By Steve Rizer
Now that the European Parliament has opened the door to more widespread use of building information modeling (BIM) technology in publicly funded construction projects within its member states, will authorities in the United States follow suit anytime soon? Whether by federal prodding or by their own volition, will more U.S. states take steps to promote wider implementation of BIM across America, at least in publicly funded projects?
Answers are elusive, but perhaps a snapshot of the actions that officials across the U.S. already have taken to promote BIM could provide a signal of what is to come. In separate interviews with ConstructionPro Week (CPW), a couple of BIM experts shed some light on how far authorities in the U.S. have progressed on this front compared to their counterparts in the European Parliament, which last month approved a directive enabling all 28 European member states to encourage, specify, or mandate the use of BIM for publicly funded construction and building projects in the European Union by 2016.
In one interview, buildingSMART alliance Executive Director Deke Smith reported that efforts in Wisconsin, which five years ago became the first state to require BIM for large construction projects, "continue to grow and improve. Ohio is another state that has made a significant change in the way it does business.... Some made a start and then decided not to pursue, but I would say there are perhaps another half dozen or so with some programs emerging.”
To an extent, the U.S. government has promoted BIM. Cathy Palmer, senior manager of BIM leadership programs at Autodesk, told CPW that the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act encourages the use of innovative construction techniques, including the use of “digital 3-dimensional modeling technologies.” She additionally noted steps by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. General Services Administration to promote BIM implementation.
Smith stressed that although “there are many initiatives being worked on with various levels of support here in the U.S., we need to coordinate these and provide the umbrella tools to allow information to flow.... We are slowly adopting it one organization at a time here. [O]ne does need to see positive motion, and so far a lot of the motion is divergent. We need to see convergent effort in order to truly attain the goal of what BIM is intended to become.”
The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article contains a complete transcript of CPW's interview with Smith and additional details about the directive that European officials provided to us.