The introduction of BIM is just the start of a new era for construction


This blog series will explore the emerging implications of BIM for our industry and its clients, picking up on news as well as building up awareness of the issues. First of all, however, I want to set out some of what we know about where this BIM thing is going.

Government policy is for public buildings to be designed, built and operated using level 2 BIM from 2016. Level 2 is a brilliant British compromise. It defines a half-landing on the stairway to the future which allows us all to get into the subject without moving the commercial furniture. Contracts and insurance arrangements are not changed and each player’s documents remain legally separate. Interoperability of models is helpful but not essential as comparison software is used.

We will be operating in a world where buildings provide constant streams of data on how they are working

But once level 2 is established, we will be led onwards to level 3 where design-build teams will need to be integrated from the start, interoperable models will be shared in the cloud and insurance will cover the whole project, protecting the client and team far better. I also expect the idea of Soft Landings, now part of the government BIM definition, to spread to the private sector. But even that isn’t the end.

We will also be operating in a world where buildings provide constant streams of data on how they are working, much as a jet engine or racing car does now. The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to transform building operation and (by providing full feedback) transform design to an evidence-based method. The separation of design from construction and of both from operating buildings will fall away, raising performance and making buildings more fit for purpose, but also changing business models. You can already lease light from Philips. I expect we will lease buildings and their subsystems, recycling elements as each life-cycle suggests. This could be much like the relationship between airlines, plane-makers and leasing companies.

So the design of everything in digital terms is only just the beginning of change. Keep reading as we explore it all.

Richard Saxon is the UK’s BIM ambassador for growth