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Wake Up! The Revolution Has Arrived: A Report From CIFE

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Over the last 10 years, BIM/IPD/VDC technologies have matured. Design and construction teams have mastered the tools and  the industry has progressed beyond the tentative exploratory stages. There are clear advantages in exploiting the technologies. The imperative now is to develop strategies for managing the technologies and deploying the tools.

The point was made abundantly clear at the annual CIFE Summer Program, June 20-21, when presenter after presenter delivered reports on real projects that demonstrated breakthrough performance improvements in areas that included project quality, schedule, cost, energy and design-construction processes. CIFE Executive Director John Kunz characterized the results as "stunning."

CIFE—the Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering at Stanford University, in Stanford, Calif.—has been the pre-eminent think tank and lab for virtual design and construction since the 1988. Its academic researchers and their industry partners take an organized and methodical approach to analyzing and demolishing barriers to increasing the efficiency and quality of project delivery by investigating innovative technologies, philosophies and processes to get the job done.

Responding to a request from ENR, both Kunz, and one of those presenters, Greg Luth, chariman and CEO of Gregory P. Luth & Associates, structural engineers and builders, shared their thoughts and summaries about the presentations at the conference, and the significance to the industry.


The theme for the program was "Breakthrough Performance."  The recurring themes of the international group of presenters were:

  • the gathering and use of knowledge and data
  • the advantages of prefabrication
  • Key Performance Indicators and metrics
  • energy and sustainability
  • and the development and implementation of processes to deploy the new technologies. 

No longer were the discussions focused on what could be done, Instead, they focused on the results of what has been done. And across the board, the results were double-digit improvements in performance, whether it be reductions in labor, energy use, schedule, cost, or RFI’s.


CIFE focused the Summer Program this year on "breakthrough" ten years after first defining "Virtual Design and Construction." In 2002, CIFE defined VDC and said that its purpose was to support public and explicit project objectives, such as building most buildings within six months, measured high-conformance of project cost, schedule and quality to explicit project objectives, sustainability that was at least 20% better than a baseline, and >=50% globalization of both the supply and sales sides of the value chain of CIFE-member organizations.


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