Building owners are becoming more aware of the benefits that building information modeling brings to their construction projects, and to a lesser extent, its value in the management and operation of their buildings. That's one of the conclusions supported by a recent Dodge Data & Analytics study about building owners' perspectives on BIM published in "The Business Value of BIM for Owners" SmartMarket Report.

The SmartMarket Report, sponsored by Autodesk and Skanska, features data collected from building owners in the U.S. and the U.K. The findings reveal a strong contrast between these countries, largely because the U.K. government announced in 2011 it would mandate BIM on central government-funded projects beginning in 2016.

This has generated enormous interest in and adoption of BIM there. To support this effort, the U.K. BIM Task Group has developed extensive standards and guidelines and provided education on the implementation of BIM. This effort extends to all players, including owners, not just for design and construction, but also across the entire building life cycle.

This investment and commitment are reflected in the study findings: U.K. owners are significantly more engaged in the use of BIM on their projects. They more widely recognize its benefits and are far more likely to require its use, even on projects where it is not mandated, than their U.S. counterparts.

However, even the findings from the U.S. alone demonstrate that BIM's potential to benefit the operations phase of a building will help drive its use. Building owners who say that they have at least a medium level of capability for leveraging BIM in facility management (FM) report significantly higher engagement with BIM overall and a higher recognition of its benefits, and they are more likely to require BIM on their projects.

Contractors that wish to remain competitive, especially in sectors involving complex buildings, can leverage owners' growing respect for BIM to improve their relationship with their clients.

Owner Engagement With BIM

On average, building owners in the U.S. with at least a moderate ability to leverage BIM for facilities management report that architects and contractors are using BIM on a higher percentage of their current projects—on average, about 55%—than building owners with less ability to leverage BIM for FM, with an average of 37% of projects involving BIM.

While this is not necessarily an objective measure of the degree to which BIM is actually being used on projects, it clearly indicates that owners who can leverage BIM in their FM plans are at least more widely aware of BIM use on their projects.

In addition, a significantly higher percentage of owners who can leverage BIM for FM actually own BIM software (81% compared with 49% of those with less ability to leverage BIM), and they are also more than twice as likely to use it if they own it, according to the findings.

However, it is notable that only 38% of those who can leverage BIM for FM actually do use the software, suggesting that they are finding other ways to extract data from the model for their building operations.