That Building Information Modeling or BIM provides an unparalleled opportunity for improvements in productivity and cost-savings through all phases of the AEC industry has been long espoused. But how is BIM adoption progressing in some of the major countries of the world? Let’s have a look…
The United States
The US General Services Administration (GSA) formulated the National 3D-4D-BIM Program way back in 2003. This program established policy mandating BIM adoption for all Public Buildings Service projects. GSA also actively partners with BIM vendors, federal agencies, professional associations, open standard organizations, and academic/research institutions to develop a community of BIM leaders within GSA. Today, 72% construction firms in the US are believed to be using BIM technologies for significant cost savings on projects.
And it’s not just the government that has been pushing for the power of visualization, coordination, simulation, and optimization in the construction, several US states, universities and private organizations are supporting the adoption of higher BIM standards. In 2009, the Architect’s Office at the Indiana University issued IU BIM Standards and Project Delivery Requirements. In the same year, the Penn State University also acquired a leadership role in articulating the use of BIM by facility owners.
In 2010, Wisconsin became the first US state to require all public projects with a budget of $5 million or more and all new construction with a budget of $2.5 million or more to incorporate BIM. Meanwhile, through the NBIMS-US Project, the National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART alliance has curated consensus-based open BIM standards to foster innovation in processes and infrastructure.
The United Kingdom
The UK has swiftly risen become the undisputed BIM champion of the world riding on the wings of clear national strategy and government support. The British Standards Institute (BSI) have formal liaison with standards committees like the AGI and others. Since April 2016, as part of the Government’s Construction Strategy which aims to achieve 20% savings in procurement costs, all centrally-procured construction projects in the UK are required to achieve BIM Level 2. This mandate not only made the whole industry sit up and take notice, it also accelerated the process of BIM adoption in the country, because if you are not BIM Level 2 complaint, you just cannot get your hands on any government project in the UK.
The NBS’ sixth National BIM Report 2016 released around the same time and reported that BIM adoption in the UK had reached 54%, up from 48% in 2015. Today, above 80% of those surveyed by the NBS are expected to have adopted BIM. The report also noted that in 2014-15, the UK Government saved £855 million on existing schemes, which basically facilitated investment in new ones.
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The Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, Finland and Sweden count amongst the earliest adopters of BIM technologies, with public standards and requirements already in place.
In fact, Finland started working on implementing BIM technologies as early as 2002, and by 2007, the Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries had mandated that all design software packages need to pass Industry Foundation Class (IFC) Certification. It should be noted that IFC is a vendor-neutral file format which allows models to be shared and worked on independently of any specific piece of software.
In Norway, the civil state client Statsbygg, as well as the Norwegian Homebuilders Association, has been actively promoting the use of BIM. Since 2010, all Statsbygg projects have been using IFC file formats and BIM for the whole lifecycle of their buildings. A leading organization called SINTEF is also conducting research in BIM as a part of national R&D program focusing on sustainable tools to improve construction and operation of buildings.
Denmark has mandated its state clients, including Palaces and Properties Agency, the Danish University Property Agency and the Defence Construction Service, to adopt BIM practices. Several private organizations and universities are also conducting R&D work in BIM in Denmark.
In Sweden, the adoption of BIM is so high that best practices have emerged even in the absence of clear-cut government-led guidelines. The country is only behind the US in the publication of academic papers focusing on BIM. And now, the government is also taking initiatives to facilitate nation-wide implementation, and public organizations like the Swedish Transport Administration have mandated the use of BIM from 2015.
To be fair, since all these countries are relatively smaller, convincing fewer market players and people to adopt BIM has been a clear advantage for the Scandinavian region.
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According to a McGraw Hill Construction Report on BIM, 90% of project owners in Germany either often or always demand BIM. The survey also found out that rather than the government, the emphasis is more on commercial and residential buildings. However, the traditionally conservative German AEC industry hadn’t shown much inclination toward BIM adoption, and major public sector projects — Berlin’s Brandenburg Airport, Stuttgart 21 railway station, Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg — often went over-budget or would be late in delivery.
So, in 2015 the government announced the formation of the Digital Building Platform — a BIM task group created by several industry-led organizations to develop a national BIM strategy. However, experts still fear that Germany’s federal system — with nearly 16 autonomous or semi-autonomous states and local authorities — might make the implementation a national BIM mandate very hard.
Just like the Nordics, Singapore also benefits from being a small market. The government has created a central repository for building codes, regulations and circulars published by various building and construction regulatory agencies in Singapore. Through this Construction and Real Estate Network, or CORENET, the Building & Construction Authority set out to implement the world’s first BIM electronic submission. Since 2015, BIM e-submissions have been mandated for all projects greater than 5,000 sq mts.
Not just that, since 2010, the Building & Construction Authority has been dispensing grants through the BIM fund as well, which covers the cost of training, consultancy, hardware and collaboration software. Moreover, to facilitate information sharing, BCA and buildingSMART Singapore have developed a library of building and design objects, as well as project collaboration guidelines.
And now, to standardize BIM modelling conventions and to facilitate data exchange between various project stakeholders, BCA will be implementing phased voluntary and mandatory submission and processing of building documentation in the Native BIM format for regulatory compliance, based on the Code of Practice for BIM e-Submission. BCA will also lead the development of automated model checking for BIM e-submission.
France decided in 2014 that it would develop 500,000 houses using BIM by 2017. A budget of €20 million was also allocated to digitize the building industry. As the benefits from this project will be evaluated, there is a good possibility that BIM will be made mandatory in public procurement this year. The initiative was a part of the French government’s Digital Transition Plan for the construction industry, which aimed to achieve sustainability and reduce costs. Also in 2014, the government launched a research and development project in the construction area called MINnD to develop BIM standards for infrastructure projects.
Meanwhile, the French region of Burgundy had deployed BIM models for managing building operations across 135 sites consisting majorly of high schools way back in 2004. Today, the regional council works exclusively within a BIM-based process for construction, maintenance and building operations.
A 2012 study by China Construction Industry Association found that less than 15% of a total of 388 surveyed companies were using BIM. According to industry players, this slow rate of adoption can typically be associated with resistance toward new management processes.
The popular sentiment regarding BIM in China is that the government provides encouragement to use the technology, but leadership is missing. Even though the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development chalked out a role for BIM processes in industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization in its 12th Five-Year Plan, it is not mandatory to use BIM. The Ministry of Science and Technology has also approved the China BIM Union to develop the national standard of practices.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Institute of Building Information Modelling (HKIBIM) was established in 2009, and the roadmap for BIM implementation was formulated by the Housing Authority in 2014. The contractors are leading the BIM agenda in Taiwan, where hiring a third party to model the design is the norm.
One of the early adopters of BIM processes, the South Korean government has been working systematically to increase the scope of BIM-mandated projects in the country since 2010. The South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport even provided $5.8 million over a period of three years to build open BIM-based building design standards and information technology. And since 2016, the Public Procurement Service has made BIM compulsory for all public sector projects over S$50 million.
The McGraw Hill Construction report on BIM finds that 78% of the contractors who are using BIM in South Korea are doing so at low or medium levels of engagement. This low level of engagement can also be attributed to the absence of formal measurement of ROI — 39% respondents said there was no measurement being done at all.
Watch this space as we keep adding new nations to the list. Also, let us know of the latest BIM initiatives in your country through comments below.