Case Studies

Interoperability and BIM - Case Studies


For several speakers case studies were an integral part of their presentation – in particular for the software vendors who sponsored the conference.

This article features highlights from those presentations, focusing on how each case study was used to validate a specific benefit of interoperability or BIM.

1. US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)

The USACE CAD/BIM Centre is working to deploy BIM in a consistent manner in Strategic Planning Support for US Army Medical Command (MEDCOM) & US Army Health Facility Planning Agency (HFPA). This will ensure acceptable return on investment and promote interoperability between BIM and other geospatial technologies.

Although using BIM software will provide immediate benefits to the design and construction process, MEDCOM/HFPA believes that the true value will come through the ability to leverage data created at each stage of the building delivery process over the entire lifecycle of the building, particularly during facility management.

This major process deployment commenced in September 2009.

2. Aldar HQ Abu Dhabi

Stuart Bull, (BIM Coordinator and Associate, Arup) describes this project as "The True Story of Collaboration, Interoperability & Constructiion"

ALDAR Properties is the leading Abu Dhabi-based integrated property development, investment, and Management Company.

Since launching in 2005, ALDAR has announced high-profile projects worth more than USD 72 billion and owns over 35 million sqm of land in strategic locations throughout the emirate.

Dr. Graham Owens, former Director of the Steel Construction Institute, specifically requested a viewing of the futuristic steelwork framed building, scheduled for completion by the end of 2009. He enthused about the “leading edge BIM modelling and analysis tools which have been used to considerable benefits on the project, including coordination of the steelwork design development/fabrication process and integration of MEP spatial requirements”.

The initial structural 3D modelling and exchange of data between contractors/consultants/main contractor allowed the geometry issues to be effectively reviewed and solved. Another benefit from this early sharing of information was that there were fewer unknowns which created ‘buy in’ by all involved to the solutions provided - as each solution was detailed within the respective models.

Testament to this was the speed of construction achieved and not having any major contractual disputes on site.

Myles O’Sullivan, Laing O’Rourke Construction Manager stated “It has been a technically challenging project that has been successfully undertaken through key design co-ordination, implementing BIM technology and providing key build ability solutions with an integrated team of Client, Consultant, Contractor and Subcontractors”

Gary Simmons, Steel Delivery Manager William Hares Ltd commented “The benefits can be summarised into three categories, Accuracy of Information, Speed of Data Transfer & Confidence in Understanding. The level of information contained within the model can be adjusted to suit both the originator and the recipient, leading to reductions in man hours, non-repetition of work and confidence in specification compliance”

3. Kensington Royal – a study of Integrated Project Delivery (IPD)
The 18 storey Kensington Royal Apartment Residence Tower is located in Sports City, Dubailand. Middle East Development is developing this 5 star, luxury, 252 room, apartment residence tower, that will provide guests and owners with top quality services and facilities.

Initially, the client was using traditional 2D technology in the design process and saw little value in the BIM approach. However, as the contract award was on a ‘cost plus’ basis, the developer required accurate quantities from the earliest phases of the project. This was difficult using traditional methods so after an initial BIM was provided, the developer decided to adopt BIM to integrate the 5 phases of design (Mass model, Preliminary model, Construction model, Product model, Maintenance model)

This project is still ongoing, however the client has already been able to quantify significant savings in the construction phase to date that can be summarised as follows:

  • 326 Logged Collision Findings
  • Many other unlogged collisions reported direct on site to the Contractor
  • Assume 2 site Engineers ($75/hr) and 1 hour saved per collision corrected for the noted 326 items = $48,900 of savings
  • Time Saved: Minimum of 652 hours of focus on items other than field fires (13 weeks for two Site Engineers)
  • 35% savings on rebar supply
  • 15%-20% savings to date from actual quantity Vs  budget
  • Client is measuring RFI’s to find savings when compared to RFIs on a similar project
  • Client expecting to reduce construction time by 10% by optimizing the Schedule

Mr Munzer Hawwa, Projects Manager of Middle East Developments stated “We decided to use BIM on this project because it promised a solution to the problems associated with progressing designs in a traditional manner. We have seen improvements in communication and efficiency by following the IPD process. It has also identified and corrected potential errors at an early stage, ensuring that those errors do not impact on the costs of construction. It is impossible to evaluate fully what this process has actually saved the project in cost terms, but we have no doubt that we have seen a significant return on our investment which has more than justified our decision to adopt IPD.”

It is also interesting to view the chronology of this project which clearly indicates the clients growing satisfaction with the BIM solution as the project developed.

4. The Norwegian Government

buildingSMART processes incorporating BIM technology have been adopted by a number of international governments in Europe, the USA and Asia. The following brief studies are the result of the Norwegian government’s adoption of both BIM and buildingSMART as its preferred methodology for federal construction projects.

At the recent conference in Norway, “The Future Construction Industry 2009” Minister of Government Administration and Reform Heidi Grande Røys stated “Time is up for actors not willing to go for open standards … collaboration, inclusion and open standards is the future…”.

This was a clear statement of their intent and the following four studies show both the committment and intent of the government to succeed.

  • The Norwegian Government sees buildingSMART as one of the pillars of innovation for the construction industry

In Norway the first white paper ever on innovation (St. meld. nr. 7) states that buildingSMART is a key enabler for innovation in the construction industry.  It can also be an important contributor to solving the sustainability challenge Norway faces, not only as a nation, but also globally. buildingSMART is the kind of open standard that is preferred for the future.

Government has buying power that should be used explicitly to promote open standards such as buildingSMART.

buildingSMART may be the basis for a future export industry capable of SMARTGreenGrowth – making profit out of sustainability.

  • The Directorate of Public Construction and Property in Norway, Statsbygg,  requires the use of buildingSMART on all their projects from 2010.

“5 - 10 – 15 - ALL”

  • In 2007 they started out with 5 buildingSMART projects
  • In 2008 they made 10 projects
  • In 2009 they plan 15 projects
  • And from 2010 they require buildingSMART deliverables in all their projects

Currently project managers even have to argue for why they not should require buildingSMART in their new projects. Statsbygg’s first regular project requiring buildingSMART in all disciplines was The University of Stavanger campus extension.

  • The Norwegian Defense Estates Agency (NDEA), Forsvarsbygg,  is using buildingSMART to cut their energy bill by 20-30 %


  • Total building area of about 67,000 m2
  • Energy sources: gas / oil / wood / electricity

Four GOALS :

  • Energy Optimization in all hot rooms, regardless of function  and energy source.
  • Use buildingSMART concept to remotely control and automate the operational running of the building's technical components.
  • Exploit passive solar energy by removing all excess heat
  • Expected energy savings: about 20-30 % energy consumption or about 13.5 mNOK every year
  • The Directorate of Public Construction and Property in Norway, Statsbygg, require digital and open buildingSMART submission only in Design competition

The Directorate of Public Construction and Property in Norway, Statsbygg, have invited to an open planning and design competition for a new museum facility for the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design.

  • Submissions are only to be done digitally and based on open buildingSMART standards and this will be the BIM basis for next phase of the project. Because of this requirement, the jury will be better able to assess:
  • potential energy consumption
  • program requirement fulfilment (validation) and increase the likelihood of being able to:
  • do energy analysis of the submissions
  • compare and rank submissions according to their environmental profile (which is almost impossible without BIM)

BIM Journal would like to thank Deke Smith (buildingSMART alliance), Stuart Bull (Arup), Victor Arcos (BIMES) and Lars Chr Christensen (multiBIM), for their contributions to these case studies