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BIM around the world: the Canada technical community is ready while institutions are not

BIM around the world: Canada technical community is ready while institutions are not

Canada has made remarkable progresses adopting BIM in the last few years thanks to its technical community, although operative plans and national strategies are still missing

Canada is making remarkable efforts in the last few years, not only for the adoption of BIM technology in the AEC industry (Architecture Engineering Construction), but also for a special technical regulation and the introduction of digital tools.

Statistics show how design, construction and the real estate industry are strategic for Canada. The constructions itself represents 7% of the country’s GDP and 7% of employment, capable of moving over  290+ Billion dollars per year.

The Canadian architects, engineers, construction companies, home owner’s and operator’s community (AECOO) are ready to make the switch towards digitalization in constructions, while institutions are not yet ready to follow.

The absence of governmental policies

Building Infomation Modelling is developing very fast in Canada. Recent studies demonstrate that:

  • 31% of Canadian companies/organizations are already using BIM in a constant way.
  • 29% are working with integrated approaches (BIM and traditional systems)
  • 21% still continue to work with traditional methods

Although these results are very encouraging, probably the most curious aspect to be underlined is that an institutional policy hasn’t yet been put in place for BIM nor have any regulations for its adoption in public works been introduced.

Today there are only a few public initiatives in the country:

  • A Pilot Project for the Royal Alberta Museum, promoted by Alberta’s infrastructure department
  • Various small pilot projects, created by Société québécoise des infrastructures
  • An IPD (Integrated Project Delivery) project of a hospital on behalf of Five Hills Health Region, accomplished by Saskatchewan’s Government

Royal Alberta Museum – rendering

Although many countries around the world have defined different public policies focused on the implementation of BIM collaborative processes, the Canadian government agencies are notably behind.

The lack of ot having  government strategy causes several negative consequences:

  • Status Quo has a cost. There is a huge opportunity wasted because of inefficient papers (projects/policies). This represents a loss of billions of dollars every year.
  • Limitation of environmental policies, aimed to make the construction industry more sustainable and the wrong use of resources during the construction process, have a negative impact on our environment. This is very important for the effort Canada is putting towards GHG emissions lined up with the Paris agreement.
  • Canada risks to lose its position in terms of innovations and competitivity on a national and international scale in one of the most important industrial sectors, meanwhile other countries are investing in research, development and innovations, Canada is showing a more limited support in this field.

According to industry operators, Canada needs to develop 3 key points to make significant changes in constructions:

  • A national BIM strategy
  • Specific “open” standards
  • A BIM commission that introduces regulation duties

Some private and public organizations, such as universities, ministries, representatives of construction companies and technical professions are starting to collaborate to reach these 3 targets.

buildingSMART- Canada & the Institute for BIM in Canada (IBC)

buildingSMART began its activities in Canada in 2004, when, for the first time, a collaboration started in the creation of Data Dictionary at buildingSMART, developed also with the help of buildingSMART international, and still works promptly to promote BIM technology throughout the country.

bim buildingsmart canada

When Canada joined buildingSMART, people began to be part of a growing community, that promote the excellence in the industry, through the use of collaborative practices typical of BIM technology, in Canada like the rest of the globe.

Members can participate in the development of standards, protocols, and programs throughout work groups aimed to specific aspects, necessary to achieve the national goals. On their website there is also a forum that allows members to monitor and share “best practice” (buildingSMART – Canada forum’s page).

buildingSMART-Canada began to be part of the IBC (Institute for BIM in Canada), together with other industry associations, that in 2010 had set its mission to guide and coordinate the use of Building Information Modeling in design, building and management of the Canadian building industry.

bim canada institute for bim in canada

IBC is a committee that gathers, for the first time, all professional associations, major companies and institutions of the country, such as::

  • Architecture Canada (RAIC)
  • Association of Consulting Engineers – Canada (ACEC)
  • Canadian Construction Association (CCA)
  • Construction Specifications Canada (CSC)
  • Owner representatives from DND and DCC


According to Susan Keenliside, the president of buildingSMART- Canada, to efficiently promote the use of BIM technologies, 6 predefined points need to be followed.


  • The involvement and the effort from government institutions and the academic world is fundamental to promote BIM technology standards in Canada.
  • Having wide support from the industry, private sectors and public opinion, by promoting pilot projects and the “best practice” learned.


  • Creating and promoting a BIM national strategy
  • Creating national BIM standards
  • Developing BIM guide lines (practice manuals, toolkit, etc.)
  • Developing unified software platforms
  • Creating definitions, protocols, pilot projects and “best pratices

Objectives :

  • Creating academic/professional training classes to improve technician’s skills
  • Having defined educational standards
  • Creating multi-disciplinary and integrated training courses
  • Giving credits and certifications which are acknowledged on an international scale to users
  • Giving the necessary acknowledge and support to institutions

Obiettivi :

  • Expanding the demand of BIM use in the industry for public/private customers
  • Constantly increasing and improving communications and promoting strategies
  • Developing a mass-production contractual language with specific legal support
  • Developing and adopting mass-production contracts
  • Mass-production data and files, to facilitate file transmission and sharing within users

Obiettivi :

  • Measuring and valuing BIM impact in construction, to comprehend its changes
  • Promoting digital standards measuring process
  • Monitoring projects and practices
  • Comprehending weakness points in the industry

Objectives :

  • The constant monitoring and improvement of the industry
  • Documenting and promoting successful stories of Canadian studies
  • Aligning and keeping international standards and guide lines
  • Establishing partnerships with the academic world and industry to encourage the creation of knowledge and innovation


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