Digital evolution

How has the five-year plan to roll out BIM Level 2 across central government projects developed across the construction sector? Hywel Davies investigates

In March 2011, the then government’s Construction Client Group published its Building Information Modelling (BIM) Working Party Strategy Paper.

This recommended ‘a series of small but significant steps to enable [delivery of] project information at ‘Level 2’ of the maturity model over a five-year period’.Under the ‘BIM Strategy’, the British Standards Institute (BSI) was commissioned to develop Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) as part of the BIM Level 2 package. PAS 1192-2 was published in 2013 and Part 3, for the operational phase, emerged in 2014. A UK implementation of the data standard, called COBie, was also developed, along with a revision of the CIC BIM Protocol.

By 2016, the basic building blocks were in place for major central government projects to adopt BIM, but universal adoption of ‘BIM Level 2’ was perhaps still a way off – not least because nobody had a firm definition of what it constituted; certainly nothing firm enough to hold anyone to in a contract.

In 2016, the government’s BIM Task Group came to an end and, in 2017, the baton was passed to the new Centre for Digital Built Britain (CDBB), based at the University of Cambridge. This is a partnership between the university and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to understand how the construction and infrastructure sectors could use a digital approach to better design, build, operate, and integrate the built environment, mapping the path to a ‘Digital Built Britain’.CDBB inherited the BS and PAS 1192 standards and the guidance that the BIM Task Group had produced. It also took on a much wider role, however, in support of the adoption of digital processes across the built environment sector, as part of the Transforming Construction Challenge. Meanwhile, BSI had established a work programme within the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), to transfer the BS and PAS 1192 series into a set of international standards. The ISO 19650 series is an evolution of UK standards for BIM, for international adoption. The principles are broadly as set out in the BS/ PAS 1192 series, although the concept of ‘BIM level 2’ does not appear in the ISO 19650 series.

Meanwhile, the UK BIM Alliance was formed to bring together interested parties in industry to take forward and really implement what we used to think of as ‘BIM Level 2’. Now the UK BIM Alliance, BSI and CDBB have come together to create the UK BIM Framework. This replaces the old BSI BIM Level 2 website, and provides a coordinated and overarching approach to implementing BIM in the UK.

The framework sets out the approach for implementing BIM in the UK, managing information provided by the ISO 19650 series. It includes:

  • The published standards called upon to implement BIM in the UK
  • The UK BIM Guidance Framework
  • Useful links to other resources.

CIBSE Guidance

CIBSE guidance on the use of BIM for building services is available through the Digital Engineering Series Further details on the UK BIM Framework can be found at We still have a way to go before BIM is widely adopted and making a real contribution to the safety and effective management of the built environment. As the past eight years have shown, this is an evolutionary process, but we need to keep changing and adopting digital processes.