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The four pillars of BIM

This article describes how the BIM system can be separated into four pillars (technology, people, process, and technology).

When considering BIM, it can be helpful to consider these four significant factors:

  • Policy
  • People
  • Technology
  • Process

It is argued that only when these elements are integrated and working harmoniously that the true value of BIM will be experienced.

If all four elements are fully considered within BIM adoption, it sets the initiative for a solid foundation of understanding.


Knowledge of Building Information Modelling (BIM) within the construction industry is on the rise. The yearly reports produced by the National Building Standards (NBS) are a valuable resource for learning more about the rate of BIM adoption, both within the UK and international context.

For instance, NBS (2012, 2013) reports demonstrate the decrease in the number of construction workers not aware of BIM, with 6% unaware in 2013, down from around 40% in 2011. This shows the rising knowledge of BIM, and possibly, its usefulness.

Other statistics show that in the earlier years, about 74% of the industry was not clear enough on what BIM was. Yet, by 2016 about 54% were aware of and using BIM, with 42% at least aware of it, and just 4% neither aware of nor using BIM (NBS 2016). Meaning knowledge of BIM has risen over time.

Regarding the future of BIM, 73% of participants agreed with the statement ‘BIM is the future of project information’.

These statistics indicate that although some gaps are still present, knowledge of BIM continues to rise.

Realistically, awareness is not the only reason for adopting BIM in the AEC. However, awareness can influence policy changes to adopt BIM where necessary. In the UK for instance, awareness of BIM and its benefits has led to the government calling for BIM to be mandatory for public projects. This policy change has influenced the private sector to follow suit.


A core feature of working within a BIM environment is the drive toward encouraging multidisciplinary collaboration from the outset of a project. The benefits of all disciplines working together within one core BIM environment are substantial.

A major issue experienced within non-BIM design processes is the matter of conflicting design issues. The ethos of having a core central BIM model is to facilitate a smoother transition through these issues by identifying conflicts earlier on in the project stages, thus reducing the negative effects on schedule and costs.

From an early stage, projects can be visualised, allowing clients and designers alike to gain an appreciation of how the design is going to materialise. This allows for important design decisions and alterations to be made at an early stage, when the cost repercussions are small or even zero.


BIM technology has, over the years, helped in carrying out all the pre-construction design analysis and interrogation, resulting in a reduction of conflicts and changes made during the construction phase that usually have a detrimental effect on a project in terms of wastage, quality, time and costs.

At the same time, the stringent energy analysis that can take place in the early stages of a BIM project aims to improve the performance of a project in regard to low-impact design.

Finally, post-project completion, a high-quality BIM model can continue to be utilised by an asset team to assist in the management of their assets in an efficient and environmentally conscious manner.

The efficiency of the effects of changes within documentation or design is greatly improved as any changes made that are linked to the main BIM package will automatically be carried through and updated to all corresponding linked documents and models.


Having the design process completed within a BIM environment using a core 3D BIM model at the centre of the project can lead to multiple benefits later in the process.

The models can be analysed, allowing for a multitude of model interrogations to take place, including energy analysis, structural analysis, accurate schedules, and quantity take-offs.

It is argued that using BIM processes for building projects will improve energy efficiency, improve scheduling, facilitate a reduction of waste, and facilitate a reduction in costs.


National Building Standards (2012) NBS National BIM Report 2012. Newcastle upon Tyne: RIBA Enterprises Ltd

National Building Standards (2013) NBS International BIM Report 2013. Newcastle upon Tyne: RIBA Enterprises Ltd

National Building Standards (2016) NBS National BIM Report 2016. Newcastle upon Tyne: RIBA Enterprises Ltd

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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An Introduction to Building Information Modelling

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