China getting on board with BIM

Software company Bentley Systems’ annual Year in Infrastructure conference is being held this week in London, and one thing that seems to have changed from previous years is the number of Chinese projects now represented.

Of the 54 finalists for the Be Inspired awards, nine have come from China, which Bentley says is unprecedented. The reason could be a concerted effort by the Chinese government to increase the use of building information modelling in the country, particularly when it comes to the boom industry of prefabrication.

As Bentley Systems chief executive Greg Bentley said, “There’s something going on in China that’s different”. A presentation on Wednesday by Xu Jiefeng, vice-president of the China Academy of Building Research, showed what the difference was, and why the country is on a rapid rise when it comes to BIM and prefabrication.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in 2015 issued a “guidance for adopting BIM”, Mr Xu said, which included a BIM integration target of 90 per cent by 2020 for medium and large projects where the state is the main investor. The vice-president of the ministry told the building industry that those who implemented BIM would “win the future”.

The prefab space is where BIM is being most heavily promoted, with a policy released in September aiming to strengthen the application of BIM in the prefabricated construction area. And while costs cutting and quality improvement are major outcomes of BIM and prefabrication, it is also being done as part of an ambitious sustainability agenda. China’s “green building action plan” calls out “advancing construction industrialisation” [read prefab] as one of its top 10 initiatives, with the Chinese president Xi Jinping saying that these new technologies must be adopted to build green, low-carbon and intelligent cities.

Another policy document published this year has set a target for 30 per cent of all new buildings constructed to be prefabricated in the next 10 years.

Mr Xu is heading up a project on “BIM-based application technology for prefabricated buildings”, as part of the government’s “green building and building industrialisation” program. He expects the project will increase the efficiency of prefabricated buildings by at least 20 per cent, which will have significant cost-cutting and sustainability benefits.

With the Chinese government “vigorously” pushing BIM and prefabrication, China could soon have the most efficient construction in the world.

The Fifth Estate travelled to London as a guest of Bentley Systems.

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