At first glance, an organization devoted to improving the environmental performance of laboratories might seem an unlikely hero to strike the next big blow to drive building information modeling into facility operations and maintenance, but then again, owners of high-tech labs have real skin in the game.

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) is not only jumping into the fray, but is taking a scientific approach to its efforts, too, which could add real power to its punch. 
The group has launched a sophisticated survey to assess the level of understanding about the present state and future potential in taking design and construction-oriented BIM models into the world of operations and maintenance for the lifecycle. Authoritatively establishing what owners and operators, designers and builders know now will build a great foundation.

The stakes are high, the group asserts, as laboratories and high-performance facilities tend to use far more energy and water per square foot than typical office buildings. But the target of the survey is not just limited to assessing the state of understanding within the circles of the laboratory world. It is a well-crafted information-gathering piece that will parse respondents answers by job role, experience and facility types across the spectrum. It should establish a real baseline of the state-of-knowledge about BIM among all the potential stakeholders from which to move forward.

According to Phil Wirdzek, founding president and executive director of I2SL, the survey data collected by Sept. 1 will be evaluated by the project partners, including PhD students in the school of architecture at Virginia Tech.  The results will be presented at an annual international conference co-sponsored by the the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)called Labs21, Oct. 2-4, in San Jose, Calif.

However, the survey will remain open for responses through the month of September. New replies will continue to be collected for evaluation. If necessary, the partners may keep the survey open beyond Oct. 1, depending on the level of response and interest. 

The additional results will be presented at other events, including the National Institute of Building Sciences' buildingSMART alliance conference in January 2013 and at International Facility Management Association's World Workplace conference in November.

The lab owners and operators are leading the next charge. Everyone with an interest in improving building performance should step up and join them. Take the survey. Add your insight to enrich the data. Help change the world.

The International Institute for Sustainable Laboratories (I2SL) is networked with a slew of organizations. It was established seven years ago with support from the EPA and the DOE, although it is evolving into a self-sustaining membership organization with more than 8,000 participants. 

It recently administered a student laboratory design competition with a grant from the U.S. Dept. of the Interior and it also has partnerships with other organizations working to improve the efficiency and environmental performance of high-technology facilities around the world, including