REPORT FROM VICE-PRESIDENT, ANT BURD
I can’t quite believe it’s two months since my last Vice-President’s page. I truly do not know where the time has gone this year.
First stop for me since my last update was a trip to Washington DC.
Myself and a colleague were invited to present at the annual conference for the Construction Managers Association of America, attended by 1,300 members representing Construction Companies across the entire US. Surprise, surprise, our presentation was on the work we are undertaking in supporting the digital transformation of our Built Environment sector, with a look at Smart Cities, the Internet of Things and, of course, a heavy focus on all things Building Information Modelling (BIM).
An awful lot gets written about BIM, and for good reason. What’s not to like about procuring higher quality assets that have been built on time and to cost. However, we’ve read with considerable interest over the years some truly amazing claims about the benefits of using BIM. Hence, we are now rightly starting to see push back when it comes to some of these wilder claims, or as one person coined it ‘Hollywood BIM’.
The core principle of BIM is that information is created and structured so that it can be re-used by others, whether through collaborating with other disciplines to deliver a particular task or to support activities in subsequent phases of the asset’s life-cycle. The vision is that an architecture, engineering and construction industry that previously relied on CAD and marked-up physical drawings will have access to virtual 3D asset models embedded with relevant data.
Quite simply BIM is a collaborative way of working in construction. BIM makes the process of designing, building and operating buildings across their entire life-cycle much more efficient. It is the right information, at the right time, to the right person, in the right form, and the government believes that BIM dramatically reduces operating costs and can reduce construction costs by up to 20 per cent.
Recent advancements in technology have brought this vision closer to reality, and in 2011 the UK Government Construction Strategy announced that BIM would be a requirement for all centrally procured government projects from 2016. The focus on BIM was further refined in the Construction 2025 strategy, setting out a requirement for collaborative 3D BIM on government projects irrespective of project size. This wasn’t a legal requirement, but a condition of contract to work with the largest client in the UK market.
Interestingly, BSI started developing BIM standards way back in 2007, working with industry bodies, researchers, UK government and business organisations to develop the overarching principles, rules and guidance necessary to implement BIM. In 2016 BSI in partnership with government developed a website providing the standards, tools and guidance necessary for implementing BIM Level 2. All are freely available to download at www.BIM-Level2.org What members may also find most useful is the guidance that can be found on the website that sits around and supports the standards themselves, and which provides much more context to the whole BIM approach. Similarly, there is lots of great advice out there to be found on the subject: have a look at www.ukbimalliance.org/
The BIM standards have helped remove much of the risk and uncertainty associated with sharing information in a virtual construction environment. And the security, interoperability and shared language established by the standards have helped to create market conditions that have attracted investment and driven innovation.
However, one size does not necessarily fit all when it comes to BIM. Yes, more and more clients around the globe are now wanting BIM too; why wouldn’t they? but, like any other major investment decision, gather the facts first and understand what BIM truly means to you and your business.
Next stop for me was our CABE annual conference in Kenilworth. It was great to see so many of you at the sold-out event. Once again the primary theme for the event was ‘quality’, both in terms of us as professionals and the standards we operate to and the buildings and assets we are involved with.
I had the privilege of chairing a session on the first day in which Paul Bonaccorsi provided considerable insight into the world of offsite construction that is already available to the market; Nathan Wilkins on the work CITB is currently undertaking on our behalf; and, a presentation from Richard Harral, Head of Technical Policy at the Building Regulations Division at DCLG. Richard provided us with an update on post-Grenfell activity. It was a privilege to have Richard address our conference, not least as it was his last public presentation before leaving the Civil Service. We wish Richard well in his future endeavours but I have it on very good authority we won’t be losing him entirely from our industry. I will share a little more of what he’s got planned at another time. A huge thank you, too, to the whole CABE HQ team for making the annual conference such a success, we couldn’t do it without them.
Finally, as I write this, in a little over a week from now it will be Budget day, and so let’s see what government have planned for us and our Built Environment sector, not least in terms of the next steps on the Industrial Strategy. The objective of the modern Industrial Strategy is to improve living standards, and economic growth by increasing productivity and driving growth across the whole country. There’s a focus on skills, infrastructure, business, growth and investment, clean energy and procurement, to name but a few. I think we have a few views on such matters. Perhaps we will also learn about where we go next with BIM?
Right, that’s all from me. I can’t quite believe that I’m writing this in mid-November but here goes…I wish you and yours all the very best for the upcoming festivities and the New Year ahead. There, I’ve said it. I look forward to seeing you in 2018.
Ant Burd BSc(Hons) C.Build E VPCABE FCABE MIFireE FRICS