China Looks to BIM for a Competitive Edge in the Global Economy

Categories: Architecture Engineering Construction Infrastructure

Report shows China is one of 5 fastest-growing BIM countries, rapidly implementing Building Information Modeling (BIM)  

On April 26th in Shanghai, China, Autodesk, in collaboration with Dodge Data & Analytics (DD&A), announced the launch of a new Smart Market Report – The Business Value of BIM in China. The survey, gathered after interviewing 350 architects and contractors working in China, illustrates how modern, technology-enabled process, such as BIM, can contribute toward building a robust construction economy.

With a construction market sized at 13 trillion RMB (approximately 2 trillion $US) and 1.8 to 2 million square meters of floor space added each year in over the last ten, it’s clear that China  has a  lot of potential value to realize by adopting BIM-based technologies and practices.


                       Building Information Modeling (BIM) is an intelligent model-based process that helps create, explore, and maintain design and construction data in order to improve decision-making and enhance productivity.

According to a 2014 Accenture white paper China is a country where “astonishing growth has been built on the twin pillars of millions of new workers and heavy capital investment.” In this dynamic and labor-rich environment, construction productivity might not be amongst top-of-mind business goals. And yet Dodge Data & Analytics projects 108% growth for contractors who will be doing over 30% of their work in BIM, and forecasts a 200% increase of architects at a high BIM implementation level in the next two years, which demonstrates a significant commitment of China to BIM.

It appears as though the advice of Accenture’s Mark Purdy, Gong Li and David Light that “what’s needed is not more but better” is being well considered in the China design and construction industries.

The data and opinions gathered throughout the survey process also closely compared China’s progress with other international regions when it comes to successful BIM adoption. Following are a few key observations from this China study that have relevance for any competitive marketplace around the globe.

Top Project Benefit: Reduced Errors

According to the report, both Architects and Contractors are realizing the benefits of BIM. Producing better design solutions and reducing errors in construction documents are cited as top benefits. This is consistent with earlier Smart Market Reports. Forty-one percent of contractors surveyed for the 2013 Business Value of BIM for Construction in Global Markets also cited reduced errors as top project benefit.

Architects as well have consistently cited reduced errors in documents, according to surveys conducted in 2007 and 2012, because it affects both risk and productiv­ity related to their key project deliverable.

The Shanghai Disneyland Resort is an exemplary case study on how the move to BIM delivers real savings via reduction in Requests for Information (RFIs). The case study, published in the Dodge report, shows how nearly 3,000 clashes were identified and resolved over a six month period before the issuance of the tendering package to prospective GCs. 


Top Business Benefit: Client Satisfaction

It’s not a surprise that benefits generated by BIM extend beyond a single project and help businesses win and maintain business while enhancing their image as an industry leader.  The growth of BIM and adoption as a new approach to project deliver is attracting a great deal of attention. Successful firms are using their BIM expertise not only to be more successful on each existing project, but as a marketing tool to win new business, enhance their reputation as an innovator, and grow their businesses with the BIM-ability to offer new services.


Owners and ROI will drive adoption

The best stakeholder to drive BIM is the owner, and the first thing to do is to integrate BIM as a prequalification requirement for consultants and contractors.” This observation comes from Professor Gu Ming, Vice Dean of the School of Software, Tsinghua University, who is interviewed in the China Smart Market Report.  Professor Gu researches overseas experiences in BIM implementation to support the development of CBIMS (China BIM Standards).

Other research by Dodge (formerly McGraw Hill Construction) has shown that owner involvement in BIM has been steadily increasing over the last two years, and most plan more expansion in the near future. Most (98%) of UK owners are currently at least moderately involved with BIM (25% or more of their projects involve BIM), and 38% of UK owners predict being very highly involved (more than 75% of their projects involve BIM) in the next two years, up from 28% currently. True, UK adoption rates are driven in large part by mandates, but what is remarkable – as in the China study – as BIM experience grows, the reported benefits also rise. 


According to the China Smart Market Report, “the GSA [General Services Administration] in the United States is a good example of driving [BIM use through] the owner. They update the rules of the game because they see the value BIM can bring to a project in terms of cost, time and quality.”

“The development and investment of BIM in China’s market is outstanding. This achievement is certainly related to the supportive BIM policy from the Chinese government; and the strong belief in BIM and its huge benefit among Chinese users is also believed as a key factor that drives BIM’s growth in China,” observes Harvey M. Bernstein, Vice President, Industry Insights & Alliances of Dodge Data & Analytics.

Smart Market Report – The Business Value of BIM in China was produced by Dodge Data & Analytics (former McGraw Hill Construction) in partnership with Autodesk and Glodon. Research partners who made this report happen were Tinghua University BIM Research Group and bimSCORE. Additional support in resources in China was provided by China BIM Union. The full report can be viewed here.

The Chinese version of the report can be viewed here.    And check out the new Autodesk BIM Center here