture technologies to support construction purposes. The research also focuses on using the developed framework to evaluate the potential of two new capture technologies, mobile laser scanning and spherical imaging, that have recently been gaining traction in the construction industry. For this, a case study based research approach was developed and four construction projects were chosen as sample case studies for this work. Current industry practices for capturing the necessary as-built information to address different use case scenarios within these projects were first observed and analyzed. Then, the framework was developed by conducting an in-depth analysis of the current industry practices, reviewing relevant literature and by also having a series of informal discussions with various project team members involved in the chosen case study projects. The potential of mobile laser scanning and spherical imaging technologies was then assessed by testing them on the relevant use case scenarios. The benefits and limitations were identified based on a structured assessment using the developed framework.

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Innovation in hybrid mass timber high-rise construction: a case study of UBC's Brock Commons project (2017)

With the advocacy for sustainable construction on the rise, use of timber as the main building material is being championed in large-scale construction projects. While the advancement of engineered timber products is addressing some issues that previously limited the use of wood in high-rise construction, there are still challenges such as fire and weather safety, code compliance and negative public perceptions. One main gap in the available resources is the lack of a comprehensive and detailed case study of a high-rise project with wood as the main construction material to capture constraints and innovations necessary in creating success, which has formed the direction of this research. This thesis is focused on documenting a case study of the Brock Commons project, an 18 storey, hybrid timber-concrete residential high-rise located at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver campus, which is the tallest hybrid timber building in the world. The overall research objective was to identify and document the delivery of this innovative project, with a specific emphasis on the innovations necessary to make timber high-rise construction successful and the use of VDC tools in the design and pre-construction process. The case study documents the project context, the design process, the business and industry drivers, and the motivation for construction. Moreover, it investigates the motivations for all stakeholders, identifies the challenges and constraints, and captures the innovative solutions that were utilized to ensure project success. The case study also documents the innovative use of VDC to support prefabrication and overall project coordination. Specifically, it investigates the role of the VDC integrators in the project, the paths of communications with the different project team members, and the inputs and outputs of each phase of design and construction. This research identified lessons learned that can be applied to other construction projects where timber is the main structural component and a heavy use of VDC and pre-fabrication is required. Use of timber and innovative methods in construction have been consistently rising in the past decade, and this research aims to provide a starting point for future efforts in mass timber high-rise construction.

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Integrating GIS and BIM for Community Building Energy Design (2017)

Increasing urbanization has caused a corresponding increase in energy consumption from the design, construction and operation of the built environment. To achieve energy-efficient design in urban communities, the design phase needs to adopt reliable energy modeling approaches. However, current urban modeling approaches often use abstract and low level information to describe buildings because of the difficulties of collecting and managing building data on the large scale required of such urban communities. This abstraction of building data creates large uncertainties in the modeling and simulation of energy scenarios at the community level. An additional consequence is a general separation between community energy design (with low level building information) and building energy design (with high level building information). An important part of the solution to this challenge relies on the integration of information systems at the scale of both urban communities and individual buildings, which are based on Geographic Information System (GIS) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) respectively. Since current technologies do not sufficiently address the interoperability between GIS and BIM, the existing conversion between GIS and BIM does not satisfy the data requirements for community energy design. This thesis investigates this challenge and presents an approach that uses Semantic Web technologies, including OWL (Web Ontology Language) and RDF (Resource Description Framework), to integrate GIS and BIM data. In this approach, we first develop relevant design scenarios for energy consumption in buildings of the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus. Based on the scenarios and required information for the energy simulation, we create a suitable ontology to transform the data into a Semantic Web model. Then we conduct relevant queries on the transformed data to provide the required information for energy simulation of a UBC campus neighborhood that contains richer and more detailed building information that is extracted from the campus building information models. Finally, we visualize the simulation results in a three-dimensional environment and discuss how it supports designers and decision makers engaged in community planning and design.

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Investigating the performance of the construction process of an 18-storey mass timber hybrid building (2017)

The use of mass timber in high rise construction is an innovation. Mass timber construction has influential benefits including a lower overall construction time, a lower environmental impact, the use of renewable resource and an improved aesthetics. Despite the mentioned benefits, mass timber is not the traditional material for low to mid-rise commercial, institutional and residential construction in Canada. This is partially due to the need to explore the efficiency of mass timber construction relative to traditional construction. Detailed quantitative documentation of successful construction projects assists organisations planning mass timber high-rise projects by understanding and quantifying the advantages to ensure the viability of the construction process. This research project aims to understand the performance of mass-timber construction in the context of a construction manager, particularly the time saved due to completion of structural and envelope systems early. The case study chosen for this thesis is the tallest mass timber hybrid building in the world: Tallwood House. The research team studied the project in a macro-level perspective to investigate the building elements as single entities. Moreover, a micro-level study focuses on the performance of every level of the following elements: mass timber structure, envelope cladding systems and cross-laminated timber drywall encapsulation. The macro-level study investigates: (1) The production rate of the various building elements, (2) The coordination between structural trades to build a heavily pre-fabricated building using a single crane, and (3) The labor efforts per discipline. Moreover, the micro-level study investigates: (4) The variability of productivity of all levels, (5) A statistical investigation of three factors on cross-laminated timber installation, (6) Schedule reliability of preliminary planned schedule relative to the construction schedule (actual progress), (7) Earned value analysis, and (8) Planned percent complete to study the reliability of weekly work plans relative to construction schedules.All metrics were validated by the senior project manager through a discussion and confirmation of the inputs, findings and conclusions drawn. The claimed contribution of this research is an advanced state of knowledge about mass timber by exploring the efficiency of the construction process.

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Investigating the transition to BIM-enabled facilities management: a large public owner's perspective (2017)

In the architecture, engineering, construction, owner, and operator (AECOO) industry, there is growing interest in the use of building information modeling (BIM) for facilities management (FM). BIM prevents facility information from being lost, eases the access to data, and automates data entry. Despite these advantages, however, the adoption of FM BIM is facing slow growth. To promote the use of FM BIM, we need to understand the challenges of transitioning to BIM for facility owners.The objective of this research is to investigate the process and effort of developing and utilizing FM BIM. The research is based on a case study of a large public owner organization in Canada. The Owner recently completed the construction of an institutional facility that utilized BIM in design and construction. A pilot study was conducted to inform the owner of the effort to develop the handover BIM for FM purposes. The research was conducted in three phases: (1) the pre pilot study revealed the limitations of current FM processes, (2) the pilot study investigated the process to develop a FM BIM, and (3) the post pilot study identified the organizational barriers to utilizing the FM BIM. The pre pilot study revealed the inefficiencies in the daily FM practice and FM information systems, which was due to the poor quality of handover documents, inaccuracy of facility data, and lack of interoperability among the systems. These inefficiencies motivated the owner to consider the opportunities that BIM could provide for efficient data management. The pilot study detailed the process of developing the FM BIM, which included numerous steps: analyzing handover model, obtaining data from handover documents, populating the model, and attaching the O&M files. A significant amount of effort was required due to the poor quality of handover model, unorganized handover documents, and the absence of parameter template. Beyond these challenges, there were barriers to the utilization of the FM BIM, including the absence of BIM experts, lack of training, and lack of proper hardware and software, which emphasized the need for support from high-level management.

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Envisioning a Building Information Model (BIM) Integrated Building Performance Visualization Interface (2016)

The dispersed nature, complexity, and amount of information available in modern buildings with advanced management and control systems, makes it challenging for building operators to holistically understand building performance. One of the reasons is the lack of integration among multiple information sources and tools making it harder to align performance data with user’s experiential model of the physical systems. The goal of this research is to envision an integrated building performance visualization interface that provides contextually relevant, on-demand information to building operators. The research was executed in three sequential phases including an extensive literature review, a detailed case study, and development of a mockup prototype. I conducted an extensive literature review to capture the state-of-the-art in related academic domains and to establish a point-of-departure for the proposed research. The case study focused on a high performance building to understand operation and maintenance practices with an emphasis on building management systems (BMS). The case study involved two phases. In the first phase, I collected qualitative data by conducting interviews, contextual inquiries, and shadowing of building operators. In the second phase, I conducted a survey to collect quantitative data that further expanded upon the initial findings from first phase.The results revealed several overlapping and interrelated challenges that were further analyzed and grouped into two sets of issues: visualization related and system’s interactivity related. I also identified two core problems in the overall use of the BMS: a lack of spatial and informational context, and disconnected monitoring of energy and system performance data. Based on the findings, I developed a BIM Integrated Performance Visualization (iPViz) interface mockup as a proof-of-concept to support the work of building operators. I demonstrated the proposed interface features by using storyboard illustrations based on task-specific scenarios. I designed the scenarios and storyboards to demonstrate the proposed interface’s ability to provide spatially contextual information in response to a building operator’s interactions. The research provides some future directions for the development of BIM-based performance visualization systems. Additional research is required to implement and evaluate the proposed solutions and to analyze their effectiveness in facilitating building management functions.

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Understanding how advanced parametric design can improve the constructability of building designs (2016)

Construction project complexity is rapidly growing, increasing the need for better project and design management practices. This complexity is attributable to the advancements in technology which have resulted in an intensification of contemporary design generation. Projects such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California by Frank Gehry & Associates exemplify the results of such technological advancements. This thesis presents the results of a year-long research project in the form of a case study on a building facade system. The case study approach is chosen due to the exploratory nature of this research project in answering a ‘how’ question where we have the ability to observe the events under investigation but lack control over them. The objective of this research is to understand how advanced parametric design can improve constructability of building designs. The research project was initiated as a test of the hypothesis by our industry partner, an international architecture firm, that they have been able to significantly improve constructability of a building facade system by using advanced parametric design tools. While the results of this study supported this assertion, a number of recurring challenges were noticed in the construction process. As a result, phase II of the project was introduced to include a rigorous productivity study of the construction process, identification of delay types, categorization of those delay types into constructability issues, and quantifying the impact of those constructability issues on the project. Finally, a conceptual design approach is developed and used to address the constructability issue with the largest impact by incorporating construction knowledge - as design rules - into the design stage using advanced parametric design tools in order to produce a design improved for constructability. The results are then validated through a comparison with the original design and checked with an expert subcontractor for confirmation. The claimed contribution of this research project is an increased understanding of how advanced parametric design tools can be used to improve constructability of the building facade system studied through design.

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Building information modeling for construction applications: formwork installation and quantity takeoff (2012)

Recent advancements in Building Information Modeling (BIM) hold great promise for addressing the challenges of the construction industry by allowing project teams to ‘test out’ a design prior to construction. The projects that have successfully implemented BIM demonstrate numerous benefits, including increased design quality, improved field productivity, cost predictability, less rework, and reduced construction cost and duration. However, much of the research to date has focused more on the preconstruction phase with less research on uses for the construction phase, The goal of this research was to evaluate specific uses of BIM in the construction phase of the project. I investigated two construction applications of BIM: (1) BIM for developing lift drawings to support formwork construction on the BC Hydro Substation project, and (2) BIM for quantity takeoff to support life-cycle assessment (LCA) and construction cost estimating on the Pharmaceutical Sciences project. The BC Hydro project provided an opportunity to examine the use of BIM for the field crew. I developed 3D coordinated lift drawings that conveyed the necessary information for forming the components accurately and clearly. I believe that creating the lift drawings increased the crew’s productivity by providing the necessary information for building a component, resolving conflicts prior to construction, and reducing mistakes.I evaluated the use of BIM for quantity takeoff using the Pharmaceutical Sciences project. I evaluated two BIM-based and one 2D-based quantity takeoff software, and based on several parameters of importance to cost and sustainability consultants. I found that calculating quantities from a BIM model is faster and more accurate as long as the model is created correctly and accurately to suit the needs of the users.This thesis provides evidence for the benefits of BIM for construction uses at different stages in the project. The BC Hydro case study provides significant detail on how a BIM can be utilized by construction field personnel. The Pharmaceutical Sciences project demonstrates the benefits and challenges of utilizing a BIM for quantity takeoff. More case studies are needed to demonstrate the benefits of BIM for different applications in the project delivery process to enable more widespread BIM adoption.

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Change Management with Building Information Models: A Case Study (2012)

Successful management of design changes is critical for the efficient delivery of construction projects. Building Information Models (BIM) and the use of parametric modeling provide significant benefits in coordinating changes across different views in a model. However, coordinating changes across several discipline-specific models is significantly more challenging to manage. In this thesis, I present a case study that used observation-based empirical research methods to investigate current practices and the requirements of practitioners in conducting change management during the design and construction of a building project. The case study examines change management in the context of a multi-disciplinary collaborative BIM environment during the design and construction of a fast-track project. I documented the design changes, analyzed the change management processes and evaluated existing BIM tools in support of this process. Using examples from the case study, I identified the characteristics of design changes required for tracking the history of changes and understanding the consequences of changes. I developed an ontology of changes based on the identified characteristics and patterns in the observed changes. The ontology characterizes design changes based on changed component attributes (the geometry, position, and specification), dependencies between components (analytical and spatial), level of changes (conceptual, primary and secondary), timing of changes (design, procurement or construction stages) and time and cost impacts of changes. Based on the developed ontology, I further categorized numerous examples of changes encountered throughout the design and construction of the building in a taxonomy of changes. I then proposed a computational approach for tracking the consequence of changes in an information model. This research provides a common understanding of design change characteristics for practitioners who develop or utilize BIM tools for managing changes. The results of this study provide some possible directions for future developments in change management systems, particularly in reference to a BIM-based delivery process. Additional research is needed to implement and test these characteristics in a decision support system, and to analyze different types of changes across different types of projects.

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Characterizing bottlenecks in building design coordination meetings (2010)

This thesis describes an ethnographic field study that examined the design coordination process in two building projects. The goal of the study was to better understand the challenges faced by project teams as they coordinate designs in multi-disciplinary meeting environments. I focus on the bottlenecks encountered during in-person and distributed project coordination meetings. I observed meeting bottlenecks when meeting activities were performed inefficiently, when the meeting process was slowed down, when meeting workflow was interrupted, or when decision-making was hindered. I identified and characterized meeting bottlenecks in a framework that illustrates the nature of the bottleneck, and the frequency of its occurrence. According to my observations, there were two main categories of causes for bottlenecks in coordination meetings: context-based bottlenecks and content-based bottlenecks. Context-based bottlenecks are caused by the people in the design team, the meeting environment and the meeting technology. Content-based bottlenecks are related to the nature of the information artifacts (e.g., drawings and other design information) and the interactions with these artifacts (e.g., navigation and annotation). This study also provides an analysis of the frequency and patterns of various bottlenecks encountered in different meeting settings. For example, in paper-based meetings, there were more “interaction/ access” bottlenecks observed since the meeting activities involved the use of information artifacts and the participants’ interaction with these artifacts. In distributed meetings, the larger number of meeting bottlenecks was observed under the “technology” bottlenecks group. Therefore, this analysis illustrates the specific requirements for different meeting settings. This study enhances our understanding of the work practice of project teams in design coordination meetings. It highlights the many ways that meeting efficiency could be improved for design teams in coordination meetings. By using the vignettes in this study, people from different domains can understand the nature of the meeting processes, the techniques used by project teams when coordinating designs, and the different methods used by meeting participants to interact with information artifacts. My hope is that these findings will inform the design of new interaction, visualization, and integration technologies that better support the meeting processes of design teams.

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