Government BIM Projects

Jane Foulkes
The first Government project to be executed using Building Information Modelling (BIM), HM Young Offenders Institute Cookham Wood, Kent has just been completed to programme and with 20% cost savings required by the Government’s Construction Strategy, benchmarked against similar projects.

Faithful+Gould was the Client’s Representative, working on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to manage this successful outcome; leading the project team through processes which brought all of the Government's Construction Strategy 2011 (PDF, 148KB) initiatives together including Early Contractor Involvement, Building Information Modelling, Project Bank Accounts, Soft Landings, Lean Delivery and Benchmarking, giving this project a label of a ‘Cabinet Office Best Practice Project’.

We can feel proud of our involvement in this successful project which has in many respects laid industry foundation stones for the future of the construction industry and the way in which we deliver buildings, but before we pat ourselves on the back we need to consider the longer term vision for the construction industry, so passionately portrayed by Peter Hansford in his key note speech at the recent Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) BIM Conference. 

The vision is for Britain to have a world-class research and development industry, building competitive advantage through a digital Built Britain agenda.

Whilst many in construction are worried about meeting the targets set by the 2011 Construction Strategy, requiring the incorporation of BIM on all publicly procured projects by 2016, the Industrial Strategy - Construction 2025 (PDF, 2.2MB) is even more ambitious. The 2025 vision is for a construction industry transformed with 33% lower capital and whole life cost, 50% faster delivery for both new-build and refurbishment projects, a 50% reduction in emissions, and a 50% reduction in the trade gap between imports and exports of construction products and materials. Thankfully there are interim targets for 2017 and 2020. But it doesn’t stop there. Key themes emerge to get us there including changing the image of the industry. This change in perception can only come from a change in such conditions, and education.

Peter Hansford put forward a vision of the future where the construction industry workforce is made up of an additional 14% women and 2% ethnic minority on top of current figures; where apprenticeships are common place and value is placed on recruitment and training for retention, particularly to encourage diversity. The 2025 strategy places emphasis on smart technologies, with digital innovation, giving less process waste, quicker, cleaner results, with offsite technology central in giving reductions in time and quality concerns, and simplifying assembly on site. The vision is for Britain to have a world-class research and development industry, building competitive advantage through a digital Built Britain agenda.

Transforming the way in which our construction industry does business opens up significant opportunity for other countries to follow suit.

Growth is a key agenda item. Transforming the way in which our construction industry does business opens up significant opportunity for other countries to follow suit. If we increase our reputation for partnering, for good design and for ethical procurement, other countries will want to do business with us – it is common sense. This vision relies on supply chain proficiency, so we need to create conditions in which the supply chain can thrive and invest, which means having access to the right type of finance at the right time, without cash flow problems inhibiting growth.

Green construction is also headlined with the need to reduce embedded and operational carbon, supported by the use of BIM. Clients will need a sounder basis for investment decisions and this is where BIM can also help. If clients have the information they need to identify a pipeline of work and make unequivocal decisions, then the market can be more efficient in its response, and more confident to make investment decisions down through the supply chain.

If clients have the information they need to identify a pipeline of work and make unequivocal decisions, then the market can be more efficient in its response...

Peter Hansford’s address was inspirational. Whether it is realistic is elastic. Whilst I am used to looking out of the window from our offices in Euston Tower and seeing the skyline constantly evolve, with significant new buildings changing and shaping the environments in which we live, work and play, we are not used to revolutionary processes changing the way our industry delivers its buildings, or changing the way in which we do business. 

Whilst industry is moving out of the starting blocks and struggling with full scale industry adoption of Level 2 BIM, Cookham Wood kick-started a change process and proved that the benefits are well worth having, and that we should, can, and have started to make the 2025 vision happen. It was good to be a part of that collaboration. 

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