Virtual model offers landscape cost savings

Benefits of Building Information Modelling mean it is quickly gaining ground, says industry expert.

Shilton: software businessman spoke at Coles Centenary Open Day - image: HW
Shilton: software businessman spoke at Coles Centenary Open Day - image: HW

As much as 20 per cent could potentially be shaved off costs on Building Information Modelling (BIM)-compliant landscaping projects, but not enough professionals understand what BIM is yet, according to an industry expert.

Speaking at the Coles Centenary Open Day on 19 October, Keysoft Solutions director and Landscape Institute BIM working group representative Mike Shilton said BIM is gaining ground.

Originally introduced by the Government as a way of saving money on public-sector projects, the idea of BIM is to standardise the design process to reduce errors and lower costs in the future.

The BIM programme aims to develop a virtual model of all the known aspects of a project over its entire life cycle at the earliest possible opportunity.

Shilton, an ecologist and landscape architect turned software businessman, said: "The idea is to get it right in the virtual world before a spade goes into the ground. Every £1 extra spent on design is equivalent to £20 of savings over time."

In practice, this means more data are collected with suppliers such as nurseries being required to contribute to production data sheets.

It is hoped that eventually all this information will be shared in a place and format that everyone can access using cloud technology.

Since putting the BIM wheels in motion, the Government has pulled back from requiring its use on all public-sector projects to just major ones.

But Shilton added: "The private sector wants it now - they want to make 20 per cent savings today." He pointed out that job adverts are already asking for landscape architects who are BIM-ready.

"Whether you like it or not, it's going to happen," he said. Landscape architects are encouraged to register on the on the online forum at

Business Information - Modelling Benefits for landscape projects

What is it?

The process of creating a virtual digital information 3D model that is rich in data that can inform the decision-making process and answer questions throughout the entire life cycle of a landscape project. It needs to be implemented in a collaborative environment.

Why should it be used?

The Government announced its intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (all project and asset information, documentation and data being electronic) on all public-sector building projects by 2016 in its 2011 construction strategy. It has since decided it will only require 3D BIM on all central Government procured projects over £5m. The private sector is pushing for the change.

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