Promoting Digital Construction Internationally

Sharing the UK's leadership in BIM with the world.

Last updated: 7th November 2021

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Innovation Lead: Alanna Gluck

Website:
globalbim.org/


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Summary

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is transforming how we plan, build, maintain and use infrastructure, but limited knowledge and misaligned approaches have slowed BIM's impact globally. The mandate to use BIM on all public project has seen the UK become a leader in BIM over the last decade. In fact, much of the UK's work has actually contributed to the ISO 19650 standards. Now the Centre for Digital Built Britain's International programme is collaborating with 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA and Asia to develop national digital innovation policies and drive benefits from the wide adoption of digital information management. Common approaches and standards will help UK companies work in other countries and other countries trade more easily with the UK, and sharing digital innovation with country partners is sharing the socio-economic benefits of this technology internationally.

Innovation type: Digital
Organisation type: Government client

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Project pioneers

The Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)  and the University of Cambridge. The CDBB seeks to deliver a smart digital economy for infrastructure and construction, and to transform the UK construction industry’s approach to the way we plan, build, maintain and use our social and economic infrastructure for the future. 

The problem

Currently around £1.8 trillion a year is invested globally in the transportation, power, water, and telecom systems. Based on expected rates of growth to 2030, and current practices, this figure needs to be closer to £2.4 trillion a year. If this current trajectory of underinvestment continues, the world will fall short by roughly £260 billion a year; resulting in lower economic growth and depriving citizens of essential services. This global infrastructure gap triples when you take into account the additional investment required to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Vision

Digital ways of working such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) are key to bridging the global infrastructure gap. BIM is estimated to generate annual savings in the design and building phase of 13% to 21%. This would free up £186 billion to be reinvested in the sector and cut the annual global infrastructure gap of £260 billion by more than two-thirds by 2030. Much of the UK's leadership in BIM contributed to the ISO 19650 standards and the Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB) is now hoping to boost global trade by aligning to these common standards and procurement terms - helping UK companies work in other countries and other countries trade more easily with the UK.   An example of this is the recently announced bilateral agreement between the United Kingdom and the United States of America to support the US National BIM Program development. And in Colombia the adoption of BIM has meant more classrooms have been built with funding so more children can receive a full day of education rather than half.

Key Insight

Since 2011, UK Government has mandated BIM across its public estate. Its 2011 Construction Strategy helped clients and suppliers understand how BIM should be used on projects to deliver shared benefits, giving the construction sector the confidence to invest in digital innovation. Having benefited from BIM over the last decade, UK Government now wants to share this transformational approach with countries around the world.

First step

The Centre for Digital Built Britain’s (CDBB) International programme is leading the diffusion of BIM and digital innovation globally, to improve outcomes from the built environment around the world. The CDBB International team developed a national innovation diffusion methodology while working with the Chilean Government and the European BIM Task Group. The Global BIM Network, established in March 2021, connects international public sector representatives and multilateral organisations with the aim of advancing the digitalisation of the global built environment and sharing the resulting socio-economic benefits for people and places. The CDBB International team is collaborating with 40 countries, from across Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA and Asia to develop national digital innovation policies and drive benefits from the wide adoption of digital information management (based on ISO 19650 standards).  

Barrier

Globally limited knowledge about how BIM can support infrastructure projects and a lack of digital know-how has hampered transformative change. Misaligned approaches and standards around the world will also slow down BIM's impact on bridging the infrastructure gap to deliver on social and economic needs.

Digital Innovation

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a powerful digital tool, combining new ways of working with technical standards, technology, data, collaboration and digital skills. It helps deliver better outcomes for infrastructure projects, people, and places.  Better planning of infrastructure projects can increase community involvement and more accurately prepare for potential disruption before going to build.    This programme has grown from a handful of countries to a substantial global collaboration, triggering many national and regional BIM programmes.   Digital adoption and upskilling enable a broader system change across construction. The international programme allows other innovations from the Construction Innovation Hub including Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DfMA) through a Platform System and Procuring for Value (the Value Toolkit) to be adopted internationally.    Data is the foundation for wider innovation across the entire construction and asset lifecycle. For example, Procuring for Value (the Value Toolkit) relies upon the readily available and accurate information BIM can provide.  

Collaborators

CDBB works with UK Government departments, especially the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Department for International Trade (DIT), the Infrastructure & Projects Authority (IPA) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).   The CDBB International team is collaborating with 40 countries, from across Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA and Asia. International partners include the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Office for Projects Services. 

  • Asian Development Bank
  • Centre for Digital Built Britain
  • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS)
  • Department for International Trade (DIT)
  • Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
  • Infrastructure & Projects Authority
  • Inter-American Development Bank
  • United Nations Office for Projects Services

Lead support

The Transforming Construction Challenge has enabled a strategic global approach to the construction sector’s transformation. Before this, the CDBB International programme had limited resources to affect change at regional and global levels. This increase in depth and scale has resulted in digital innovation being embedded in the programme's country partners.    CDBB’s International programme is also supported by the Construction Innovation Hub (funded by the Transforming Construction Challenge) in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Long Term Vision

Building Information Modeling (BIM)  is key to bridging the global infrastructure gap. By transforming how we plan, build, maintain and use infrastructure globally, BIM can help us keep pace with growing economic, social and environmental needs.

Human Stories

Head of the International Programme, Adam Matthews, spoke about what the adoption of BIM has meant in Colombia. A member of Colombia’s Education agency described the situation where many children received a half-day of education due to the lack of education facilities. For her, BIM meant more classrooms could be built with their funding giving more children access to education. 

Powerful Processes

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is the holistic process of creating and managing information for a built asset. Based on an intelligent model and enabled by a cloud platform, BIM integrates structured, multi-disciplinary data to produce a digital representation of an asset across its lifecycle, from planning and design to construction and operations. 

Fascinating Facts

The Global BIM Network is working with governments and multi-lateral organisations across 40 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA and Asia to create a public access knowledge base for digital transformation strategy, implementation and public policy. One such project is being led by Inter-American Development Bank, in which BIM is being implemented to improve the transparency of infrastructure construction in Costa Rica.    The International programme has trained over 2,500 public officials in the BIM methodology at the national level, and procurement and project levels. Evidence gathered by KPMG suggests the use of BIM could potentially secure between £5.10 and £6.00 of direct labour productivity gains for every £1 invested. The same report shows that for every £1 of direct productivity gain in the design, construction and maintenance of newly built assets enabled by BIM in 2021 could potentially translate into a whole economy impact of £3.70 in annual GDP by 2051, demonstrating the economic returns to the UK economy are a multiple of any direct productivity gains in the construction sector that are enabled by BIM. BIM modelling allowed this Colombian dual carriageway project to save $695 million and two and a half years of work.

Benefits

Collaboration
The Centre for Digital Built Britain's International programme, is collaborating with 40 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Latin America, the USA and Asia, to develop national digital innovation policies and drive benefits from the wide adoption of digital information management (based on ISO 19650 standards).

Cost
Evidence gathered by KPMG suggests the use of BIM could potentially secure between £5.10 and £6.00 of direct labour productivity gains for every £1 invested. The same report shows that for every £1 of direct productivity gain in the design, construction and maintenance of newly built assets enabled by BIM in 2021 could potentially translate into a whole economy impact of £3.70 in annual GDP by 2051, demonstrating the economic returns to the UK economy are a multiple of any direct productivity gains in the construction sector that are enabled by BIM.

Emissions
Evidence gathered by KPMG suggests BIM has the ability to influence the sustainability of the assets and services produced by the construction sector. BIM can enable greater sustainability through:

  1. The construction of an asset e.g. reductions in materials waste or construction blight
  2. The operation of an asset e.g. reductions in noise and carbon emissions
  3. The permanent effects on the local area surrounding an asset once built e.g. the delivery of a better-designed asset for surrounding land and property owners

Health
A KPMG study suggests BIM has the potential to influence the quality of the assets and services produced by the construction sector, and thus offers the opportunity to drive more social value from the country’s built assets. For example, BIM’s role in enhancing the design of assets can generate journey time savings for transport users, improved health outcomes for hospital patients, improved educational outcomes in schools, or less crowded housing for tenants. 

Productivity
A study by KPMG suggests that BIM can deliver between £5.10 and £6.00 of direct labour productivity gains for every £1 invested.

Time
BIM modelling allowed this Colombian dual carriageway project to save $695 million and two and a half years of work.

Trade Gap
By aligning project delivery terms and standards, the programme fosters an environment where it is easier to trade across borders. This benefits UK exporters looking to work in international markets and allows international companies to partner and trade with the UK.    An example of this impact is the UK - Peru Government to Government agreement with the Reconstruction Authority of Peru where UK companies are delivering services and training on the UK’s innovative methodologies (including BIM) to support the redevelopment of Peru following the El Nino disaster in 2017.  

Uptake
The International programme is diffusing the global adoption of BIM to international standards and terms in the public procurement of infrastructure projects. Part of this includes training over 2,500 public officials in the BIM methodology at the national level, and procurement and project levels.