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 [or portfolio of assets] 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.
PAS1192-2 describes Building information modelling (BIM) as the “process of designing, constructing or operating a building or infrastructure asset using electronic object-oriented information.”
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 might claim to be operating at BIM Level 2, it may have a number of projects that are only able to operate at BIM 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.
It is important to note that from a standards perspective that BIM Level 2 is the maximum achievable level of BIM maturity. It has become evident that beyond Level 2 that BIM technology will combine with the internet of things (providing sensors and other information), advanced data analytics and the wider digital economy. Therefore, whilst BIM Level 2 will continue to grow it is unlikely that there will be a “BIM Level 3” construct. Instead it will converge with a wider digital agenda that is being developed by the Centre for Digital Built Britain [CDBB] https://www.cdbb.cam.ac.uk/
Whilst there is no formal definition of BIM Level 2 the Home Nations Working Group [HNWG] have co-ordinated to interpret it as:
“BIM Level 2 maturity encompasses the generation and management BIM Level 2 maturity encompasses the generation and management of structured information models comprising all named data-sets used throughout the lifecycle of a built asset.
Information models will include a series of domain and collaborative federated models. The models, consisting of both object-oriented 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 agreed information exchanges, project participants will have the means necessary to provide defined and validated outputs via digital transactions in a structured and reusable form.
Appropriate and proportionate measures will be applied to manage the security risks that affect a built asset, asset data and information.”
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.
Note: International BIM Standards 19650 refer to stages of maturity of analogue and digital information management, however in the UK we will, meantime, still refer to “BIM Level 2” as part of our national wrapper.
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 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;
- Improve quality of customer outcomes;
- Export new digital built environment services; and
- Be mindful of security in a digital built environment
Additionally, the HM Government “Industrial Strategy – Building a Britain fit for the future”  establishes a vision of revolutionising productivity in the construction sector and how we will transform construction techniques to dramatically improve efficiency characterised by a blurring of lines between the physical and digital worlds.
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 work of the BIM Task Group continues under the stewardship of the Centre for Digital Built Britain [CDBB] https://www.cdbb.cam.ac.uk/ and their BIM Level 2 work streams.
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 hypothesis set out in the BIS BIM Strategy report in 2011 is still 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.
- Valuable: The overall aim is to maximise client value by increasing benefits at little or no extra cost.
- Understandable: The approach is to be presented in an understandable learning package suitable for different types of government asset procurers.
- General: The approach is equally applicable to buildings and infrastructure, whether large and small new build and where possible existing structures.
- Non-proprietary: All requirements are non-proprietary as to applications and required formats of the deliverables.
- Competitive: Wherever possible there are at least two solutions or methods available so as to minimise market influence in terms of anti-competitive clauses.
- 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.
- Verifiable: All contractual expectations are documented with transparent and testable measurement of pass / fail.
- Compliant: Measurement of WLC/Carbon/Sustainability/etc is published to GB, EU and ISO standards.
- Implementation: The approach is self-funding by the client and the industry.
- Timescale: The approach is phased in over 5 year
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 BIMs will be valuable in enabling the Government Client to confirm that facilities meet performance expectations and in providing a readily accessible source of information for the teams involved in operating, maintaining and adapting completed facilities.
Following the success of the BIM mandate, key policy documents continue the push towards digital and off-site to improve construction sector productivity, whole life value and improved benefits for citizens.
Government recognised the need for a national leadership body to coordinate and drive this change.
The Centre for Digital Built Britain was announced in the 2017 Autumn budget to build on the achievements of the UK Task Group and further develop new techniques to support the UK digital construction capability.
To facilitate a truly joined up UK approach to BIM Level 2 the Home Nations Working Group has been created. “HNWG” for short, is supported by the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) with the purpose of developing consistency of messaging and promoting a shared understanding of the value proposition afforded by a co-ordinated approach to a digitised UK Built Environment.
The HNWG will provide a platform to:
- Share experiences in the implementation of BIM Level 1 and 2
- Co-ordinate the sharing of BIM knowledge and collateral across programmes
- Manage the interface between the Centre for Digital Built Britain, and the various devolved UK government BIM and digital built environment programmes.
In Scotland – The Scottish Procurement Policy Note for BIM (SPPN 01/2017 http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0051/00515094.pdf) defines its BIM approach for Scottish public sector procurers.
The Scottish BIM strategy is built around three key stages: 1.) BIM Maturity Grading 2.) BIM Return on Investment Calculation 3.) Following of appropriate departmental guidance through a BIM navigator. The Scottish BIM strategy and its components can be found at:
The Scottish BIM Strategy is aligned with the British Standards for BIM Level 1 and 2.
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.
BIM is a way of working and a set of processes which uses a digital-tool set to model, manage and exchange information in a secure and collaborative environment.
The use of advanced computer systems to build 3D object orientated models of built assets and infrastructure and link to 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 briefing stage, it allows better information driven decisions and clear information requirements and functional targets to be established.
- 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.
The effective implementation of BIM can be supported using the BIM Level 2 standards ensuring that the same accurate data can be accessed throughout the supply chain. It is important to note that the standards need to be used in conjunction with a collaborative working approach and an appropriate technology stack.
Note: It is important to remember that Soft Landings is an important element of the BIM Level 2 process and can be enacted using BS 8536 and its principles.
Construction Operations Building information exchange (Cobie) is a 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.
BS 1192-4 outlines the UK usage of COBie, an internationally agreed information exchange schema for exchanging facility information between the employer and the supply chain.
COBie is the default information exchange schema for BIM Level 2 projects and the Home Nations Working Group. It is recognised that in certain instances the COBie schema may not be sufficient to meet the needs of the asset information model or systems. In these circumstances another schema maybe applied to support information exchange but must be defined in the Employers Information Requirements [EIR]. It is however essential that a specified information exchange format be used if a BIM Level 2 maturity is to be reached.
Information models created using Building Information Modelling associate additional information about asset components with geometry in a structured way. This allows us to build project documentation in a 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.
The Scottish Futures Trust have created an open self-assessment Return on Investment (ROI) BIM tool estimates the benefits and the level of return that the adoption of BIM Level 2 will bring to a project. The tool supports the procurer/client assess the benefits of adopting BIM Level 2 against a predefined list of benefits using both a quantitative and qualitative assessment and this is reported within an easy to understand dashboard: https://bimportal.scottishfuturestrust.org.uk/page/roi-calculator
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?
To evaluate the actual impact BIM deployment has on asset planning, delivery and operation, PwC were commissioned by CDBB to develop a BIM Benefits Measurement Methodology (BMM).
The BMM sets out a measurement rational and model, whilst the Application Report tests deployment of the BMM on projects that have used BIM in their delivery. As well as providing a methodology for measuring benefits, the BMM Benefits Framework is intended help to define potential BIM benefits from the project outset, following industry plan of work stages.
The BMM and associated Report documents are available via the CDBB website at:
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.
It is recognized 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.
Organizations such as the UK BIM Alliance can help support the journey especially those delivering BIM Level 2 projects http://www.ukbimalliance.org/
In Q1 2019 the first two international standards implemented in the UK will be published for Building Information Modelling (BIM) BS EN ISO 19650–1 Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) -- Information management using building information modelling -- Part 1: Concepts and principles and BS EN ISO 19650-2 Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) -- Information management using building information modelling -- Part 2: Delivery phase of the assets.
These two standards will supersede BS 1192:2007+A2:2016 Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information - Code of Practice and PAS 1192-2:2013 Specification for information management for the capital/delivery phase of construction projects using building information modelling(capital/delivery phase) respectively. The concept, principles and requirements of BS EN ISO 19650-1 and 2 are founded on the UK’s standards for information management using BIM and will be identifiable to those that are already using BS 1192:2007 and PAS 1192-2. BSI along with CDBB, the Home Nations Working Group and the UK BIM Alliance, have created a series of Questions and Answers dedicated to the ISO transition. These can be found at: http://bim-level2.org/en/faqs/