Getting the basics right for BIM Level 2. By David Light

With the introduction of the government’s BIM mandate in 2016, all contractors of public sector buildings will be required to be BIM level 2 compliant. One of the original drivers for the mandate was around reducing the carbon emissions during a build by using efficient and sustainable construction practices, such as 3D simulation and analysis. BIM level 2 provides a consistent framework for managing construction projects to continue such sustainable practices during the build and throughout the entire structure lifecycle.

It’s important to realise that these public sector requirements are not simple undertakings that can be addressed ‘last minute’. They will require planning, investment and patience. Organisations such as BDP and BAM have already begun preparing for mandate, which should act as a marker for all firms in the industry. The BIM Level 2 requirement is supported by a whole host of standards including operational data management, stakeholder readiness and security – none of which can be addressed overnight.

The BIM Level 2 basics
1. Standards across the supply chain
Broadly speaking, the focus of the mandate isn’t simply pushing firms to invest in the latest technology. Instead, the focus should be around collaboration.

For example, one of the basic standards of BIM Level 2 is having a central source of truth for all stakeholders to share documents, data and models, referred to as CDE or Common Data Environment. The most common framework deliverable required by Level 2 is COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) – a data format for the publication of a subset of building model information focused on delivering building information.

BIM 2Different stakeholders are required to associate various data sets such as area specifications, costs and suppliers that are then extracted into an Excel spreadsheet to make it easier to maintain a building throughout its lifecycle. COBie helps capture and record important project data at the point of origin, including equipment lists, product data sheets, warranties, spare parts lists, and preventive maintenance schedules. While this doesn’t require the 3D modelling we associate with BIM, it is an essential deliverable to be Level 2 compliant.

2. Invest in the right technology
Even if your company has invested in a BIM platform it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be able to reap the rewards of the BIM process. When choosing BIM software, companies need to almost work backwards and consider what deliverables they have to provide to their clients and then form an action plan for deployment. This includes getting staff up-to-speed on how to use the tools efficiently.

3. Education is the foundation
Contractors and architects need to educate their employees on firstly the BIM mandate standards and also how to use the tools. Each stakeholder in the construction project must be able to digest the jargon within the mandate, make it relevant for them and know what data they need to deliver in projects in order to be compliant for Level 2. They also need to keep up with changing legislation.

The good thing is that there are various sources that can help make the legislation palatable, including industry groups, BIM hub user groups, training courses and online resources.

Demand for BIM is growing – don’t miss the boat
One of the key objectives behind the government mandate is to act as a catalyst for the industry as a whole to modernise and improve its processes, quality, efficiency and sustainability. For those who innovate now and ensure that they are at least BIM level 2 compliant, they’ll be able to bid for and win projects wherever and whenever public or private clients demand it.

Moreover, the number of project owners around the world requiring the use of BIM is also rising. The UK is leading the world in this respect and this offers a huge opportunity for British businesses BIM 3to export skills and win more international projects, positioning UK organisations as best in class, both at home and abroad.

The future of BIM and connected Britain
It’s important to remember that 2016 will be a milestone but it won’t be the end of the journey for BIM. As an industry we need to continue working towards a future where we are able to build even more sustainable, attractive and better uses of space. Within the industry there’s already talk about BIM Level 3 and the rise of smart cities as the future of construction.

To survive, firms must strategically position their use of technology, and educate and work collaboratively between their supply chain vendors and industry bodies to share concepts and recommendations. If we continue building on our BIM success in the UK, construction projects will be more sustainable and we will also have more innovative design and engineering strategies, providing firms with a significant competitive advantage. It’s a really exciting time to be a British business in this space.

David Light is a BIM Consultant at Autodesk. Autodesk helps people imagine, design and create a better world. Everyone – from design professionals, engineers and architects to digital artists, students and hobbyists – uses Autodesk software to unlock their creativity and solve important challenges.

For more information, please see www.autodesk.com