northern ireland

RSUA Director

A recent report by the RSUA BIM Task Group, chaired by Peter Monaghan, Change Manager, Southern Regional College,  described a general feeling of optimism amongst its members who have implemented BIM Level 2 within a project. The report recognised the benefits of BIM Level 2 (though difficult to measure fully) in areas such as project visualisation, stakeholder engagement, clash detection and co-ordination of M&E with the building structure/fabric.  Improved construction sequencing and buildability were also identified as BIM Level 2 benefits.

The report encouraged the development of resources by Construction & Procurement Delivery (CPD) to assist public sector employers in the implementation of BIM Level 2. It recognised the important role that employers have to play including the provision of ‘Employer Information Requirements’ (EIRs). The Task Group felt that there was a lack of BIM experience amongst employers and that this was reflected in the low number of informed EIRs being produced. This was considered to be a major barrier to the implementation of BIM Level 2.

The report highlighted the need for fee structures to be ‘re-profiled’ to reflect the additional early stage work now required in a BIM project in order to gain many of the latter stage benefits. The Task Group also felt that the Northern Ireland construction industry would benefit from the sharing of ‘lessons learnt’ through local BIM Level 2 case studies.

RSUA supports CPD in their goal to encourage BIM Level 2 adoption in public procurement processes. Procurement Guidance Note (PGN) 03/15 is seen as a valuable contribution towards achieving this goal. BIM has in the past been misunderstood by some as merely a 3D modelling process. Those RSUA members with experience in implementing BIM feel that the information management aspect is equally important.

RSUA sees collaboration through BIM as a positive step for the construction industry although it will not be without its challenges until all parties in the process have gained both knowledge and experience through education and application. Recognised BIM qualifications, informed by the industry, will help increase the number of BIM professionals available to meet these challenges.

Ciarán Fox

RSUA Director

CITB NI will schedule a series of business improvement events, on varying topics, between September 2019 and August 2020 at a number of locations across Northern Ireland for the construction industry.  Speakers will deliver two sessions of no more than three hours on BIM for small businesses.  The winning tenderer will deliver a talk which will be recorded by CITB NI onto video. CITB NI will edit the video and incorporate a set of associated slides provided by the supplier.


Course Number of Events Length of Event Video Taster Course Required
BIM for small businesses – Get ready!   Topics to include: BIM for Small CompaniesCPD Policy on BIM (procurement)What training is available for BIM? Aimed at companies with 1-50 employees covering three areas. 2 ½ day YES

Barry Neilson, Chief Executive of CITB NI, welcomed the initiative saying: “CITB NI, as part of the BIMcert team and working with the NI BIM Regions group are trying to raise awareness and dispel fears in the adoption of BIM for all levels and disciplines within the construction sector.

“Using BIM and other Digital Construction tools will be the norm in the future.  It will help drive better building performance, productivity and quality improving energy efficiency.”

Barry Neilson , CITB,

The BIMcert partners have produced a new paper called, ‘Delivering Energy savings for the supply chain through Building Information Modelling as a result of the Horizon 2020 Energy BIMcert project’.

Barry McAuley
Technical University Dublin

The exploitation and utilisation of energy resources have caused severe ecological and environmental problems, including the production of emissions that contribute to global warming (Enshassi et al., 2018). The construction industry consumes up to 50% of mineral resources excavated from nature, generates about 33% of CO2 present in the atmosphere and is responsible for 40% of total global energy through both construction and operational emissions (Ajayi et al., 2016 and Zhou and Azar, 2018). This has resulted in the AEC Sector (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) out of necessity being forced to investigate new methods of practice and how best to apply resource-efficient techniques from the extraction of the raw materials to the demolition and disposal of its components.

The realisation that practices now face globalization, sustainability, and environmental concern, as well as ever-changing legislation requirements and new skills needed for the information age has resulted in technologies such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) becoming a key enabler in navigating these concerns (Jaradet, 2014). BIM can be defined as a modelling technology and associated set of processes to produce, communicate, and analyze building models (Sacks et al., 2018). BIM provides an opportunity for the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, and Operation (AECO) industry stakeholders to evaluate possible solutions and identify potential problems of the final product before the start of actual construction (Badrinath et al., 2016).

However, changing from traditional practices to BIM requires a shift not only in the technology used but also in the way design and construction teams work together (Shelbourn et al., 2017). To achieve the associated benefits that are accustomed to BIM a number of existing challenges to ICT (Information, Communication, Technology) utilisation in construction site management must be overcome which include a lack of knowledge, skills and competence, depth of understanding of decision makers and low ICT literacy (Ozumba and Shakantu, 2017). This BIM movement has also resulted in a clear, direct, and automatic impact upon engineering education systems (Jäväjä and Salin, 2014).

To assist in overcoming these barriers, so as to reach EU energy-related targets a number of funding initiatives have been put in place through Horizon 2020 with a focus on BIM, as a result of it having the potential to rapidly produce energy outputs that enable design teams to analyse and compare the most cost-effective, energy-efficient options. Such an initiative is the Energy BIMcert project, which aims to educate all areas of the supply chain in the use of BIM, to achieve better energy efficiency during the design, construction and ongoing maintenance of an asset.

BIMcert aims to develop a series of training interventions using digital technology and improved blended techniques to support, enhance and maximise the impact of energy efficient skills at all operational levels within the construction industry.  Central to this is the creation of an accredited curriculum and framework of qualifications developed through the work and output from each work package, within the context of a National and European wide framework.  Establishing an accredited curriculum framework, with associated qualifications will provide the learners and stakeholders with an assurance of the qualification and standards of training.

However, for the curriculum to have an impact it must be informed by industry requirements and responsive to this need.  From the outset of BIMcert this relationship with industry has been core to the work, as identified via the innovative BIMcert Strategy Compass, with CITB NI a core partner and local businesses such as O’Hare & McGovern and Creagh Concrete Products part of the Industry Advisory Panel.  Guidance from these partners along with feedback from our industry workshops, across the partner regions, has identified a gap in the market in terms of the offering for upskilling with BIM qualifications, with most currently offered at Masters level.  This is daunting for those businesses and workers who want to learn about BIM with the promise of some accreditation but do not wish, or have time to study at this level.  One workshop participant recommended ‘Democratising’ BIM, so that it’s not a top down skill but accessible to all involved in the project, from clients to designers, contractors to supply chain.  As such there is a responsibility to teach others about BIM, ensuring the project is not only BIM compliant but work environments from architect’s offices to construction sites are BIM inclusive.  It was also proposed that a lack of understanding and knowledge of BIM could also be leading to a mistrust of BIM and the resulting slow uptake across certain sectors of the industry.  This resistance in adopting BIM processes and tools is impeding the transition to more energy efficient construction and reduction in CO emissions within the built environment.

Following a review of existing qualifications BIMcert proceeded with the development and creation of a UK Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) Level 3 qualification (European Qualification Framework Level 4).  The rational for a Level 3 (4) qualification was to provide an entry point that is accessible to all construction industry workers.  BIMcert working in conjunction with Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI) has developed a range of Digital Construction with Building Information Modelling (BIM) qualifications.  These offer a range of competencies and skills, starting with an introduction to BIM Principles and associated digital skills.  Authoring skills, including models and families, are also addressed along with information management.  Recognising the three pillars of BIM and the need to understand the built aspect of both the model and project, a specific energy related qualification is under development.

Together we must work to demystify and democratise BIM – breaking down the barriers faced by an industry wishing to upskill and avail of the benefits.

As part of the next phase of trials BIMcert intent to offer the Digital Construction with Building Information Modelling (BIM) Award via the BIMcert platform and website.  For more details and to sign up please visit

A delegation of representatives of the Nigerian Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI) visited Belfast Metropolitan College (BMC) as part of a collaboration with CITB NI.  Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has a significant construction sector that is emerging from recession.  FOCI is a body that brings together Construction Employers, Material Suppliers and Manufacturers, meaning that the entire supply side is encompassed in their federation.  The issues facing the industry are similar to those in construction sectors all over the world:

  • Attracting construction workers
  • Creating training programmes that meet employers needs
  • Developing better quality and productivity

As part of the visit to Northern Ireland the group visited BMC to hear about the work being carried out in the H2020 funded BIMCert project which is a collaboration between 5 partners from, Croatia, Ireland, Macedonia, Portugal and of course Northern Ireland.  The group were interested in the drivers for movement to BIM and Digital Construction in general and the skills requirements identified within the industry research carried out as part of the project.

From L to R: Barry Neilson (CITB NI), Tunde Adekimi (FOCI Director of Skills), Olubunmi Adekoje (FOCI Director General), Paul McCormack (BMC) and Emeka Okoroafor (FOCI Vice President & Chair of Skills Committee)

In particular, the group were interested in how the BIMCert project team are developing a “Beyond Blended” approach to training for the skills needed broken down into “Bite Sized” learning elements.  The group were impressed by the work carried out in developing a framework of skills needs and the delivery platform being developed that will allow upskilling in a manor that suits a variety of learning styles with consistent standards and assessment being ensured through an on-line delivery system.

BIMCert project team members Paul McCormack, Eduardo Rebello and Barry Neilson introduced the delegation to the materials developed to date and shared the vision of how this will be advanced in the future.   The team from FOCI could see the potential for development of BIM in their own industry and recognised the issues being addressed by BIMCert as being common to Nigeria;

  • Clients who need to be educated in the benefits and building requirements into procurement.
  • Disseminating the skills needed to drive digital construction across the whole industry
  • Engaging with the tools available to manage the “whole life” of the built environment from inception through delivery and use, to eventual demolition at the end of its life.

While the Nigerian industry may lag behind some areas of the world in Digital construction, its size and the involvement of major construction companies from around the world will ensure that it is not long before the skills development model being developed within the BIMCert project will be needed there as well.

The Nigerian delegates will continue to monitor the BIMcert progression through the website at: –

Barry Neilson CITB