BRE recently hosted a European Network of Building Research Institutes (ENBRI) workshop on BIM, with representation from* Ireland, Poland, France, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Slovenia and Hungary. 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 efficiency targets. The implementation of BIM is now considered to be one of the key ways industry can create these sort of efficiencies but a number of common barriers are hampering progress.
- A skills gap –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 software files;
- A fear that smaller organisations may struggle to find the resources required to develop expertise and purchase software packages.
Along with the barriers there is 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 BIM level 2 to be applied on all centrally procured public sector projects has created a need for training in the UK. Director of BIM at BRE, Guy Hammersley spoke about BRE’s training and certification packages for organisations, as well as individuals, which provide them with a means of demonstrating their ability to work to the appropriate standards.
The UK mandate has also put BIM high up the agenda in Ireland because the UK is a primary market for its construction supply chain services. Enterprise Ireland spoke about providing funding support for organisations looking to develop their capability with BIM.
The Belgian Building Research Institute (BBRI) illustrated the lack of national standards related to BIM, with the industry currently failing to utilise BIM to its full potential. BBRI are looking to undertake extensive research on, BIM Protocol & Classification; the interoperability of files, as well as the potential for BIM to impact the facilities management (FM) sector. BBRI also discussed 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 demonstrated some of the further advantages which BIM data could offer:
- Swedish based 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.
- SBi / Aalborg University are in the process of developing software which uses data within a model to estimate the associated cost for maintaining various building components, as well as their replacement at end of life.
Overall the workshop demonstrated that there are many projects across Europe looking to tackle the barriers currently hampering the implementation of BIM. Attendees agreed that currently the UK is leading the field because the government mandate has driven the agenda. However, at this point it is hugely important to share the knowledge all countries are gathering 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 drive the digital construction agenda across Europe.
ENBRI was founded in 1988 in an attempt to bring together principal building and construction research institutes in Europe. ENBRI have been undertaking workshops in various areas in order to foster collaboration between its members, and March 2016 provided the first opportunity to discuss the topic of BIM. One thing that became apparent as the attendees started to arrive at the event was that very few actually recognised one another. This meant that the event was a great opportunity to make new links, and understand how other organisations were currently tackling this subject area.
*ENBRI organisations in attendance:
BRE (UK); Enterprise Ireland (Ireland); CSTB (France); BBRI (Belgium); ITB (Poland); SP (Sweden); SINTEF (Norway); SBi/Aalborg (Denmark); ITB (Poland); ZAG (Slovenia), and EMI (Hungary).