Offsite construction is a fast-growing sector within the global building construction industry. With that growth, many challenges lie ahead for all parties involved, especially architects, who have traditionally remained at arm’s length to the means and methods of construction. Cost challenges have led many firms to want to learn more about optimizing for offsite delivery methods. To help speed up industry transformation, a cooperative and open-source initiative led by the Quebec Wood Export Bureau has been developing a suite of nonprofit and collaborative tools for architects. At www.offsitewood.org, they offer a free Revit plugin, detailed content packs, and a BIM-integrated early-phase embodied carbon estimator called Carbon Fixers.
The idea behind this project was to create an accessible one-stop hub for architects and BIM advocates where they can integrate new construction systems from mass timber, light-wood frame and modular industries into early phases of a project.
Individual products may be widely known, but it’s sometimes difficult to know all their specifications, especially as an emerging industry with different regional characteristics. For the head of the project and US Representative for the Quebec Wood Export Bureau, Eli Gould, Offsite Wood and its tools will help make the design process easier.
"New materials and methods don’t just make their way into the architectural design process or software automatically. It takes a lot of effort to create, test and refine the tools and iron out the details. Our content creation team are actually architects and BIM managers themselves. They love building tools that they themselves would use and are glad that our cooperative delivery model supported by many member-producers of bio-sourced materials, allows us to remain open-source and free."
Now that www.offsitewood.org is live, a comprehensive approach to building tools for architects is now a lot more accessible: it’s become more than just a plug-in. The core of the website is the download page with multiple tailored-content packs. BIM-savvy studios know that a lean and efficient software is a great start, but advanced workflows also need container files, details, and textures. Sustainability advocates who are not BIM users can also benefit from a data-rich 3D web viewer for new options.
“It’s like having a team of chefs, except they’re mixing big new recipes from regional sources. Just like farm-to-table, we also will be celebrating new producers who are coming on-board and sharing their ingredients through EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations)”, Gould adds.
Another big feature is coming your way in the near future. Offsite Wood will offer a free web-based machine learning app called Carbon Fixers, which compares two versions of your proposed building based on transparency data and functional performance. A rapid scenario builder allows new users to compare the footprint of different options, while advanced users can “drill in” to carefully built archetype structures within the engine. As a dynamic and modern data model, the Carbon Fixers app remains up-to-date by referencing authoritative external data sources such as buildingtransparency.org’s EC3 tool. The team maintains a core commitment to open-source interfaces with other carbon initiatives and will have an open API for partners to connect.
“Come and do some window shopping even if you aren’t a BIM expert. Keep checking back as we prepare to soft launch the Carbon Fixers app and use it to pre-select assemblies with maximum impact before the BIM modeling begins. If you are already encouraging your colleagues and firm to take part in challenges like AIA 2030 or SE2050, our app will help you track progress and find ways to actually implement change,” said Eli Gould in conclusion.
The hope is to look back on this initiative in five years and see that full variety timber construction elements are flowing smoothly through the virtual design and construction environment.
Want to learn more about Offsite Wood? Go directly on the website to access our features.