Breaking New Ground: How Will BIM Advance American Sustainability?


While BIM (building information modeling) began in the U.S., it’s Europe leading the charge in championing it. Breaking New Ground host Joel Pennington invited two leading BIM evangelists from Europe currently leading the BIM adoption movement in the U.S. to discuss their efforts.

Salla Eckhardt is a BIM industry game-changer and an open innovation enthusiast from Finland, and Sanjay Mistry is a BIM expert from the UK.

Eckhardt began her BIM journey over 20 years ago. “My perspective to BIM is what the industry is talking about today, and that is digital twins,” Eckhardt said. BIM is not only the information model, itself, but the information modeling process and managing process.

There are many reasons why BIM was quicker to be adopted in Europe than in the U.S., and some of those reasons may be process-related. Europe is adapted to industrialized construction more than the U.S., where a lot of onsite production occurs.

“Projects here in the U.S. are usually much bigger than what we see in Europe,” Eckhardt said. The complex nature of buildings in the U.S. adds to the design complexity, but BIM could help reduce complexities and increase efficiencies if the U.S. is willing to let go of some outdated processes and traditional ways of working.

BIM wasn’t what brought Mistry over to the U.S. from the UK, but it is now his focus. The sheer size and scope of the U.S. make it an exciting challenge.

“One of the areas BIM plays a huge role in is in carbon footprint,” Mistry said, “It’s not applied today, and that’s why there is such a high demand for this. And I think it comes down to the supply chain. The data’s not transferred across. The data sits at the top end of the pyramid, and it’s not accessible to the rest of the organization. This is why there are such high pollution and CO2 rates in that way, because people aren’t getting that information.”

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