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Building Information Modelling skills made accessible to European professionals

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Funded under Horizon 2020, the BIMcert project is helping EU construction professionals improve their skills by providing tailored training and certifications on Building Information Modeling. 

Paul McCormack, Project coordinator, tells us more about how the project is supporting the implementation of BIM and driving digital transformation across the EU construction supply chain.


Could you describe the project and its objectives?


BIMcert is a European wide project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The consortium is formed by 7 international partners based in the UK, Ireland, Portugal, Macedonia and Croatia.  


The idea for the project started in March 2015 with the aim of developing a blended, fully supported suite of Building Information Modelling (virtual construction) training curriculum and tools, which will allow geographically dispersed construction project teams to use technology to enhance information exchange and collaboration. The project has a particular focus on testing the BIM approaches to green and passive building design to contribute to the improvement of energy efficiency.


Our certifications will go hand in hand with sustainable energy skills by providing a great opportunity to reduce the environmental impact of construction projects. Thanks to it, construction workers will be more effective and their projects will be easier to improve while providing tangible effects in rational and smart use of materials and time.



What are the main challenges and achievements?


In order to reach the EU’s energy and climate targets, we need a qualified building workforce able to work with new digital tools. We need to be conscious that at this point, sustainable and lean construction is already a reality but we do not have sufficient skilled professionals and workers to make it become a ‘normal practice’. 


Together with the absence of skilled workers, we are not only lacking widely-recognised international certified qualifications for sustainable construction and sustainable energy skills, but we are also missing awareness and uptake by the industry of new methods and digitalization. Finally, there is an absence of mandate or incentive by public authorities for the use of such skills. 


Regarding the achievements, BIMcert has already developed and delivered a series of trainings that, by using digital technology and improved blended techniques, were able to support, enhance and maximise the impact of energy efficient skills at all operational levels within the modern construction industry. 


BIMcert, together with fellow Horizon 2020 funded projects BIMplement, Net-UBIEP and BIMEET, has formed BIM Alliance, an EU wide group of 100 partners across 24 EU countries working together to share resources, including a digital library of tools, modules and blended materials. 


BIMalliance is also working on establishing a virtual ‘Centre of Excellence for Digital Construction. This hub and spoke model will encompass all of the EU and  will support the future of skills in the built environment, stimulate demand and develop ways in which we can encourage new entrants into the industry. 


With all this, we are on the right path to become a key player for the digital transformation of our industry.


How do you think EU funding help you develop your project?


EU Funding helped our ideas and objectives becoming a reality, it was fundamental to set BIMcert in motion, and in turn, it is also crucial for achieving the complete decarbonisation of the European building stock and the fulfilment of EU targets. 


We also appreciate the practical support provided by the Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in helping drive the project and in providing avenue for communication and dissemination.


What is in your opinion the golden tip for potential beneficiaries, the key to success to get funding?


You have to know what you are setting out to achieve, what type of difference you want to make and to be clear on providing a quantifiable, sustainable difference.. A major strength of the BIMcert concept was a very clear idea on how it would enrich the construction industry. We made sure that the project had links to some of the biggest construction companies and reached out to some of the organisations representative of the industry and we keep them informed of our progress.


Additionally, we took into account the fact that there was a pre-existing interest in BIM. With that in mind, we tried to leverage on it to create a network, able to make a difference in the discourse of quality within the built environment in Europe.


Despite the fact that BIM has been around for quite some time, the BIMcert team worked hard to alert industry, education, government and business to what actually made the BIMcert project different. 


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