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Centre for Digital Built Britain

 

The Centre for Digital Built Britain’s International work stream has championed the foundation of successful collaborations between international governments and regional public sector communities resulting in the forthcoming launch of a Global BIM Network for the public sector.

Ahead of the CDBB-convened inaugural Global BIM Summit on 17 March 2021, which officially launches the Global BIM Network, a number of representatives from partner countries share the in-country experience of collaborating to implement a national programme of digital change. In this policy-focused blog, Ilektra Papadaki,  Policy Officer at the European Commission, reflects on achievements and next steps.

The construction sector provides 18 million direct jobs and contributes to about 9 per cent of the EU's GDP. While very important to the EU economy, when it comes to digitalisation, construction is challenged: only 7.7 per cent of construction companies have a high or very high Digital Intensity Index1[1]. As well as suffering slow digitalisation, the administrative processes required for construction need to be modernised. This is where BIM brings benefits. The potential widespread use of BIM in public procurement can not only increase efficiency and transparency in public spending, it can also enable the adoption of digital technologies at scale – especially if we think of the large percentage that public works represent in the overall construction activity.

Since 2012, the European Commission has been working to achieve sustainable competitiveness, including the digitalisation of the construction sector, through a dedicated strategy[2]. The Public Procurement Directive of 2014[3] marked another important step in this positive direction by recommending the use of BIM in construction projects. Then came the beginning of the collaboration between the European Commission and the EU BIM Task Group in 2016 – a European group of public sector organisations procuring for construction and leading national policy in the field. The group worked together to overcome potential barriers of language, culture and geography to agree a shared and consistent approach to the implementation of BIM across Europe.

This collaboration resulted in the creation of the Handbook for the introduction of Building Information Modelling by the European Public Sector[4] that aimed to set a common understanding and an EU Framework for the adoption of BIM. The Handbook contains a set of recommendations to public sector clients and policy makers when adopting BIM into their public estates. It presents the drivers to, and benefits of, taking a consistent approach across Europe and offers a strategic framework to deliver BIM at national and organisational level. The publication has been a proven success, accessed digitally 54,000 times since 2017 and now available in 23 languages. The handbook also provides the basis for the training of 250 public procurers across the EU.

The latest initiative being developed aims at setting up a common European methodology to conduct cost benefit analysis for the use of BIM in public tenders[5]. This will also help provide evidence for the monetary and non-monetary benefits of BIM in individual projects, demonstrating the value delivered for investment made from the perspective of the public bodies.

At the same time, through the Structural Reform and Support Programme[6], the Commission has given support to EU countries to set up national digital construction strategies that include BIM, digitalisation of the permit system and more. Similar support will be made available during 2021 through the Technical Support Instrument and the National Reform Plans. Through Horizon 2020, the European Union supported more than 60 projects in the area of digital and sustainable construction, some of them experimenting with the combination of BIM with energy efficiency, renovation or skills, such as BIMplement[7], SPHERE[8] and BIM Speed[9].

Digital and sustainable construction are central to the European’s Commission’s recently published and forward-thinking strategy ‘A Renovation Wave for Europe – greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives’, announced in October 2020. Designed to demonstrate and foster the use of digital technologies, including digital building logbooks, promoting BIM in public procurement for construction and digital permitting in the built environment under a unified European Framework, the strategy aims to improve energy efficiency in public and residential buildings throughout the continent while contributing to the green agenda and improving the built environment for all.

 

• The online Global BIM Summit on 17 March 2021 will connect investors, the public sector and industry to mark the launch of a global public sector policy and procurement network which will accelerate digital change across global construction. The Global BIM Summit, which is expected to attract attendees from more than 40 countries worldwide, will officially launch the Global BIM Network. The Global BIM Summit will take place online at 11.00 (GMT) and 15.00 (GMT) to account for time differences globally. 

See full details and event programme at www.globalbimsummit.org

• A Global BIM Summit pre-event series of webinars featuring public sector representatives leading national BIM initiatives from across the world will take place throughout early March. Register interest at https://www.globalbimsummit.org/#register-your-interest

• The Global BIM Network is supported by the Construction Innovation Hub (CIH) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)

[1] DESI Key indicators https://digital-agenda-data.eu/

[2] EC (2012). Strategy for the sustainable competitiveness of the construction sector and its enterprises. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A52012DC0433

[3] EU (2014) Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement and repealing Directive 2004/18/EC. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=celex%3A32014L0024

[5] EASME (2020) Methodology for cost benefit analysis for the use of BIM in public tenders https://ec.europa.eu/easme/en/tenders/methodology-cost-benefit-analysis-use-bim-public-tenders