Wednesday 20 October 2021

NBS Digital/BIM Report 2021

The NBS Digital Construction Report is now in its second decade. It was published last week and is available at the interactive website below:

This blog post looks at some of the findings. But before looking at the finals, a quick note to thank a large number of industry leading organizations that help us distribute our surveys within the industry.

Partner organizations and our chosen charity

The first section of the report looks at BIM in general. The most fascinating areas of this analysis for me are always the questions looking beneath the headline of 'have you adopted BIM?'. A lot of the industry defines BIM in different ways, so specifically asking about use of EIRs, responsibility matrices, classification, following standards always gives a better picture.

Under the headline figures
The above chart shows that the principles within the 19650 series of standards are starting to be followed in terms of revision control, naming conventions, indication of suitability and classification. Looking just at the UK, use of Uniclass 2015 is now at 50% on 'BIM projects', but lower at 39% across the wider worldwide participants.

The second part of the survey looked more at technology.

Technology advances

The above chart shows that cloud computing is now dominant. Other findings in the report showed how much the COVID crisis had accelerated digital working and new 'work anyway' working practices. In terms of wider new construction technology - half of participants had been involved in a project using offsite techniques.

The rising star at the bottom end of the scale was Digital Twins. I consider this a little similar to 'BIM' as a bit of a catch-all phrase. Technology within a building around access control, intruder detection, CCTV, wifi hotspots has had an element of 'digital twin' for many years now. How much real time digital feedback do you need before you tick the 'digital twin' box? And will we get back into the 3D visual model debate again?

The final section of the report looks at the wider industry.

Where will you be working?
Only one in five participants expect to go back to 'normal' in the next five years. We're undoubtedly in a period of change.

Thanks to everyone that took part in the survey - over 900 - and thanks to the increasing number of participants from around the world that clearly are aware and appreciate the work NBS do in this area.

One third of participants are from outside of UK now
To find out more - check out the full report at:

To take part in our latest survey on sustainability and the construction industry - please do so below:

Friday 15 October 2021

NBS, Byggfakta Group and Nasdaq

Today (15th October) marks the first day of trading for our parent Byggfakta Group on the Nasdaq Stockholm.

Ref: BFG
Press release: First day of trading

This marks another huge step on the NBS journey which has been quite a ride. Reflecting on some key dates...

NBS (The National Building Specification) was first published.

The NBS presents architects, structural engineers and quantity surveyors with a unique opportunity to re-appraise and develop their specification practice. The benefits will come to them and to the industry as a whole in the form of better and more efficient building.
Chairman of NBS Ltd, Sir Robert Matthew

More info:

September 2002
The team that wrote the software for NBS (a small research centre that I was part of) was brought into the NBS family (RIBA Enterpries). We all moved down from Newcastle University and were then part of the wider company. 

More info:

June 2018
LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group, joined the RIBA as a significant shareholder of NBS.

Press release:

November 2020
The LDC and RIBA chapter of our growth ended and NBS became part of the Byggfakta Group - backed by Stirling Square and TA Associates.

Press release:  

October 2021
Byggfakta Group (including NBS, Glenigan and CIS Ireland) goes on the Nasdaq Stockholm.

Press release: 

Name up in lights :)

So, exciting times - with complementary businesses in the group now across North America, Europe, Australia and SE Asia - we now have the amazing opportunity to digitally connect the specification, product, tendering and project data world together!

Thursday 7 October 2021

NBS and Sustainability

It's clear that how to create a more sustainable built environment is one of the key challenges facing the industry today.

The UK and other developed nations must lead by example. Within the UK, organizations, such as NBS, that have influence over thousands (millions?) of specification decisions made each day on large construction projects must support the industry overcome this challenge.

Well over 3,000 design practices subscribing to NBS to specify the nations infrastructure (schools, hospitals, offices, train stations etc... ). Well over 1,000 construction manufacturers work with NBS to publish their technical information - which, in turn, is used in specifications. Small changes we can make will result in huge changes across the country.

In this blog post I'm highlighting three areas where we are trying to make a difference...


Our NBS webinar series continues to be a huge success. But one of the webinars we hosted that had the most attendees (over 1,000!) was our joint webinar with the RIBA (Gary Clark HOK) on sustainable outcomes and the RIBA Plan of Work. This is still available on demand at the link below: 

Throughout October 2021, leading up to COP26 we have a series of webinars on sustainability. Sign up for these now below (or watch on demand once October has past):

We are also running our sustainability survey now (throughout Q4 2021) - please click the link below to take part and then be one of the first to receive a copy of the final report.

2. Product development

The NBS specification content we research and maintain allows for sustainable outcomes to be specified on projects. The article below gives specific examples against each of the RIBA sustainable outcomes that are aligned to the UN sustainable development goals.

Brief examples of specification templates and guidance in NBS relevant to sustainable outcomes includes:

  1. Operational carbon - Heating and cooling systems - in addition to the essential building fabric systems
  2. Embodied carbon - Responsibly sourced timber and reusing and recycled materials.
  3. Water usage - SUDs, reclamation, hot and cold water supply and sanitaryware
  4. Connected travel network - Cycle lanes, cycle storage, EV charging points
  5. Biodiversity - Meadows, bird boxes, green roofs
  6. Health and wellbeing - Daylight strategy, natural ventilation, office layouts
  7. Community - Playgrounds, landscape, contractor schemes and third party verification
  8. Sustainable operation - Comprehensive system completion specification content - especially important to successful operation of MEP and ensuring 'soft landing' and reducing the 'performance gap.
Over and above our generic content, we encourage the manufacturers we work with to publish their environmental credentials in terms of associated literature (certifications) and technical data such as country of origin, % recycled content and embodied carbon.

3. Practice what you preach

We recognise that the biggest impact we can have is positively influencing design and specification decisions our customers will make on some of the largest construction projects in the UK * through encouraging sustainable decision making within our products and through using our platform to help with education. However, we need to practice what we preach too.

For this reason, we have signed up to the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative. Through this, we now (a) measure our impact as a business, (b) analyse what we could do better, (c) put into practice initiatives on how to reduce our impact and (d) report on this annually.

Our annual report may be downloaded below:

Furthermore, at NBS we are now part of the much larger Byggfakta Group of companies operating around the world. My NBS colleague Lee Jones has been key in terms of developing the sustainability approach at a group level and more on this approach is at the URL below:

Some of the NBS team on our recent cycle out in County Durham planting trees

* Due to current market profile of the majority of NBS customers, this blog post mentions 'in the UK' - but of course UK architects and specifiers use NBS for projects around the world (Africa, Middle East, South East Asia in particular) and we have rapidly growing businesses in Canada and Australia too.