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Centre for Digital Built Britain completed its five-year mission and closed its doors at the end of September 2022

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Blog: International Collaboration with the United States

In his blog highlighting CDBB activities from an international perspective, Adam Matthews, Head of International, reflects on an emerging collaboration with the United States.

The US has been recognised as a leading innovator in the use of BIM driving the development of technology and its use to improve the construction sector and associated processes. As a country the US is highly decentralised (or federated) and as ever with a keen focus on commercial opportunity, it has driven its BIM adoption largely from the “bottom-up”. For example, an architect or contractor have adopted a new tool because they have realised the benefits from working with it.

BIM momentum has increased but the approach is not fully standardised and unified; different ways of interpreting BIM, using it and implementing it can be problematic and lead to inconsistent benefits across the value chain from client through the supply chain.

The UK has been driving adoption of BIM at government policy level to achieve public outcomes and to improve the digitalisation of the sector across performance, efficiency and productivity. This initiative has taken a collaborative and standards-based approach to unify processes and create a common language for constructing and contracting, procuring and delivery.

There are some differences between the US and UK programmes: the US approach has generated a lot more guidance at the technical level – considerably more than the UK. However, the UK has developed more standardisation of the process of information management. This is interesting for collaboration as there is a potentially interesting blend between the developments in the UK “BIM as an information management methodology” and the US approach of technical guidance and instruction.  

This potential powerful blend provides the starting point for an emerging collaboration with the US which allows us to share ideas between teams around the process, definition and language of BIM, the accompanying international standard ISO19650, and how to share, control and manage information. This could be rewarding to everyone involved and three areas of focus have been identified as a starting point to explore future collaboration.

Terms and processes

Working with the US Federal BIM Team (comprising the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) and other federal asset owners, public infrastructure owners and building owners and operators) to consider alignment of existing legal and technical concepts (e.g. ISO19650), principles and standards between the US and the UK and international community practice. Currently the US is reviewing and refreshing terms and processes within current documentation which provides opportunity to introduce UK and international input.


Exploring the possibility to align client practices between US, UK and Europe where clients are consistently specifying BIM in project tenders, procurement requirements and in contracts. If there is alignment in one direction and the process is simplified and consistent there is more potential for meaningful impact in the supply chain.


Considering future areas of development for research and practice around specifying information requirements. How do we do that? What is the latest thinking in this area and how can we collaborate in this space to potentially bring industry and academia together?

Discussions are in the very early stages but we hope to bring together stakeholders from the US and UK to share ideas and practice and to better understand the opportunity and ways in which we could align to meet it.

Contact: Adam Matthews