Review of the EU BIM Handbook and NBC Roadmap to Digital Transition

Modified: 7th Jun 2021
Wordcount: 2837 words

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1.    Introduction


This report aims to review the following Building Information Modelling (BIM) documents produced by the National BIM Council (NBC) and the European Council (EU) BIM Task Group.

Figure 1 EU BIM Handbook

Figure 2 NBC Roadmap to Digital Transition

This report sets out to assess the NBC Roadmap to Digital Transition when considering the necessity to link and build on the EU BIM Handbook.

The EU BIM Handbook was published in July 2017, while the NBC Roadmap to Digital Transition was published later that year in December. The Irish Representative noted in the production of the EU BIM Handbook was the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The convergence of the EU BIM Task Group handbook release, the Government mandate and the NBC roadmap present Ireland with an opportunity to become leaders in industry adoption of BIM –implementing common standards and guidelines into common practice [1].

2.    Structure of the EU BIM Handbook

2.1             Purpose

The purpose of the EU BIM Handbook is to provide a central point of reference for the public sector, by providing stakeholders with the knowledge required to deliver the necessary leadership from the top down.

The handbook aims to address the problem of misunderstanding, inconsistent requirements and national divergence [2].

2.2             Scope and Use:

The handbook aims to provide stakeholders with policy, strategic, and implementation level recommendations for the introduction of BIM. The document states that this can be achieved by:

  1. Building a common understanding of BIM.
  2. Sharing and promoting the consistent introduction of BIM.
  3. Encouraging a wide use of developed standards and common principals.

The users of the handbook, as discussed in Table 1, are envisaged to be public policy users, public clients, and operator users.



Policy Users

Persons responsible for the development of policy i.e. public procurement policies, public works contracts etc.

Public Clients

Persons who tender for public projects and subsequently carry out the works.

Operator Users

Asset management of public roads and public buildings, such as hospitals and schools.

Table 1 EU BIM Handbook Users

2.3             Opportunity, Value, and Why BIM?

Government policy and public procurement methods are recommended powerful tools to support positive change in the sector.

The value of BIM is summarized in the handbook by:

  • A better value for money outcome during the construction phase.
  • A better value for money outcome in the operational phase.
  • A more efficient use of resources throughout the lifecycle of a building.

Generally throughout Europe, the common reasons to provide leadership for BIM are:

  • Better value for public money.
  • Public procurement as a motivator for innovation.
  • Network effect of adoption and support for Small-to-Medium Enterprises (SME’s).
  • Digitization agenda.

The benefits of a European common approach to adopting BIM are summarised as minimising cost, impactful programmes, accelerated national efforts, and encouraging international standards.

2.4             Frameworks / Strategic Objectives

To allow for the common introduction of BIM the following central frameworks are proposed:

  1. A strategic framework for public sector led BIM programmes, including.
    1. Establishing public leadership,
    2. Communicating vision and foster communities,
    3. Developing a collaborative framework,
    4. Growing client and industry capability and capacity.
  2. A common performance definition of BIM, allowing for the below four well defined areas:
    1. Policy,
    2. Technical,
    3. Process,
    4. People.

The characteristics presented under this framework gives stakeholders the common activities which much be performed for the project to be considered an EU BIM project. It is important to note that framework was not designed to overreach on targets or for any member state to change legal frameworks.

This section also presents case studies. It is worth noting that Ireland does not have a case study included in the EU BIM Handbook.


2.5                 Actions and Recommendations


Figure 3 EU BIM Handbook High Level Recommendations


4.    Structure of NBC Roadmap to Digital Transition


4.1 Purpose

The purpose of the NBC Roadmap is to increase the adoption of BIM in Ireland. The roadmap is:

  • Designed to secure funding for digital transition period.
  • To set performance standards.
  • Support the programme of government.
  • A living document that will drive development and guide the process of reaching long term goals.

4.2 Scope and Use

The map outlines a high level plan of strategic initiative to assist public and private sector in building digital capability. It appears that the roadmap is to be used as a benchmark for the entire construction industry.

Figure 4 NBC Roadmap

4.3 Opportunity, Value, and Why BIM?

Currently the use of BIM is fueled by FDI primarily, which is accompanied by the NDFA, and works in the UK.

The roadmap aims to break downward spiral of “lowest price wins” as “lowest price” rarely represents best value or lowest cost [3].

The government has committed for BIM to be required in the design, construction and operation of public buildings and infrastructure within 4 years.

4.4 Frameworks / Strategic Objectives

The strategic objectives noted within the roadmap are presented in Figue 5.

Figure 5 Strategic Objectives of Roadmap

The primary goal of the roadmap is to offer a vision and direction for the sector that looks to achieve 20% reductions in cost, 20% reductions in programme and 20% increases in construction exports to 2021.

4.5 Actions and Recommendations

The four primary recommendations of the NBC as illustrated in the roadmap are to:

  1. Facilitate the formation of a resourced NBCE with a focus on driving the digital transformation of the sector,
  2. Strengthen and support Ireland’s commitment to adopt a common collaborative framework of Open BIM standards, and seek to play a proactive role in ongoing development of international information management standards in construction.
  3. Develop a consistent, seamless and coherent digital experience for students in Irish Education and industry to help grow industry capacity and maturity in the use of BIM and other innovative technologies.
  4. Support a public sector BIM adoption mandate that will facilitate the implementation of Government policy objectives in the procurement of public works projects, in the construction and in their maintenance upon completion.[3]

 The above recommendations are discussed in detail, with suggestions from a survey with key stakeholders included, next steps described, and key recommendations disucssed under the headings presented in Figure 6.



Figure 6 NBC Roadmap - Key Recommendations


5.    Comparison between EU Handbook and NBC Roadmap to Digital Transition


5.1 Commonality and Progress

The NBC Roadmap is a very good starting point when considering the EU BIM Handbook was only published 5 months prior. The NBC Roadmap does link and build on the EU BIM Handbook in a number of areas.

5.1.1        Leadership

The NBC Roadmap sets out to establish a support team and a national central resource to support both public and private transition to digital. This is in line with the EU Handbook, which looks to identify a stewardship team and funding.

The EU Handbook wants to document clear public drivers, which the NBC Roadmap has done via an intensive survey with different industry stakeholders. This survey was considered in the road maps recommendations.

A public statement of intent was made, via the release of the Roadmap itself.

5.1.2        Developing Collaborative Framework

Skills development is an item which has been progressed and set out well in the roadmap. It identifies many items which will benefit BIM leaders within SME’s and public sector organizations.

Development of standards is something that is linked to the EU handbook. The roadmap identifies the need for the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) and other institutes to develop training and certification in relation to European and International standards.

5.1.3        Communicating Vision and Foster Communities

The BIM Innovation Capability Programme (BICP) Global BIM Study was discussed in the Roadmap. It is a separate publication which may have influenced the Roadmap. The BCIP study will have enabled Ireland to gain contacts and transfer of knowledge with other countries when undertaking the study.

Construction IT Alliance (CitA) are undertaking the recommendation noted in the Roadmap via communicating to the masses. When the roadmap was being released I did note it on social media.

5.1.4        Growing Client and Industry Capability and Capacity

Working on public sector projects is encouraging SME’s to promote BIM and to provide plans for required training. This is also helped by the Roadmap identifying the development of an online BIM assessment tool for companies as a recommendation,

5.2      Differences

While the NBC Roadmap does build on the EU BIM Handbook, there are also key differences and potential improvements.

5.2.1        Leadership

In the author’s experience, public sector procurement is not being utilized as a lever for the introduction of BIM. It is a required ask for the contractor undertaking design and build projects, but it is not required of the pre-tender design team. The author notes that this may have changed in the last year.

5.2.2        Developing Collaborative Framework

The roadmap does not adequately assess the legal and regulatory framework support required. The roadmap states that there is a need for public sector asset information, planning and building control to align with standards. It does not state how we intend to assess the support mechanisms or potential difficulties to overcome.

Discussing a move from paper to digital is not enough when the key requirement of the EU Handbook is to introduce BIM and set a standard from the top-down.

A technical framework for the introduction of standards is also not discussed.

5.2.3        Communicating Vision and Foster Communities

The EU handbook calls for early engagement with industry. The word ‘early’ is subjective and in the authors opinion we are not early adopters consider other countries progress. For example the UK has made BIM a requirement for all public projects since 2016.

The Roadmap discusses the introduction of BIM and key drivers, however it does not deal with the implementation of BIM which is stated as a necessity in the EU BIM Handbook.

The roadmap dies not define, recognize and encourage best practice of BIM implementation.

5.2.4        Growing Client and Industry Capability and Capacity

The Roadmap does not recommend that public procurement is used progressively to introduce BIM to public tenders and contracts. The roadmap states that a procurement framework for BIM should be introduced, however this is a very high level statement with no short term or intermediate goals stated.

5.3 Implementation Recommendations

The Roadmap does not build on a common performance definition of BIM, which has well defined implementation recommendations for policy, technical, process, and people.

Section 5.1 and 5.2 essentially discuss the commonalities and differences between Figure 3 and Figure 6. It does not discuss the commonality between the implementation level recommendations stated in the EU BIM Handbook as the author believes that the Roadmap has not progressed this item.


6.    Conclusion

It is unclear what the next steps of the NBC are. The Roadmap is a good introduction and identifier of key drivers of BIM and what is required of leadership, standards, and education. However the roadmap falls short in implementation strategies and frameworks for procurement. In these areas it is very high level suggestions and the recommendation section (of the Roadmap) relating to procurement states that the EU BIM Task Group adoption of BIM will begin to establish the framework for procurement that we anticipate will ‘conduct’ across to the private sector[3]. This indicates that we are relying on Europe to develop procurement requirements which we will follow and tweak to suit our national industry.


The Roadmap also suggests an implementation plan will be arrived at. It does not delve into the ‘how or who’ is taking responsibility for such a plan. Looking at the NBC website it is unclear what progress has been made since the roadmap was published almost 2 years ago. Measurable key performance indicators are not discussed. It may have been beneficial to release an interim report for progress made with key measureable items quantified and compared to the recommendations within the roadmap and the EU Handbook.

7.    References

  1. Construction Industry Federation. (2018) CIF BIM Starter Pack. Ireland: Construction Industry Federation.
  2. EU BIM Task Group. (2018) Handbok for the Introduction of Building Information Modelling by the European Sector. Europe: EU BIM Task Group.
  3. National BIM Council (2018) NBC Roadmap 2018-2021. Ireland: National BIM Council.


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