News Analysis

States Adopt BIM for Energy, Cost Savings

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) began using building information modeling (BIM) in 2003; by 2007, the agency was requiring basic models for all projects and encouraging more complex models incorporating energy performance and construction scheduling. Now, both Wisconsin and Texas have adopted BIM programs for state construction projects, and other states are considering similar programs. For GSA and state governments, BIM offers not only a way to get project teams on the same page but also a way to track energy performance, renovations, and other changes over a building’s life.

In Wisconsin, the state began exploring BIM after an executive order signed by the governor in 2006 required all state buildings to conform to high environmental and energy-efficiency standards. In July 2009, after a 13-project pilot program, the state became the first to require advanced models for all state projects with budgets over $5 million and new construction projects over $2.5 million. The state requires building information models from several members of a project team, including architects and structural, mechanical, and plumbing engineers. It does not, however, require the team to work on a single model or even in a particular modeling software—the state accepts models created in five software packages.

Texas also requires BIM use for state projects, but is taking a slightly different approach to its guidelines, moving toward a single model for each project that can track changes over time. According to Chris Tisdel, Assoc. AIA, director of BIM for the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC), the state has adopted BIM first for new state construction projects; renovations and legacy projects will follow. TFC has created a template that allows teams to create a model conforming to the state’s standards; all team members work in the same model. This model, says Tisdel, will be stored on a state server that project teams can access, and will ensure that all models will be made in the same software—Autodesk’s Revit. Tisdel noted that the agency chose Autodesk products because the majority of firms it works with already have the software, thus lowering upfront costs for complying with the new requirements. If TFC had allowed multiple software packages, he said, “forty years down the road you’d be looking at multiple building models on multiple platforms, and that’s a nightmare.”

Published October 30, 2009

Wendt, A. (2009, October 30). States Adopt BIM for Energy, Cost Savings. Retrieved from