Working towards BIM-enabled Facility Management Systems in the Public Sector

Adapting early-stage Building Information Modeling (BIM) implementation in Germany

TU Delft AR1MBE015 Research Methods 1
Tutor: Prof.Dr.Paul W. Chan



The push for the public construction sector to develop a standardized Employer Information Requirements (EIR) template has been the center of current research. During the development of the EIR, studies have so far focused on lessons learned from BIM-Pilot projects during the Design and Construct (D&C) phase. However, current research has identified critical issues with the status-quo BIM implementation and the Operations and Maintenance (O&M) phase. The research problem is that late BIM-adopters in the German building public construction sector, that utilize the status-quo BIM implementation as strategic basis, have the risk of BIM Goals misaligning at their O&M phase. Since the EIR defines the BIM Goals, the main research question focuses on how one can learn and scale-up from BIM-Pilots while integrating FM systems requirements in EIRs. The purpose of this research is to develop a structured approach to integrating FM systems requirements in the initial stages of BIM implementation.


Building Information Modelling (BIM), BIM-Pilot, BIM Implementation, Scaling-up, Facility Management (FM) Systems, Public Sector, Germany.


The push for the public construction sector to develop a standardized Employer Information Requirements (EIR) template has been the center of current research. An EIR is a document, defined by the client, that articulates the information requirements needed of a construction project using Building Information Modelling (BIM) (Al Ahbabi & Alshawi, 2015). The three-dimensional as well as the semantic information that is to be delivered through BIM is further specified within the EIR’s Project Information Requirements (PIR) and the Asset Information Requirements (AIR). Most importantly, the EIR defines the BIM Goals for the project, from which the BIM Uses stem from (Meins-Becker & Kaufhold, 2021). The project’s BIM Goals are concretized with a BIM Execution Plan (BAP) (Meins-Becker & Kaufhold, 2021). Internationally, BIM is a term that lacks consensus of what it signifies. It is sometimes referred to as a technological tool, a process-oriented approach, or a methodology (Abbasnejad et al., 2021). In the context of the German public construction sector, BIM is defined by the “Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (BMVI)” or German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (2015) as the following:

“Building Information Modelling describes a cooperative working-methodology, with its basis being construction digital models, its live-cycle consistently linked relevant information and data, which is managed and exchanged in a transparent communication between the actors or handed-over for further development.

Building Information Modeling bezeichnet eine kooperative Arbeitsmethodik, mit der auf der Grundlage digitaler Modelle eines Bauwerks die für seinen Lebenszyklus relevanten Informationen und Daten konsistent erfasst, verwaltet und in einer transparenten Kommunikation zwischen den Beteiligten ausgetauscht oder für die weitere Bearbeitung übergeben werden.”

This definition of BIM as a method in the German public construction sector is in line with the recommendation of the EU-BIM Task Group (EUBIMTG). EUBIMTG, of which the BMVI was a General Assembly member of, was commissioned in 2016 by the European Commission to deliver a common European framework aimed at aligning the use of BIM in public construction works (, 2018). Key characteristics identified in the report included the use of international standards for collaborative processes and sharing of data, as well as information requirements to be provided in vendor-neutral, and non-proprietary formats. This led to the group’s recommendation of adoption of open standards and open data formats such as the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) (, 2018). Thus, for both Germany and the European context, BIM is a method that relies on an open standard collaborative process, it is not a product.

The development of the standard German EIR find its roots in the years leading up to the EUBIMTG formation. In 2014, after analyzing failures in a number of large-scale construction projects, the BMVI developed a strategic plan for public infrastructure construction projects, (Borrmann et al., 2016, 2021). In 2015, the so called “BIM-Stufenplan”, or Step-by-Step plan, identified a roadmap with goals for federal infrastructure projects to follow, and described the necessary components needed to implement BIM in such projects (Bramann & May, 2015).  The roadmap established as goal mandating BIM for all federal infrastructure projects by 2020 (Borrmann et al., 2016, 2021). The plan was highly influenced by the UK’s Cabinet office BIM Initiative of 2010 and its subsequent definition of four BIM Maturity levels in 2011 (Borrmann et al., 2021; Stange, 2020). The “BIM-Stufenplan” identifies three “Leistungsniveau” or Performance Levels (Bramann & May, 2015).  It only differs from the UK’s BIM Maturity levels in that BIM-Level 0, or no BIM collaboration, is omitted from its level definition. It also differs from the UK BIM Initiative in that, the later, set to mandate in 2016 BIM-Level 2 for all public construction projects, while the former, set BIM-Level 1 to be met in 2020 for all federal infrastructure projects (Borrmann et al., 2016; Stange, 2020).

In 2019, the BIMINFRA2020 project, published the pilot analysis alongside guidelines and templates (Borrmann et al., 2021). Included in the publications were an Employer Information Requirements (EIR) template, a BIM Execution Plan (BEP) template, guidance on the use of IFC, the model Level of Development (LOD) tier definitions, and other relevant documents that were originally outlined as goals in the “BIM-Stufenplan” (, 2019). Shortly after, many of the components published by the BIMINFRA2020 project were standardized by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) and further regulated by the Association of German Engineers (VDI) (Albrecht et al., 2021). These ensembles of documents are understood to be the standards from which other German public organizations should developed their BIM strategies from.

As of 2020, there has been varied success throughout German public organization’s BIM implementation efforts. A case in point can be seen in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), where a 2020 survey of municipal building authorities and municipal building management organizations, showed that out of 197 respondents, only 13% of the confirmed using the BIM method in their projects, while 71% confirmed to none at all (Meins-Becker & Kaufhold, 2021). Surprisingly, it was also found that 42% of the respondents had no digitalization nor BIM strategy, while only 7% confirmed to have a plan in place and enacted  (Meins-Becker & Kaufhold, 2021). The surveys shows that in NRW, 86% of municipalities are at an early stage of their BIM implementation process (Meins-Becker & Kaufhold, 2021).

In 2021, “Ministerium für Heimat, Kommunales, Bau und Gleichstellung des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen”, or the Ministry for Homeland, Municipal Affairs, Building and Equal Opportunities of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, released a BIM recommendation for action plan, which was based on the recommendations from the BMVI. The BIM Uses, expanded from the BIM4INFRA project, are identified, and given a market maturity assessment. Noteworthy is that almost all the BIM Uses related to FM are identified as “feasible with limitations”, and only the BIM Use Energy Management, was identified as “no implementation known”. The level of market maturity “feasible with limitations”, is later explained as “technically possible, but applied only in isolated practical examples” (Meins-Becker & Kaufhold, 2021). This means that in NRW, the building public construction sector is not mature in their BIM adoption, and thus reasons, the BIM adoption at Operations and Maintenance (O&M) phase for public buildings lags further behind.

However, as the German building public sector gears up to adopt BIM under the “BIM-Stufenplan” framework, current international research have identified issues with the status-quo BIM implementation process and the O&M phase (Dixit et al., 2019; Lin et al., 2016; Liu & Issa, 2016; Rogage & Greenwood, 2020). Becerik-Gerber et al. (2012) identified three main categories for issues related to BIM-enabled and Facilities Management: process-related challenges, organizational challenges, and technological challenges. Although similar research has not been conducted in Germany, the forementioned issues correlate with the challenges addressed within the “BIM-Stufenplan” framework. Specifically, a survey conducted at the International Facility Management Association World Workplace in Stockholm, Europe and at the 2017 IFMA World Workplace in Houston, USA, identified that the lack of involvement of Facility Management (FM) in the defining of solutions for these challenges was the most impactful issue for BIM-enabled FM (Dixit et al., 2019; Lin et al., 2016; Liu & Issa, 2016).

Inadvertently, since the momentum of BIM implementation in Germany thus far has been carried out by the BMVI, specifically for federal infrastructure projects, it is evidential that the recommendations and lessons learned from the first BIM pilot projects centered on the development of BIM Uses that addressed design, construction, coordination, and communication issues for the D&C phase (Borrmann et al., 2021). The issues identified by Liu and Issa in 2016 concerning typical information requirements needed yet often missing, included asset information accessibility, information accuracy and poor as-built documentation. Potential areas where FM could benefit from BIM. Although, these findings may not be very impactful to the BMVI and its federal infrastructure projects, they are of great relevance to the German building public sector. As they are the sector that is further behind in its BIM adoption, as seen in the state of NRW, the pursuit of an early adoption of BIM in FM would bring the greatest impact. According to multiple literature sources cited by Rogage and Greenwood (2020), up to 80% of a building life cycle costs are associated to O&M phase. This implies that inefficiencies in the BIM implementation process will prolong incurred costs for German public sector that are owner/operator of their facilities. Furthermore, BIM at the O&M phase is seen as an enabler of sustainability, inefficiencies between BIM and FM integration further delays sustainability targets (Becerik-Gerber et al., 2012). The present lack of emphasis of FM systems requirements on the development of the EIR pose the risk of BIM Goals misalignment between the D&C phase and O&M phase of the German public organizations that are late BIM adopters.

Thus, the following statement is identified as the research problem:

Late BIM-adopters in the German building public construction sector, that utilize the status-quo BIM implementation as strategic basis, have the risk of BIM Goals misaligning at their O&M phase.

Since the EIR defines the BIM Goals, and the concern is for late BIM adopters, the following is the main research question:               

RQ1:How can one learn and scale-up from BIM-Pilots while integrating FM systems requirements in EIRs?

Since the established strategy for an organization’s BIM Implementation plan is to start with a BIM-Pilot phase, the following four sub-questions were developed:

SQ1:What can be learned from BIM-Pilot projects?
SQ2:What FM systems requirements need to be integrated in EIRs?
SQ3:How to adapt the BIM implementation process to incorporate FM systems requirements?
SQ4:How to scale-up from BIM-Pilot projects?  

The purpose of this research is to develop a structured approach to integrating FM systems requirements in the initial stages of the BIM implementation process. The context of the research will be narrowed to the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

(Literature review & Research Methods coming soon!… for now only the intro)

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