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Nathalie Brogan, James Caristia, Ivan Cavieses, Michael Lawson, Mehmet Secilmis What are the factors driving the standardization of BIM (Building Information Modeling) in the architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry?

New Jersey Institute of Technology School of Management Management of Technology MGMT 620 - Fall 2010 December 14, 2010

Table of Contents BIM Standardization

Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 3 History of the Communication and Information Exchange in the AEC Industry.................. 3 Communication and Information Exchange Today ............................................................... 4 BIM in Theory ................................................................................................................................ 5 BIM Technology – Modeling ................................................................................................ 5 BIM Methodology – Management Model ............................................................................. 6 BIM Benefits – Cost, Time, & Error Reduction .................................................................... 8 BIM in Practice ............................................................................................................................. 10 Usage, Applications, and Benefits ....................................................................................... 10 BIM Drivers ......................................................................................................................... 11 Industry Analysis .......................................................................................................................... 12 Porter's Five Forces Model .................................................................................................. 12 Company Profiles & Strategic Competencies............................................................................... 15 Autodesk Revit Architecture................................................................................................ 15 Bentley Architecture ............................................................................................................ 16 Graphisoft ArchiCAD (Nemetschek) .................................................................................. 17 A Standard .................................................................................................................................... 18 Software Platforms............................................................................................................... 18 BIM Application .................................................................................................................. 19 Future Standard .................................................................................................................... 21 Future of BIM ............................................................................................................................... 22 Where is BIM going? ........................................................................................................... 22 Future Leader ....................................................................................................................... 24 Conclusion .................................................................................................................................... 25 References ..................................................................................................................................... 27 Appendix 1: Figures ...................................................................................................................... 30 Appendix 2: Tables ....................................................................................................................... 36  

Questions BIM Standardization

What are the emerging standards in the industry? Are these standards elastic? In what phase of the S-Curve is the BIM technology? What do we think the standard will become? When standardized what will happen to the industry? Who are the key players in the industry? What are their strategic competencies? What is the market share in the industry and how is it effecting standardization? 2   

Introduction BIM Standardization

The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry is finding itself in a position to reinvent the way it operates thanks to technological advances like BIM. Building information modeling is allowing members of the industry to not only virtually design structures but also to more accurately plan, build, maintain and operate them by using centralization and collaboration of data and knowledge between all the trades involved in the project. This paper addresses the current state of BIM in the AEC industry in relation to standardization of the model after providing a brief overview of the technology, how it is used in practice and its benefits. History of the Communication and Information Exchange in the AEC Industry Prior to the advent of computers the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry in general focused on building materials, with the most of its significant advancements occurring in previous centuries. Overcoming problems of material durability, allowed the industry to focus on material strength so edifices of larger span and height could be built. Larger structures further pushed “material” focus into how to cost effectively mass-produce them. More complex structures brought into play more complex designs with details and requirements not previously concerns, for example temperature control, energy requirements, airflow, and load balancing. These requirements changed the way design and implementation worked; precision was crucial and designs could just not be based on trial and error any longer. As the materials allowed for architects to dream up more and more complex structures, the use of numerical analysis and instruments like the slide ruler were critical. Most documentation was 2D handdrawn designs and 3D hand-made models. Communication and information exchange was as expected, a great source of problems in the industry. Without modern technologies, most tasks took a long time just because information and data had to travel physically between the different people needing it. Each physical document updated and\or recreated and any need to communicate changes had the potential to create communication gaps that could seriously affect construction time lines and deadlines. Communication and information exchange will always be a critical component in the AEC industry. Computer Aided Design (CAD) has its origins in the 1950’s and 1960’s (mainframe mostly) and although commercialization proliferated in the 70’s, it was mostly unavailable 3   

to all but a few larger companies. This changed when the personal computing industry started to take off. As computers became more powerful, larger computing power allowed the complexity of CAD systems to also evolve allowing them to further aid members of the AEC industry. During this period, communication and information exchange still didn’t evolve much. Without the digital network the Internet provided, digital data and print outs still had to be physically transported and were primarily descriptive of only the functional area for which the company was hired (i.e. plumbing vs. electrical). Details for other work were unknown as each subcontractor only created data for their respective responsibilities and was not privy to other aspects of the project unless they had a “need to know”. Communication and information exchange was now aided by other technologies (project management software and advances in the telephony industry) but still a bottleneck at different stages of the projects. Communication and Information Exchange Today Current technologies have radicalized the way many industries and companies operate. Digitization of information and computing related technologies have changed the way data is gathered, stored, updated, reused and shared. This is no different for the AEC industry. Although 3D design is not new, simultaneous utilization of several technologies like voice over internet protocol (VOIP), cell phones data capabilities, the Internet, databases, and computer software for design & scheduling have allowed for projects to be built more efficiently, in consequence faster and cheaper than ever before. One of these tools is BIM (building information modeling) software which can be described as the digital representation of a structure that incorporates not only 3D components but links virtually all aspects of a construction project like structural design and analysis, project scheduling, and cost data for labor, materials and operations. These designs help coordinate all aspects of the project and the same documents can be used and transferred from each functional team as it goes through the different phases from procurement up to and including the owner who would be ultimately in charge of operations and maintenance of the building. This is because all the related data and its interactions are fully centralized and digitized and can be accessed at any time by any of the stakeholders.


The current challenge experienced by the AEC industry with relation to the use of BIM is the lack of standards for the software or its use. Without a standard for the software there are communication problems between incompatible software (made by different vendors) when functional areas try to exchange plans. Users sometimes find themselves having to re-input data into their preferred software so they can work in a familiar environment. The lack of usage standards affects the communication between the different employees and their managers. Each uses the tools as they think best but may end up disagreeing when integrating them as part of the whole project.

BIM in Theory BIM Standardization

BIM Technology – Modeling Building Information Modeling is driven by fairly complex and sophisticated computer software that clearly and accurately displays architectural, engineering, and construction components of a project through its various stages of erection over time.

BIM removes

ambiguity from all portions of the project, essentially spelling out and visually displaying who is responsible for building component installations, what they are building, where and when they are to doing so, and how. As a result, BIM models are comprised of thousands of detail laden building components that are generated in the computer model as they would otherwise be built in actuality, in the real world. Additionally, they are presented and modeled in a progressive manner to directly reflect the varying stages of a project’s construction. For example, a wall in a traditional 3-D modeling program only displays a wall as a solid object, whereas BIM software generates the same wall three dimensionally while also displaying all of the information that is needed to construct it in actuality - dimensions, structural components, cladding, finishes, material costs, construction time, etc. Another example of model representation is that of a heating, ventilation, & air conditioning (HVAC) unit; the unit would not only contain spatial information, but would also contain manufacturing, usage, performance, and maintenance data. The same modeling procedure is administered for every other building component and system (mechanical, electrical, and plumbing ‘MEP’) so as to develop a “full model (Azhar).


As more information is input into a model, the more comprehensive and easily understandable it becomes. BIM software also has the ability to employ the use of parallel linked databases that account for the quantities and cost of materials used, as well as the labor hours needed to complete varying construction tasks. Other linked databases also allow for the generation of shop and fabrication drawings, building code implementation plans, forensic structural analyses, and facility management plans, all of which prove to be beneficial to project constituents in respective manners. For instance, mechanical and plumbing subcontractors can model their ductwork and piping using BIM software (as depicted in Fig.1), as well as print fabrication drawings that account for material quantities, dimensions, and locations in the field. This information can then be used by such subcontractors to fabricate their products in shop, deliver them preassembled to a jobsite, and install them fairly quickly. Manufacturing off of BIM models can reduce labor costs by up to 20% and decrease waste from a typical 10% to as little as 2 or 3% of total material used. Under normal fabrication and installation circumstances, subcontractors would take large material quantities to a jobsite, measure out system components to fit existing conditions, and then install them – a timely and wasteful process. Since models are developed in the same progressive manner that a building is constructed, project scheduling data can also be generated. The information that is ultimately compiled through the software gives project coordinators the ability to very accurately calculate construction budgets, schedules, and resource allocations. Model development can take place in various ways given current communicative technologies, but ideally should be generated with all parties present in a roundtable-conference like setting. Physically bringing project members together to create a BIM model enables channels of communication to be freely opened up and allow for project decisions to be made quickly. BIM Methodology – Management Model BIM is not just a piece of software that can be used to make a project profitable and successful.

BIM requires the implementation and execution of a new model of project

management – one that is based on intensive collaboration and the willingly free exchange of information between project members, all of whom are acting in the best interests of the project. 6   

Traditionally in the AEC industry there are four chain of command models/organizational structures for a project – construction manager at risk, design-bid-build, construction manager agency, and design build (see Figure 2). Within each model every project member has their own responsibilities and duties, with access to respective pieces of information. The “design-bidbuild” model is most often utilized in the AEC industry, which, when initially established, requires little interaction and communication between members until a job is awarded. It is not until the establishment of contractual relationships between project members that they begin the “flow” of information from one pair of hands to another and so forth through several processes, with one being the Request for Information (RFI). RFIs are typically initiated by Contractors when questions arise regarding design discrepancies they or subcontractors have discovered and must be addressed by project Architects and Engineers. The latter members must then take the time to potentially redesign the portion of the building in question, a process in itself that causes all sorts of new documents to be generated and distributed to those affected by the changes. Depending on the issue brought forth in an RFI, construction delays may take effect and contract change orders may need to be awarded to resolve the matter. RFIs, delays, and change orders are direct indicators of whether or not a project’s construction can be considered a success. The inter-connectivity of time and money impacts all the people in a design-bid-build management structure, some for better and others for worse. Nevertheless, the RFI and its timeline are reflective of the cause and effect that takes place between project members as a result of restricted communicative links. When working with BIM, members share information that would otherwise not be accessible to one another under traditional project organizational structures.


vertical organizational hierarchies are essentially broken down into horizontal structures in that project members, all of whom have varying interests, must be brought together to develop a project virtually before constructing it in actuality. This type of “forced” congregation opens channels of communications that normally would not exist between certain parties, ultimately allowing all types of issues to be resolved and decisions to be made in an accelerated matter. For example, consider the time line and course of action, as presented in Table 1, which must be taken in order for a material shipment of bricks to reach a project that is arranged under a “design-build” structure.


The approval of the brick submittal package, product purchasing, fabrication, and delivery to the job site can take 32 business days if there is an assumption that the parties involved are using an expedited 2 day document delivery service. The same task of approving the submittal package and making a purchase order could be completed in a matter of minutes, with all project officials present, when developing a virtual BIM model. This project team could in effect save 12 days of document transmission and readily apply the time savings elsewhere in the project schedule. Financially speaking, such time savings equate to decreases in project overhead for all parties. Although this time reduction is seemingly minute it serves as small indication of how BIM management accelerates the process of information exchange, ultimately impacting every aspect of project. Most importantly this management methodology fosters a more controlled project environment. In matters of larger project scale, such as site excavation, steel erection, concrete/masonry, etc, BIM management also forces various issues to be identified and resolved in the design stage as opposed to in the field.

By having all project members openly

communicate and collaborate to identify major issues before work begins is what really makes BIM a revolutionary approach to building design and construction. The collective use of BIM software and the execution of BIM management allow for great strides to be made in the AEC industry in terms of efficiency through increased accuracy. BIM Benefits – Cost, Time, & Error Reduction The ability of BIM software to accurately display building visualizations and explicit presentations of virtual information facilitates greater personal comprehension of the scope of work in question. BIM’s capacity for clarification of project data, details, and issues in the design stage brings about numerous benefits to all parties involved, most notably by reducing project costs and errors, while simultaneously accelerating timelines and increasing quality assurance. Quantifications of project savings and return on investments for BIM implementation vary with every project given that there is no specific way to use the software – its variability allows different people to use it for varying applications, i.e. cost estimating, structural/forensic analysis, clash detection, etc. Additionally, many BIM users have neither kept record nor are recording cost savings and return on investments. Regardless of these omissions, computations


that consider readily available data of past projects are indicative of why BIM is so highly regarded. Table 2 is a presentation of overall cost data collected from ten US based projects constructed between 2005 and 2007, all of which implemented the use of various BIM software platforms (Gillian).

The projects reflect the usage of all four management organizational

structures with varied involvement and input from architects, engineers, contractors, subs, and material vendors. As previously noted overall project savings and rates of return on investments using BIM varies with every project given the extent of its usage. An analysis of this relatively small data set reveals the average cost of employing BIM, for a project with a final cost of $47,000,000, is $26,053, yielding a cost-savings of $425,609 and a ROI of 9496.2%. The cost to implement BIM is 0.00578% or approximately 1/17th of 1% of the final cost of the project – this is a very small amount of money with relation to the average overall budget. Ultimately, the usage of BIM was not of any fiscal detriment to any of the projects in consideration, but acted conversely in that its application yielded thousands of dollars in overall savings (Gillian). A 2008 McGraw Hill Construction online survey, of AGC BIM forum members, seems to corroborate the savings effect of BIM utilization. Companies in the survey report initial BIM ROIs ranging from 300 to 500%. A later survey of the same companies indicate they had varying ROIs once they developed familiarity with BIM software – less than 2% reported a negative ROI, about a third had ROIs greater than 100%, and several recorded ROIs greater than a 1000%. Although it is difficult to quantify the financial benefits of BIM, its users indicate improvements in quality control, productivity, communication, and project coordination. These benefits may not be used to formulaically derive a return on investment or total project savings, but nevertheless they are indicators of well managed projects, those of which are rarely unprofitable (Jones).


BIM in Practice BIM Standardization

Usage, Applications, and Benefits As with any social, political, or economical model its uses and effects differ from those in theory and practice – such is the case with BIM. The software’s inherent flexibility to cater to different users for different reasons is what makes it so attractive; the more information and data is input into a model the more valuable and beneficial it becomes to larger amounts of people. There is no right or wrong way to employ the use of BIM, making it difficult to compute and ascertain its benefits empirically. Consequently, it is somewhat pointless to establish how BIM should be used and by whom, however, industry proponents have demonstrated who they perceive to benefit the most from its use and in what ways. Although BIM benefits all parties involved in one way, shape, or form, some profit from its usage more so than others. Figure 3 is a representation of data collected, by McGraw Hill Construction through a 2008 online survey of BIM users that reflects which AEC industry members most frequently use BIM (Jones). The data identifies architects as primary BIM users, with CMs/GCs being secondary, and others soon thereafter. This distribution is reflective of the traditional allocation of responsibilities to project members and their access to information. Naturally the more information a member has access to the greater the need for them to have organizational tools to keep track of and visualize said data, which is exactly what BIM does and why architects and general contractors believe they benefit the most value from its use. In 2007 the members of Stanford University’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, analyzed and compared data collected from surveys on the use of Virtual Design/Construction (VDC) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) technologies in the AEC industry. The 171 survey respondents were an amalgamation of company sizes, technical disciplines, and project types and locations. Figure 4 graphically displays how this data set of users employs BIM and for what reasons (Gao). Approximately 90% of those surveyed indicate that they use 3D collision detection primarily for business purposes, which may be the simplest and most constructive way of using BIM.

The majority of respondents apply BIM as a means of 10 


visualization in a prediction phase, while the minority exploits the modeling to produce design documents as well as to manufacture materials off-site through automation. Figures 3 and 4 indicate that primary users of BIM, architects and general contractors, exploit the visualization of BIM for business purposes – they perceive one another to financially benefit the most from its use. There is no question of how BIM and 3D collision detection, in the design phase, directly impacts overall projects costs and timelines, but its usage is not most fiscally advantageous to those that believe they benefit the most from it. Simply put, architects and general subcontractors are not the project agents that save the most amount of money by using BIM. By working off of BIM models Structural and MEP engineers are able to effectively conduct, as much as 90%, off-site fabrication and assembly, in turn reducing field labor hours by 30-50%, which translates to a reduction in labor costs of 10-20%. In theory, BIM is most valuable to whoever inputs and has the greatest access to information, but in practice that value does not translate to economic significance and savings. For some project members the amount of time needed to develop and manage a BIM model may not be justified by their overall individual cost savings. The disparity between usage and payoff is merely one of the issues that currently prevent BIM from becoming ubiquitous within the AEC industry. BIM Drivers While BIM can be used by all build team members on a project, some are more likely to drive its use than others. In further analyzing Figure 4, it becomes apparent architects are considered the primary driver of BIM use. Beyond its obvious design applications, architects are early decision makers and their technology choices can set the tone for how a project will progress. By using BIM, architects also create information that can be shared with other team members, developing the framework for an integrated environment. User differences include, as per Figure 5: • •

Architects are seen as the primary driver by 40% of all team members. Four in five architects see themselves in that role, but few contractors see architects as the primary driver. General Contractors and CMs are considered the primary drivers among 18% of team members. Half of contractors see themselves in that role, while few other team members credit them with driving its use. This could reflect the fact that many contractors use BIM on projects regardless of its use among other team members. 11 


• •

Engineers are as likely to see themselves as the primary driver as they are to see architects in that role (one third each). Owners are more likely than others to credit a combination of individuals as the driver (26%). This suggests that owners see BIM as more of a collaborative process than others.

Industry Analysis BIM Standardization

As users have come to use BIM and the proprietary software that supplies the services it has become more and more important for all parties to use the same proprietary software because of the lack of an information technology (IT) standard. For BIM to take shape in the next wave of building, a compatible file format for all the proprietary software available is needed and is currently being developed and used by only a fraction of the industry, the IFC (industry foundations classes) file format. There are many forces that are affecting this growing need for standardization, including the potential growth of the product, government push for standardization, the current resistance to the product by some in the AEC industry, and the fact that incompatibility on any level leads to inefficiency and redundancy. Porters Five Forces Model An analysis of the BIM software industry allows for an understanding on why standardization is needed at this juncture of development using Porter’s Five Forces model. Porter’s Five Forces model, as highlighted in Figure 6, consists of a supplier power force, buyer power force, barriers to entry force, threat to substitutes force, and a rivalry force. These five forces, identified by Porter determine the intensity of competitive rivalry within an industry and therefore the profitability and attractiveness of that industry. Suppliers & Buyers The bargaining power of the supplier leads to how the relationship between the buyer and supplier will develop. Within the AEC industry the BIM software manufacturers, i.e. AutoDesk and Bentley, are the suppliers, while the individual architectural, engineering, and construction firms are the buyers. If suppliers are powerful they can exert an influence over the applied industry, selling the services or products at a higher price to share industry profits (QuickMBA).


Within the AEC industry, the BIM developers (suppliers) are stronger than the individual AEC firms (buyers). Particular to this industry, many of the AEC firms are rather small with 80% of US architectural firms having 6 people or less on staff (BSA). Due to this and the fact that there are limited options in BIM software platforms, suppliers have the upper hand, setting prices and managing how they upgrade and market their software. This also makes the cost and ease of switching software providers expensive and time intensive, both of which make buyers weak to the supplier influence. Barriers to Entry When looking at entry barriers for technology firms looking to enter the BIM software industry, the barriers outweigh the opportunities. Asset specificity inhibits entry into the industry due to the level of technological know-how needed. CAD and BIM software platforms are extremely complicated and as BIM becomes used by users from all parts of the Architecture, Engineering, Construction Industry, the technology will become that much more complex. It is also hard for entrants to gain market share because of the high cost in relation to switching and being trained on a new software platform. AEC firms are more likely to remain consistent and loyal to their CAD software suppliers because of the interoperability advantages and similar platforms, making it easy to transition to the newer software. Added to this is also the fact that many of the software companies that offer BIM, also offer related services such as CAD and 3D modeling programs. Even though these barriers exist, other likely barriers such as government influence and patents are irrelevant to this industry, making it easier in this respect to enter the market. Threat of Substitutes Within Porter’s Five Forces Model, the threat of substitutes exists when a change in price affects the products demand. In this instance, the product refers to one that is within other industries, providing the same or similar service. Due to the relative newness of the BIM software, the threat of substitutes is low. Price elasticity, the likelihood that a price will change in comparison to the demand or supply of that good, is low, with limited substitutes being able to enter the market or achieve market share. A product’s price elasticity is affected by the number of substitutes in the market; 13   

the more substitutes the higher the demand elasticity. This allows for customers to have more alternatives and restricts companies from raising prices. In many ways, BIM software is the substitute in the larger CAD software and AEC industry. BIM is a considerable threat to traditional CAD programs due to its offerings of more collaborative techniques between fields within the AEC industry. Even though this is the case, “firms in the construction business tend to be laggards in adopting new products and processes” (Sabol), making the transition between innovational products much longer than in other industries. Furthermore, “innovations or best‐practices learned on projects are often difficult to disseminate on subsequent projects because of time constraints or inflexible office processes” and “Cost conscious, deadline‐driven professionals can be hesitant to implement new and complex technologies” (Sabol) within the AEC industry. Because of this lack of innovational spirit and adoption of new products, BIM still does not pose to be the considerable threat it should be. Rivalry A competitive advantage over a rival is a significant factor within the business world, allowing one company to dominate another. This sparks rivalry and in turn innovation within an industry. A reasonable amount of rivalry is healthy within an industry, varying from industry to industry. However too much rivalry in a traditional economic model can lead prices among rival companies to zero and too little can lead to higher prices for the consumer with not alternatives. Overall among BIM software companies there is low rivalry, adverse to the entire AEC industry which has a significant amount of rivalry. In many ways there are two few BIM developers, while the market growth high leading to low competition between the current providers. There is also a high switching costs and high exit costs because of time, usability and interoperability. High brand identification, which is evident within the industry such as Autodesk Revit, lowers rivalry because of the hardship then for alternatives to enter the market. It also can be said that there is no diversity of products or services offered by the competing software developers. Each platform offers the same range of services, and the development of each program is comparable to each other, with the same goals being achieved. This in turn lowers the rivalry as well. 14   

The one factor that heightens rivalry among BIM developers is the amount of market opportunities within the industry leading to a high possibility of new entrants. Because of the high number of firms within the industry, the collaborative power, and cost savings capable with this new technology, the opportunities are vast however they must overcome an increasing amount of obstacles. In the AEC industry BIM as a technology is still young. When looking at the technology in terms of its lifecycle, BIM is in the early growth stage where an associated AEC technology like CAD is very mature and commonplace. The lack of standards is the clear obstacle to BIM’s widespread use. Many potential users will not invest until a clear winner emerges from the different tools, they all agree to collaborate and enhance the somewhat common .ifc format or they guaranteed interoperability between the products.

Company Profiles & Strategic Competencies BIM Standardization

There are many BIM software products currently available for AEC industry, but none of the products works best for all projects or all design team participants. The purchase of a BIM software package is an investment for future evolutions, new content and file type generation, and continuous user training. There are few major BIM software products currently being used by the architects since they have the largest impact on building design and information workflows. The following BIM software products do represent the majority of current adoption by the architecture profession in the U.S. Autodesk Revit Architecture Autodesk Revit Architecture is one of the most widely used BIM software for architectural design. The current version release is 2011 and is only available for Windows operating systems. Features include: •

“Conceptual design tools—Define conceptual forms and geometry as real building components for a smoother transition to design development” (Autodesk) “Bidirectional associability—Any information that gets changed is changed throughout the model” (Autodesk) 15 


• • • • • • •

“Parametric components—The basis for all building components designed in Autodesk Revit Architecture” (Autodesk) “Revit Building Maker—A more seamless way to turn conceptual forms into functional designs” (Autodesk) “Schedules—A change to a schedule view is automatically reflected in every model view” (Autodesk) “Detailing—An extensive detail objects library and detailing tools” (Autodesk) “Design visualization—Capture design ideas in a photorealistic state” (Autodesk) Price: $5,495 Autodesk’s BIM suite includes Revit Architecture, Revit MEP, and Revit Structure, which cater to major AEC building industries. Autodesk offers a webbased BIM environmental analysis tool, called Green Building Studio and comprehensive energy modeling tool Ecotect.

The strengths of Autodesk’s Revit software include: • • • • • • •

Current market leader Most notable in industry Preferred interface for direct link interfaces Easy to learn and user-friendly Extensive object library and operates on a multi-user interface High-quality rendering capability Supports importing/exporting various files and models

Bentley Architecture Bentley Architecture runs on top of the Microstation Bentley platform. Microstation is very popular in transportation applications. The current release of Bentley Architecture is only available on Windows operating systems. Features include: • • • • • • • • •

Parametric Design and Feature Modeling Coordinated Construction Documentation Design Visualization and 3D Output Powerful rendering engine for the production of high-quality images and animations Supports Adobe PDF 3D imaging Support for U.S. and other National CAD Standards Interoperability with Building Engineering, Analysis and Facilities Management Integration with Managed Environment (ProjectWise) Building family of products include Architecture, Generative Components, Structural Modeler, Building Mechanical Systems, Building Electrical Systems, Facilities, and ProjectWise Navigator. Price: $6,290 that includes MicroStation, Parametric Cell Studio, Space Planner, ProjectWise Navigator, and Bentley Architecture.


The strengths of Bentley’s MicroStation include: • • • •

“Very broad range of building modeling tools for almost all aspects of AEC industry” (Eastman) “Multiple levels of support for developing custom parametric objects” (Eastman) “Scalable support for large projects with many objects” (Eastman) Supports importing/exporting various files and models

Graphisoft ArchiCAD (Nemetschek) Graphisoft ArchiCAD (owned by Nemetschek) is the oldest BIM software product still available on the market. The current release version is available for both Windows and Macintosh operating systems. Features include: • • • • • • • •

Collaboration: BIM server, allows for collaboration in real time Coordination: coordination between different 3D model views allows for changes to be easily identifiable Control: parallel processes and smooth workflows while guaranteeing synchronization of documentation Virtual Building: simulates the way real buildings are constructed Easy to learn and user-friendly Provides various extensions such as MEP Modeler, Virtual Building Explorer, EcoDesigner, and Artlantis. Price: $4,250 and $895 for upgrade Lightweight BIM software called ArchiCAD STAR priced at $2,000

Strengths of Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD include: • • • • • • • •

“Oldest continuously marketed BIM architectural design tool” (Eastman) “Popular in Europe with strong civil engineering applications” (Eastman) Owns also VectorWorks another CAD/BIM software used in North America “Intuitive interface and simple to use” (Eastman) First BIM Server application for easier and faster large project collaboration Primarily used by small-scale AEC firms Only strong BIM product available for Macs Supports importing/exporting various files and models

Summary In summary, the above BIM tools each have various advantages and disadvantages, especially in terms of cost, learning curve, capacity, and interoperability. With the increasing rate of BIM adoption among AEC industries and continuous version updates (occurring virtually each year), it is quite probable that market shares and software features will change. It is highly unlikely that a single proprietary BIM developer will take over the entire AEC market, but rather 17   

there will probably be an increasing diversification of BIM tools for specific project types and industry groups, just as with CAD tools. AEC groups and project stakeholders will need to determine which tool or software suite is appropriate for their project type(s) and collaboration needs. A Standard BIM Standardization

Among the BIM platforms there is an interoperability and standardization issue that has arisen. This “lack of interoperability costs the industry billions of dollars a year – a result of a lack of standardization, inconsistent technology adoption, and the prominence of business practices that are still paper‐based (Sabol).” Due to this a standard must be formed both in software terms and across private and public entity realms.

Software Platforms One of the first steps towards a BIM standard and interoperability between platforms is the standardization of the file format used. Between proprietary software platforms this standard is needed to spark innovation and industry growth and efficiency. Without it the current monopolistic industry climate will not be able to encourage diversification and interoperability issues between platforms will continue to disrupt efficiency and cause low innovation levels. Interoperability between platforms is an increasingly important issue, which has more implications than just allowing for diversification and new entrants into the industry. It becomes an issue of collaboration. If a single file format is accepted, AEC firms using different platforms can work together in cohesion and without error or tedious file converting; without it means that firms with different platforms will be hard pressed to collaborate, slowing industry growth and efficiency. Currently the International Alliance for Interoperability is working on a project called buildingSMART. This program consists of a common file format called the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) (buildingSMART). The IFC file format is in the process of becoming the official International Standard however many industry leaders, including Autodesk have not fully accepted or incorporated it into their programming. Preliminary reports from users state that the IFC still needs to be developed further with the help of each of the proprietary software 18   

companies. If accomplished firms around the world could collaborate with different software platforms. Currently American and European AEC firms use different platforms in general. The interesting aspect of the issue is that usually when a standard is developed within an industry it is developed through the market, allowing the current market share leader to become the standard, ultimately making the rest of the industry follow suite. With BIM standardization it is being driven by coalitions and governments and through codes and international sets of standards already set for other related construction techniques. BIM Application The universal appeal of BIM is derived from its customization and flexibility for countless applications in the AEC industry. BIM’s greatest asset ultimately acts to its detriment. As a result of its broad functionality there are little to no “official” documents that explicitly indicate how to use BIM and for what purposes. This lack of regulation inhibits BIM technology from reaching its greatest potential, but most importantly makes the AEC industry hesitant about making the shift from 2D to 4D design. Additionally, the manner in which BIM is used is highly subjective with respect to public and private projects as a result of the industry drivers in each respective business sector. In terms of private sector projects, BIM application, usage, & implementation is dictated by the party who has purchased the associated BIM software, be it the architect, engineer, contractor, etc. Ultimately, it is up to those personnel and their discretion when using the software which, because of its incredible flexibility and proclivities for customization, makes it incredibly difficult to establish the “proper” or optimal manner to use it. Furthermore, the manner in which the model’s information is exchanged is completely dependent on the software platforms being used & their respective abilities to exchange their information from one source to another. More specifically, software companies such as Bentley & AutoCAD have control as to how their software can be used, in turn giving them the ability to steer developments in BIM technology & the market abroad. Simply put, software companies have control of how BIM software can be used by consumers in the private sector as they are the ones responsible for developing and distributing it to end users. The main issue with the application of BIM software in private projects is that companies developing them want to maintain their proprietary 19   

information as in all likelihood doing so provides them with a competitive advantage against others who may or may not be able to provide equivalent services – in this sense the issue of inoperability acts in their benefit, which is why such companies have been resistant to developing unified software standards. Therefore, in the private project sector, there is no real need for software companies to develop an operability standard given they have greater control, as suppliers, over buyers. Conversely, public sector projects are managed by varying levels of government, be it from local municipalities all the way up to the federal government. At the Federal level there are two main agencies that have begun to dictate the manner in which BIM is used in government funded projects. The National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) published a document in 2007, entitled “National Building Information Modeling Standard: Version 1-Part1” that provides guiding principles for BIM implementation, as well as the coordination of open standards (Bazjanac). Unfortunately this document does almost nothing to, or even propose how to, solve the interoperability issues that plagues BIM, but is indicative of the initiative being taken to regulate the matter. The second largest and primarily the most influential driving force for BIM usage and implementation in the public sector is the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). This agency is considered to be the largest owner and operator of properties in the U.S. and in 2003 began its development of a “National 3D-4D BIM Program” as a means of managing an $11 Billion capital investment plan. They strongly endorse open standards and believe the matter of software interoperability can be resolved through the usage of data translators, as opposed to the development of a solitary BIM software package. In 2007 the GSA began requiring that all new federal projects employ the use of BIM, consequently forcing consultants, architects, engineers, contractors, etc. to adopt the technology in order to win public project bids. By enforcing such rules, the NBIS and GSA are pushing software companies to develop interoperability standards in order for its users, engineers, architects, general contractors, etc., to win public project contracts, which are typically far more financially substantial than private sector project contracts.

Again, in order for software

companies like AutoDesk and Bentley to have their BIM products used in public sector projects they have to develop respective platforms that are capable of communicating with those of 20   

competitors, which in all likelihood will result in some sort of collaborative effort or joint venture between those BIM software companies with the largest market share to either work to establish cohesion with the IFC file format or create a new one. Future Standard A future standard for BIM is inevitable, due to the collaborative power of the program and the enormous time and cost efficiency that can be achieved. That being said, the push for interoperability in the future will come from governments, organizations, and ultimately the owners and financiers of projects who benefit the most from sots and time saving measures. The industry leaders will ultimately be forced to collaborate helping to develop a fully operational file format that is operable on all platforms. Since the ground work has been laid and one of the three industry leaders has already fully accepted the IFC, Nemetshchek’s ArchiCAD, it can be stated that the IFC file format will most likely become the file format accepted by all industry leaders. This adoption will limit the suppliers power over the industry, allowing for more buyer power influenced innovation and price setting. This is a needed balance for the entire AEC industry, as more efficient collaboration means even more time and cost savings. BIM standardization will allow for an efficient money saving system to design, engineer, and construct buildings and structures. BIM usage results in time and cost savings, less errors and better forecasting of quantities. From a design point of view it allows for a complete visual feedback and better collaboration between designers, architects, and engineers. Furthermore it can used for the entirety of the buildings life, allowing for easy renovations and additions. Without the standardization of software platforms and between public and private entities the power of this resource will be significantly limited and slow to advance innovation within the entire AEC industry.


The Future of BIM BIM Standardization

Where is BIM going? BIM is not just a software package; BIM is an overall improvement of the building process facilitated by software and collaboration.

Getting all of the players involved to

completely buy into a new building process requires a software platform that facilitates collaboration. Before the process can be streamlined and standardized for all players along the line, BIM software must accommodate. Currently, the main software providers for BIM have accepted .ifc file format as a standard. However, only Graphisoft ArchiCAD utilizes the file format well. Autodesk’s Revit will open an .ifc file written by another software platform, but the project needs considerable corrections resulting from the import process (Van). The correction is time consuming for the collaborator and could produce an error in design. BIM requires collaboration of architects, engineers, general contractors, fabricators, and subcontractors.

Ideally, each player will be using a software package in which they are

extremely comfortable. This way, a player can choose a software platform that best suits their needs, with their preferred interface, and they will not negatively impact or unnecessarily delay the collaboration process. While Revit is currently the leader in market share, they are not in a driving position. It is unrealistic for every other relevant software platform to have a plug-in for interoperability with Revit. Instead, Autodesk needs to improve the import/export abilities of Revit in .ifc format. The challenge is on the software engineers to make their own software utilize .ifc format without any issue. While truly collaborative software will help facilitate the industry changeover to BIM, cloud computing will be a strong aid to the process. With enormous file sizes and many collaborators needing to see and/or manipulate the design, distribution of information can be a huge burden. The transfer is impeded by upload and download times or physical delivery of the files i.e. a courier service. The solution is to always keep the information in one place and grant access to all necessary clients. The hosting server could also act as a moderator controlling what type of access each client is granted. For example, a funder of the project can see everything in a read only basis. An engineer on the project would be granted read and write access to all parts of the design relevant to his or her expertise. 22   

The architecture firm Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill understand that cloud computing is key to the progress of BIM. The firm has a history of technological innovation. Before AutoCAD had become the market leader, they had developed their own CAD software. Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill have sought the assistance of Google to develop a cloud model for BIM.

Paul Seletsky, the firm’s senior manager of digital design has said, “[Google]

understands the value of being a gatekeeper of information—something architects, as the ‘gatekeepers’ of BIM models, should be able to capitalize on” (Zeiger). The collaboration with Google is an efficient effort. Seeking to develop their own host servers would otherwise be expensive and time consuming in that web hosting of large amounts of information is not one of the firm’s core competencies. BIM is already connecting designers with the supply chain. BIM is often referred to as being in 4D and 5D. The fourth dimension is time; how the project will proceed can be visualized on screen in the proper order to which the project will be built. The fifth dimension pertains to financing of the project. BIM models can more accurately predict cost of project. This is because the software is more than just lines on a screen; the program actually understands the materials required for the project piece by piece. BIM produces an accurate materials list, and as a result, produces a more accurate price forecast. The logical progression of 5D is to make the connection to the actual suppliers. Since 2006, 1st Pricing has been offering software to make that connection. The software is an add-on to Autodesk, ArchiCAD, and TurboCAD software. The company 1st Pricing has compiled a comprehensive list of architectural objects such as windows, doors, or moldings. The objects are real world objects from many well-known producers. Product specifications are precise because they come directly from the manufacturers (Goldberg). The software allows the architect to create a design using real world locally available products. The program from 1st Pricing offers updated prices for the products. Once the design is finalized, a materials list is generated and sent to local suppliers designated by the user. Items are tagged and cataloged to prevent redundancies in ordering. Suppliers then reply with quotes and availabilities. This concept is available and in practice today. However, this is not commonplace; improvements will come as suppliers upgrade their online capabilities.


The fact that BIM uses and understands real world products could soon be utilized to improve “green” construction.

As the software can already give a designer accurate

specifications about a product, environmentally friendly statistics can also be kept regarding available products.

For instance, materials for wood floors could be rated in terms of

environmental impact of the farming and production of the different types of wood. Windows and doors incorporated into the design have attached their actual insulation rating. Negative aspects of a product such as formaldehyde glue in types of engineered wood, volatile organic compounds in paints and coatings are identified during the design process. When an architect or designer is presented with all of the potential environmental negatives, he or she may be less likely to choose them. Future Leader When BIM has matured as a technology, it is believed that Revit from Autodesk will be the market share leader. Already in the early growth stage, Revit has the largest share of the market. Today, the most common software package used by architects is AutoCAD, also produced by Autodesk. They have an excellent reputation among architects and are known for quality software. Autodesk can use their reputation to facilitate a change over of their customers from AutoCAD to Revit. Autodesk believes BIM will be the standard and are investing more heavily in Revit improvements than AutoCAD improvements. A common complaint by users on “” is that AutoCAD is only showing minimal improvements in aspects of 3D design. They are confident that 3D design is considerably easier with Revit and believe that a designer eager to work in 3D will make the jump to BIM software. Autodesk has consistently worked closely with key players in the architecture industry to improve BIM software. This strengthens their relationship with customers and takes advantage of that relationship for the betterment of the BIM software package. For example, Autodesk worked out a collaboration deal with Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, a top New York City architecture firm, during the design of One World Trade Center. The layout of the job site is extremely complicated. There are underground structures, subway tunnels, and a network of utilities, all of which need to be incorporated into the building design. Originally, the complexity of the site was beyond the capabilities of Revit. Autodesk’s software engineers worked closely


with Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill to improve Revit and make the program a proper fit for the project (Zeiger).

Conclusion BIM Standardization

The benefits of BIM are undeniable and are much more than saving time and costs. The power to cohesively collaborate in real time provides the different stakeholder advantages that couldn't be realized before. Utilizing BIM is more than just a new software technology; the new approach to the building process provides the various trades the knowledge to function as a unit and not separate parts of the whole. The power to virtualize the building process including accurate estimates of schedule and cost allows the AEC industry to more accurately forecast how a project will actually develop. Although presently there are still disadvantages to BIM such as cost allocation for model development and legal issues associated with ownership and accountability, the greatest obstacle to realizing all that BIM can be is centered on the lack of standardization of software and process. Currently BIM software makers find themselves fighting for their products to be the standard and are not focusing much on standardizing the software or the process farther than how it applies to their tools. Although the .ifc file format is widely accepted, BIM software producers are still focusing on being compatible with .ifc instead of embracing the format. The Government and the AEC industry as a whole are also starting to put pressure on these companies to move beyond this stage and as BIM matures, standardization is the next logical step. Software makers need to be prepared to compete in other dimensions like software cost and features and be more involved with the standardization efforts elsewhere so they are better positioned to compete even if they are not the ultimate emerging technology. In actuality, their products are not so very different, making sure that they are flexible and adaptable will help guarantee their survival in the long term. The future of BIM in the AEC industry will be radical. After a standard emerges and is fully embraced, proliferation of its use will increase in both, large and small projects in both the public and private areas. Construction projects will be completed faster and more efficiently and with worldwide use rapidly developing countries like China, already at an amazing growth pace, 25   

will see a further increase of speed and amount of structures being bid for and built thus putting pressure on other areas of the industry, for example suppliers who will have to focus on more rapid and timely delivery of materials.


References BIM Standardization

"Autodesk revit architecture 2011 brochure." Autodesk Revit Architecture. Autodesk, Inc., n.d. Web. 12 Nov 2010. < 2011_brochure.pdf Azhar, Salman, Michael Hein, and Blake Sketo. Building Information Modeling (BIM): Benefits,Risks, and Challenges. McWhoter School of Building Sciences, 2008. Web. 09 Oct. 2009. <>. Bazjanac, Vladimir. Impact of the U.S. National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS) on Building Energy Performance Simulation. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. University of California, 2007. Web. 29 Sept. 2009. Bentley Architecture V8i." Bentley Architecture Features. Bentley Systems, Inc., n.d. Web. 12 Nov 2010. <>. "BIM Tools ." BIM Resources at Georgia Tech. Digital Building Lab at Georgia Tech, n.d. Web. 12 Nov 2010. <>. Boston Society of Architects -- Programs & Education -- Your Career in Architecture." Boston Society of Architects/AIA. Web. < index.cfm?doc_id=25>. Dowhower, Justin Firuz . "Available BIM Technologies for Architectural Design." Blog at, July 30, 2010. Web. 12 Nov 2010.<>. Eastman, C., Teicholz, P., Sacks, R. and Liston, K. (2008) BIM Tools and Parametric Modeling, in BIM Handbook: A Guide to Building Information Modeling for Owners, Managers, Designers, Engineers, and Contractors, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ, USA. Fortner, Brian. "Special Report: Are You Ready for BIM?" Civil Engineering: The Online Magazine of the American Society of Civil Engineers May 2008. Print. Gao, Ju, and Martin Fischer. "Framework and Case Studies Comparing Implementations and Impacts of 3D/4D Modeling Across Projects." Center for Integrated Facility Engineering. Stanford University, Mar. 200. Web. 4 Oct. 2009. <>.


Gilligan, Brian, and John Kunz. "VDC Use in 2007: Significant Value, Dramatic Growth, and Apparent Business Opportunity." Center for Integrated Facility Engineering. Stanford University, Dec. 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2009. <>. Goldberg, H. Edward. "The Future of the Building Information Model 5D – Integrating Pricing and Supply Chain." 1st Pricing, June 2006. Web. 13 Dec2010.<>. "GRAPHISOFT ArchiCAD 14." ArchiCAD 14 Overview. GRAPHISOFT, n.d. Web. 12 Nov 2010. <>. Howard R. & Bjork B.-C 2007. Building Information Models – Experts’ view on BIM/IFC developments. Proceedings of the 24th CIB-W78 Conference, Maribor 2007. Ibrahim, Magdy, Robert Krawczyk, and George Schipporeit. Two Approaches to BIM: A Comparative Study. College of Architecture. Illinois Institute of Technology, 2004. Web. 1 Oct. 2009. Jones, Stephen A., John E. Gudgel, and Dana S. Gilmore. Building Information Modeling (BIM): Transforming Design and Construction to Achieve Greater Industry Productivity. New York City: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Khanzode, Atul, Martin Fischer, and Dean Reed. Benefits and Lessons Learned of Implementing Building Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Technologies for Coordination of Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) Systems on a Large Healthcare Project. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Stanford University, June 2008. Web. 4 Oct. 2009. Kunz, John, and Brian Gilligan. "Value from VDC / BIM Use: Survey Results - November 2007." Center for Integrated Facility Engineering. Stanford University, 6 Nov. 2007. Web. 4 Oct. 2009. <>. Mihindu, S., and Y. Arayici. "Digital Construction Through BIM Systems Will Drive the ReEngineering of Construction Business Practices." London South Bank University. IEEE Computer Society, 11 July 2008. Web. 17 Sept. 2009. "Model- Industry Foundation Classes (IFC)." buildingSMART. International Alliance of Interoperability, 2010. Web. 3 Dec 2010. <>. "Porter's Five Forces." QuickMBA: Accounting, Business Law, Economics, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Management, Marketing, Operations, Statistics, Strategy. Web. <>. 28   

Sabol, Louise. "Technology, Change, and the Building Industry." Real Estate Review 36.3 (2007): n. pag. Web. 3 Dec 2010. <>. Sullivan, C.C. "Integrated BIM and Design Review for Safer, Better Buildings." McGraw Hill Construction: Continuing Education June 2007: 1+. Print. Thomson, Dean B., and Ryan G. Miner. "Building Information Modeling - BIM: Contractual Risks Are Changing With Technology." The Construction Law Briefing Paper 06-04 (2006). Print. Van, James. "Archicad and Revit IFC workflow." Arch+Tech. 28 May 2010. Web. 27 Nov 2010. <>. Zeiger, Mimi. "Role Models: A digital design guru at SOM looks to the future of BIM.." Architect 17 Jan 2009: n. pag. Web. 21 Nov 2010. <>.  



Appendix 1: Figures BIM Standardization


Fig. 1 – BIM models depict how building systems are to be created in actuality (Sullivan)

Fig. 2 - The visualization of project relationships in varying management structures; image courtesy of CP Consultants


Fig. 3 – Majority of BIM users; Architects are the majority of AEC professionals calling for its use in projects

Fig. 4 – BIM Use Distribution Source: CIFE - VDC Use in 2007(Gao)


Fig. 5 Project Participants Who experience most value

Fig. 6 – Porter’s Five Forces Model Source: Michael Porter “Competitive Strategy” 1980


Fig. 7 – BIM Technology S-Curve

  Fig. 8 Common Exchange Formats in AEC Applications, Source: BIM Handbook, page 69 (2008


Fig. 9 Daratech Market Share Reports, Source: Daratech, Inc. (2010)

EaglePoint 5% Trimble Other Carlson 3% 5% 3% Bentley  Microstation 8%

Autodesk Verticals 37% Bentley Verticals 20%

Autodesk  AutoCAD/LT 19%

Fig. 10 US Civil Software Market (Revenue), Source: Autodesk (2007)


Fig. 11 BIM Solutions Currently Being Used, Source: Special Report (October 10, 2007)


Appendix 2: Tables BIM Standardization


Time (Days in Transit)

Sub Contractor submits brick samples to Contractor for approval

Contractor submits brick samples to Architect for approval

Architect presents samples to owner/owner’s representative for approval

Architect submits product approvals to Contractor

Contractor submits product approvals to Sub Contractor

Sub Contractors purchases brick from Material Vendor

Material Vendor fabricates/ships brick to job site

20  Total: 32 Business Days


Table 1 – Time needed for a brick order to reach a jobsite for installation. *Data generated is based on industry experiences *

BIM Costs, Savings, & Returns on Investments Project 


Final Cost $(Millions) 

BIM Cost

BIM Cost of Budget

Direct BIM Savings

Net BIM Savings 


Ashley Overlook 








Progressive Center 








Raleigh Marriott 








GSU Library 








Peachtree Mansion 








Aquarium Hilton 








1515 Wynkoop 








HP Data Center 








Savannah State 








NAU Science Labs 
















Table 2 – BIM Costs, Savings, & Returns on Investments Source: (Gilligan)   36   

BIM Standardization