With China’s already enormous AEC industry growing rapidly and becoming more sophisticated, there is an opportunity to drive improvements through the creation and adoption of national BIM standards. Therefore, I recently traveled to China as a representative of the buildingSMART alliance and National BIM Standard – United States® (NBIMS-US™) Version 3 Project Committee. Serving in an advocacy role, I promoted the creation and use of open standards for project delivery and operations and the importance of considering a building’s full lifecycle during design.
China BIM Portal
Just prior to my trip, Mad Macs Technology Distributions Limited, Nemetschek Vectorworks’ Chinese distributor, arranged an interview with the country’s primary BIM advocate, China BIM Portal. The resulting article focuses on how NBIMS-US might inform our Chinese counterparts in their efforts to promote BIM standards.
During our conversation, I explained that in the US, all involved professionals (i.e., designers, contractors, suppliers, and owners) need to come to a consensus on BIM standards to achieve industry-wide adoption. The ideas have to be introduced, debated, and voted on by those who will be using them before they are readily accepted and adopted. Core technology and classification references should be based on open, international standards while also incorporating proven, national market best practices. Project stakeholders need to feel that they and their colleagues have a vested interest in adopting them and share the same vision for creating consistency, predictability, and value for everyone involved in the design, procurement, construction, and operations of a building.
We also discussed two adoption strategies that China could emulate. In the US, factions of the AEC market and the buildingSMART alliance are the primary drivers of BIM. Opposite to this is the UK, where a government mandate requires BIM-based deliverables for significantly sized, government-funded projects by 2016. Even with China’s government support, their biggest obstacles will be their market size and the varying levels of industry expertise and technological, as well as professional practice, maturity. However, with robust education, training, and implementation support, their government-based effort will help the Chinese industry move forward … quickly. Over time, though, it will take the various stakeholders’ feedback to adjust, as needed, to get the best performance from their national BIM standards.
buildingSMART China BIM Standards Summit
About this time last year, I represented the buildingSMART alliance at the Foundation Ceremony of the buildingSMART China chapter. This year’s trip continued those conversations, and I was privileged to once again meet with their leaders and other important members from the Chinese design and construction industry.
Among the topics we discussed was the value of establishing and implementing standards in our respective markets. I repeated the points that the US effort is market-based, without a government initiative or funding, while the Chinese effort is backed with money and policies by the central and regional governments, and that our biggest challenge is changing our industry culture to voluntarily adopt standardization methods, while their biggest challenge is their size and market fragmentation. In the end, we agreed that we have a lot to learn from each other moving forward.
APEC 2014 SOM3 Workshop
Finally, my trip ended with a presentation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) 2014 Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) joint APEC-ASEAN workshop on increasing building performance with BIM. I summarized NBIMS-US™ Version 3 and implored the need to put aside bad practices and decisions of the past for the benefit of better productivity and higher value today, as well as the economic and environmental sustainability of future generations.
Other presentations included efforts by China, Russia, Australia, and Singapore to use BIM to support surges in design and construction, as well as sustainability efforts. The vice president of the China Academy of Building Research was actively seeking more dialogs between the US and China, as well as between China and the international AEC industry, to share work and positively impact the development of global BIM standards. With NBIMS-US, our nation is seen as a leader in APEC for implementing policies and technologies to support BIM and sustainable design, but China is moving fast, with lots of government support.
The Chinese have a 2016 publishing goal for a national BIM standard. They see the benefits of having proven practice and technology solutions that provide repeatable, consistent processes for creating, collecting, and acting upon good information for delivering a project to an owner and assisting with the management of that building into the future.
I hope that as we continue our dialog with our Chinese counterparts, they will also see how Nemetschek Vectorworks provides BIM technology solutions to support them. Check out our BIM in Practice page to learn more.