While the construction industry is one of the main drivers of the overall economy, it faces a number of challenges related to competitiveness, labor shortage, resource efficiency and particularly productivity, among others. Indeed, labor productivity has increased by about a quarter of the rate in the manufacturing sector over the past two decades.
The digitalization of the construction sector is increasingly recognized as a game changer for the industry, which can significantly contribute to sustainable development and the EU 2020 Strategy.
The construction industry in EU Member States has gradually embraced digital innovations as BIM has taken the lead. However, progress in the EU28 has been heterogeneous and some countries are progressing faster than others in the digitization process. Northern European countries were pioneers in terms of BIM implementation and are now gradually being adopted by Western European countries.
The European BIM market was worth 1.8 billion Euros in 2016 and is expected to grow by 13% to 2.1 billion Euros in 2023. This growth is triggered by a number of factors:
Integrated urban development trends: The recent increase in public infrastructure and other renovation projects in Europe often implies large, complex projects involving a wide range of stakeholders and drives the European BIM market. In addition, recent concepts such as “Smart Cities” and “Green Building” highlight the need for construction actors to increase resource efficiency and exploit opportunities in digital transformation.
Government policies and initiatives: A growing number of EU Member States are implementing (binding and non-binding) policies and initiatives aimed at promoting the adoption of BIM in public procurement. These include Denmark, Finland, Germany, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France and, more recently, Italy, among others, while other Member States are expected to implement similar policies. Increasing pressure on public spending, avoiding waste of resources is expected to further reinforce this trend.
While BIM can help address a variety of issues, such as waste, worker shortages, or lack of productivity, it is important for policymakers and the private sector to target some of the specific issues they are affected by, thereby framing a specific narrative about BIM implementation. Applying some opportunities to advance BIM is emerging with increasing problems such as the labor shortage in the construction sector or the rising price of raw materials in some EU member states or the rise of new concepts such as “Smart Cities”. Second, because BIM not only allows building new buildings, it can also provide a relevant entry point for BIM implementation, as it looks and takes into account how buildings and infrastructures (transport, utilities, etc.) are connected. Indeed, 3D modeling and BIM is a boon for smart cities, and 3D software, builders, even model the infrastructure to be built underground. Therefore, policy makers can benefit by requiring builders to use BIM in urban infrastructure projects in order to encourage BIM implementation and therefore contribute to sustainable and smart cities.