BIM and the future of regulation compliance


Regulation compliance through BIM is now a feasible option thanks to the findings from the RegBIM project, as Paul Oakley, Associate Director BIM at BRE explains

One of the forecasted benefits of BIM is the automatic checking and validation of requirements for rules-based compliance such as Planning, Building Regulations and BREEAM, which would provide benefits to the AEC industry and also support the Construction 2025 proposal for 50% faster delivery.

In April 2014, a two-year project to automate the task of checking that a building complies with regulations came to an end. The RegBIM project, funded by the Technology Strategy Board, and with input from seven partners, created a software application that links to a BIM model and identifies compliance against specific rules.

To facilitate this project, a rules engine was needed to define the requirements, applicability, selection, and exception methodology to check and highlight the key information. The rules engine was based upon specific structures to allow values to be imported and checked using the IFC file format and its property sets to be created and validated.

Two of the key findings from the project were that:


•        Future UK regulatory requirements should be written in a fashion which enables machine-reading as well as human reading, and must avoid ambiguity, and;

•        That the IFC schema does not carry the required property set data specific to UK regulatory needs.

While working in private practice, one of the basic planning requirements in undertaking the designs of large multi-use projects is the need to quickly ascertain a proposed scheme’s site density and show compliance with local plan requirements. This was easily undertaken by creating a bespoke property set applied to each concept block that would hold information relating to the type of property, number of habitable rooms, floor areas, planning use classes, etc. This information could then be extracted along with the site area to simple formulas to calculate the density results. Any changes to the scheme would be instantly recalculated to provide the latest figures. As the scheme progressed, concept blocks were exchanged for building models which held detailed space data which were accumulated and contributed to the overall property set. This then allowed changes at an individual space level to contribute to the total calculation.

While a lot of industry focus is on the development of product data templates for BIM objects as nodes within a BIM model, there is also a requirement to establish data needs for BIMs as a node within sites, assets, neighbourhoods, towns, cities regions, etc. This will also facilitate the big data requirements of Digital Built Britain. The RegBIM project proved the concept of regulatory checking, but it also identified the lack of consistent data standards available to industry to facilitate this.

One of the key elements of the BIM Level 2 strategy identified in PAS 1192-2 is “beginning with the end in mind” and identifying the downstream use of information. While much of the focus has been on trying to get owners and asset managers to identify their requirements, this methodology could equally be applied to both planning and building regulatory needs. The same principles being carried out by the BIM Task Group, CPA and BRE relating to construction products equally apply in this area. BRE have provided a tool to aid the delivery process for standard BIM data, but relevant authorities need to identify and deliver the regulatory definitions and data requirements to make this work. Tools, along with process and validation techniques can then be delivered to improve the process for the benefit of all.

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Paul Oakley BA(Hons) Dip Arch RIBA
Associate Director BIM
Tel: +44 (0)333 321 88 11
Twitter @BRE_Group


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