Virtual design and construction is gaining ground in the utilities markets because of its ability to speed large-scale planning and development of energy projects. Though current applications on projects have just begun to touch the full potential of the approach, experienced users are enthusiastic about the financial benefits of debugging a project by building it first on the computer.
Minneapolis-based Mortenson Construction Corp. is saving money by using virtual design and construction (VDC) on energy projects, says Mark Ruffino, vice president of the firm’s renewable-energy group. Mortenson uses building information models (BIM) to overcome terrain constraints on wind-energy sites and to plan laydown and erection of turbines. “We can fine-tune what we disturb,” he says.