Building Information Modelling (BIM) in Europe

Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an all-encompassing acronym that can mean different things to different people. The US National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee has the following definition: Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.

Traditional building design was largely reliant upon two-dimensional drawings (plans, elevations, sections, etc.). Building information modelling extends this beyond 3D, augmenting the three primary spatial dimensions (width, height and depth) with time as the fourth dimension (4D) and cost as the fifth (5D), etc. BIM therefore covers more than just geometry. It also covers spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, and quantities and properties of building components (for pipes for example, operating temperature, pressure, insulation material, and many more).

In January 2014, the European Parliament voted to modernise European public procurement rules by recommending the use of electronic tools such as building information electronic modelling, or BIM, for public works contracts and design contests.

“For the first time, the EU is asking their member states to consider the use of technology to modernise and improve the public procurement processes. The recent vote represents a big step forward for the EU and its member states. The wide adoption of BIM across the European AEC industry would not only reduce the cost of publicly funded building projects at home, but also tremendously boost EU industry’s global competitiveness in winning international building contracts," said Roland Zelles, Autodesk vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa. (Source:

The adoption of this directive, officially called the European Union Public Procurement Directive (EUPPD) means that all the 28 European Member States may encourage, specify or mandate the use of BIM for publicly funded construction and building projects in the European Union by 2016. The UK, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and Norway already require the use of BIM for publicly funded building projects.

In a number of European countries, several bodies are pushing for a more integrated adoption of BIM standards, in order to improve software interoperability and cooperation among actors of the building industry.