How owners will LEED the industry in BIM

Recently I was talking to Rachel (Another Epic BIM contributor) and we were discussing how LEED has been influencing the creation of Green Building Codes. The gist of it was that projects that used the voluntary Green program were demonstrating the benefits in such a tangible way that building codes could no longer ignore it as a fad or an elitist idea.

Now green building codes are becoming more prominent. This was really all because owners became a part of the Green process and demanded it on their projects. We see BIM taking a similar path.

On the timeline of fad to well-developed-process, BIM is probably somewhere in the middle. It is at a critical stage where the individuals that have been behind it are running out of steam. Allowing individuals to devolve the whole process into the "Hollywood BIM" all style and no substance. The efforts of BIM evangelists could end up being seen as familiar background noise like the guy on the street corner with the "The End is Near" poster if BIM does not become something that is not only requested by owners but requested correctly.

By requested correctly, I mean the owner's specifications need to say more than "I want BIM" or "BIM will be used on this project" and need to be well thought out. It can't just have a list of every BIM process listed that you can look up on Google. This is where LEED played an important part. It gave owners something where they could say "I want LEED Gold" and that equated to something that was understood. BIM does not have that yet and for a good reason: BIM is about process and LEED is about product.

That's not an entirely accurate statement, but its true enough. The point is, that the end goal of LEED is an improved building. The end goal of BIM is an improved way of building (That's my 2nd incorrect generalization so I'm done trying to make distinctions). What I'm trying to say is that it is easier to ask for sustainable materials than it is to ask everyone to "please use advanced software to solve their problems in a collaborative fashion in such a way that it results in a better quality product with more useful deliverables".

And that is what makes the handoff at this critical juncture so important. The BIM people need to come up with a way that owners can easily ask for their product to be delivered using a BIM process that actually applies to their particular structure. We need to eliminate buzzwords and ask for the things that will improve the process like model based estimating, model based scheduling, and facilities management information tied to the model. You can see this being done in some venues already. The USACE has released the M3, NIBS is working on version 3, and many owners are starting to invest in seeking out BIM professionals to assist in the creation of BIM specs that actually move the industry forward.

Owners, this is your chance to get what you need instead of letting others tell you what you want. Follow the example of some BIM leaders like the USACE. Find BIM professionals you trust and have them help you write a spec that meets your needs. Research NIBS and learn how to specify national standards on your job. Become proactive in your local BIM groups and make informed decisions. The ball is in the court of the owners now and there is an entire industry waiting for you to decide what you're going to do with it.

Credit: This post was a threesome of myself, Rachel, and John

1 Comment

  1. Good post John and I completely agree. The private industry is lagging way behind others in the Federal Government. The key is BIM education for owners. It changes the way projects are completed and funded, they need to realize this.
    And even if they are educated in BIM, many (including some federal agencies) need to adjust CAD deliverable requirements and standards we produce from applications such as Revit so that so much post processing does not have to be done.

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