Awareness of benefits of BIM growing in US and UK, but implementation lags

BIM Level 2Building owners on both sides of the Atlantic are increasingly aware of the benefits of Building Information Modelling (BIM), even though they may not yet use it directly, according to a new report published by McGraw Hill Construction in partnership with Autodesk and Skanska. The report, The Business Value of BIM for Owners, suggests that this pent-up demand will be unleashed in the near future with 40 percent of US owners and 38 percent of UK owners predicting that more than 75 percent of their projects will involve BIM in just two years, with a particularly high level of growth in the US. Growth in the UK is being driven by the approaching implementation of a central government mandate requiring use of BIM on all national public projects by 2016, with over two thirds (67 percent) of UK owners reporting that the mandate is already having a high impact on their use of BIM. Owners in the UK are also more generally aware of the benefits of BIM and have more experience of it in practice.

“The McGraw Hill Construction report clearly shows the most important driver of BIM use in Singapore and the UK has been their national BIM mandates,” says Phillip G. Bernstein, Vice President of Strategic Industry Relations at Autodesk. “With these two governments continuing to make infrastructure development a high priority, the adoption of BIM has become a critically important step towards minimizing lifecycle building costs and improving the design quality of their built assets.  The report makes evident that the desire to become an industry leader is an aspect of the BIM policies of Singapore and the UK. To this end, a significant impact of these BIM mandates has been to ensure that construction sectors are becoming more globally competitive.”

The influence of the mandate in the UK is driving a much higher general level of involvement with BIM by owners than in the US. The study suggests the impact of the mandate in several key areas.

  • UK owners are more aware of BIM use by the core project team members (architects and general contractors) than their US counterparts.
  • Most UK owners (88 percent) are formally measuring the impact of BIM, but only 18 percent of US owners are.
  • More UK owners agree that they have experienced key BIM benefits like enhanced visualisation, fewer problems due to design errors, coordination issues or construction errors, and beneficial impacts on project schedule and the control of construction costs.

Mark Putnam, President and CEO of Skanska UK, notes, “The government’s mandate is helping to drive change across the UK construction industry. Its 2016 deadline is accelerating the adoption of new tools and processes, which will ultimately deliver the collaboration and data needed to help achieve the industry’s long term objectives.” He adds, “When Skanska is an owner, we mandate BIM and have done so since 2008, as we believe it brings significant benefits. However, the report clearly shows that there is still much to be done before BIM is routinely used to develop more sustainable buildings and infrastructure.”

Because the findings demonstrate the powerful influence that governments can have on the implementation of BIM, the report also contains research on BIM policies in over 20 major construction markets globally, as well as qualitative research with owners on the use of BIM in Singapore and Scandinavia, two regions with strong, effective support of BIM by their national governments.

According to the report, one aspect of having a central government mandate is the demands it places on all players on the project team to be working with BIM. The use of BIM by the full core project team rather than by select players can have a significantly positive impact on BIM’s influence on project outcomes.

The findings also reveal that UK owners are using BIM for facility management, capitalizing on the benefits of BIM not just to reduce the cost of building design and construction but also throughout the building lifecycle.

  • 54 percent of UK owners already report that they have high capabilities to leverage BIM for building operations and facility management, compared with only 14 percent in the US
  • By 2019, almost all (92 percent) of UK owners expect to have high capability to use BIM for building operations, a sharp contrast to the US with just 49 percent expecting to be at that level.

“For as long as BIM has been used, practitioners have foreseen the potential value to owners of bringing the data-rich models developed by design and construction teams into owners’ facility management and operations environments,” says Steve Jones, Senior Director of McGraw Hill Construction and principal author of this report. “Recent advances in standards and technology are now putting this within reach of owners everywhere. We are at the beginning of an exciting new era for BIM.”

Despite the vigorous involvement with BIM by owners in the US and especially in the UK, the study also reveals that they would expand their engagement with BIM if there were more industry professionals with BIM skills at design and construction firms, if their operations and maintenance staff had a better ability to utilize the model and if there were standards of model development and exchange to better enable use of the model across the entire project team.