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Dimensions of BIM implementation – global perspective

Integrating Building Information Modelling (BIM) into a project is not a simple process because it is implemented in many different forms worldwide.

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However, there are generic categories that are widely used to describe the various levels of BIM implementation. These are 3D BIM, 4D BIM, 5D BIM, 6D BIM and 7D BIM, which focus on modelling, scheduling, estimating, sustainability and facilities management respectively, as demonstrated in the figure below.

What do these BIM dimensions mean?

BIMPanzee (2013) define these BIM Dimensions as follows:


3D BIM is the initial BIM phase, it is about creating 3D graphical information and adding non-graphical data to the model. Here, all disciplines work collaboratively contributing towards the model.

The benefits of 3D are better visualisation for all project team members, spatial coordination, fewer errors and the ability to share up-to-date information between all project parties.

BIM 3D models assist contractors in the programming and scheduling of BIM projects, using semi-automated processes. This is achieved by adding programme and time data to a BIM project. A 3D BIM model can be interrogated and analysed within various energy analysis software packages, such as SunCast and Daylight Analysis.


BIM 3D models assist contractors in the programming and scheduling of BIM projects, using semi-automated processes. This is achieved by adding programme and time data to a BIM project.

Once the data is married to the building project, the 4D programming schedule can be established.

The 4D programme helps contractors and design teams improve and refine a project’s schedule.


This level concerns the use of BIM for quantity schedules and costing information and helps quantity surveyors and designers to produce accurate costings of building projects.

Various software can be used to assist in the production of quantity take-offs and cost information, such as Revit and NBS Create.

Standardised data can then be integrated into BIM models, ensuring that building components meet the required regulations.

This information can be accessed from the BIM core model and BIM package.


6D BIM is best explained by this quote from BIMPanzee:

6D BIM (sixth-dimensional building information modelling) helps perform energy consumption analyses. The utilization of 6D BIM technology can result in more complete and accurate energy estimates earlier in the design process. It also allows for measurement and verification during building occupation, and improved processes for gathering lessons learned in high performance facilities. Integrating BIM with 6D CAD simulation models leads to an overall reduction in energy consumption.

(BIMPanzee 2013)


7D BIM concentrates on getting the right information handed over to the facilities management teams post-completion. This may include:

  • Soft landings: ‘A strategy adopted to ensure the transition from construction to occupation is bump-free and that operational performance is optimised’ (designingbuildings.co.uk 2015).

  • Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE): According to the NBS, ‘COBie is a non-proprietary data format for the publication of a subset of building information models, focussed on delivering asset data as distinct from geometric information’ (Hamil 2018).

  • As-built models: BIM models including graphical and non-graphical information about the project as it was built. Another term for it is ‘as-constructed’ and provides information to clients, asset and facility management, beneficial for the future use of the asset.

  • Bespoke data on installed systems: In certain cases, where suitable off-shelf data for installed systems is not available or is not available in a meaningful manner, a bespoke database may be written.

  • Whole-life data: This is information detailing all phases of a building’s lifecycle, from initial brief and design to demolition and removal of debris.

Beyond 7D

So far, there are no known proposals beyond 7D. However, there could be work in the pipeline. Use the task below to explore this.

Your task

Based upon the dimensions of BIM described earlier in this step, answer the following question:

20 years into the future what do you think the world of BIM will look like?

Share your thoughts in the discussion area and respond to other comments.


BIMPanzee (2013) BIM 3D, 4D, 5D. 6D AND 7D [online] available from http://www.bimpanzee.com/bim-3d-4d--5d--6d---7d.html [10 July 2018]

Designing Buildings Wiki (2016) BS 8536-1:2015 Briefing for Design and Construction. Code of Practice for Facilities Management (Buildings Infrastructure) [online] available from https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/BS_8536-1:2015_Briefing_for_design_and_construction._Code_of_practice_for_facilities_management_(Buildings_infrastructure) [18 March 2019]

Designing Buildings Wiki (2016) Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) [online] available from https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/COBie [18 March 2019]

GenieBelt (2017) ‘What is BIM?’. Designing Buildings Wiki [online] available from https://www.designingbuildings.co.uk/wiki/The_future_of_construction_-_BIM [18 March 2019]

GenieBelt.com (2017) The Future of Construction - BIM [online] available from https://geniebelt.com/blog/bim-maturity-levels [27 March 2019]

Hamil, S. (2018) ‘What is COBie?’. National Building Standards [online] https://www.thenbs.com/knowledge/what-is-cobie Accessed on [12 April 2019]

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This article is from the free online course:

BIM Implementation within the AEC Industry

Coventry University