ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 142 - 01/20/2012

BIM Provision Included in Recently Introduced House Bill

By Steve Rizer


Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) has introduced legislation that is designed in part to promote building information modeling (BIM) and integrated design processes. His High-Performance Buildings bill (H.R. 3371) would require the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) to study and report on the use of integrated design processes and BIM for the design and construction of federal buildings.


Within one year of the bill’s enactment, GAO would submit to Congress a report on the results of the study, including a description of the following:

  • The legal, institutional, and other constraints on the use of integrated design processes and BIM by the federal government.
  • The likely impact of the use of integrated design processes and BIM on the procurement and budgeting process over the life of a facility.
  • The potential impact of the use of integrated design processes and BIM on private-sector firms and an analysis of measures to mitigate any negative impacts on small businesses.
  • An analysis of the amount of product information that has BIM profiles and what level of product profiles must be available in order for BIM to be effectively used throughout the life of a facility.
  • An analysis of the benefits of the use of integrated design processes and BIM during the life cycle of a facility.
  • Recommendations for the development of a streamlined process for the design and construction of federal buildings using integrated design processes and BIM.
    In addition, the bill would establish the position of the Director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings to assist federal agencies in the use of BIM and integrated design processes.

Within 90 days after the bill’s enactment, the duties of the director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings would include the following:

  • Providing technical assistance and guidance to federal departments and agencies relating to the use of BIM, commissioning, and integrated design processes.
  • Identifying best practices regarding BIM, commissioning, and integrated design processes, including identifying appropriate case studies from the federal government and the private sector.
  • Disseminating to federal departments and agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector, through a publically available web-based system or other means, information on best practices.
  • Identifying the research and technologies necessary to understand the interactions of building systems and effectively predict the outcomes of such interactions.

The legislation, which is undergoing review in the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power, has 18 cosponsors.

BuildingSMARTalliance Executive Director Reacts to Legislation

In an email interview with Construction Project Controls and BIM Report (CPC/BIM), buildingSMARTalliance (bSa) Executive Director Dana Smith provided the following reaction to the legislation:

CPC/BIM: H.R. 3371 would have a director of the Office of Federal High-Performance Green Buildings assist federal agencies on the use of BIM, commissioning and integrated design processes. What is your reaction to the legislation? How effective would the bill be in getting the use of BIM increased?

Smith: The National Institute of Building Sciences and its council, the buildingSMART alliance, which develops the National Building Information Modeling Standard-United States, supports this legislation because it would help federal agencies save energy and money by improving performance in federal buildings. The legislation addresses a number of ways to achieve high-performance buildings, such as the use of life-cycle cost analysis, integrated design processes, [BIM] and building commissioning. We believe the process of delivering these high-performance structures must include all of these elements.

CPC/BIM: In your opinion, what are the realistic chances of this bill, or at least Section 5 of it, passed into law this year? What are the chances of this measure being attached to a larger bill that may have better prospects for passage?

Smith: We’re optimistic. This bill would certainly help to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency, and streamline processes for federal facilities.

CPC/BIM: On another front, your organization recently requested industry input for Version 3 of the National BIM Standard -- U.S. What is the scheduled timetable for considering comments, drafting a new standard, and finalizing Version 3?

Smith: Version 2 of the National BIM Standard-US is in production right now. Upon release of Version 2 in the next few months, we will solicit ballots for Version 3. It appears the cycle time for each new version of the standard is approximately a year and a half. The Alliance sees the content of NBIMS-US expanding exponentially as more phases of the life-cycle become involved.

CPC/BIM: What other activities is your organization currently working on as they relate to BIM, and when may any significant developments in these areas occur?

Smith: Information exchanges, such as the Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie), are key elements to streamlining the exchange of construction information. COBie was accepted into NBIMS-US Version 2. Other information exchanges are currently being developed to expand the scope of the standard. The alliance is focusing on the hand-off of information from design to construction and from construction to facility management.

CPC/BIM: Other comments? Any thoughts about H.R. 2089, which would direct the secretary of Transportation to identify and encourage the use of advanced technologies, including 3-dimensional modeling and simulation software, during environmental, planning, financial management, design, simulation, and construction processes of federal-aid highway projects?

Smith: The Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), which are the basis of BIM, are being expanded to address infrastructure issues, such as bridges, highways and tunnels. We’re encouraged by this expansion and the consideration of additional uses of IFCs and BIM to ultimately address all areas of the built environment.




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