December 16, 2013

Building Information Modeling guide draws on experience from the U.S.

A new document will help contractors with Building Information Modeling (BIM).

A tripartite initiative spearheaded by the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), with input from Canada, has resulted in publication of a document called Achieving MEP (Mechanical Electrical Plumbing) Spatial Coordination Through BIM - A Guide for Specialty Contractors.

The MCAA, which represents 2,500 firms in the United States, said in a release that the guide is intended to help MEP contractors negotiate “one of the most challenging issues” in the modern construction industry: how to incorporate and leverage leading-edge technologies and processes into their projects’ spatial coordination efforts.

>>The 180-page document was developed by a task force comprised of members of the MCAA, the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), with financial underwriting from the Mechanical Contracting Education & Research Foundation.

>The MCAA team included Ontario mechanical contractor Al Prowse, president of Woodbridge-based H. Griffiths Company Ltd. and the executive director of the Canada BIM Council (CanBIM).

Prowse is also the recently elected president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Toronto.

In an interview, Prowse described the guide as “a good, solid document” that draws on experience gained south of the border.

BIM adoption by mechanical contractors is thought to be more advanced in the U.S. than in Canada.

“A lot of things have popped up at their end, that they are bringing to our attention,” said Prowse, who became active on the task force in early April. “

We need to make sure that people who are getting involved in BIM are aware of these things.”

Prowse, who said he was impressed with the speed and efficiency with which the tripartite task force produced the document, intends to bring the guide to the attention of CanBIM for review and possible endorsement.

The council represents a broad cross-section of the BIM community in Canada.

“In Canada, I think the bigger (mechanical contracting) firms get it. They see the value of BIM and are staying on top of it,” Prowse said.

“But, I think the smaller firms still don’t realize the competitive edge BIM can give them, if they do it right.”

Richard McKeagan, president of the Mechanical Contractors Association of Canada, said the guide will be a useful tool for Canadian contractors.

It can be downloaded free of charge at

In its release, MCAA said early BIM adopters such as the MCAA BIM committee chairman Steve Shirley, chairman of California’s University Mechanical & Engineering Contractors, and his fellow committee members amassed and combined best practices and proven, how-to information “to develop the most comprehensive document of its kind.

“The result is a guide that will help contractors better navigate this complex issue and make more informed business decisions about spatial co-ordination and BIM,” it stated. “

It will also serve as an educational resource for their employees, who must act on those decisions and for anyone interested in learning more about real-world approaches to the world of virtual construction.”

Going forward, the MCAA education offerings on the subject of BIM and spatial coordination will use the guide to supplement and expand their content, including the three existing BIM courses being taught by Pete Mackenzie under MCAA’s national education initiative.

Those courses are available in Canada via the Canadian Mechanical Contracting Education Foundation.

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