building information modelingBuilding Information Modeling (BIM) provides contractors, engineers, and architects with a digital rendering of the functional and physical qualities of a facility in the built format. It allows teams in multiple locations the opportunity to share a single knowledge source. Since everyone involved in the project is viewing the same digital drawings, it creates a uniform basis for decisions throughout the lifecycle of the facility. Depending on their role in the project, participants can use BIM to insert, extract, modify, or update information that is crucial to the team’s success.

It’s So Much More Than CAD

Construction professionals who have previously worked with 2D and 3D CAD or Facilities Management (FM) programs will appreciate how much more BIM has to offer. It uses dynamic, three-dimensional, and real-time building modeling software to enable participants to increase their productivity during building design and construction. Additionally, it allows users to incorporate qualities of the Building Information Model, which includes the following:

  • Building geometry
  • Geographic information
  • Quantities and properties
  • Spatial relationships


BIM offers an interactive user experience that was unheard of with earlier versions of design software. For example, users can click on the floor level of the building design to visualize what it would look like once it is filled to capacity with tenants. Seeing what the urban landscape looks like from a specific window or being able to see which vendors have installed fiber optic cables are two additional futuristic benefits of BIM software. Anyone with access to the project can look backward or forward while choosing a detailed or summary view.

Benefits of BIM

The shared model framework of BIM means there is less of a need for rework and duplication of drawings due to various building disciplines having different requirements. This ultimately means less waste, since BIM contains significantly more information than a drawing set. Because it’s much faster than using 2D drawing tools, the entire team can accomplish more work in a shorter amount of time. The following are a small sampling of the other key benefits of BIM:

  • Autosave and project history connections: BIM, which employs a digital model-based workflow, automatically saves all new work as well as the project history. This helps to avoid a disastrous loss of data while maintaining a record of the evolution of the design at the same time.
  • Improved ability to collaborate: The interactive nature of BIM makes it easy for project members to share drawings and data without having to pass worn out paper back and forth. With new cloud-based programs cropping up every day, the functionality of project management is becoming nearly seamless.
  • Visualize sequential steps: BIM allows users to integrate it with other software tools that allow designers to visualize everything from energy performance to how the sun hits the building during different seasons. With the improved ability to analyze data, engineers can plan future steps in sequential order with amazing accuracy.

The Future of BIM

BIM has enjoyed double-digit growth since 2007. During that year, only 28 percent of companies used the technology. That number jumped to 49 percent in 2009 and 71 percent in 2012. Contractors have the highest usage of BIM, followed by architects and then engineers. This upward trend is expected to continue indefinitely.