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Engineering | Skills Training

January 14, 2013

Canada BIM Council looking to become the business voice

Solidifying the Canada BIM Council's (CanBIM) position as the business voice of the Building Information Modeling (BIM) community in the country ranks as a top priority for new president Allan Partridge, executive director of integrated practice at Group2 Architecture Interior Design Ltd.

He said the council plans to do so in part by growing membership, ramping up participation on committees, holding at least four regional sessions across the country in 2013 and continuing to populate its board with individuals actively using BIM each day.

“There is no point being the business voice of the BIM community if you are not in the trenches with the technology and know the pains and gains,” he said.

Partridge, who has been practising architecture for more than 25 years and has been on the council’s management team from day one, said one of the lessons learned during the past four years is that we simply cannot take on too many BIM-related objectives.

“We want to do a few things 110 per cent rather than twice as many things 55 per cent,” he said.

In focusing on BIM at work, the council is anxious to ensure that key committees move towards developing protocols, contract/agreement attachments and best practices for all parties involved in BIM.

They want to do this in a timely manner, while recognizing that there is a ‘best-by’ date with anything related to BIM.

Another such activity, Partridge said, is to find ways to effectively deploy and confidently use BIM-enabled technologies, BIM execution plans, COBie2 (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange) and the like.

“We are also looking for members who would like to work on AEC (CAN) BIM protocols for Bentley, ArchiCAD and Vectorworks as we remain resolutely vendor-agnostic,” he added.

>Given its limited resources and a collective desire to avoid duplication of effort, the council has opted to leave development of actual BIM standards, contracts and agreements to the Institute for BIM in Canada (IBC)/buildingSMART Canada.

“That will be a significant departure for us, as we have always had a strong commitment to the buildingSMART alliance in the United States and the National BIM Standard -United States (NBIMS-US),” he said.

The council in fact assisted in development of version 2 of that consensus-based standard governing BIM use in the U.S.

Partridge, who succeeds Paul Loreto as CanBIM president, said one of the key accomplishments of the past year was the solidification of the council’s key committees as the real power-brokers in the organization.

In addition to the education and research committee that has links to academia, other key committees represent contractors, designers and owners.

“Strong and focused committees will increase CanBIM’s credibility at home and abroad,” Partridge said.

Another accomplishment in 2012 was an increase in the number of regional sessions, with events held in Montreal, Vancouver and Ottawa.

The council’s inaugural AGM was held in conjunction with the Ottawa session.

“Members told us not to hold a once-a-year conference that is expensive, hard to get to and lacks personal engagement,” Partridge said.

“Rather, they asked for smaller half-day, reasonably priced regional sessions, where local issues could be debated and local BIM examples presented.”

The next such session will be held Feb. 21 in Calgary.

Another milestone, Partridge said, was the October release of the AEC (CAN) BIM protocol on implementing Canadian BIM standards for the architectural, engineering and construction industry based on international collaboration.

In 2011, CanBIM initiated discussions with a committee in the United Kingdom to develop a parallel protocol.

That committee had representation from architectural, engineering and construction companies in that country.

“We decided to work closely with AEC (UK) as they already had a very robust protocol in place,” Partridge said.

“We saw no need to reinvent practice standards for BIM in Canada.”

The council will continue to collaborate with the U.K. organization in development of BIM protocols, particularly for Revit using members.

As it looks to the future, the council will focus on continuing to build relationships with IBC as well as various emerging provincial BIM task forces/groups and the newly established Alberta Centre for Excellence in BIM.

‘We have a very open relationship with IBC/buildingSMART Canada and continue to support their efforts to facilitate the coordinated use of BIM in the design, construction and management of the Canadian built environment.”

CanBIM now has close to 60 members across Canada, drawn from the architecture, engineering and construction community as well as building owners and operators and educational institutions. Partridge would like to see membership ultimately top the 200 mark.

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