The landscape of BIM


Mike Shilton, Chair of the Landscape Institute BIM Working Group details how the landscape sector will become BIM Level 2 compliant and how they can aid the process…

The government mandated that BIM Level 2 must be used on centrally procured projects, including landscape, by 2016. The landscape sector has responded and the Landscape Institute is preparing the profession to meet the requirements.

Like many industries, the landscape response to the BIM challenge has been mixed. Some multi-national companies and practices working within a multidisciplinary team or on complex projects are already defining and refining their BIM processes. However, most are still at the early stages of defining their processes.

In 2011 the Landscape Institute formed the BIM Working Group. It was tasked to educate and support the members to work towards the government deadline. An initial request in 2012 for practices to “declare their level of BIM” provided the catalyst to start the BIM debate. The creation of a simple self-assessment tool helped members initially identify their level of BIM compliance and raised many questions.

In response, the BIM Working Group has worked hard to answer the key questions and define what BIM Level 2 means for landscape. This has been delivered through a series of regional masterclasses, articles, guidance notes, webinars and social media and supported by a dedicated BIM portal hosted on the Landscape Institute website.

Many practices are still working with their clients, design partners and supply chain to define what BIM means to them. This is how it should be, as there is no template that tells you how to deliver BIM on all projects. BIM is a process that sets out to deliver the employer’s requirements (brief), using defined standards and protocols, in a collaborative environment. Like all pre-BIM projects, this will be an evolving process of testing and learning and will change over time.

One of the most common concerns has been the perceived costs of implementing BIM. This is mainly due to the uncertainty around what is BIM, what is required and the misguided need to purchase expensive software to deliver it. There was, and still is, a lot of hype around BIM with a misconception that it requires a 3D capability. Undeniably, 3D can offer a better understanding of a project and test how it will perform in the virtual world before it is built in the real world. However, it is equally important to consider the data, in terms of specifications, performance and maintenance, as this is the information that will be used daily by the facilities and potentially landscape managers. BIM is trying to ensure the project deliverables meet the employer’s requirements and the project is delivered on time and within budget. If 3D enables this, then it is relevant.

The BIM Working Group has maintained a practical approach to BIM for landscape. Practices are not going to become BIM compliant overnight. Just it has taken many years to develop a practice standard for the delivery of digital media to a client, it will take several years and projects to develop and refine BIM. There is no silver bullet to become BIM level 2 compliant and it will evolve based on the projects you undertake and clients with which you work.

The first step is to create a BIM implementation plan. This is your company’s blueprint for introducing BIM over a period of time. It should align to your business plan and company aspirations. We recommend that with every project you seek to develop a “BIM win”, i.e. a new process, system, procedure, software purchase, training, etc. that can be introduced to move you along your BIM timeline.

Your implementation plan is not developed in isolation. Talk to your clients and design partners and discuss how they will be assessing compliance. Consider clients you wish to work with in the future and see what they are asking for. Since every project is different, ask each client what they mean by BIM and find out what information you will need to deliver. Once you understand the outputs you need to provide, review what changes are required to deliver them and with every project consider how this can be achieved. Also, review your strengths and weaknesses. You have been successful for many reasons so build on your strengths and fill in the gaps where you can.

Later this year the Landscape Institute will be publishing a “BIM for Landscape” book. This will not be the Holy Grail to deliver BIM but will signpost the key BIM documents, often referred to as the Pillars of BIM, and discuss what landscape practices need to consider to become BIM compliant.

Working with other Institutes and partners, we will soon deliver a set of landscape based, Product Data Templates (PDTs). These will ultimately be used by manufacturers and suppliers to submit their specification data to incorporate into BIM models.

BIM level 2 is a stepping stone to BIM level 3 and the Digital Built Britain strategy. The Landscape Institute will continue to support the profession and offer advice and guidance to meet the challenges and opportunities BIM will offer.

Mike Shilton

Chair, Landscape Institute BIM Working Group

and Product Director at Keysoft Solutions


  1. A well worded and thought out guide to BIM Level 2 implementation. In the words of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, “Don’t panic!”.


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