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Inside Innovation: More BIM standardization needed with less jargon

John Bleasby
Inside Innovation: More BIM standardization needed with less jargon

BIM (Building Information Modeling) is becoming more common in project design and execution across all building sectors.

While BIM capabilities may seem obvious for design activities, there are other ways it can be used in construction.

Alric Fruehauf, product owner at Allplan GmbH, writes BIM can be used for developing construction models, accurately calculating quantities and costs, improving construction scheduling, and effectively planning site layouts.

However, resulting from this is a growing requirement for standardization, particularly as projects become multinational and spread across various professional users.

According to Caron Beesley of government solutions aggregator DLT, “BIM standards matter. These standards ensure continuity for the project and provide the project owner with the format they desire.”

“Consistent BIM standards are particularly critical to government agencies and departments who manage multiple projects across multiple stakeholders, contractors and end users,” Beesley writes. “However, as with CAD standards, some project co-ordinators or owners aren’t diligent about establishing and enforcing those standards or end up referring to their own standards, creating complications downstream.”

She adds, “Without a national uniform standard, more and more agencies are establishing BIM standards or guidelines of their own.”

It places the success of BIM over time at risk.

Regional standards are being developed in North America to accelerate the sharing of information across agencies, platforms and among citizens, notably by the New York Department of Design and Construction.

Nationally, the U.S. is slowly moving towards BIM standardization in an effort to improve a lowly 1.0 per cent productivity growth over the past 20 years.

In a media release, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) says it has developed an implementation and launch plan for the U.S. National Building Information Management (BIM) Program to achieve a new level of industrial efficiency through digitalization.

Stephen Ayers, FAIA, Interim CEO of NIBS says, “The U.S. National BIM Program will be successful through collaboration between the public and private sectors and across the diversity of project stakeholders, namely owners, designers, constructors, suppliers, vendors and other involved parties.”

However, standardization initiated at the international level, led by institutes such as the ISO, is something Charles Lekx, business development manager at Trimble MEP, regards as particularly vital.

“Incompatibility between local country, regional and international standards could potentially get in the way of further BIM adoption, which is why the standardization issue needs to be addressed on a global basis,” he writes in BIMplus. “Real value can only be achieved when all parties across the construction sector operate in accordance with the same industry standards.”

Another hindrance to BIM adoption might be the excessive jargon used among BIM practitioners that can leave clients and even some professionals confused, says Nicolas Catellier, Quebec-based architect and BIM manager and founder of Revit Pure. He recalls helping staff at a small architectural firm transition from CAD to BIM and who were given several pages of acronyms to understand and use.

“All these terms scared the architects from the small firm. They told me that BIM seemed super complicated and they didn’t understand why they had to use this convoluted process. I’ve since had to deprogram them away from all these idiotic useless terms and teach them that they don’t need to learn any of these acronyms to start doing BIM.”

Catellier’s experiences were supported by several experts speaking at the Digital Construction Week summit in London this past May. As reported by BIMplus, BIM is often described in terms that are often impenetrable to those not familiar with them. One speaker noted “clients start scratching their heads when we start talking about EIR and AIR.”

In a recent survey conducted by Construction Management and BIMplus, respondents drawn from across the supply chain were asked what one change to current processes or technology could improve their approach to, or the results from, BIM and digital construction. Less jargon and acronyms and the increased use of “human language” were among the strongest responses.

John Bleasby is a Coldwater, Ont.-based freelance writer. Send comments and Inside Innovation column ideas to

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