BIM Task Group
1. What is Building Information Modelling (BIM)?

There are many definitions of what BIM is and in many ways it depends on your point of view or what you seek to gain from the approach.  Sometimes it’s easier to say what BIM isn’t!

  • It’s not just 3D CAD
  • It’s not just a new technology application
  • It’s not next generation, it here and now!

BIM is essentially value creating collaboration through the entire life-cycle of an asset, underpinned by the creation, collation and exchange of shared 3D models and intelligent, structured data attached to them.

We have been explicit in asking for Level 2 BIM in the maturity ramp (as illustrated below); this is defined as “file based collaboration and library management.”    Level 2 BIM maturity can be achieved through a series of different process and tools.  Crudely defined, Level 2 BIM is a series of domain specific models (e.g. architectural, structural, services etc) with the provision of a single environment to store shared data and information in our case COBie UK 2012.

2. How do you use it?

Other than a digital-tool set you don’t actually use BIM, it is way of working, it’s what you do: information modelling and information management in a team environment.

The rich 3D experience; digital simulations; rehearsals of all stages of the design, build and operate process; and the information within the models facilitate well informed decision making resulting in better business outcomes, clarity, improved communication, de-risking and ultimately better efficiency.

3. What is the HMG BIM hypothesis and why is it important?

From the comments in number one “what is BIM?” it is clear that this is such a wide open subject with interpretations differing throughout the supply chain that we could have spent a year just trying to define BIM.  Many people have tried and in reality not moved forward our understanding in any significant way.  This is why we decided to approach the task from the opposite end…..”What does the Government as a public sector client want from BIM?”  This formed the basis of our Hypothesis and became the definition by which we tested our strategy.  We understand that there is much more that can be done by BIM but at the moment we saw these functions as either to complex for widespread adoption at this stage or not in direct support of the Governments commercial or environmental agenda. However we are in no way advocating that the supply chain does not review the benefits of the BIM process and the continually emerging technologies if they think they can add value to their business.  (Indeed this innovation will inform the next stages of the strategy).

The hypothesis is:

Government as a client can derive significant improvements in cost, value and carbon performance through the use of open sharable asset information.

The hypothesis is important as it enables the team to demonstrate across a range of performance dimensions that useable benefits will be secured.  The tests that we used to confirm benefits cover the following criteria.

Hypothesis Criteria Description
Valuable  The overall   aim is to maximise client value by increasing benefits at little or no extra   cost.
Understandable  The approach   is to be presented in an understandable learning package suitable for   different types of government asset procurers.
Generally Applicable  The approach   is equally applicable to buildings and infrastructure, whether large and   small new build and where possible existing structures.
Non-proprietary  All   requirements are non-proprietary as to applications and as to the required   formats of the deliverables.
Competitive Wherever   possible there are at least two solutions or methods available so as to   minimise market influence in terms of anti competitive clauses.
Open Wherever   possible, low-cost methods are to be made available to allow all stakeholders   to participate, irrespective of size and experience, so as to minimise   barriers to involvement.
Verifiable All   contractual expectations are documented with transparent and testable   measurement of pass / fail.
Compliant Measurement   of LC/Carbon/Sustainability/etc is published to GB, EU and ISO standards.
Implementable  The approach   is self funding by the client and the industry
Timescale  The approach   is phased in over 5 years.
4. The Government Construction strategy refers to an efficient stretch of 20%, is this all from BIM? And is this during the OpEx, CapEx or both?

The 20% efficiency stretch referred to in the Government Construction Strategy will be achieved through the successful applications of a mixture of all initiatives set out within the strategy (not just BIM) each one contributing towards the target saving.  The 20% saving refers to CapEx cost savings however we know that the largest prize for BIM lies in the Operational stages of the project life-cycle.  The Government Construction Strategy seeks to unlock both of these benefits.

5. What can BIM working do that conventional working can’t?

BIM models associate additional information about asset components with geometry in a structured way.  This lets us build project documentation in a much more structured and on line way.

BIM-enabled working allows this information to be shared by different project participants and also between different stages of design, construction and operation.  For example, an engineer is able to use information sourced from the architect to prepare energy calculations or a contractor can check the coordination of contributions from different members of the project team.  Programme and cost information can also be captured using BIM.  Most importantly, BIM has the potential to allow information about the use of the building to be collated and held in formats useable by the operators of facilities – enabling buildings and other assets to be used and maintained efficiently.

6. What is the benefits case for BIM?

There has been much written about benefits and most parties now agree that there are benefits to gained by everyone in the supply chain if they use BIM tools and methodology  in a collaborative and inclusive manner.  The problem with all of these claims is

  • How do I measure benefit and costs consistently
  • Who gets the benefit and why?

The most complete set of benefits analysis is documented in the BSi “Investors Report” published last year, but even this paper struggled to get accurate feedback for the FM and Operations stages to allow representative comparisons.  The HMG BIM strategy will be publishing measurement methods so we can gather improvement metrics on all public sector projects going forward.

7. What are the wider benefits of the Government’s Strategy?

The objectives of the strategy accelerate the adoption of BIM throughout the UK construction supply chain.  By creating critical mass and certainty of demand, we will provide the confidence that will enable businesses, training organisations and professional bodies to invest more rapidly in the development of their own capability.  Through selective investment in standards and protocols we will reduce adoption costs for the industry.  In addition to the direct benefits which the Government Client will secure through BIM adoption, we expect that project teams will make wider use of enhanced BIM capabilities on behalf of all construction clients.

Build off site and lean techniques are all key to the delivery of low cost, best value low carbon assets.  BIM is a key enabler and integrating technology in these processes.

Our whole sector approach to BIM will bring additional opportunities in the form of exploiting existing and new export markets for UK construction “know how” and BIM ready products.  The international consultancy market is highly competitive and it is important that UK companies remain ahead of the “game” in terms of new technology to approaches and the way we work.  The overarching strategy is to use consolidation of BIM exploitation in the domestic market as a spring board to exploit our expertise and to maintain our leadership in the global markets.

The additional collateral effect of widespread adoption of BIM in the UK construction sector is that it presents a big opportunity for domestic niche software developers and off-site manufacturers that will translate into jobs.  BIM is an innovative technique and one that has potential for true global exploitation.   Our four year strategy for BIM implementation puts the UK in vanguard of that exploitation.

8. Okay but realistically how much more money could businesses make from implementing it?

BIM, if successfully implemented, will help organisation strip the waste from their processes which in many cases could be in the bandwidth of 20-30%.  This can be achieved by designing and building the asset virtually, once, twice….until it can be built once flawlessly on site.

Additionally this whole sector approach to BIM will bring additional opportunities  in the form of exploiting existing and new export markets for UK construction “know how” and BIM ready products.  The international consultancy market is highly competitive and it is important that UK companies remain ahead of the “game” in terms of new technology to approaches and the way we work.

9. So what is really all about?

It’s all about the data!  There are three key deliverables:

  • The individual domain 3D models in their native file formats
  • The 2D reviewable design deliverables cut from the models
  • COBie UK 2012 data

Government’s view is that BIM is an important enabling element of the wider Construction Strategy.  BIM will provide the information foundation for the work of integrated teams – the Government’s preferred strategy for project delivery – driving value in, and cost out of the design and construction process.  The information provided by the BIM model will be valuable in enabling the Government Client to confirm that facilities meet performance expectations and also in providing a readily accessible source of information for the teams involved in operating, maintaining and adapting completed facilities.

10. What is the extent of the Government Construction Strategy and it’s BIM requirements?

The Government Construction Strategy (GCS) requires that: Government will require fully collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) as a minimum by 2016.  This refers to all centrally procured Government projects as outlined in the GCS including new build and retained estate, vertical and linear.

11. 2016 is still a few years off so do I have plenty of time to get ready?

Start now! Mark Twain offers some great advice “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.  The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

This is particularly true in terms of BIM implementation – it’s not a fad, it’s real and it’s now. You cannot afford to wait until 2016 – the early adopter Departments have already started their BIM embarkation, can you really afford to miss out?  2016 is 100% adoption!

12. But BIM is only required on projects over £50M?

The Government Construction Strategy and it’s BIM intervention is far reaching (there is no minimum value (£) on a BIM enabled project), you may be involved either directly through engaging with a Government Department or indirectly with a supply chain partner who is and needs data  as part of their contractural requirements.  So no matter what your role in the built environment it is highly likely that your business will be involved the BIM process either supplying or managing data.

13. This is going to cost us a fortune to adopt BIM isn’t it?

Avoid the ambulance chasers and the BIM wash. The reality is BIM has the potential for your company to unlock more efficient ways of collaborative working and will offer better value to your customers (both public and private).

You cannot buy BIM out a box, and the truth is you may require to make a technology investment (Note: Government is not mandating any specific software platforms) but BIM is very much more than technology it is a new way of working, you will need to invest more in doing than buying.

Concentrate on your people (raising BIM awareness / training) and process (managing and using asset information).

Understand your role in the process – irrespective of what your business does you will be supplying and managing information so get to know the key reference points: COBie UK 2012, PAS1192-2:2012

14. Where can I find more about the Government BIM requirements without it costing me a fortune?

A great place to get started is our web-site where you will find lots to content that is contextualised to our Level 2 programme.

Additionally, BIM Regions are also being created by the Construction Industry Council (CIC) which will be launched in Autumn 2012 these groups will offer (without cost) impartial advice on the Government BIM requirements.  More information can be found here.

15. Okay so how much is BIM going to cost my business to implement?

We are asked this question a lot, however we think that this should be reframed as either: what’s the cost to my business if we don’t do it? Or what is the typical return on investment (ROI) if you implement BIM?

The cost of BIM implementation is proportional to what outcomes you want to achieve from BIM.  If treated as a business change programme the principal cost will be in staff time, BIM awareness and training etc.  The inconvenient truth is that you are likely to need some new digital tools, however again the cost of this will depend on what you need to do with model; data creation or management.  Most BIM design review tools are free!  BIM authoring tools?  Typically, depending upon complexity, will be around the same as (depending where you live in the UK) a pint and half of beer a day!

16. What is the BIM maturity model?

This model describes levels of maturity with regards to the ability of the construction supply chain to operate and exchange information.  The model is applied to an entire project scenario so while an organisation may claim to be operating at Level 2, it may have a number of projects that are only able to operate at Level 1.  This is perfectly normal and expected as different organisations will mature on different timescales depending on a number of factors.

The maturity model is also used to define the supporting infrastructure required at each level of capability and will be used by the BIM strategy team to prioritise development of the BIM infrastructure.  The maturity model does not explicitly define the range of deliverables supported by BIM, such as FM via the COBie standard.

Source:  Richards and Bew

Government has committed itself to requiring a minimum of a level 2 BIM operation on all projects by the end of the current Parliament.  This means that project participants will provide defined outputs via a BIM and that the BIM itself will be managed as a series of self-contained models using proprietary information exchanges between systems.  Level 2 is the target that has been set for adoption by the ‘trailing edge’ of the industry. Organisations that wish to push forward will be encouraged to do so, but the minimum data standards (COBie) will be maintained for the first phase of the strategy.

The maturity model also recognises that some supply chains will want to achieve greater levels of integration in line with the wider Gov’t Construction Strategy.  The progression to level 3 and beyond recognises this ambition – and also sets out the Government’s long term ambition to achieve deeper integration within the construction industry.  There is more detail regarding this in the Infrastructure UK report and a number of working parties are already in place to progress this.

17. What is COBie?

COBie is a data standard that was developed by the US Corps of Engineering to manage the data coming from BIM models into the client organisation, particularly for the handover of O&M information.  We have extended this process (COBie UK 2012) to four data drops during the delivery stage of the project to manage cost and carbon.  The data is exchanged using spreadsheets to keep the complexity of systems and training to a minimum.

Cobie flow diagram

You call find additional detail about COBie on our Task Group website –

18. Is COBie a building model?

No, COBie is format for the publication of a subset of a building model. COBie’s focus is on delivering building information not geometric modelling. COBie formatted building information is not an entire building model. COBie is a subset of a building model referred to as a “model view” or “Data View”

19. Do I have to fill out the whole COBie UK 2012 Spreadsheet?

The amount of the COBie UK 2012 worksheets to fill in depends on the project stage. Project team members only enter the data for which they are responsible. Designers provide spaces and equipment locations. Contractors provide manufacturer information and installed product data. Commissioning agents provide warranties, parts, maintenance information.

20. When do I deliver COBie data?

COBie data is delivered along with existing contract deliverables depending on your specific contract. COBie does not change the content of existing contract deliverables. COBie does, however, change the format of the information that is delivered.

An example specification for the delivery of COBie files may be found on the BIM Task Group Website.

21. When do these data drops occur in the process and what do they answer?

The timing of the data drops will vary depending upon the requirements of individual clients to suit their internal processes and approvals. However, the following is typical of both public and private sector clients based on the available evidence.

The first data drop represents the requirements and constraints. The data available at drop 1 is broadly consistent with that expected at RIBA Stage B – Feasibility (i.e. the brief). The rationale for the data drop is to approve the ‘Outline Business Case’ – checks will be made to ensure the emergent design and specifications are consistent with the client brief in terms of function, cost and carbon. The data contains all client requirements and constraints information.

The data available at the second data drop is broadly consistent with that expected at RIBA Stage D. The rationale for data drop 2 is to select the Main Contractor. Checks are made to ensure the interpreted design and specifications are consistent with the client brief in terms of function, cost and carbon and that the potential suppliers and supply chain can demonstrate capability and integrity through the competitive process and be selected to deliver the asset. The process (assuming a quantitative process) will include costs and carbon at a level to be agreed in the Employers Information Requirements (EIR). The data drop is indicated as a 2a and 2b in the documentation to indicate the model delivered by the client side technical team (2a) and the model returned by the contracting supply chain which is identified as 2b. The tender comparison data will be in 2b. The delta between 2a and 2b will identify areas of either non-compliance or alternative solutions.

The CIC Working Group indicates that the likely accuracy for information gathered at the second drop is likely to be 75 – 80% with a tolerance of ±20 – 25%.

The data available at drop 3 is broadly consistent with that expected at RIBA Stage F. The rationale for the data drop is to approve the ‘Agreed Maximum Price’ or ‘Works Order’. Checks are to ensure the developed design and specifications are consistent with the client brief in terms of function, cost and carbon performance.

The CIC Working Group indicates that the likely accuracy for information gathered at this stage is likely to be 85 – 90%.
The data available at drop 4 is broadly consistent with that expected at RIBA Stage K. The rationale for the data drop is to take position of the ‘Operations and Management’ Information. The data being collected is the operational and detailed functional information supplied by the product manufacturers.

The likely accuracy for information gathered at this stage is to be 100%.

22. Why is COBie a spreadsheet?

COBie is an interim step to a technology which allows open exchange of all project data.  Such standards have been in development for some time and are starting to emerge but need a little more time to mature to a stage for widespread end to end adoption.  COBie was selected as it offered us a future proof (COBie and the emerging standards are compatible) option so we could ensure that we didn’t put ourselves in a position of having masses of redundant data that could not be migrated to new future systems and standards.

The use of a spread sheet is only coincidental as the information will be mostly used either in a BIM or FM tool, using spreadsheets does mean however that anyone will be able to make use of the information with minimal cost.

23. How is COBie UK 2012 updated for specific client departments?

COBIE UK 2012 is a standardised format but its contents are configurable for regional and project practice. This work will be done by the BIM task group during mobilisation.

24. What products and equipment do I include in COBie UK 2012?

All products and equipment listed in design schedules should be found in the COBie UK 2012 file under the Type and Component Worksheets. Type worksheets identify the category of product. Components are specific instances of each of the Types, typically found in one room or area.  Components must be listed by room or area. Components that link or span rooms must be listed in each applicable room. Interior doors, for example, should be listed in both spaces that the doors connect.

25. What software is required to create COBie UK 2012?

The COBie UK 2012 Specification is a performance specification. This means that it doesn’t matter what software is used to create COBie UK 2012 information, as long as the format of the information meets the COBie UK 2012 specification and the content of the COBie UK 2012 file reflects your specific project. Software vendors have begun to directly export to COBie UK 2012, however, on small projects COBie UK 2012 may also be created or updated by hand directly in the spreadsheet version of the COBie UK 2012 data.

26. What if my software doesn’t support COBie 2012 today?

Often software that doesn’t directly export COBie UK 2012 today will export spreadsheet formatted information in a different order than that provided by COBie Uk 2012. Such information may cut and paste into COBie Uk 2012 creating the start of the COBie UK 2012 file without rekeying room and equipment schedules.

27. Where is the COBie UK 2012 submittal register?

The submittal register is held within the Document Worksheet. The set of all documents identified in the designer COBie UK 2012 file as ‘Required’ can be used to create a submittal register. Use of a web-based submittal register to automatically linked manufacturer documents to building information (models) is essential to the cost-effective implementation of COBie Uk 2012. More information regarding these processes is in the BIM strategy document.

28. How to I check a COBie Uk 2012 file?

A free program has been created to allow you to directly check a COBie UK 2012 file.

29. How many buildings/assets can be exchanged using COBie UK 2012?

Each COBie UK 2012 file should contain a single building/asset. If there are multiple buildings/assets in a given project, each of these buildings should be held it their own COBie UK 2012 worksheet.

30. How does the push and pull strategy work?

The key element of the pull-push strategy is that Government defines a requirement in broadest terms but leaves the supply chain to develop the solution.  Government will provide the pull for increased BIM adoption by mandating the use of BIM derived data on all projects and by defining what outputs are required from the BIM model.  The’pull’elements cover volume and the use of the model.  The phased introduction of this mandate will allow the construction supply chain to develop skills, standards and protocols to meet demand.  The ‘push’element is the infrastructure of tools, processes, standards and training necessary to deliver top class BIM.  Whilst the development of this infrastructure should necessarily be driven bottom-up, willingness to invest relies on predictable demand driven by the government’s commitment

31. How will Government Clients know that projects are based on good quality BIM information?

The BIM implementation team/task group will be developing definitions of the information which needs to be delivered as part of the project information set.  Combined with open tests for coordination and the adoption of existing information exchange standards, these definitions will provide a clear indication of the completeness of the model at each stage.  Performance measures based on inputs derived from the BIM will also demonstrate that requirements in the brief will be met.  The BIM is a tool for the communication and use of information and its use will not guarantee a quality outcome on a project.  Long-standing standards with regards to skill and care and workmanship will remain in force to protect the clients’interests.

32. Who is going to do the development work?

A programme of development work has been established by the core BIM group with each element overseen by a core group member.  All work will be competitively procured to demonstrate value for money.

Proposals will be welcomed from across the construction industry.

33. How will stakeholders be represented?

The BIM steering and core group has encouraged the establishment of a number of stakeholder groups representing the government construction client, professional institutions, contractors and system vendors.  These groups provide routes to consultation for interested parties.

An example of this is the creation of the following groups with more to follow.

  • CIC – will represent the professional      institutions and organisations
  • HMG Departments – An oversight group with a      single representative of each government department
  • UKCG – Supply side including main      contractors, SMEs and construction product manufacturers
  • GPU – will represent the operational side,      facilities management etc

We are also working with partners in the private sector including:

  • BIM for Retail
  • BIM4Rail UK
  • BIM for Private Sector Developers

Further details about our stakeholder engagement can be found on the BIM task Group Website

34. How will the adoption of BIM by Government affect SMEs?

BIM systems are already commonly used by many consultant SMEs.  The acceleration of the development of information exchange standards and protocols will assist the adoption of effective ways of BIM working.

The strategy group recognise that the adoption of BIM by the contracting supply chain will require more development of capability, particularly around the adoption of the COBie standard, and the roll-out of BIM requirements will be staged so that necessary competences and capabilities can be built within the supply chain.

35. Are there any minimum Education and Training standards or accreditation that we need to be aligned with?

The BIM Task Group is not recommending the introduction of a standard or accreditation system for BIM training and education. It is however, producing a description of the learning outcomes that BIM training and education courses should consider. This ‘learning outcomes framework’ is now being tested with the commercial training providers, professional institutions and academia. It will be published shortly on the website for the industry to use to inform clients and supply chain in their analysis and selection of its staff training programmes; and by training providers to introduce a broad coverage of BIM related courses across strategic, management and technical roles required to up-skill the industry in order to support the Level 2 BIM ambition for 2016.

35. When I export COBie data from my software does this need to be undertaken for each domain model and mapped into one or is there a workflow that the Task Group have developed?

COBie data should be extracted from each model separately and mapped into a single file. A number of tools and workflows for COBie extraction are already available, and more will soon be forthcoming as the individual software vendors develop their workflows and toolsets for aggregating COBie data.

36. How do I contact the BIM task Group Team?

You can contact us via the website  or drop us a direct message via Twitter @BIMgcs



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