Sweden Gets Serious About Standards in Construction

An initiative by Sweden's top five general contractors improves efficiency across the industry

Just over a year ago, five of Sweden’s largest general contractors put aside their competition and decided to come up with a set of design review standards that would help make the country’s construction industry more efficient and less confusing. With the help of Bluebeam’s VP of Industry Advocacy Sasha Reed, who is deeply involved in a similar effort in the US, the contractors settled on a few preliminary guidelines. They then approached the Svenska Byggbranschens Utvecklingsfond (SBUF), Sweden’s office for funding innovations in national standards. The Byggbranschens Elektroniska Affärsstandard, or BEAst, the office that decides whether to adopt the standards, quickly got on board.

Now, several of the guidelines the contractors came up with have been adopted nationally, with more in the works. Envisioning PDF as the universal file format for a working document, Swedish contractors use uniform color-coding and have agreed upon a specific set of metadata for inclusion in each document. It’s just a start, but already the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with less confusion than ever before, according to Jimmy Forsberg,  development leader for the GoMobile program at Skanska, one of the major construction companies involved in the effort.

Reed sat down with Forsberg recently to discuss the origins of these national standards, how a group of competitors decided to do something for the greater good, and the project’s nomination for Innovation of the Year by SBUF. Just a few hours after Forsberg and Reed chatted, the results of the award were announced, and the design review standards project had won first place.