3D modelling for sustainable urban planning

Thursday, 21 September, 2017

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The CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) recently held a special symposium discussing exciting new research into Precinct Information Modelling (PIM) — a type of 3D digital prototyping that promises to be a game changer for planning future city precincts.

PIM is not a software tool — rather, it is an open-source, public information modelling standard that, by its nature, cannot be commercialised. It is designed to provide a framework for representing the data required to achieve carbon neutrality of the urban assets that constitute a precinct.

“PIM entails a process that is supported by a digital database technology that can be used by a wide range of industry practitioners responsible for the planning, design, delivery and operational management of the built environment,” explained CRCLCL Project Leader Jim Plume.

The concept of PIM is an extension of the currently used Building Information Modelling (BIM) — a 3D digital modelling process that is used widely within the building design, construction and facility management professions. According to Plume, adapting this current technology within an open-source PIM structure could make a serious difference in reducing carbon emissions and ensuring future city precincts are sustainable and carbon neutral.

“After three years of research looking at how this data can be structured and operated in an open source model, we are now at the threshold of putting it into practice,” he said. “The next step is for industry and the community to start using PIM.”

Plume believes the information provided by PIM could become a resource for the community who are interacting with the built environment, allowing them to contribute to the planning process and outcome — so it is not limited to industry alone. “In a nutshell,” he said, “PIM can lend critical support for the smart cities and communities that are emerging in response to the challenges of rapid urban growth in Australia and urbanisation across the globe.”

The National Position Paper discussed at the symposium described the development of PIM as an open data model designed to represent a precinct in a format that can be shared across all application software tools used in the process of managing the built environment, with a focus on carbon management. The discussion was grounded in the context of precinct planning and development, drawing on a range of CRCLCL projects from the Low Carbon Precincts Program.

Plume concluded that PIM will “make a major contribution for communities who aspire to having better, livable, sustainable, resilient and safe cities for all”.

“We are actively part of international efforts to use better information access and sharing to address sustainability issues around the world,” he said. “A key outcome for us would be an opportunity to implement and refine these technologies in selected, strategic precincts in Australia, keeping us abreast of best global practice.”

Image credit: ©psynovec/Dollar Photo Club

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