By: Daniel M. Drewry
Since 2008, the debate over the cost/benefits of Building Information Modeling (“BIM”) has reached a fever pitch. What was once easier to categorize as a technology or innovation with only limited practical application outside of the large scale or institutional building taking place on the coasts has commanded an audience in the Midwest. What has changed? Last summer two states, Wisconsin and Texas, implemented new policies requiring the use of BIM on certain public projects. This spring, reports indicate that Ohio may be entering the fray.
On July 1, 2009, Wisconsin became the first state to require the use of BIM on public projects. The BIM requirement applies to the performance of A/E services under a design-bid-build delivery system on any large construction project, defined as those projects with a total funding of at least $5 million, or any new construction with at least $2.5 million in funding. BIM use is encouraged, but not required on all other projects. Wisconsin also issued its BIM Standard and Guidelines document to facilitate the implementation of BIM on applicable projects. For additional information, see: http://www.doa.state.wi.us/dsf/masterspec_view_new.asp?catid=61&locid=4
One month later on August 12, 2009, the Texas Facilities Commission (“TFC”) announced that it was requiring the use of BIM on all public design and construction projects. Like Wisconsin, the TFC (through its Facilities Design and Construction division) had been studying the use and impact of BIM and developed a set of BIM standards and guidelines and an interoperable BIM template to facilitate and standardize BIM implementation. The Texas announcement went even further than its northern counterparts by eliminating the minimum threshold project value for the use of BIM. This requirement will extend to all real estate development (including the state university systems) for the state of Texas.
In April 2010, the Ohio State Architect’s Office (“SAO”) released a statement advising that it was “beginning a process to develop protocols for the specification of building information modeling (BIM) for design/construction projects of public facilities.” The SAO developed a survey to evaluate the current state of BIM implementation within the Ohio AEC industry, with responses being due by April 30, 2010. The results of the survey have not yet been released. The SAO then plans to engage public owner representatives and industry representatives to assist in developing protocols and facilitate public input on those protocols. The SAO anticipates issuing the proposed BIM protocols towards the end of 2010. For additional information, see: http://www.das.ohio.gov/Divisions/GeneralServices/StateArchitectsOffice/BIMSurvey2010/tabid/542/Default.aspx
Wisconsin, Texas, and soon, Ohio are not the first governmental entities to mandate BIM on public projects. The GSA has been requiring BIM on federal projects since 2006. Closer to home, Indiana University adopted a BIM policy for its projects over $5 million last fall. http://www.indiana.edu/~uao/iubim.html. That being said, these three states are the first to implement (or in the case of Ohio, take significant strides towards implementing) BIM at a state-level.
Will Indiana do the same? It remains to be seen. While Indiana has shown a recent willingness to respond quickly to such industry trends as Green Building, it has also shown a certain reluctance, or at least hesitancy, to accept new or alternative project delivery platforms as shown with the somewhat delayed adoption of design/build on public projects. However, BIM continues to gain momentum and acceptance in the construction industry. The actions of Wisconsin and Texas, and now Ohio, further that trend and suggest that BIM is gaining a real foothold and, perhaps more importantly, a market share. We can expect other states to watch closely what happens in these states, and eventually, follow its lead. If Indiana’s neighbor to the east implements a formal BIM policy, and the IU BIM program succeeds, the debate over the proliferation of BIM will likely shift from a discussion of whether it will reach all Indiana public projects to when.