The BRE has revealed plans to offer a new BIM certification service that will give project teams and their clients assurances that data in the BIM model has been assembled according to industry-defined Level 2 BIM protocols.
Working with a range of industry and technical partners in a project part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board, BRE plans to soft-launch the service next year in preparation for a full launch in 2016.
Andrew Sutton, associate director of BRE Wales and South West, told CM that the details of the service were still evolving. But essentially, it would offer clients and project teams certification of BIM data at two key stages in the project life-cycle: when the BIM design model is handed over to contractors, and when the contractor passes on the as-built model to the client.
Sutton explained: “Our goal is to provide the industry with the ability to demonstrate that BIM model data is to a certain standard. There are BIM requirements for projects that the government is putting money into, but no adequate certification that these standards have been met. So along with others, we’re fleshing out the detail of what these standards equate to in design-stage terms.
“At these key stages, you’d upload your data to a BRE website, and we’d run checks on it to ensure that it contains all the data you’d expect, and you’d get some form of certificate to say that the BIM model has all the data so the client is confident of the data.”
There are BIM requirements for projects that the government is putting money into, but no adequate certification that these standards have been met.– Andrew Sutton, BRE Wales and South West
But he stressed that the certification would guarantee that the expected level information has been included in the BIM, not that it was entirely error-free. “We're certifying that it’s present, not that it’s right in terms of the client’s brief. At Stage F, for instance, when you’re getting into technical data, we’d expect the BIM data set to have all the paint colours for all the rooms, but we can’t certify they're not a terrible colour!”
As an alternative to uploading a BIM data set to a BRE web portal for checking, the project team is exploring the option of a cloud-based system where a BRE server could be given access to a BIM model hosted on a cloud server. “It would remove the challenge of painful uploads and downloads,” said Sutton.
Although he says that the project would initially focus on certifying data at the two key contractual hand-overs, Sutton said there could be demand for certificates at additional, intermediate stages. “I could certainly see that when an architect produces reports for clients at the various RIBA Plan of Work stages, they may well also want to submit a certificate on their BIM data,” he said.
The project is led by the BRE with technical assistance from the University of Cardiff, IBM, AEC3, and the NBS, part of RIBA Enterprises. Contractor Costain and project management/QS consultancy Lee Wakemans have also been involved in the project.
Asked about the likely cost of the service, Sutton said: “As an optimist, I’d like to think it becomes a widely available service. But we have to ensure it’s reliable – if we produce a badge that says ‘this BIM contains all that it should’ it has to be reliable or confidence will drop away. So there will have to be a human-based element in the quality assurance, and that’s where the cost will be. But the intention is that is that it will be affordable for the industry and a helpful tool.
“We would hope there is both a push and a pull factor – clients would like to see the BIM data is independently verified, and architects and contractors offering the BIM data sets will see that for a small outlay they can provide clients with comfort about the chain of information.”