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BIM 'key to building procurement'

Building Information Modelling (BIM) will become a key part in the procurement of public buildings, according to the chief construction adviser to the Government

Paul Morrell told the Autodesk BIM conference that bidders and contractors working on building projects in the future will be asked to use BIM, the 3D modelling system which shares data between the archtiects and all the contractors on a building project.

The system allows those involved to create a digital model that can be used from the design stage through to monitoring a building’s performance once it has been completed.

Morrell gave a number of reasons for the move, saying it would reduce costs and ‘add long-term value to the development and management of built assets in the public sector’.

But he added the plan to use of BIM must be on the basis that it is secure, ‘and works for Government clients and those who deliver them’.

A trial of BIM is currently under way, and the test team will reports its findings to the Construction Clients Board early next year.

According to Morrell the report could ‘mark the beginning of a commitment to a timed programme of transformation’.

Phil Bernstein, vice-president of Autodesk, said: ‘We believe the recommendation to UK government construction procurers will drive industry change, just as similar decisions by the government have in the US.

‘We also believe that these clear incentives will encourage the use of BIM methodology by government and the wider construction industry. They will provide better value for construction spend while enhancing environmentally responsible building design, construction and operation.’

However Robert Klaschka of Studio Klaschka has rasied some concerns: ‘Morrell’s support for BIM is encouraging, but doesn’t necessarily sit well with the governments cost cutting agenda. A BIM model requires higher up front design costs involved in the coordinated model to realise construction savings. Central government has never yet acknowledged this as an approach to improving value.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • The government has a key role to play in accelerating the adoption of Building Information Modelling (BIM), as has been the case in Scandinavia and the USA, so the announcement by Mr Morrell is welcome and we at NBS look forward to reviewing the detail of the report.

    BIM promises to initiate a step-change in the design, procurement, construction and maintenance of the built environment and is inevitability; the industry must ensure that it is prepared for this. But BIM is much more than 3D modelling – that is what CAD is about. A BIM is a rich information model, shared across all stakeholders. With everyone making reference to the same source, significant benefits can be achieved - cost reduction, early clash identification, better project management, simpler procurement, improved communication between the disciplines, and many other well documented benefits (as well as undeniable challenges). But the key here is rich information, which is more than geometric information from a CAD model. This might include performance, regulatory compliance, specification, embodied carbon, cost and many other pieces of data to achieve the real benefits a BIM has to offer.

    Software is the interface to a building information model; rich content is what populates it. A lot of work and investment is needed by software developers, publishers and other data providers to get to the stage where we can really unlock the true potential of BIM. For instance, at NBS, we are investing heavily in turning our specification and product information into digital objects in anticipation of the widespread adoption of BIM.

    The industry needs to see BIM not as a Holy Grail which one day will arrive, but as an evolutionary road which we need to start on sooner rather than later. Such pressure from government and other major clients is a welcome intervention, but it requires investment too, as we see in other countries, to avoid the UK needing to play catch up in years to come.

    Dr Stephen Hamil
    Head of Building Information Modelling, NBS

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