Designing a whole building in 48 hours is a somewhat daunting task. And when the design team of 60 people is scattered across the globe, the complexity of this task is raised a notch.

Yet the winners of the world’s leading collaborative design competition have shown how a clearly defined Building Information Modelling (BIM) execution plan can successfully meet the challenge.

Leveraging BIM-enabled technologies for architecture, engineering, planning and construction, the BIM Academy team, consisting of specialists from BIM Academy, AECOM, Davis Langdon (an AECOM Company), Ryder Architecture, dRofus, KyKloud, Northumbria University and Colour UDL came together to design a hypothetical new Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre as part of the Build Sydney Live competition.

Although the brief for this competition was prepared by those with BIM expertise, it was left entirely up to the teams to determine their own methodology and level of detail for adopting BIM processes and technologies.

“Having a detailed strategy is pivotal to efficient delivery of BIM projects,” said Steve Appleby, AECOM BIM practice lead, Australia/New Zealand. “In the market there is plenty of room for improvement when setting BIM deliverables on real projects. Too often we see briefs with too little information or inefficient requirements. It is best to engage with someone that has extensive experience in the first instance if there is any uncertainty.”

Given the time constraints for the competition, it was important that all participants in the team functioned as a single entity. Not only was this a BIM exercise, it also required the adoption of integrated project delivery and an open collaborative approach to ensure the team’s success.

Clearly identifying roles and responsibilities, as well as deliverables timelines at the outset ensured that the 60 people from across the globe were all working cohesively toward a common goal. This was articulated in a detailed BIM Execution Plan that was strictly adhered to throughout the process.

The approach not only successfully delivered on a completed design but also produced one that meets 6 Star Green Star criteria.

“Our local team has existing experience working on the 6 star Melbourne Convention Centre and were well aware of the challenges and opportunities related to a project of this nature,” said Appleby. “Our view was to adopt design and equipment that would lead to the Centre generating power to feed back into the grid.”

Examples of the initiatives incorporated into the design for the Centre include solar panels on the northern exposure roof, wind pods near to the A4 motorway which show that the draft from vehicles on the road is sufficient to generate power from standard traffic flow, cooling towers replaced with a harbour water heat rejection system, and a bio-digester for converting the significant amount of food waste from the convention centre events into power with the option of ‘harvesting’ food waste from the nearby hotels and exhibition space.

In addition, the submission included smart water management systems, ample biking facilities, an abundance of natural light (and harbour views) and a tri-generation system.

The BIM Academy team beat out 17 other teams from the US, Latvia, Singapore, Japan, UK, Australia and New Zealand to produce a design that obtained an enviable 6 Star Green Star rating, in what Asite director Nathan Doughty, organiser of the event, labeled the closest Build Live event so far.

“The BIM Academy global team stood out for its outstanding effort across all the criteria and were an excellent example of international collaborative BIM on Build Sydney Live 2013,” he said.

BIM Academy managing director and group team leader Peter Barker said he and his team were delighted with the result.

“We have achieved success in previous BIM competitions but this is the first time we have really tested the potential for multidisciplinary working across the globe,” he said. “We were able to work intensively across multiple time zones with our colleagues at AECOM, dRofus, KyKloud and Colour UDL, and produce a wealth of information about the design, construction and operation to meet a very challenging brief in a landmark location in Sydney.”

Appleby said events like Build Sydney Live reflect the rapid advances in engineering and technology that are improving project delivery.

“By competing in a global competition like Build Sydney Live, our team demonstrated that geographic boundaries are no hindrance,” he said. “Through the application of BIM processes we can strengthen collaborative working and streamline the process of design and project delivery.”