Comprehensive US BIM standard on the horizon

The construction industry is one step closer to securing a national BIM standard in the USA after an executive discussion by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).

High-profile participants included executives from companies like Autodesk and Bentley as well as those from federal agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.


It could be argued that a national standard already exists due to the volunteering efforts of NIBS, however, this does not fall into the category of a comprehensive standard like the one adhered to in the United Kingdom. NIBS’ goal is to provide a ‘solution at a national scale’ that will enable digital process standards to streamline business and accelerate the effectiveness of the supply chain. Other targets include providing a predictable process, improving project outcomes, driving efficiency and fostering innovation.

After the UK Government implemented a national standard for BIM it led to a 33% reduction in costs and project delivery time was halved. This is one of the drivers behind the move, according to Adam Matthews, head of the International Stream of the Centre for Digital Built Britain. He said that the UK’s BIM standard was implemented because of a desire to save money and drive better procurement practices.

Legislation should include simple-to-achieve BIM and digital construction incentives.

In the UK, a Level 2 BIM mandate has been in effect since 2016 meaning that architects, engineers and other vendors working on public projects must communicate via a common file format such as Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) or Industry Foundation Class (IFC).

Andrew Friendly, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Autodesk, believes that federal agency involvement demonstrates BIM’s value as well as a willingness to ensure the digitalisation of buildings and infrastructure. He also added that ‘legislation should include simple-to-achieve BIM and digital construction incentives for government-funded projects’ and it will ‘motivate the move to BIM’.

The main challenge with implementing a single standard for public work in the U.S. is that agencies already operate independently of each other and they will all have their own BIM standards.

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