BIM Adoption in the BENELUX

In recent years, Europe has seen significant BIM growth in their AEC industries. Architects, contractors, and constructors have shown varied BIM implementation in education, planning, and the building phases of public and private projects.

BIM has become a vital topic of enquiry for the entire AEC industry looking to digitise its construction efforts. This is especially important in the public sector as BIM can help optimise the building process. 

The Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium have varying levels of BIM adoption. Below, we will give an overview of their approaches and national standards across the BENELUX Region.

BENELUX region shown on a map

BIM Adoption for Planning, Construction, Operation

Netherlands

Architects in The Netherlands lead the rest of Europe when it comes to BIM adoption. Currently, 80% of architects have used BIM in their projects.  

Unlike other countries, The Netherlands uses the same design for residential projects. So, the cost of BIM implementation is lower if the designs do not require changing. It is much simpler to use BIM in these scenarios.

The Netherlands has begun implementing BIM at an increasing rate in the public and private sectors. The Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) and the Central Government Real Estate Agency (Rijksvastgoedbedrijf) both use BIM in their projects. They have collaborated with private companies and organisations to develop national BIM standards.

Luxembourg

In the 2014 IT Barometer Survey, not many engineers or contractors were familiar with BIM. Only about 40% of architects and 9% of contractors were familiar with the concept.

Yet, the Luxembourg government has invested in the construction sector since then. The construction industry’s funding had increased by 33.9% from the period 2010 to 2016. They have also emphasised innovation in the sector. Many stakeholders in the industry have formed initiatives to boost BIM adoption.

The Resource Centre for Technologies and Innovation in Construction aims to assemble the major stakeholders with a unified platform for innovation. Furthermore, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) has pushed the BIM implementation in the country.

Belgium

Belgium’s BIM adoption has grown significantly since 2013. In the European Architectural Barometer for Q4 2019, 40% of architects in the country have used BIM.

Organisations like the Association of Major Belgian Contractors and G30 (Association of Architects) and others have formed a BIM workgroup. The workgroup wants to improve the use of open BIM standards in the industry.

They have developed guidelines for the use of BIM in various projects. They focused on adapting the already established Design-Tender-Build contracts to include BIM process guidelines. These guidelines include information about BIM, document sharing, and a standardised BIM protocol for all projects.

Are There Any National Standards For BIM In The BENELUX region?

Netherlands

The Netherlands has already developed the Dutch Information Exchanges Standards (VISI). This gives requirements for data structures when communicating on a project. 

The  Dutch Building Information Council (BIR) has also published the BIR 2012. The BIR is also developing processes for the use of  open BIM standards to classify information in construction projects.

Furthermore, the government began a BIM Gateway (BIM Loket). This is a national platform for open BIM standards in the country. Its aim is to have a single system of reference for various stakeholders in the industry. Accordingly, they also aim to reduce maintenance costs by having a single point of reference when deploying open BIM standards in a project.

BIM Loket has since published  two documents to assist stakeholders with BIM implementation. The first is the Nationaal Model BIM Protocol. This outlines the framework for construction contracts that involve BIM. The second, Nationaal Model BIM Uitvoeringsplan, gives a template for how BIM managers need to organise work schedules using BIM.

Luxembourg

LIST is the leader for research and experimentation in BIM in Luxembourg. They have partnered with other institutions to measure the impact of BIM implementation in the AEC industry.

Moreover, the Resource Centre for Technologies and Innovation in Construction formed BIM workgroups to develop a BIM implementation plan. They have already published a  BIM application guide. It provides a detailed point of reference for organisations that want to use BIM in their projects.

Belgium

Belgium’s AEC industry has formed several workgroups to standardise BIM use in projects. The Association of Major Belgian Contractors (ADEB-VBA) along with the G30 published a  Guide to Building Information Modelling

This document outlines how to bring traditional Design-Tender-Build contracts in line with BIM. These include using digital documents and communication between stakeholders in the project.

Is BIM Mandatory For Public Projects?

Only The Netherlands has gotten close to making BIM mandatory for public projects. The Government Buildings Agency (Rijksgebouwendienst) required that all building projects larger than 7,000,000 square metres use BIM in 2011. 

However,  Minister Cora van Niewenhuizen has recently halted the use of BIM for Rijkswaterstaat in new projects. BIM will only be mandatory for current projects. The minister states that the OTL (Objects Type Library) is too complex. The RWS is currently simplifying the library.

Both Luxembourg and Belgium do not have mandated BIM use for public projects.

Main Use Case for BIM

Luxembourg has a few BIM companies that assist clients with BIM use in their projects. BIMConsult has aided the Luxembourg Railway Company on different projects.

For example, they have provided BIM management for the  park and ride car park in Wasserbillig. They facilitated communication between the contracting authority and project stakeholders. They also developed a BIM implementation plan and trained teams for BIM use.

Lastly, they reviewed and revised BIM documentation and checked whether BIM protocols were followed during the project.

Final Thoughts

The Architecture industry in the BENELUX region has seen the most growth in BIM use. However, many public and private industry players have joined forces to develop national standards for BIM use.

Each country shows major growth in research, pilot projects, and discussion around BIM implementation in the future.

Luxembourg has invested in innovation in the construction sector which naturally includes BIM. The Netherlands have developed open BIM standards used worldwide. And lastly,  Belgium is seeing a growing demand for BIM from its clients. 

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