The continually evolving concept of building information modeling is gaining a bit more definition in the eyes of federal agencies. The U.S. General Services Administration Nov. 1 released a provisional version of its GSA Building Information Modeling Guide, laying the groundwork for federal BIM requirements that are expected to expand quickly in the coming years.

GSA already requires all new and major modernization projects for fiscal year 2007, which began Oct. 1, to meet new GSA spatial requirements. The guide, released for public review for the first time, creates a minimum requirement for A/E firms to submit three-dimensional models with such attributes as GSA net area, space name, space number, occupant organization name, GSA STAR space type, walls, slabs, columns and beams.

GSA promoted its BIM efforts at a government and industry forum held Oct. 31 at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. Speaking alongside representatives of the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Coast Guard, Calvin Kam, GSA’s national 3D-4D-BIM program manager, said its initial requirements are an approachable step for an industry increasingly familiar with 3D and BIM.

Government agencies are hoping to accelerate the evolutionary process. Robert Fraga, GSA assistant commissioner for Capital Construction Program Management, told the group that within 10 to 15 years he expects BIM to capture every aspect of the process from planning and design through operations and management.

"Challenging industry, the Corps wants interoperability within BIM-related systems by 2010"

“Sometime in the near future this will happen and when it does, look out,” he said. “It will be revolutionary, like the Internet.”

GSA’s requirements were announced in advance of the release of the U.S. National Building Information Modeling Standard, expected by the end of the year. The Corps of Engineers plans to release a BIM implementation guide by next fall. Toby Wilson, architect at the Corps’ CADD/GIS Technology Center in Vicksburg, Miss., said the guide will be based on NBIMS. In FY07, Corps contractors that use BIM will be rated higher. In 2008 BIM will be required for all projects.

“The Corps realizes that in this first go-around of 2007 and 2008, we may not get what we really want because we’re not sure what will give us the greatest return on investment,” he said. “We want to try to at least get the Corps and the A/E firms up to speed up on BIM, so we can begin to define what we want in BIM.”