Automating the Building Permitting and Compliance Checking

Advancing Digital Building Permitting

September 2023
2nd N E W S L E T T E R
Dear reader

Welcome to the ACCORD's 2nd newsletter.
This is a bi-annual newsletter designed to inform you of the latest developments of the EU and innovative UK-funded project ACCORD. In this second edition, we provide information on the future of the digitalisation of building permit based on the ACCORD partners' research and survey on the current state and trends. We also share the outcomes of ACCORD research on the user information requirement for building permit. You will find information about ACCORD's next steps, future events, and outcomes from past events.

Stay tuned and subscribe to ACCORD social media for the latest ACCORD news.
linkedin twitter youtube 

1. Introducing ACCORD

accord banner
ACCORD is a Horizon Europe project (2022-2025) that automates building permit and compliance processes using BIM and other data sources. ACCORD develops a Semantic Framework that will be demonstrated in five real-life construction projects around Europe: Finland, Estonia, Germany, the UK, and Spain. The framework includes semantic interoperability, a rule formalisation tool, and integrated micro-services for building permit and compliance checking.

2. How do experts see the future of digitalisation of the building permit?

The main results of the ACCORD survey of potential scenarios for the digitisation of building permits show that partial or full automation is possible within the next 10 years. The preference is to maintain human oversight whatever the level of automation achieved in the process.
The main desired outcomes of digitalising and automating the planning permission procedure are time savings, greater certainty, cost savings, awareness of compliance during the design process, and auditability.
The main obstacles to be overcome in implementing digital permitting are the differences in processes between jurisdictions and countries, the lack of digital skills among regulators, the lack of software tools, and the absence of standard specifications for design documentation.
Finally, the main requirements are standardisation of the submission process, the ability to link BIM to GIS, an intuitive and user-friendly interface, extensive training and support, open access to high-level results data, and simple and clear processes.

3. What is the state of play in the digitalisation of building permit digitalisation in Estonia, Finland, Germany, the UK, and Spain?

According to the ACCORD Landscape Review report, over 80% of Finnish municipalities use an online building permitting system for submitting data needed for receiving the building permit. There are two online building permitting systems in use. Building drawings can be submitted as PDFs, but also as an IFC file in some municipalities, and IFC-based submission will be the new normal in Finland in less than two years, when the new Building Act will be in effect. Some municipalities use software (Solibri Model Checker) to support accessibility compliance checking. Estonia also has an online building permitting system for PDF or IFC-based submission, which all municipalities use. The building permit process includes 47 automatic checks against the Building Code. In the future, in addition to automated rule checking, technical data about the building will be extracted from the IFC model and sent to the building permit application automatically.
Germany has developed an overall process of a BIM-based building application procedure based on a selection of use cases and implemented it as a prototype of an R&D project, where one construction project in the city of Dortmund in 2021, received a building permit based on BIM planning. The UK has conducted research on developing building permitting, but currently, the process has a low level of digitalisation. Most local authorities operate and prefer submission via online portals, but paper-based applications are allowed. In Spain, documents are submitted only in PDF or DWG format and no cases on digital BIM/GIS based permitting or compliance checking exist.
The full report on the landscape review of digital building permit is under review by the European Commission and will be publicly available. Follow the ACCORD social media and receive updates about the project outcomes.

4. What are the existing efforts in the digitalisation of building permits?

Several efforts towards the digitalisation of the building permit processes are being carried out in Europe. For example, the European Network for Digital Building Permits (EUnet4DP), a network of researchers, public authorities, professionals, and stakeholders (75 organizations from 16 countries) have been collaborating to advance the development and implementation of BIM-based building permit. The work includes the definition of a common strategy for the digitalisation of building permit, working on topics such as interoperability, procedures and data optimization, standardization, and best practices.
The European-funded projects Chek Digital Building Permit (CHEK DBP) and Digichecks are currently conducting research and developing new technologies in the field. CHEK DBP aims to develop a toolkit of methods and technologies based on open standards and data exchange. DigiChecks objective is to provide a flexible, efficient, and easy-to-use solution for construction permit validation. Both CHEK DBP and DigiChecks are sister projects of ACCORD, funded by the same Horizon Europe call.
In the regulatory domain, the buildingSMART International in the buildingSMART Regulatory Room aims to assist the gradual change in the workflow from a manual to an automated regulatory process using openBIM standards applied to new technologies.
There are also several ongoing national development projects on the topic. ACCORD reports on these projects in the Landscape Review Report that will be publicly available.
Several past efforts have also been made, for example in projects, such as Future City Pilot and BRISE. Future City Pilot aimed to demonstrate the use of CityGML and IFC data in order to provide information, knowledge, and insights to improve financial social, and environmental outcomes for citizens and stakeholders. BRISE means Building Regulations Information for Submission Involvement and stands for smart, efficient administration. BRISE supports the municipality of Vienna, Austria in the digitalisation of building applications and building permits using Building Information Modeling (BIM), Artificial intelligence (AI), and Augmented Reality (AR).

5. What are the user requirements for digital building permit solutions?

Eliciting Survey Requirements from Industry Survey

The ACCORD industry survey of potential scenarios for the digitalisation of building permits asked respondents of EU member states several questions related to requirement elicitation exploring the technological, commercial, and political requirements of achieving digital building permitting. 43 text responses from the 472 completed surveys were analysed providing inputs for the user requirements for the digital building permit solutions. The summarized result is presented below.
·Provide a standardised data schema to formally document building permitting processes.
·Provide the ability to pre-check for compliance prior to formal submission.
·Provide data requirements for building permitting as a standardised data schema.
·Support standardised model formats for building data submission.
·Provide auditable rule processes to track decisions.
·Provide the ability to link building permitting processes, applicable legislation, and building data standards.
·Provide open access to limited data about building permitting assessments.
·Provide a standardised submission process.
·Provide the ability to link BIM and GIS datasets.
·Have an intuitive user-friendly user interface.
·Should retain the ability for manual human input.
·Should provide robust and secure data infrastructure.
·Should adopt and support Open APIs.
·Should enable the collection of suitable evidence to complement assessments.
·Provide the generation of human-readable and machine-readable reporting based on submissions.
·Should ensure correlation between passes/failures and regulations.
·Should provide suitable security models to differentiate between users to enable the selection of an appropriate user to assess a given regulation.
·Should support and enable direct communication between the submitter and regulator

6. ACCORD general results and outcomes

ACCORD’s main result is the semantic building permitting framework based on microservices that integrate many manual steps in the building permit process into a semi-automated workflow.
ACCORD will also develop
  • a rule formalisation tool, based on semantic web technologies, allowing formalisation of regulations into a standardized rule representation format.
  • A Ruleset Database allows for the storage and retrieval of rules stored in a semantic format for applications of various stakeholders when using building permitting and compliance checking services
  • Building Compliance Checking Microservices supporting various use cases
  • Open Standardized Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) (D4.2) for building compliance and other information services to allow integrated dataflows between building permitting, building compliance, and other information services
Key exploitable results (KERs) are preliminarily identified in three areas:
  1. Technical standards and harmonised guidelines for software and platform development for the use-case of automated digital building permit process.
  1. Guidelines and information requirements for the usage process (for disciplines).
  1. Body of knowledge, e.g., awareness-raising information package and E-learning courses.

7. ACCORD now and next

ACCORD has recently finalised the Building Permit landscape research (read news 2,3,4 for more information) and the elicitation of user requirements for BIM-based building permitting in the five demonstration countries (read news 5 for more information).
Building on this work, the next steps in the ACCORD project will focus on defining the technical architecture requirements of the cloud-based building permit framework. The project will also continue finalising the semantic platform-neutral open format for the rule representation. The work on defining the European to-be building permit process has also recently started. The demo-specific execution paths are now planned, and the project will start the execution. For example, the Finnish IFC model has been enriched to allow the automatic compliance checking of regulations related to accessibility and operational safety. The required building information was also added to the IFC to test the automatic reading of this information from the IFC on behalf of the cloud-based building permit service.
ACCORD partners will present the project's early findings at the Digital Building Permit Conference 2024. For more information check the Next Events session.

8. Next events

Screenshot 2023-08-11 at 18.11.42


Horizon Europe sister projects (ACCORD and CHEK) are co-organising a community session on “BIM-based Building Permitting and Environmental Compliance Checking” at the Word Digital Built Environment Summit (WDBE) in Tallinn, on September 19, 2023.
Screenshot 2023-08-11 at 18.06.22

Digital Building Permit Conference

18-19 April 2024 – Barcelona
The EUnet4DBP, together with several relevant organisations, is organising the “Second International Conference on Digital Building Permit” to dive into the current status.

9. Past events

ACCORD at Linked Data in Architecture and Construction Workshop, LDAC2023

ACCORD had an active participation in Linked Data in Architecture and Construction Workshop, LDAC2023. LDAC is the premier workshop for using semantic approaches in the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Operation (AECO) sector. ACCORD participated in the LDCA summer school and also presented four papers.

ACCORD at Leipzig Data Week

During the Leipzig Data Week on June 27th, ACCORD representative - Katja Breitenfelder discussed perspectives and solutions for the Digital Permit Process. ACCORD partner - Hamburg XLeistelle wvvbill present XPlanung and XBau perspectives on Digital Building Permit.

ACCORD at the Architects' Council of Europe General Assembly

ACCORD was presented in April 2023 at the General Assembly of the Architects Council of Europe, as part of a panel that presented the digitalisation of the building permit in Estonia, Finland, and Austria (Vienna). You can watch the presentation in the video on news number 2 in this newsletter.

ACCORD at Building Digital Twin International Congress

ACCORD held a workshop on digital building permitting with ACCORD’s sister projects DigiChecks and CHEK at the Building Digital Twin International Congress on the 3rd of May, 2023 in Antwerpen, Belgium.

ACCORD at the High-Level Construction Forum (HLCF)

ACCORD participated in the High-Level Construction Forum (HLCF) meeting on the 20th of October, 2022 with ACCORD’s sister projects DigiChecks and CHEK to support the co-creation process toward a green, digital, and resilient construction ecosystem. The meeting was organised by the European Commission.

ACCORD at the buildingSMART Regulatory Room Open House

ACCORD participated in the ”Towards automated regulatory compliance in the EU” Open House organized by the buildingSMART Regulatory Room on 26th of January 2023.

10. EU News

Call for Boosting Digital Skills of young pupils, in particular girls

In order to fill the significant shortage of sector specialists using advanced digital technologies and ICT specialists, it is necessary to increase the pool of pupils who would be ultimately interested in studying STEM and ICT, with a special focus on girls and women who are vastly underrepresented in the digital field. This call aims to develop activities to encourage girls and women to take part in digital studies. Deadline 26th September 2023.
Apply here

Support of the digitalisation of the built environment, public procurement, and SMEs in the construction Survey

This short survey is part of the project "Support of the digitalisation of the built environment, public procurement, and SMEs in construction". The project is funded by the European Innovation Council, the Executive Agency for SMEs (EISMEA), and the European Commission (DG GROW), whose ultimate goal is to promote the digitalization of the European construction sector in three ways:
- Pave the way for a common European construction data space;
- Promote the digitization of building permit systems in member states;
- Facilitate wider adoption of BIM in the EU.
Reply to this one-page survey here.

11. Next Newsletter

- Software solutions for building permitting and compliance.
Screenshot 2023-04-06 at 09.22.54
Email Marketing Powered by MailPoet