A compelling case for BIM adoption in Poland – Iain Leyden’s article for Contact magazine

Iain Leyden – Regional Director Europtima

Building Information Modelling, (BIM), is gathering momentum in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry globally; some individual research over your morning coffee will quickly convince you of that.

A global BIM Study, published by Construction IT Alliance in February 2017, found that the majority of the 32 countries reviewed either had a mandate in place for the use of BIM for government projects, or else had a phased introduction programme, or planned to mandate the use of BIM at some time in the future. Less than a fifth of those countries had no BIM requirement in the pipeline. What was striking for me was that Poland was not among the countries surveyed.

The British experience

The UK on the other hand, by no means the first adopter of BIM, has certainly become a world leader in its implementation.

The UK government published its Construction Strategy in May 2011, principally with the desire to reduce the cost of public sector assets by up to 20%. A mandate was introduced to achieve this requiring a minimum of Level 2 collaborative BIM on all centrally funded public projects by 2016. This mandate came into effect in April 2016. A BIM Task Group was established to assist in delivering this aim by providing support to the government and the construction industry. This was a highly effective ‘push’ strategy by the UK government, which forced the UK construction industry to move quickly to adapt.

Other key champions who have influenced this step-change modernisation of the UK construction industry include the UK BIM Alliance, British Standards Institute (BSI Group), the Construction Industry Council and buildingSMART UK & Ireland.

Along the way, UK industry has amassed a great deal of useful experience, guidance, tools and research, that can inform the way forward for the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Construction, notably:

  • PAS 1192 – British Standards and Publicly Available Specifications (PAS) a suite of documents developed to help the construction industry adopt BIM Level 2
  • CIC BIM Protocol (2013)
  • Outline Scope of Services for the Role of Information Management (2013)
  • COBie-UK-2012, the UK edition of the schema for Construction Operations Building Information Exchange;

HM Government in the UK is now looking beyond initial transformation of the industry to a Digital Built Britain, where BIM technology combines with the Internet of Things, advanced data analytics and the digital economy to enable them to plan new infrastructure more effectively, at lower cost and operate and maintain it more efficiently. BIM Level 3 will be an important programme of work to deliver this aspiration, which was first set out in the 2015 Digital Built Britain Level 3 Strategic Plan.

The European perspective

The European public sector has also taken a step towards a common approach to the introduction of Building Information Modelling (BIM) with the launch of a new handbook.

The EU BIM Task Group, a pan-European collaboration collecting public-sector expertise from infrastructure and public estate owners, public clients and policy makers from 21 nations, launched its Handbook for the Introduction of Building Information Modelling by the European Public Sector on 6th July 2017.

The publication encourages the wider introduction of BIM in response to the growing challenges faced by governments across Europe and public clients to stimulate economic growth and competitiveness, while delivering value for public money. The Handbook is produced in the context of three related strategic drivers:

  • A rapid increase of European public sector led BIM initiatives
  • The EU Public Procurement Directive (2014) reference to the encouragement of BIM in public works
  • The European Commission’s call for funding to develop a common framework for the introduction of BIM to the European public works and construction sector.

Here in Poland, we can be encouraged by the initiative of the deputy minister of infrastructure Tomasz Żuchowski, who held the first meeting concerning the launch of pilot projects aimed at verifying the implementation of BIM methodology in Poland on 20 October 2017.

The meeting was attended by representatives of Poland’s energy transmission company, Poland’s highway agency GDDKiA, rail infrastructure operator PKP PLK, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the chief inspector of construction supervision, Anita Oleksiak.

Public-sector bodies like GDDKiA  and PKP PLK have already taken steps towards pilot projects and industry consultation. GDDKiA is launching pilot projects mandated to use BIM processes and BIM technology for the development of the Zatory bypass on national roads DK28 and DK44, while PKP PLK’s is consulting with industry for the use of the technology and processes on national rail infrastructure works.


A particular feature of many international government BIM programmes is the involvement of buildingSMART Alliance. The goal of this organisation is to improve cost, value and environmental performance of buildings through the use of open, shareable asset information. BuildingSMART has been at the forefront of implementing BIM by developing and maintaining the Industry Foundation Class (IFC) platform, which makes interoperability between different native CAD software possible. There are currently 18 buildingSMART chapters globally.

On 6 November 2017, buildingSMART Polska was established by the signatories to its constitutional documents – namely Hochtief Polska, WARBUD, Mostostal Warszawa, Electra M&E Polska, MOTA-ENGIL and ENGIE Technika Instalacyjna.

What’s next for Poland

As can be seen, from UK government’s example, there are good reasons for public leadership in the wider use of BIM. These include better value for public money (the UK BIM Task Group says you can build six schools or hospitals for the price of five designed on paper, and save up to 30% of operating costs over the lifetime of a building); public procurement as a motivator for innovation; the network effect of adoption also provides support for SMEs; and it further supports the digitisation of industrial sectors.

Through collaborative working and sharing of best practice, Poland can accelerate its own BIM initiatives by learning from others.

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