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Is a BIM Mandate Coming to the US?


As we discussed in a recent blog post, the JBKnowledge 2017 Construction Technology report found that building information modeling (BIM) adoption in the United States has been fairly slow, with only 27 percent of construction companies having a BIM department. BIM is a 3D modeling method used to improve collaboration and streamline construction processes, and it’s yielded some pretty impressive results worldwide.

So will the United States ever have a BIM mandate? It’s a question many contractors wonder about because if BIM were to be mandated, contractors would quickly have to adapt.

BIM Adoption Abroad

The United Kingdom is the gold standard for BIM. The country implemented the Level 2 mandate in 2016, which requires BIM be used on taxpayer-funded construction projects. The U.K. did so because thanks to BIM, the country saved 15 to 20 percent on construction costs from 2009 to 2015.

Other countries have turned to BIM, too, including Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Singapore, and others—including Australia and Russia—have announced plans to do so. While many countries don’t have mandates or standards in place, many governments are working to increase BIM adoption.

Local BIM in the US

Currently, the United States doesn’t have requirements for BIM on a national level. We have seen steps at the local level to increase BIM use, though. In 2010, for example, Wisconsin became the first state to require BIM on publicly-funded projects with a budget over $5 million.

Even more locally, the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) has required BIM be used on a sustainable building project that’s funded through a taxpayer-approved bond. The project includes $6 billion worth of construction on nine of the district’s campuses, and thus far, BIM has saved LACCD $12 million in construction costs.

Success stories like the LACCD indicate the potential of BIM adoption. Having architects, engineers, project managers, suppliers and everyone else involved in a construction project work from the same model can result in significant cost savings. Doing so helps validate designs early on, prevent rework and streamline processes.

Benefits of BIM for Builders and Taxpayers

The U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences has developed a consensus standard for BIM to facilitate adoption, but will a BIM mandate come to fruition anytime soon?

Some experts say it’s not likely, since unlike in the U.K., public construction projects in the United States aren’t handled by one agency. That makes implementing a mandate much more challenging.

As we’ve seen in the local examples of BIM use above, though, this doesn’t mean BIM doesn’t have a future in the United States. The exact opposite is true. BIM provides many benefits to contractors, including reduced errors and rework, better logistics, more easily accessible documents, increased bid accuracy and more efficient change order management, all of which mean contractors may choose to adopt BIM in the future.

In addition to benefiting contractors, BIM also benefits the end users of construction projects. In the case of LACCD, BIM construction was partially implemented to enable future cost savings for maintenance and operations. BIM documents all necessary information about a project in one place, and owners can access that information down the line.

Recent public construction projects using BIM have demonstrated that it can help keep projects on track and reduce construction costs. At the end of the day, that saves taxpayer dollars. So while we may not see a BIM mandate in the United States anytime soon, we’re likely to see continued BIM growth as local governments look to BIM and contractors continue to see the benefits.

To learn more about how BIM can improve collaboration and the bottom line at your construction business, download our BIM white paper.

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