Citing NBS findings from earlier in the year, Mike Shilton CMLI suggests that landscape professionals ‘are still catching up’ when it comes to BIM implementation

In May, NBS revealed the findings from its 2017 National BIM Report. Released annually, the NBS (National Building Specifications) report gives a snapshot of BIM use in the construction industry.

This year’s findings were broadly positive, pointing to rapid growth in uptake and ‘near-universal’ comprehension. But for the landscape profession, findings were less encouraging.

Related: NBS invites LI members to participate in construction contracts survey

Landscape professionals were very under-represented among respondents. Among those who did respond, only a third had adopted BIM, and just one in ten said that they were confident in their BIM skills and knowledge.

‘The software available is not suited to landscape, and no client to date has asked for BIM to extend outside the building envelope’

Anonymous respondent to the NBS National BIM Report 2017

Mike Shilton CMLI, contributor to the book BIM for Landscape and LI BIM Working Group member, believes that landscape professionals are aware of BIM, but ‘yet to fully engage’.

‘This is partly because they don’t know how to engage, and partly because they are being ignored by the BIM process,’ he said. ‘Unless they are working with levels or green roofs or walls, landscape professionals may be the last link in the chain and so need to collaborate less with the architect.’

Mike did note, however, that the NBS survey might have an architectural bias, and that the picture may be different for infrastructure or other external works projects where landscape professionals play more of a leading role.

‘Many companies are still getting to grips with BIM for architecture and, increasingly, infrastructure projects, and there are still many challenges to overcome before they seriously start working with landscape elements,’ he said. ‘Additionally, external works are more complex, especially ground forms and soft landscaping, and software is struggling to manage the volume of data – particularly on large projects.

‘It is still early days… Until standards are agreed and used, exchange of data between software is always going to be a challenge. This is something the LI and other bodies are seeking to improve.’

‘In spite of this, most landscape respondents expect to engage in BIM over the next five years, and the vast majority feel they are able to achieve BIM Level 2 on at least one project. This may because the LI and BIM Working Group has clearly defined how landscape professionals can achieve this – although many are still “feeling their way”, as shown by the NBS survey’s knowledge confidence metrics.

‘There will be some client education and work to do to see the benefits of BIM – perhaps because it is still early days, and there are not many BIM project with landscape elements that have come to operations and maintenance phase. Many see this as being where the true benefits of BIM are realised.

‘Until standards are agreed and used, exchange of data between software is always going to be a challenge. This is something the LI and other bodies are seeking to improve via the creation of Product Data Templates and the development of an IFC format for soft landscape features.’

Hear more from Mike at the LI’s next CPD day on 2 October, where he will explain to delegates how BIM can help deliver better-performing landscapes, on time and to budget; the challenges of implementing BIM within the design and management of landscapes; how the LI has supported BIM within the profession to date; and the opportunities BIM offers for the future.

The Landscape Institute would like to thank RIBA Enterprises for providing the landscape-specific response data used for this article. To see the full results of the NBS National BIM Report 2017, visit


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