How it works

This shows the step-by-step process for modeling a project. We lead you through an intuitive "checkbox" and filtered "drop-down" selection process.  You can start in the planning, or at any point in the design process. In the planning stages, you can model a project's space program, building massing and scope, schedule and/or costs. As the design is developed, you can transition from predictive costs models to more conventional forms of cost estimating and value analysis.

The following figures display excerpts from our website screens and reports. We can provide you with a dedicated web portal (shown at the end of this page). Otherwise, you enter the system through the main Building CATALYST website. When logged in, you can select “Projects” to access your project list shown in Figure 1 or, as shown in Figure 2, select "Add Project".

Figure 1

Figure 1 – Add Project from Home Page

Input Menus

We currently include 70 Building Purposes (like Cancer Center) within 14 Building Categories (like HEALTHCARE (Ambulatory)) as shown in Figure 2.  We can quickly add additional Building Purposes when provided good data.

To get started, simply select the Building Category. This will filter all applicable Building Purposes (or Types) for your selection. This selection serves to filter the various Space Groups and Functions found within this Building Purpose. This selection also adjusts the core and common elements, building massing, parking, quantities, schedule and costs.

Figure 2

Figure 2 - Select Building Category and Purpose


Once the Building Purpose is selected and a project named, you will be guided through a series of progressively detailed input pages. The Key Attributes, shown in Figure 3, provides a location for the project and defines the number of floors, start date, construction type, and building shell type. This page also allows you to enter the given or target values (if any) for Gross Building Area, Construction Duration and Project Costs.

Figure 3

Figure 3 – Key Attributes


There are a number of other detailed Attributes that can impact the outcome significantly. You can see these in Figure 4. In the actual flow of inputs, these attributes are selected after the Key Attributes and Program functions are entered.

Figure 4

Figure 4 – Detailed Attributes


The most critical set of attributes address the occupancy, departments and functions. These unlock the secret to accurately predicting or evaluating the project program, scope and/or costs. Figures 5 (a and b) show how this works. As the departments (i.e. Radiation Oncology) and functions (i.e. Linear Accelerator) are entered, Building CATALYST calculates the mean and range for all downstream results: space program, massing, scope and schedule, and costs.

Figure 5a
Figure 5a - Department to Function 


As the actual or estimated program and scope is developed, the revised values replace predicted mean values and also reduces the range of variation.

Figure 5b displays the collapsed program summary by department – indicating the number of contributing functions and area.

Figure 5b 
Figure 5b - Collapsed Departments


Figure 6 shows the next section where we summarize the different parts of the space program: Departments, Supporting Program, and Core and Common. For projects that include renovations the new and renovated areas are summarized as well. 

Figure 6

Figure 6 – Program Overview


Figure 7 shows the CATALYST predictions for the number of elevators, stairs, and common plumbing fixtures. There are more elevators per thousand square feet in a hospital than an office building, for example. and public restrooms.  These elements then determine how much building area is needed for stairs, elevators.

Figure 7 also shows the other core and common space areas. The MEP/IT (Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Information Technology) spaces are larger in northerly climates than in southerly climates, for example. Likewise, the common Interior Circulation (Connecting departments to core functions) varies dramatically depending on the building purpose and number of floors.

Figure 7
Figure 7 – Core and Common Elements and Spaces


Next up are a series of sequential parameter results. Figure 8a shows the Key Shell Parameters that are used to display and fine-tune the building massing. Again, if you revise/update any particular value, all associated downstream values, including cost, will be automatically updated. Also note that if your design quantity take-off system iincludes  CATALYST parameter fields, you will be able to automatically import the actual values into CATALYST. 

Figure 8a

Figure 8a – Key Shell Parameters


As you move from the program and conceptual design into the schematic design, the next parameter level of building values can be fine-tuned from the CATALYST predictive model. These are shown in Figure 8b.

Figure 8b

Figure 8b – Key Building Quantities


We place the key site parameters and quantities together in one panel as shown in Figure 8c. CATALYST predicts the number of parking spaces needed based on the building purpose and site location. An urban site will require (and accommodate) far fewer parking spaces than a suburban or rural site, for example. The under- or in-building parking spaces (entered in the Program/Department section) will be subtracted from the parking spaces needed. Based on the site car, bus and truck spaces – together with other attributes, the site hard and soft scape quantities are calculated.


Figure 8c

Figure 8c – Key Site Parameters


We also predict the project schedule durations through design and construction, as shown in Figure 9. 

Figure 9

Figure 9 – Key Site Parameters


In the final calculation and prediction, we predict the mean and range of outcomes for the hard costs at Uniformat level 3, as shown in Figure 10a. Any given element cost item is composed of multiple parameters and further factored by multiple attributes. The D30000 - HVAC Generation Systems cost is a function of the exterior envelope parameters (Roof Covering, Exterior Opaque Wall, Glazing, etc.) as well as interior loads (based on the functional loads). The result is then factored based on various attributes like climate, and quality grade.

Figure 10a
Figure 10a – Hard Cost – Uniformat Level 3


Our system allows you to easily transition from data modeling to cost estimating. In the early design stages, project elements like site work and exterior wall typically require a more detailed study. As the design progresses, more of the project elements transition from a predictive model to a more conventional estimate. There are multiple ways to accomplish this transition. One way is to perform a detailed estimate in a third-party tool (WinEst, Sage, CostOS…or homegrown MS Excel spreadsheets). If you can simply assign each cost line item to a standard CATALYST code, you can easily import the elements that have detailed estimates behind them.

Another way to do this is to create a detailed estimate that is self-contained inside Building CATALYST. This is shown in Figure 10b. We allow you to use our cost catalog for the site, architectural and structural scopes. Otherwise, you can create your own catalog, or prepare custom estimates, or a combination.

For Building CATALYST’s catalog items, the unit costs are automatically normalized to the project’s location and time frame.

Figure 10b

Figure 10b - Cost Detail Example – Exterior Wall


Please note the above description of what’s included and excluded in the Uniformat level 3 cost codes. We provide standards and definitions within all attribute groups. This helps make standardization habitual and paves the way for greater streamlining, integration and automation throughout your organization.




Outcome Displays and Reports

Building CATALYST produces a variety of dashboard displays and reports. We start with the Project Set index and dashboard display as shown in Figure 11a. This format provides immediate results to any new or updated model predictions or evaluations. It also provides easy and ready access into each of the input selection or revision panels: Key attributes, program, detailed attributes, benchmarking, parameters, schedule, and costs.

Figure 11a

Figure 11a – Project Set Index Page


The top section expanded in Figure 11b, graphical summarizes the program distribution, gross building area, construction duration, and project costs. These candlesticks show the mean and low/high range. If there are a given or target values provided, the mean value differences are also displayed – showing red when the model prediction exceeds the given, or green when it is less.

Figure 11b

Figure 11b – Candlestick Summary


Each of the below panels can be expanded to quickly see the summary data, as shown in Figure 11c. You can also just select edit if you want to review and revise the details – which are shown above in the inputs section of this overview.

Figure 11c

Figure 11c – Program Summary


Next up, the Project Center can be customized by you as a sort of dashboard. The top section, in Figure 12a, identifies the “master” set that represents the project, along with the program distribution pie chart and rendering or photo (in the case of a completed project).

Figure 12a

Figure 12a – Project Center


The Project Summary (not shown) summarizes the project cost by department and Uniformat building element. It also lists the attributes and other key information that you want viewers to see. The Multi-set Comparison, shown in Figure 12b, allows you to compare the total cost from set to set - from Approved Program to Final Design Development progression, in this case. It also allows you to select any element to Uniformat Level 2.

We have set up the Project Center to easily add other dashboard displays that our customers need to improve analysis and decision-making.

Figure 12b

Figure 12b – Candlestick Progression

We provide a wide range of other reports. Figure 13 shows the menu of the reports that can be generated and viewed on-screen and/or printed to pdf. These include MS Excel reports that you can download into your own reporting templates or otherwise use for more in-depth study and analysis of the available data.

Figure 13

Figure 13 – Reports Menu


Let’s look at some excerpts from a few of the reports. Figures 14 (a and b) shows the summary section of the Program-based Results.

Figure 14a

Figure 14a – Program-based Results - Summary


This report illustrates an important benefit of modeling project results based on the owner’s business case – by department and function. We are able to estimate the interior and MEP works directly associated with the functions, and then apportion the site, shell and support/core are work across the functions. Figure 14a displays the report summary – with departmental totals. Figure 14b shows the further breakdown of the key metrics, area, and cost by function. We can see the significant variation in costs of a linear accelerator at $572/SF compared to the exam rooms at $315/SF, for example.

Figure 14b

Figure 14b – Program-based Detail – Radiation Oncology


Next, we look at the costs displayed by each building system based on the Uniformat cost coded system. Figure 15 displays the System-based Results summary and Shell detail.

Figure 15

Figure 15 – Systems-based Summary and Detail – Shell


Keep in mind that these reports are produced and then revisable in real-time when any upstream selection is changed.

We also include a series of comparison reports starting with the Two-set Comparison shown in Figure 16 (a and b). In this case, we show the cost model based on the space program and conceptual design, in the left column – compared to the target value set.

Figure 16a

Figure 16a – Two-set Comparison – By Department Summary

Figure 16b

Figure 16b – Two-set Comparison – By Building Shell


Finally, let’s look at a multi-set comparison. As a predictive modeling solution, Building CATALYST calculates statistical range analysis based on the amount of information provided. Figure 17 displays the Variation by System showing a number of sets leading up to establishing the target value.

Figure 17

Figure 17 – Variation by System – Hospital Example


The bell curves graphically display the range of variation in the tabular data above, with the horizontal (x-axis) representing cost and the vertical (y-axis) representing likelihood or probability density.

Enterprise Analysis

Building CATALYST includes powerful enterprise-wide analysis as and additional feature. Figures 18 to 21 display these. Our bar chart graphics compare the market average baseline or benchmark (shown by the top outlined bar) prediction against the estimated or actual results (shown by the bottom color-filled bar). Figure 18 displays the Biology Teaching Lab results across three selected science facilities. Note, that we have received permission to use these projects for demonstration purposes. Data privacy is a key principle to Building CATALSYT. The right-hand chart shows how much gross building area is needed for each lab. This includes an apportioned share of core and common spaces. The left-hand chart shows the cost per lab. These costs have been normalized to the same location (Greater St. Louis, MO) and time (2020 Construction Start). 

Figure 18

Figure 18 - Biology Teaching Lab Analysis


Figure 19 compares the Gross to Net area and Direct Building Systems costs across several higher education academic and science buildings. 

Figure 19

Figure 19 - Direct Building Systems Analysis


Building CATALYST provides a comparison of selected building systems at the Uniformat Levels 2 and 3 detail. Figure 20 compares the superstructure, and 21 the plumbing system.

Figure 20

Figure 20 - Superstructure Analysis


Figure 21

Figure 21 - Plumbing Analysis


There is much more to discover about Building CATALYST. Enterprise feature subscribers also have access to an Information (Info) Center of the qualitative data (drawings, photos, reports, etc.) supporting the quantitative data described above.

Building CATALYST also provides you, as an additional feature, a dedicated web portal for recording, modeling and managing your projects. Figure 22 shows a portal landing page example.

Figure 22

Figure 22 – Mary Free Bed Web Portal


Please contact us at to discuss or set up a demonstration.