Report of BRE/ENBRI Workshop “BIM” – 30-31 March 2016.

The Digital Construction Agenda: Building Information Modelling & Management

ENBRI have been undertaking workshops in various areas in an attempt to foster collaboration between its members. March 2016 provided the first opportunity for its members to discuss the topic of BIM, which was hosted at the BRE Innovation Park. One thing that became apparent as the attendees started to arrive at the event was that very few actually knew one another. This meant that the event was a great opportunity to make new links, and understand how each nation was currently tackling this subject area.

It is no surprise that throughout Europe there is a desire to improve the productivity of the construction industry, with many nations putting in place challenging targets in regards to efficiency within their respective construction sectors. The implementation of BIM is now considered to be one of the ways industry can create these sort of efficiencies.

Although the organisations being represented within the workshop understood that each of their respective nations were at different stages in relation to the implementation of BIM, it was clear that each party felt that further work was needed to help drive the agenda. The event also displayed a strong desire from attendees for collaboration between the different research institutes, in order to improve the current situation.

It became apparent that many of the barriers currently slowing the implementation of BIM, were consistent throughout Europe. The most prominent issues were:

  • A skills gap – including a lack of BIM trained professionals;
  • A lack of consistency in the way that data should be collected throughout Europe;
  • Problems surrounding the interoperability of files;
  • A fear that smaller organisations may struggle to find the resources required to develop expertise and purchase the necessary software packages.

However, although the workshop identified that there are several barriers currently preventing some organisations fully embracing BIM, there was also evidence of numerous initiatives and research projects around Europe that are looking to overcome these barriers.

Closing the skills gap was a prominent point of discussion. The UK Government mandate which requires all centrally procured public sector projects to require the implementation of BIM Level 2 has created a need for training in the UK. This is an issue which BRE has looked to overcome. BRE is now offering training packages for organisations, as well as individuals, providing them with certification which demonstrates their ability to work to appropriate standards. The UK mandate has also led to BIM rising up on the agenda within Ireland. Enterprise Ireland have been looking to help with this by providing funding support for organisations looking to develop their capability with BIM.

The Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI) illustrated that there is a lack of national standards in Belgium related to BIM, while industry is currently failing to utilise BIM to its full potential. BBRI are looking to undertake extensive research looking at several areas including, BIM Protocol & Classification; the interoperability of files, as well as the potential for BIM to impact the FM sector. Furthermore, BBRI discussed the work which is being undertaken at a European level, and their involvement within CEN/TC 442 which is looking at standardisation in the field of structured semantic life-cycle information for the built environment.

Other members of ENBRI demonstrated some of the capabilities which software can offer in relation to BIM. SP are looking into the potential for software to use the data stored within a BIM model to assess whether a building is compliant with fire related regulations. Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment (CSTB) have developed a range of software which uses the data within a BIM model to simulate the expected performance of a building, including indoor air temperatures. Finally, Aalborg University are in the process of developing software which uses data within BIM to estimate the associated cost for maintaining various building components, as well as their replacement at end of life.

Overall the workshop has demonstrated that there are many projects all over Europe looking to tackle the barriers currently preventing BIM from being implemented. The event demonstrated that currently the UK are starting to lead in this area due to the subject being driven by the recent government mandate. However, at this point it is hugely important to ensure that people learn from these studies, and the knowledge is successfully passed between organisations in order to avoid any duplication. This can only be achieved by improving communication between contributors.

With many new links being made through this workshop the future is looking bright. It is hoped that this will be the basis of further collaboration which can look to tackle some of the issues discussed during the event.