“In our experience, there are very few options available for enhancing productivity that can be achieved on such favourable terms and without difficulty to achieve structural reform”
Using BIM has the fortunate ability to reduce time, cost, material consumption and carbon emissions while improving quality. BIM is a highly effective way of capturing and sharing accurate, digital, three dimensional information regarding the design, construction and operation of a building.
The Australian survey has found that using BIM is estimated to improve the productivity of the Buildings Network by a very significant 6-9% with an extremely high benefit cost ratio (BCR) of ten.
Concerted government support for the use of BIM by the notoriously fragmented Buildings Network could increase usage in 2025 by 6-16% according to conservative estimates from industry representatives. This accelerated rate of BIM adoption would produce an economic benefit equivalent to $5 billion added to Australia’s GDP.
Widespread use of BIM will also increase the performance of new and renovated buildings – improving: material consumption; energy efficiency; carbon emissions; and the productivity of the occupants. These gains have not been fully quantified by the BEIIC study and are in addition to the GDP increase noted above.
BIM is just the beginning of a broad digital transformation
According to engineers Arup, “increasing use of Information Technology, facilitated by the National Broadband Network, will have a profound effect on the way the Built Environment is planned, designed, procured, constructed and operated:
- Plans and designs can be conceived, tested and optimised in a virtual world before committing to construction. Such plans and design will benefit from access to data about usage, consumption and performance of the existing built environment.
- Construction will tend towards a manufacturing process using ³just in time² procurement allied to ³mass customisation² and on-site assembly with all information flowing directly from digital databases and/or information rich models (Built Environment Models – BEM).
- Assets can be managed and efficiently operated directly from BEM, reducing energy consumption, optimising operating costs and determining replacement plans.
- Some systems (transport, electricity grids, water supply for example) can be optimised in real time using sensors, networks and computers.
- People will improve their usage of systems if provided with real time, pertinent information via communications networks (urban informatics, smart meters).
- All usage, consumption and performance of systems and assets, including relevant human behaviour, can be recorded; used for physical optimisation and reconfiguration; and fed back into the planning and design of the future built environment”.
The BEIIC study confined itself to the use of BIM in the design, construction and operation of buildings a small subset of the bigger picture set out above.
What are the Next Steps?
If digital technology is so good as predicted how are we as the Construction Sector going to make sure we ensure a national benefit?
buildingSMART recommends the industry and government should develop a national program to accelerate the benefits of BIM for the whole of industry.
The following actions would accelerate the uptake of BIM by the Buildings Network:
- Developing a national strategy for BIM implementation including plans, targets and guidelines.
- Encouraging the creation and maintenance of intelligent object libraries that comply with national BIM standards.
- Developing and implementing new contractual frameworks that encourage efficient collaboration while addressing the issues of risk, responsibilities and liabilities when using BIM.
- Using BIM in the procurement of Commonwealth buildings. This would give the additional benefit of increasing their performance in use and the return on investment.
- Encouraging State Governments and other public bodies to follow suit.
- Encouraging the development of national standards for BIM.
- Reducing BIM related skills gaps in the current and future Buildings Network workforce.
The partners in such a program should encompass all levels of government, both as client and regulator, clients and owners, product manufacturers, the design, construction and facility management professions including suppliers and sub-contractors.
The report concludes “BIM has macroeconomic significance; its accelerated widespread adoption would make a significant difference to national economic performance; and there is a compelling economic case for encouraging greater use of BIM in Australia”
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*Source: Allen Consulting Group, 2010, Productivity in the buildings network: assessing the impacts of Building Information Models, report to the Built Environment Innovation and Industry Council, Sydney, October 2010.