BIM level 2 Frequently Asked Questions

Building Information Modelling (BIM) sits at the heart of digital transformation across the UK built environment. For the construction industry, a major part of the overall UK economy, it provides a critical opportunity to significantly improve performance and stimulate more innovative ways of delivery and operation

BIM is a collaborative way of working that facilitates early supply chain involvement, underpinned by the digital technologies which unlock more efficient methods of designing, creating and maintaining our assets BIM provides a digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of an asset to support reliable decision making and management of information during its life-cycle. At its core BIM uses 3D models and a common data environment to access and share information efficiently across the supply chain and so boost the efficiency of activities around asset delivery and operation. By helping the entire supply chain to work from a single source of information, BIM reduces the risk of error and maximises the team ability to innovate.

This model describes levels of maturity with regards to the ability of the construction supply chain to operate and exchange information. The model is applied to an entire project scenario so while an organisation may claim to be operating at Level 2, it may have a number of projects that are only able to operate at Level 1. This is perfectly normal and expected as different organisations will mature on different timescales depending on a number of factors.

The maturity model is also used to define the supporting infrastructure required at each level of capability and will be used by the BIM strategy team to prioritise development of the BIM infrastructure. The maturity model does not explicitly define the range of deliverables supported by BIM, such as FM via the COBie standard.

Bew-Richards maturity model (PDF).

BIM Level 2 maturity is a series of domain and collaborative federated models. The models, consisting of both 3D geometrical and non-graphical data, are prepared by different parties during the project life-cycle within the context of a common data environment. Using proprietary information exchanges between various systems, project participants will have the means necessary to provide defined and validated outputs via digital transactions in a structured and reusable form.

BIM Level 2 requires all project and asset information, documentation and data to be electronic, which supports efficient delivery at the design and construction phases of the project. At the design stage, designers, clients and end users can work together to develop the most suited design and test it on the computer before it is built. During construction BIM enables the supply chain to efficiently share precise information about components which reduces the risk of errors and waste.

The different levels can be summarised as:

Level 0 – use of 2D CAD drafting with paper based or electronic print information and data exchange.

Level 1 – use of a mixture of 2D or 3D CAD backed by a common data environment for electronic sharing of drawings and data with a standardised data structure and format managed to BS 1192:2007. Collaboration is limited between disciplines with each controlling and issuing its own information.

Level 2 – collaborative working across disciplines with all parties using 3D CAD models, integrated but not necessarily shared. Design information is shared through a common file format such as IFC (Industry Foundation Class) or COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange).

Level 3 - fully collaborative working across all disciplines using a single, shared project model held centrally and accessible and by all to modify ad share data.

The UK government’s 2011 Construction Strategy embraced the use of BIM and mandated its use to maturity Level 2 on all centrally procured HM l Government projects by 4th April 2016. The strategy highlighted its use as core to challenging existing industry business models and practices and driving greater collaboration, efficiency, innovation and value across all elements of the industry.

Essentially BIM is seen as key to helping the industry:

  • Boost delivery and operational efficiency;
  • Reduce cost and improve value;
  • Lower the carbon footprint;
  • Improve collaboration across the supply chain; and
  • improve quality of customer outcomes

The Government 2011 Construction Strategy (GCS) requires that: Government will require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016. This refers to all centrally procured Government projects as outlined in the GCS including new build and retained estate, vertical and linear.

No. There is no minimum project value specified in the Government Construction Strategy for the adoption of BIM in public sector procurement so long as the there is a projected positive return on investment and value in the data to be created.

The majority of HM Government departments have already met the requirements for BIM Level 2 and the remaining departments are on target to meet the 2016 mandate. The task now is to consolidate and embed BIM Level 2 throughout departmental processes.

To realise the full benefits of BIM Level 2 departments need to develop the skills, experience and capability around BIM. The BIM Working Group will support this by developing a more ambitious set of measures to enable departments to derive further benefits from BIM. Sustained leadership from central government is crucial to maintain industry commitment to invest in BIM capability.

The UK BIM Task Group was set up to support and help to deliver the objectives of the Government Construction Strategy 2011 and its requirement to strengthen the public sector’s capability as it moved towards embracing collaborative Level 2 BIM by 2016.

The group is chaired by Mark Bew and includes expertise from industry, government, public sector, institutes and academia.

Government understands that as a purchaser of construction services and asset manager it can gain significant savings in capital and operational cost, increased value and carbon performance through the use of open sharable asset information.

The UK BIM Task Group hypothesis is important as it enables the team to demonstrate across a range of performance dimensions that useable benefits will be secured. The tests that were used to confirm benefits covered the following criteria.

Hypothesis Criteria:

  1. Valuable: The overall aim is to maximise client value by increasing benefits at little or no extra cost.
  2. Understandable: The approach is to be presented in an understandable learning package suitable for different types of government asset procurers.
  3. General: The approach is equally applicable to buildings and infrastructure, whether large and small new build and where possible existing structures.
  4. Non-proprietary: All requirements are non-proprietary as to applications and required formats of the deliverables.
  5. Competitive: Wherever possible there are at least two solutions or methods available so as to minimise market influence in terms of anti-competitive clauses.
  6. Open: Wherever possible, low-cost methods are to be made available to allow all stakeholders to participate, irrespective of size and experience, so as to minimise barriers to involvement.
  7. Verifiable: All contractual expectations are documented with transparent and testable measurement of pass / fail.
  8. Compliant: Measurement of WLC/Carbon/Sustainability/etc is published to GB, EU and ISO standards.
  9. Implementation: The approach is self-funding by the client and the industry.
  10. Timescale: The approach is phased in over 5 years.

Government’s view is that BIM is an important enabling element of the wider Construction Strategy. BIM will provide the information foundation for the work of integrated teams – the Government’s preferred strategy for project delivery – driving value in, and cost out of the design and construction process. The information provided by the BIM model will be valuable in enabling the Government Client to confirm that facilities meet performance expectations and also in providing a readily accessible source of information for the teams involved in operating, maintaining and adapting completed facilities.

In Scotland – The Review of Scottish Public Sector Procurement In Construction promoted that “ BIM should be introduced in central government with a view to encouraging adoption across the public sector. The objective should be that, where appropriate, projects across the public sector adopt BIM level 2 by April 2017.” level 2 by April 2017.” The Scottish BIM Implementation plan (PDF) is founded on Level 2 BIM standards and the use of an online opportunity grading tools and BIM Return On Investment calculator to ensure an appropriate journey for the public sector procurer.

In Wales – there is no explicit central BIM mandate.

In Northern Ireland (Central Procurement Directorate) - The Northern Ireland BIM policy is that from 1 April 2016, all Government centrally procured construction projects with a value greater than the EU procurement threshold for construction works shall, where there is potential for efficiency savings, be delivered to BIM Maturity Level 2.

The 20% efficiency stretch referred to in the Government Construction Strategy will be achieved through the successful applications of a mixture of all initiatives set out within the strategy (not just BIM) each one contributing towards the target saving. The 20% saving refers to CapEx cost savings however we know that the largest prize for BIM lies in the Operational stages of the project life-cycle. The Government Construction Strategy seeks to unlock both of these benefits.

BIM is a way of working and a set of processes which uses a digital-tool set to manage and model information in a collaborative environment.

The use of advanced computer systems to build 3D models of infrastructure and hold large amounts of information about its design, operation and current condition, is key to BIM driving a cultural shift towards greater collaboration and efficiency in the construction industry.

  • At the planning stage it enables designers, owners and users to work together to produce the best possible designs and to test them in the computer before they are built.
  • In construction it enables engineers, contractors and suppliers to integrate complex components cutting out waste and reducing the risk of errors.
  • In operation it provides customers with real-time information about available services and maintainers with accurate assessments of the condition of assets.

COBie is formal schema that helps organise information about new and existing facilities. It is general enough that it can be used to document both Buildings and Infrastructure assets. It is simple enough that it can be transmitted using a spreadsheet. It is means of sharing structured information, just like CDM and BIM. The data is exchanged using spreadsheets to keep the complexity of systems and training to a minimum.

The 2011 UK Government mandate for the use of Level 2 BIM on all public sector projects by 2016 was a bold step designed to prompt close working between Government and the construction industry to develop the industry’s skills and reduce the cost of infrastructure. This mandate is designed specifically to encourage the public sector to lead construction clients as one side of a so-called “push-pull” strategy in which the client side and the delivery side are completely aligned both in terms of expectation and capability.

The key element of the pull-push strategy is that Government defines a requirement in broadest terms but leaves the supply chain to develop the solution. Government will provide the pull for increased BIM adoption by mandating the use of BIM derived data on all projects and by defining what outputs are required from the BIM model. The ’pull’ elements cover volume and the use of the model. The phased introduction of this mandate will allow the construction supply chain to develop skills, standards and protocols to meet demand. The ‘push’ element is the infrastructure of tools, processes, standards and training necessary to deliver top class BIM. Whilst the development of this infrastructure should necessarily be driven bottom-up, willingness to invest relies on predictable demand driven by the government’s commitment.

BIMs associate additional information about asset components with geometry in a structured way. This lets us build project documentation in a much more structured and on line way.

BIM-enabled working allows this information to be shared by different project participants and also between different stages of design, construction and operation. For example, an engineer is able to use information sourced from the architect to prepare energy calculations or a contractor can check the coordination of contributions from different members of the project team. Programme and cost information can also be captured using BIM. Most importantly, BIM has the potential to allow information about the use of the building to be collated and held in formats useable by the operators of facilities – enabling buildings and other assets to be used and maintained efficiently.

There are benefits to gained through the use of BIM across the supply chain and across the asset lifecycle if BIM tools and methodology are used in a collaborative and inclusive manner. The challenge, of course, remains how to measure these benefits, efficiencies and cost reductions consistently and to define who receives those benefits and why?

The most complete set of benefits analysis is documented in the BSi “Investors Report”, but even this paper struggled to get accurate feedback for the facilities management and operations stages to allow representative comparisons. The HMG BIM strategy will be publishing measurement methods so we can gather improvement metrics on all public sector projects going forward.

The objectives of the strategy is to accelerate the adoption of BIM throughout the UK construction supply chain. Creating critical mass and certainty of demand will provide confidence to enable businesses, training organisations and professional bodies to invest more rapidly in the development of their own capability.

Increasing BIM Level 2 maturity across government will enable departments to gradually move to BIM Level 3, which would support a fully integrated and collaborative process. All disciplines and contributors to a project would be able to access and modify a single, shared project model, held centrally, which would remove the remaining risks of conflicting information and support the development of whole-life approaches. This has the potential to realise further improvements in construction, operation and maintenance, paving the way for smarter, better connected cities.

Currently no, although adoption of BIM is on the increase for a wide variety of projects, the government strategy outlines that only public sector construction projects will have to be delivered using BIM from 2016.

BIM, if successfully implemented, will help organisation strip the waste from their processes which in many cases could realise savings of 20-30% by designing and building the asset virtually cutting out waste and reducing the risk of errors.

BIM has the potential to unlock more efficient ways of collaborative working and so offer greater value to customers across the public and private sector. You may have to invest in new technology but the Government is not mandating any specific software platforms and besides, but BIM is more about a new way of working than a technology solution. In reality the investment will be more in people, to raise BIM awareness and train staff, and in developing new processes to manage and use asset information.

BIM systems are already commonly used by many consultant SMEs. The acceleration of the development of information exchange standards and protocols will assist the adoption of effective ways of BIM working.

The strategy group recognise that the adoption of BIM by the contracting supply chain will require more development of capability, particularly around the adoption of the COBie standard, and the roll-out of BIM requirements will be staged so that necessary competences and capabilities can be built within the supply chain.

The BIM Task Group has not recommended the introduction of a standard or accreditation system for BIM training and education. It has however, produceda description of the learning outcomes that BIM training and education courses should consider. This ‘learning outcomes framework’ has been tested with the commercial training providers, professional institutions and academia and will be published on the website for the industry to use to inform clients and supply chain in their analysis and selection of its staff training programmes; and by training providers to introduce a broad coverage of BIM related courses across strategic, management and technical roles required to up-skill the industry in order to support the Level 2 BIM ambitions.