Inciting Innovation – The role of standards in supporting the digital transformation of the built environment

Following a global pandemic, economic downturn, and adverse weather, businesses operating within the built environment need to become more sustainable and resilient. One way of doing so is to realize the benefits that come from embracing digital transformation. Standards, such as the ISO 19650 series support businesses as they digitally transform.

Traditionally, design and construction professionals would produce their deliverables on paper; conforming to construction drawing and technical documentation standards such as BS ISO 128-23 (Lines on Construction Drawings). Following the introduction of computer-aided design (CAD) the same deliverables were now being produced digitally, conforming to the same standards with the addition of others such as BS EN ISO 13567-2 (Layers for CAD). While the overall process hadn’t fundamentally changed, businesses were able to realize productivity improvements around the initial production, coordination, and revision of their information. To further support the built environment, good practices relating to collaborative working and information management were consolidated into a process known as Building Information Modelling (BIM). Through BIM project, asset, and organizational decisions are supported by a digital representation, known as an information model. 

Instead of focusing on producing deliverables such as drawings and reports, the standards relating to BIM specified how to manage the production, exchange and delivery of information that constitutes an information model. Collectively known as the UK BIM Framework Core Standards, standards such as ISO 19650 (Information Management using BIM) introduce key concepts that support information management and collaborative working. Whereas traditionally, design and construction professionals may have sent drawings to each other through the post they are now able to frequently share and exchange information in a safe, secure, and controlled manner; improving productivity, reducing errors, and reducing the need to submit requests for information.


Find out more about the UK BIM Framework, as well as the guidance and tools that support its standards at


Using BIM as a gateway to their digital transformation, several businesses have begun to explore what it means to become truly data driven. In doing so they have begun to explore maintaining dynamic digital representations of their assets, processes and systems, known as digital twins. These digital twins utilize technologies such as sensors and actuators to establish a relationship between a digital representation and the real thing they ‘twin’, meaning that physical changes can be captured digitally, and digital changes can be realized physically. The use of digital twins in the built environment is quite nascent, with a lot of the early thinking being done by the Centre of Digital Built Britain (CDBB). Working with CDBB, BSI have begun to develop the first standard relating to digital twins for the built environment Flex 260 (Digital Twins for the Built Environment).


Find out more about Flex 260 and the work relating to digital twins for the built environment at


As the UK’s National Standards Body, BSI maintains a portfolio of good practice to support the sustainability and resilience of the sectors it serves, including the built environment. Through this portfolio, BSI has brought communities together, prepared markets and now supports ongoing business in relation to information management and BIM. As businesses begin to explore other aspects of digital transformation, BSI will continue to support through the dissemination of good practice within the built environment.


Dan Rossiter, Sector Lead at BSI