BIM for Civil Engineering Firms

Ron Couillard, Civil and Geospatial Application Engineer
Angela LeFae, Civil and Geospatial Account Executive

The concept of BIM and IPD has already been widely adopted by architects, but is still relatively new within the Civil engineering community. This creates a huge opportunity for the more bold Civil engineering firms to be on the forefront of this technology and become the leaders in their industry.? One of the ways that companies are setting themselves apart from the fierce competition is by adopting BIM (Building Information Modeling) and IPD (Integrated Project Delivery).

How does a Civil Engineer contribute to a BIM project? How does an Architect deliver BIM information to a Civil Engineer to get that contribution? The answers to these questions are simple, but as technology continues to advance, information sharing is getting more robust than in the past.

A Civil Engineer can create a surface in Civil 3D to show contours as a surface style. Then using the “export to AutoCAD” command, the Civil drawing is then exported out to a new drawing file in which all Civil objects are exploded into plain linework. This command allows the user to specify the dwg format to export to, for example, 2007 format or earlier. In Civil 3D 2009 and 2010, this linework holds their “z” values, or elevation. On the Architect side, the Revit user can import the dwg file and use the contours as a background for their BIM project.

Let’s look at this from the Architects side now. If the Civil 3D user is using 2009 and earlier versions, then the Revit users only option to get a building footprint out to the Civil Engineer was to export out to a dwg file. This can still be done in the 2010 software but there is a new option that provides a way to share more information with the Engineer; the new adsk file. The Revit user can export to this new file format which can be directly imported into Civil 3D. This adsk file can contain 3D building data, building specific data such as windows doors and roof info, coordinates, rotation, and scale values. In addition, the adsk file can also contain utility connection points. The Civil 3D user can directly import this file into their drawing. Once imported, the site can be selected and viewed in 3D to include the building. 

 If you can promise your existing and future clients a faster time-frame in delivery with more intelligent project data, do you think it would set you apart from consultants who are still using older technologies and workflows learned 5 years ago?  Using BIM tools, adopting new workflows, and collaborating with the other project stakeholders, you are distinguishing yourself and establishing your competitive advantage while securing financial success.

Information about BIM and Interactive Tool “Is BIM Right for You?”:


Integrated Project Delivery Defined:


More Information on BIM (including a video):


More video demonstrations of BIM and access to a ton of white papers on the topic:


Best Practices in IPD:


Free Navisworks viewer:


Features of Navisworks:


BIM and Sustainability:


Guide to Sustainable Design:

Civil Infrastructure software is my main professional interest. Civil 3D, Infraworks, and Recap are what I work with mostly. I have been with CADsoft Consulting for over 10 years now. I got my start using Softdesk and AutoCAD R12 in DOS. My wife and I have four children and I am a die hard Red Sox fan.