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Worldwide BIM and the Initiatives of Different Nations

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Worldwide BIM and the Initiatives of Different Nations

Building Information Modelling is not a trendy new methodology. It’s turning into the standard design framework for the industry. To highlight this, here are several international BIM initiatives.

Every so often, a new technology or idea comes along that changes the industry. Just look at the introduction of digital design software. These software packages allow you to design more accurate and realistic models than ever before. In fact, they’re an industry standard in the modern age.

Other technologies are still emerging. Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to change how you showcase your designs. 3D printing may help you to do away with manual prototyping.

These are all technologies that can help architects and engineers in their work. But Building Information Modelling (BIM) is something different. It’s not a new technology or tool. Instead, it’s a methodology that completely changes the way that you work.

It’s also becoming increasingly important. Many people, including several governments, see it as the new standard framework for the industry. This means that firms must adapt to it and universities must start teaching it.

This isn’t just a recommendation either. Several countries now mandate the use of Building Information Modelling in their projects. This article examines some of these global BIM initiatives. But first, let’s look at what BIM is.

What is BIM?

Firstly, let’s start with what BIM is not? BIM is not a new technology or software package that you can integrate into your current framework. This means it’s not something that you can pick up after a few training sessions.

Instead, BIM represents a complete cultural shift for your firm. It changes the way that you do everything.

To understand how, consider how you currently work. As an architect or engineer, you’ll create designs using a digital design software package. You then pitch these designs to clients. Upon acceptance, you start working with other professionals. They’ll provide information over time. Each new set of information leads you to make alterations to your model. Moreover, you’ll build separate models to demonstrate different subsets of information. You may have one model for a structure’s thermal properties. But you also need another for its wiring and yet another for its plumbing.

In short, you’re doing a lot of reworking. You also don’t have instant access to information and you have to make manual changes when you do receive information.

Building Information Modelling changes that. It focuses on creating a collaborative project environment from the beginning.

All stakeholders receive access to a central database. They can import project-relevant information into this database. Moreover, they can edit information and access the information that other stakeholders provide. The use of a central database also reduces the risk of conflicts arising. You won’t get conflicting data from several sources when using BIM.

But it’s in model building that BIM has the biggest effect. With BIM, you only need to create one model. Using a BIM software package, you can incorporate all of the information in the central database into the model. More importantly, you link the model to the database. As a result, any changes to the information in the database automatically reflect in the model.

This means that you work from one model that every stakeholder has access to. Furthermore, each stakeholder can influence the model with the information that they provide.

The end result is a more collaborative design process. This improves accuracy, cuts down on reworking, and gets rid of delays related to information transfer.

Worldwide Initiatives

That all sounds great. But it takes time and effort to implement Building Information Modelling. You may wonder why you should make the investment when your current methods work well enough.

The issue is that many can see the benefits that Building Information Modelling offers. This includes several national and state governments around the world. They’re adopting BIM at a fast pace. If you don’t adapt to this changing environment, you lose out on a large pool of potential projects.

This isn’t something that’s happening in the future either. Many governments have already made the switch. Here are some examples of governments mandating the use of Building Information Modelling.

Example #1 - Australia


Let’s start at home. Australia may be a touch slower than other nations when it comes to adopting BIM. But it’s happening.

Queensland provides a good example. In March 2016, the state released a document called The State Infrastructure Plan. This plan outlined Queensland’s intentions to use BIM in all major infrastructure projects.

The state aims to achieve this goal by 2023. That gives firms working in the state some time to make the switch to Building Information Modelling. If they don’t, they miss out on pitching for many major projects in the state.

It’s likely that other states will follow suit with similar initiatives in the coming years.

Example #2 – The United Kingdom


The United Kingdom (UK) takes things a step further than Queensland has. It’s mandated the use of Building Information Modelling on any project that receives central funding. This basically means that all government work must meet Level 2 BIM standards.

The UK’s government introduced this initiative in 2015. However, they only gave firms a year to make the switch. That’s proven to be a mistake. Many firms have struggled to make such drastic changes to their processes in such a short period of time. Moreover, there’s a lack of regulatory oversight to ensure the changes get made.

The UK’s initiative may demonstrate how not to mandate the use of BIM. But it doesn’t change the fact that the framework is now required in the country for many projects. Moreover, this mandate has led to over 50% of UK firms adopting the framework.

Example #3 – Singapore

Singapore has a defined idea of where it wants to be in terms of Building Information Modelling. It wants to have the capability to design SMART buildings and cities by that time.

Part of its drive towards this is the mandating of BIM for current projects. In particular, Singapore mandates the use of BIM for e-submission on many major projects. Submissions for any building over 5,000 square meters in size must meet this mandate.  

The country’s government estimate that implementing BIM on a wide scale improves productivity by up to 30%.

Example #4 – The United States


The United States (US) was one of the earliest adopters of Building Information Modelling. In fact, its General Services Administration (GSA) created the National 3D-4D-BIM Program back in 2003. This policy mandated the use of BIM for all public building projects.

The best thing about this initiative is the effort the GSA has put into making it work. It partners with several professional agencies and BIM thought leaders. This allows it to offer advice and guidance to firms as they make the transition.

At the time of writing, almost three-quarters of US firms use BIM technology.

This national push towards BIM also receives support on the state level. Several states now mandate the use of BIM for projects of a certain size. For example, Wisconsin requires the use of BIM on all new construction projects valued at US$2.5 million or more.

The result of these initiatives is that the US is ahead of the curve when it comes to BIM adoption.

Example #5 – Germany

Things are slightly different in Germany. The government has implemented its Digital Building Platform to mandate the use of BIM for public projects. But it’s the private sector that’s pushing Building Information Modelling in the country.

Approximately 90% of private clients demand the use of BIM in their projects. Unfortunately, German firms have experienced some teething problems. Several major projects have gone over budget using the BIM framework.

This is not a commentary on the framework itself. Instead, it highlights the difficulties many firms face in making the change to BIM in a short period of time. It’s likely that the benefits of BIM will make themselves more apparent in the country as time goes on.

Example #6 – France

France undertook one of the most ambitious BIM initiatives in 2014. The country aimed to build 500,000 houses using the framework by the end of 2017. To help with this, the national government launched the Digital Transition Plan. This provided help and resources for firms making the switch.

There are also several initiatives on the local level. Burgundy provides a good example. It employed BIM for over 130 projects as far back as 2004. Today, the region uses only BIM for its construction projects. This early initiative has helped to make France one of the world leaders in BIM adoption.

Example #7 – South Korea

Another early BIM adopter, South Korea started making preparations for switching to BIM in 2010. It spent almost US$6 million on creating standards and providing resources for firms in the country. The country has also made BIM mandatory for public projects worth more than US$50 million.

Unfortunately, these efforts haven’t resulted in perfect BIM adoption. A McGraw-Hill report provides more detail. It says that 78% of the firms that use BIM do so with low or mid-level engagement levels. This means that they aren’t fully committed to the methodology.

The reason for this seems to lie in a lack of accountability. Almost 40% of the firms surveyed said they had no formal standards in place to measure their return on investment. This lack of figures doesn’t help firms to engage. In South Korea’s case, it may be up to the government to highlight the financial benefits of Building Information Modelling.

Tips for the Switch

As you can see, several countries mandate the use of BIM at varying levels. Some have achieved success while others struggle. Poor change management and improper analysis seem to be the issues in cases where BIM mandates encounter resistance.

But these examples also show that Building Information Modelling is becoming the standard. Your firm has to meet that standard, which means it must make the switch. Here are three tips to help you.

Tip #1 – Give Yourself Enough Time

Some estimates state that it takes about three months to gain proficiency in the use of BIM software. But that doesn’t account for the organisational changes that you make. You need time to convince your internal teams that BIM is the way to go. You also have to do the same with major project stakeholders. After that, you’ll dedicate more time to changing your processes.

Trying to switch to BIM as quickly as possible leads to problems. You’ll have poorly-trained teams with little understanding of the methodology. This leads to higher costs and more delays. Give your firm plenty of time to adapt to BIM.

Tip #2 – Start Small

The centralised nature of BIM also presents some problems. It takes time to get used to how changes in data also cause changes in your model. It’s likely that you’ll make some mistakes along the way.

As a result, it’s best to start small with your first few BIM projects. A small project with a long deadline gives you the chance to get to grips with the methodology. You’ll see how making changes in different areas will affect your models. Plus, you’ll nail down the various processes. This means you’re ready to scale up efficiently for larger projects.

Tip #3 – Convince Your Clients

BIM doesn’t work if your clients don’t latch onto it. Remember that it’s a collaborative framework. You’re relying on clients to provide feedback and information as much as you’re relying on other stakeholders.

This isn’t an issue when working on projects that mandate the use of BIM. But those that don’t need some more work. You can’t use old processes for some projects and BIM for others.

Talk to your clients and tell that about your intentions. Ask them for patience during the transitional period. Moreover, ensure they understand the benefits that Building Information Modelling offers. Having the support of your clients makes it much easier to justify the switch internally too.

The Final Word

As you can see, Building Information Modelling is not a fad. Since the dawn of the 2000s, several countries have mandated its use in public projects. Australia is no different. Soon, it’s likely that most states will require the use of BIM for their projects.

Firms must make the necessary adjustments to ensure they’re prepared. But universities also have a duty to teach BIM. You’re preparing students for success in the industry. You can’t do that if you’re not teaching them about the framework they’ll work within once they graduate.

But what if your university doesn’t have a dedicated BIM course? If that’s the case, get in touch with Archistar Academy. We offer a range of courses that cover what students need to know about BIM. From our Essentials course through to courses on BIM software, we can help you to equip your students with the knowledge they need.

Get in touch with an Archistar representative today to find out how we can help you bolster your educational offering.


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Posted on 20 Jan 2020

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