OmniClass™ Work Results: a critique (source:

It has been suggested by some that, rather than developing or implementing Uniclass2, we in the UK should switch to OmniClass, used in North America. John Gelder, Head of content development and sustainability, takes a critical look at the OmniClass Work Results Table, comparing it throughout with the Uniclass2 Work Results Table.

OmniClass is the North American equivalent of Uniclass2 and is promulgated by CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) and CSC (Construction Specifications Canada).

Broadly speaking OmniClass is in a similar position to Uniclass 1997, with much the same general limitations, though it is rather more unified. Uniclass articles corresponding to this one include Reclassification and The new Uniclass Work sections table. For a review of OmniClass in general, refer to the separate article OmniClass: a critique.


Like Uniclass Table J (aka CAWS), the OmniClass Work Results Table (aka MasterFormat) is geared mostly to the specification of systems and products, and so is focused on the construction phase. It doesn’t serve the whole project timeline, as it doesn’t have homes for high-level (early-stage) objects such as Complexes, Activities and Elements. This means that the Table can’t properly serve design-build and design-build-operate procurement (which, in the latter case, typically requires the contractor to be involved from the very beginning of the project, as part of a consortium). Other Tables within OmniClass must be used to structure specifications for Entities, Spaces and Elements. Tables outside OmniClass must be used for other object classes. These would then need to map to each other and to the Work Results Table, in order to properly integrate the specification component of the building information model (BIM) along the project timeline. Given the lack of congruence, this won’t be easy.

The Uniclass2 Work Results Table has homes for objects of all classes from Regions down to Products, so can fully serve the project timeline, and all procurement routes. See Table 5.*

Even mapping between systems and products is problematic because, read with the non-OmniClass SectionFormat, there are no homes for System outline (or compositional) specifications. Indeed, Systems and Products are conflated. This means that the Work Results Table, plus SectionFormat, can’t properly serve BIM, which requires mapping between objects of different classes in the object hierarchy (e.g. this product is part of that system, this system comprises those products). Making this explicit in the specification requires outline specifications. We can’t rely on this mapping being delivered through the geometrical part of BIM (CAD) since many systems and products are not modelled geometrically at all.

The Uniclass2 Work Results Structure Table provides for outline (compositional) specifications all down the object hierarchy, including Systems-to-Products, so fully supports BIM. Table 5 illustrates this (left-hand column).

Table 5: OmniClass and Unclass2 Work Results Tables – scope

Item OmniClass Table 22 Work Results 2011 & SectionFormat 2008 Uniclass2 Work Results Table & Work Results Structure Table
Project management Division 00 Procurement and contracting requirements + Division 01 General requirements Group 00 Project management + Management Table
Region outline Not included Group 02 Regions + Regions Table
Region performance
District outline Group 04 Districts + Districts Table
District performance
Complex outline Group 06 Complexes + Complexes Table
Complex performance
Entity outline Group 08 Entities + Entities Table
Entity performance
Activity outline Group 10 Activities + Activities Table
Activity performance
Space outline Group 12 Spaces + Spaces Table
Space performance
Element outline Group 14 Elements + Elements Table
Element performance
System outline System sections: System outline subsection + Systems Table
System performance Work sections: SF Products subsection System sections: System performance subsection
Products System sections: Products subsection + Products Table
Custom-made products System sections: Custom-made products subsection
Execution Work sections: SF Execution subsection System sections: Execution subsection
System completion Sub-group XX 08 00 Commissioning System sections: System completion subsection
System FM Sub-group XX 01 00 Maintenance System sections: System FM subsection

SectionFormat has a home for the specification of performance and design criteria of products, which in turn are defined as including systems, assemblies, manufactured units, equipment, components, product types and materials. That is, SectionFormat doesn’t really distinguish between products, systems and materials, though OmniClass at large does (in the Products, Work Results and Materials Tables). ‘Performance’ at a higher level was in sub-group 01 80 00 Performance requirements in the 2004 edition of this Table, but this has been dropped in the 2011 edition. As it was actually mostly about elements rather than systems (e.g. 01 83 16 Exterior enclosure performance requirements), the idea is probably that this is specified using a specification aligned to the Elements Table.

The Uniclass2 Work Results Structure Table provides for performance specification of objects all down the object hierarchy, so fully supports contractor (and other) design. It also makes a clear distinction between Elements, Systems and Products (and so on) – this is essential for a rational approach to hierarchical object modelling. Table 5 illustrates this (left-hand column).

In the OmniClass Work Results Table, the commissioning and maintenance of systems (elements, actually) are not described in the system sections, but in separate sections in sub-groups 08 and 01 of each group, respectively, e.g. sub-group 09-08-00 Commissioning of finishes and section 09-01-70 Maintenance of wall finishes (see Table 6). This is rather inconvenient for those wanting to have everything about a given system collected together (though of course this could be managed through reporting in a digital specification tool such as NBS Create).

All aspects of each system, from design to operation, are collected in each of the System sections in the Uniclass2 Work Results Structure Table. Table 5 illustrates this (right-hand column).


The general sequence of sections within each Group doesn’t fully reflect construction sequence. For example, operation and maintenance should be last, and commissioning should be second-last, but this isn’t the structure at all. All of this is held in sections that precede those describing the thing yet to be designed and built. See Table 6.

The System section structure in the Uniclass2 Work Results Structure Table fully reflects construction sequence. See Table 5 (right-hand column).

Table 6: OmniClass Work Results Table – section sequence

Fabric example Services example
08-00-00 Openings 23-00-00 Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC)
• 08-01-00 Operation and maintenance of openings • 23-01-00 Operation and maintenance of HVAC systems
• 08-05-00 Common work results for openings • 23-05-00 Common work results for HVAC
• 08-06-00 Schedules for openings • 23-06-00 Schedules for HVAC
Not used • 23-07-00 HVAC insulation
• 08-08-00 Commissioning of openings • 23-08-00 Commissioning of HVAC
Not used • 23-09-00 Instrumentation and control for HVAC
08-10-00 Doors and frames 23-10-00 Facility fuel systems
Not used 23-20-00 HVAC piping and pumps
08-30-00 Specialty doors and frames 23-30-00 HVAC air distribution
08-40-00 Entrances, storefronts and curtain walls 23-40-00 HVAC air cleaning devices
08-50-00 Windows 23-50-00 Central heating equipment
08-60-00 Roof windows and skylights 23-60-00 Central cooling equipment
08-70-00 Hardware 23-70-00 Central HVAC equipment
08-80-00 Glazing 23-80-00 Decentralized HVAC equipment
08-90-00 Louvers and vents Not used

The OmniClass Work Results Table has deficiencies, specifically with respect to serving the entire project timeline and all procurement routes, and supporting BIM. It has a construction phase focus, and so has no homes for the specification of high-level objects such as Complexes, so it can’t deal with early project stages. System operation and maintenance specifications are isolated from descriptions of the systems themselves, so it doesn’t serve the occupancy phase as well as it might. Together this means that the Table is not well-suited to non-traditional modes of procurement, such as design-build and design-build-operate.

The Work Results Table conflates systems and products, and has no homes for outline or compositional specifications. Together these mean that the Table doesn’t support hierarchical object mapping, a key requirement for a BIM specification. This is exacerbated by the Table – and OmniClass as a whole – not supporting classification of high-level object classes and systems. Without these object classes we cannot produce a complete ‘building’ information model.

Finally, the basic design-build-operate sequence is not implemented fully in the Work Results Table, nor in SectionFormat (e.g. a proposed FM subsection has not eventuated; system-wide performance requirements are not distinguished from those for ‘mere’ products). This makes the default structure rather messy.

BIM requires a unified approach to classification if it is to work well, e.g. with simple mapping between classification Tables. OmniClass cannot deliver this, as it stands. Uniclass2 can.

* Note: Tables 1 to 4 are available in OmniClass™: a critique

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When is BIM not BIM?

BIM, Building Information Modeling, actually consists of three M’s…. BIM3 if you will…  Modeling, Models, and Management.

Since the “accepted” definition of BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology, it’s easy to see that BIM is part process and part technology, with the goal of developing and using current, accurate, shared information to optimize proactive decision-making.

Unfortunately the AECO sector (Architecture, Engineering Construction, Operations) sector is currently “silo” and “first cost” centric, not to mention relatively technophobic.   Major culture change across all stakeholders must take place before BIM can be understood, let alone practiced, on a widespread basis.

Building Information Modeling: A BUSINESS PROCESS for generating and leveraging building data to design, construct and operate the built environment during its life-cycle.  Stakeholders  have access to accurate, shared information  on demand, enable via interoperability between technology platforms and common terms, definition, metrics and benchmarks.

Building Information Model: The DIGITAL REPRESENTATION of physical and functional characteristics of the built environment.  As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility, forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle from inception onwards.

Building Information Management: The strategic vision for ORGANIZATION, COLLABORATION, andCONTROL of the business process by utilizing principles and guidelines for Information  Architecture  (i.e.a digital prototype) to effect the sharing of trustworthy information over the entire life-cycle of a physical asset. The benefits include centralized and visual communication, early exploration of options, sustainability, efficient design, integration of disciplines, site control, as-built documentation, etc.– effectively managing the digital decision support model of an asset from conception to retrofitting to final retirement over the course of a century or more.

Thoughts? Comments?

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Construction Disruption – BIM, Cloud Computing, and Efficient Project Delivery Methods

By Peter Cholakis
Published in the March 2013 issue of Today’s Facility Manager

Emergent disruptive technologies and construction delivery methods are altering both the culture and day-to-day practices of the construction, renovation, repair, and sustainability of the built environment. Meanwhile, a shifting economic and environmental landscape dictates significantly improved efficiencies relative to these facility related activities. This is especially important to any organization dependent upon its facilities and infrastructure to support and maintain its core mission.

The disruptive digital technologies of building information modeling (BIM) and cloud computing, combined with emergent collaborative construction delivery methods are poised to alter the status quo, ushering in increased levels of collaboration and transparency. A disruptive technology is one that alters the very fabric of a business process or way of life, displacing whatever previously stood in its place. BIM and cloud computing fit the profile of disruptive technologies, individually, and when combined these stand to create a tidal wave of change.

BIM is the life cycle management of the built environment, supported by digital technology. While a great deal of emphasis has been placed upon 3D visualization, this is just a component of BIM. The shift from a “first cost mentality” to a life cycle cost or total cost of ownership is a huge change for many. Improving decision making practices and applying standardized terms, metrics, and cost data can also prove challenging. An understanding and integration of the associated knowledge domains important to life cycle management is required, resulting in what is now being referred to as “big data.”

Cloud computing is also a disruptive technology, and it’s one that impacts several areas. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) definition of cloud computing is as follows, “Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. The cloud model is composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.”

It is perhaps helpful to define cloud computing in terms of its benefits. Cloud computing enables far greater levels of collaboration, transparency, and information access previously unavailable by traditional client/server, database, or even prior generation web applications. Multiple users can work on the same data set with anyone, anywhere, anytime, in multicurrency, multilanguage environments. All changes can be tracked to “who did what” within seconds (potentially the best form of security available), and information is never deleted.

The disruptive technologies of BIM and cloud computing will accelerate the adoption of emergent construction delivery methods and foster new frameworks. Design-bid-build, the traditional construction delivery method for decades, is inherently flawed. As a lowest bid deployment it immediately sets up adversarial relationships for involved parties. Owners prepare a solicitation for construction projects based on their understanding of them1, with or without third-party A/E assistance, and in most cases they go out in search of the lowest bidder. Then without a thorough understanding of the owner’s facility, bidders base their responses on the owner’s solicitation, plans, and specifications. Owners typically allow a period of time for bidders’ questions and clarifications; but the quality of this interchange is at best questionable if based solely on a written scope, plans and specifications, and/or a meeting with suppliers.

Design-build, arguably a step in right direction, falls short of bringing all stakeholders together. More responsibility of design and construction is shifted to the contractor and/or A/E. However, the dual level participation structure doesn’t assure the interests of all parties are equally addressed. Furthermore, the design-build process is typically reserved for major new construction projects versus the numerous sustainability, repair, renovation projects, and minor new construction projects typically encountered by facility managers (fms).

Because BIM brings together previously disparate information into a framework that enables decision support, using the technology requires a collaborative construction delivery method. The integration of the domain knowledge and robust processes required to allow fms, A/Es, and other stakeholders to achieve heightened levels of information sharing and collaboration is enabled by methods that include Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC).

Key characteristics of these emergent construction delivery methods include: choices based on best value; some form of pricing transparency; early and ongoing information sharing among project stakeholders; appropriate distribution of risk; and some form of financial incentive to drive performance.

Both IPD and JOC allow, if not require, owner cost estimators and project managers to “partner” with contractors, subcontractors, and A/Es to conceptualize, create, cost, prioritize, start, and report upon projects—in the very early phases of construction.

IPD, JOC, and Simplified Acquisition of Base Civil Engineering Requirements (SABER)—the U.S. Air Force term for applying JOC practices—are practiced simultaneously by a growing number of organizations and supported by digital technologies. These construction delivery processes are embedded within software to allow for rapid, cost-effective, and consistent deployment as well as the associated level of collaboration and transparency.

BIM and cloud computing are disruptive technologies that will accelerate the adoption of emergent construction delivery methods such as IPD and JOC. Construction delivery methods set the tone and level of interaction among project participants and can be viewed as the management process framework. When supported by BIM and cloud computing, the life cycle management of the built environment, and the associated management of big data, can be expected to become commonplace for many construction projects.

1303 profdev a 150x150 Professional Development: Construction Disruption


Cholakis is chief marketing officer for 4Clicks Solutions, LLC, a Colorado Springs, CO provider of cost estimating and project management software. With expertise in facilities life cycle costs and total cost of ownership in various market segments, he is involved in numerous industry associations and committees including the American Society of Safety Engineers, Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering, Society of American Military Engineers, BIM Library Committee-National Institute for Building Sciences (NIBS), and National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee.

1 “The Art of Thinking Outside the Box;” Vince Duobinis; 2008.

The Current Status of OMNICLASS – A Critical BIM Requirement

(source: OmniClass Development Committee Status Report – April 16, 2013)

To:        OmniClass Development Committee members
From:   Dianne Davis, OmniClass Development Committee Chair
Kelly Sawatzky, OmniClass Development Committee Vice Chair
Greg Ceton, OmniClass Secretariat

These OmniClass Status Reports will be issued every few months through this review cycle. They are
designed to keep you apprised of ongoing OmniClass development work and afford you the opportunity
to ask questions or get involved. The report is organized to give updates on the development work
being performed by the three Working Groups (WGs) that are each independently working on a
different area of OmniClass development.

We are just commencing the 2012-2014 review cycle. Generally speaking, WGs are just beginning to
identify review issues and set priorities for areas of work needed.

OmniClass Spaces WG (Lead: Alan Edgar)
(Table Responsibilities: 13 – Spaces by Function and 14 – Spaces by Form)
The Spaces WG is charged with reviewing Table 13 – Spaces by Function and Table 14 – Spaces by Form
to determine the nature of any development work needed to expand or modify Table 13 contents, to
provide a baseline review of Table 14, as it has not been reviewed in depth since its initial
publication in 2006, and to harmonize the work of other existing space classifications with the revised contents
of both Tables.  The Working Group has commenced review work on both Table 13 – Spaces by Function and Table 14 –
Spaces by Form.  Table 13 review has been focused on laboratory space organization to start. Additional review of
medical spaces is also anticipated.
Table 14 review has begun with comparison of form-based aspects of other classification systems,
including those used as references in the prior work on Table 14. Some simplification of the table
to address purely formal concerns may be needed.
If you would like to participate in review work on either of these tables or have any comments to
share, please send them to Spaces WG lead Alan Edgar at and to Greg Ceton at

OmniClass Products WG (Lead: Robert Keady)
(Table Responsibilities: 23 – Products)
The Products WG is charged with examining the structure of Table 23 – Products and confirming that
the contents and organization support the needs of users.

Work has commenced with the examination of Table 23 – Products. The WG Lead, Robert Keady, has
started cross-referencing Table 23 with Tables 21 (Elements) and 22 (Work Results). Additionally,
there have been equipment additions (200 to date) proposed to Table 23. Currently there is an
effort being made to identify Work Group members who will focus on specialized areas for review
within Table 23. This review cycle, the Work Group will also be focusing on adding definitions for
Table 23 entries.
If you have any comments or resources to lend to this effort, please send them to Properties WG
Lead Robert Keady at and to Chris Gummo at
OmniClass Activities and Processes WG (Lead: Dianne Davis)

The Properties and Materials WG is charged with examining and revising content and organization of
Table 32 – Services, Table 35 – Tools, and Table 36 – Information in light of recent work on Table
31 – Phases, Table 33 – Disciplines, and Table 34 – Organizational Roles.

Work has commenced with the examination of Table 32 – Services. The WG has tapped Robert Keady,
CEM, CDSM, FMP for his specialized knowledge of tasks, and how they may be fit into the structure
of Table 32 while limiting the impact on the table as a whole. The group has agreed that any
changes to Tables 32 and 36 must be in response to intended or known table usage that currently not
being met. Adding content or improving the tables without reference to a real improved process will
not satisfactorily address the WG charge.
Definition creation and harmonization with existing OmniClass Tables and creation of transition
matrix for each reviewed table will be commenced further along in the review cycle.
Work on other tables will be initiated after the work on Table 32 – Services has progressed
If you have any comments or resources to lend to this effort, please send them to Properties WG
Lead Dianne Davis at and to Rob Holson at

If the work of any of these Working Groups interests you, or you would like to participate
in their development work, please contact Greg Ceton at

Building Information Management Framework – BIMF – People, Process, Technology

While at first perhaps a bit intimidating…  illustrating the life-cycle management within a BIM context is relatively straightforward.

BIM – Life-cycle Management Perspective

BIMF - Building Information Management Framework


The purpose of this Framework is to provide  a general guide that your team can quickly customize to your specific requirements.   Like a restaurant menu or a travel guide, you can visualize the resources available and decide on an appropriate strategic configuration of options.

Just begin in the Center and work thru this Action Agenda using, when available and appropriate, tested  processes and templates.   Using these guidelines, set up a BIM Management structure with your stakeholders.

 The Building Information Management Framework (BIMF) illustrates a how people, processes, and technology interact to support the built environment throughout its life-cycle.  Based upon the associated level of detail, an operating model can be developed to more efficiently identify,  prioritize, and meet the current and future needs of built environment stakeholders (Owners, AE’s, Contractors, Occupants, Oversight Groups…)

More specifically, modular, Model View Definitions (MVD), associated exchange specifications and common data architectures [for example: Industry Foundation Class (IFC), OMNICLASS] can  help to integrate multi-discipline Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) “activities”,  “business processes”, “associated competencies” and “supporting technologies”  to meet overall requirements with a goal of continuous improvement.

WORK GROUP FORMATION – Roles and Relationships;

PROCESS MAP – who does what, in which sequence, and why;

EXCHANGE REQUIREMENTS & BASIC BUSINESS RULES – Overall guidelines for information integration

EXCHANGE REQUIREMENT MODELS – Specific information “maps”

GENERIC MODEL VIEW DEFINTION (MVD) – Strategic approach incorporating guidelines for information format, content, and use;



(Adapted from: IMPROVING THE ROBUSTNESS OF MODEL EXCHANGES USING PRODUCT MODELING ‘CONCEPTS’ FOR IFC SCHEMA –Manu Venugopal, Charles Eastman, Rafael Sacks, and Jochen Teizer – with ongoing assistance/input from NBIMS3.0 Terminology Subcommittee)

Model View Definitions (MVD) and associated exchange specifications, provide the best benefit if they are modular and reusable and developed from Industry Foundation Class (IFC) Product Modeling Concepts.   Model views and overall life-cycle management are similar in this regard.

Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools serving the Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) span multiple  “activities”,  “business processes”, “associated competencies” and “supporting technologies”, and each may required different internal data model representation to suit each domain.  Data exchange is therefore a critical aspect.   Inter and intra domain standardized data architectures and associated adoption of matching robust processes are really the first step toward successfully managing the built environment.

The Process Side of BIM = Collaboration: People, Process, & Technology

Open BIM Standards – COBIE, OMNICLASS – IFC / COBIE Report 2012

BIM adoption remains a challenge due to the fact that its many supporters don’t focus upon it’s true relevance, the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.

While any new technology has  barriers to adoption, changing the “status quo”, the fundamental nature of how a business sector does business requires a major event.   The cultural and process changes associated with BIM, namely the need for all stakeholders to collaborate, share information in a transparent manner, and share in risk/reward, remain chasms to be crossed by many/most.    Fortunately, those currently or previously involved with Integrated Project Delivery and Job Order Contracting (the latter a form of IPD specifically targeting renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction) have experience with these “novel” business concepts.  Both IPD and JOC have proven track records and have clearly demonstrated the ability to get more work done on-time and on-budget to the benefit of all involved parties.

A key aspect of BIM, collaboration, can only be efficiently accomplished with a commonly understood and shared taxonomy including terms, definitions, and associated metrics.

So called “open BIM”, such as buildingSMART International’s Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs), are important to enabling collaboration as well as interoperability between BIM software applications.     COBie, a naming convention for facility spaces/components, etc., and its counterparts OMINCLASS, including MASTERFORMAT and UNIFORMAT,  etc. … can be leveraged and generated by IFC appears a goal worth additional focus on a local and global level.   That said, support for COBie, OMNICLASS, IFC, etc. varies and,  far from mainstream.

As noted in the IFC / COBIE Report 2012, BIM’s success depends upon the ability to:

  1. Create model data in a consistent format
  2. Exchange that data in a common language
  3. Interrogate the data intelligently.

There are multiple knowledge domains, technologies, and process involve in the life-cycle management of the built environment, all of which need a common data architecture, taxonomy, set of metrics, etc.

The IFC / COBIE Report 2012 correctly points out that pressing needs remain:

  1. The need for standards

  2. The need for guidance

  3. The need for enhanced IFC import export routines from BIM applications

  4. The need for agreed descriptions of who requires what data and when

  5. The need for an improved audit trail to allow greater confidence in collaboration.

Also, and I paraphrase / embellish…

  1. “Enforcement” of IFC by buildSmartalliance and all BIM “proponents”  is required.
  2. Domain experts must leveraged and queried to deliver structured data templates accordingly.  The industry needs well defined model view definition for each COBie data drop. From this can come clear guidance on the “level of detail” required at each COBie data drop. This will give a shared understanding of what information is required from and by whom and at what stage.  For example needs of Facilities Managers are required to inform the content of the COBie data drops. Facility management must be considered as early as the briefing process.
  3. Weaknesses in the IFC import /export processes exist in current software product implementation. These weaknesses make manual checking necessary and reduce confidence.  Improvement  is vital here.
  4. While IFC can be used when generating COBie data, people will use whatever works and is available. The market requires.  complete flexibility to choose what systems they use. Innovation should not be stifled by mandating a process to achieve the required data.
  5. COBIE is far from complete, but a good starting point.
  6.  Microsoft Excel  provides a view of the structured info of COBie data and one way 0f reporting data, however, in NOT a good authoring tool, nor does it support hierarchal relational data schema.





Facility Life-cycle Costs and BIM

Understanding facility life-cycle costs is a core component of any BIM strategy for Owners, AE’s, Contractors, Subs, Business Product Manufacturers, Oversight Groups, Building Users, … or any stakeholder.

There are many components of life-cycle costs:

  • First Costs – Planning, Selection, Acquisition, Construction
  • Maintenance, Repair – Routine, Preventive, Unscheduled (typically expenditures of $10,000 per job or less)
  • Capital Renewal (major system/subsystem cyclical replacement)
  • Renovation, Adaptation (altering, updating spaces based upon functional needs)
  • Operations (utilization, utilities, security, safety, sustainability, waste, cleaning, grounds management )
  • Deconstruction, Transition, Disposition

BIM is just now beginning to lay the foundation for new processes and supporting technologies to enable more efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.   An important challenge is the establishment of common terms, definitions, metrics, and ‘best-practices’.   Some off these will be new, however, many/most  will likely be existing… the latter simply better shared, communicated, and consistently applied.

Facility Lifecycle Costs
Facility Lifecycle Costs

The Business Value of BIM in North America 2007 – 2012

The Emperor is still naked!

Is the trend analysis of the Business Value of BIM in North America from 2007 through 2012  reality, or are many of us walking around with rose colored glasses?

I ask you, do you really believe the following statement ” Now in 2012, 71% of architects, engineers, contractors, and owners report they have become engaged with BIM on their projects …”.    If you define BIM as the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology, I can tell you that either the survey is flawed… a lot of people don’t know what BIM is… or we have a lot of folks inflating the truth.   There is NO WAY 71% of ANY of the groups are “engaged with BIM on their projects”…period, end of story.

Playing with Statistics?   The 71% average appears to have been calculated by taking a simple average of the “adoption rate” from architects, engineers, and contractors” from three size classes of firms “small, medium, and large”.   If I am correct, this is just plan WRONG.   Most firms in the U.S. are small business, thus a weighted average must be applied.   The “adoption rate” for small firms 50%… a number I also believe to be inaccurate.

I just came back from the NIBS Conference.   This is without question, the most valuable, authoritative meeting relative to BIM in the United States.  How many people were there you might ask?   A few hundred at most.

So, what does any of this matter?   Simple really.   Until our industry stops the hype and focus on important issues relative to BIM, we will continue to be mired in inaction.   The AECOO is the most unproductive business sector and also has the lowest rate of technology adoption.  These are facts….   if one wishes to be interested in facts that is.

Here some thoughts as to where emphasis must be placed:

  1. Greater adoption and use of collaborative construction delivery methods:  IPD – Integrated Project Delivery, and JOC – Job Order Contracting.  The later is a form of IPD specifically targeting renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction projects.   Let’s face it, 80% or more of all funding for the built environment will be going in renovation, repair, and sustainability.
  2. Emphasis on business process, strategy, and standardized terms, metrics, and data architecture vs. technology.   Technology is NOT the problem, is the lack of clear, robust business strategy and processes, and domain knowledge… largely on the part of Owners that is the primary obstacle to progressive change.   Owners write the checks, they are “where the buck stops”.
  3. Focus upon life-cycle costs / total cost of ownership, vs. first costs.
  4. A bit more on data standards….   OMNICLASS, UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, COie, IFC, et al… all have there roll.  Some will survive, some may not.   The point is that unless we have standardized terms, definitions, detailed reference and actual cost information (localized materials, equipment, and labors), physical and functional condition metrics, etc. etc. etc.    …  we can’t collaborate or improve productivity!
  5. Participation by all stakeholders – Owners, AE’s, Contractors, SubContractors, Building Users, Oversight Groups, Regulatory Bodies, Building Product Manufacturers, Communities, ….






2013-WSP Group
2013-WSP Group

Cloud Computing, Construction, Engineering, Architecture and Productivity

Cloud computing is a more than catalyst for change, it is a DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY.  Cloud computing will drive significantly enhanced productivity within the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Facility Management Sectors by enabling the consistent deployment of integrated project delivery methods.   Owners, Contractors, Architects, Engineers and stakeholders of the built environment will benefit if they focus upon CHANGE MANAGEMENT and how to best leverage cloud computing.

  1. Collaboration – True cloud computing (vs. cloud-washing, or simply posting legacy application to the cloud) lets users  work concurrently on projects in real-time (milliseconds)… virtually anyone, anywhere, anytime.  Multi-language and mult-currency, etc. can easily be implemented.
  2. Security – Information is NEVER deleted.  This is potentially the best form of security available.   “Who” does “What” and “When” is always tracked and changes can be “rolled back” at any time by authorized administrators.  Furthermore, only changes are transmitted vs. full data sets and even these are encrypted.
  3. IP Protection – Despite all the “hype” to the contrary, it is YOU, the user who determines how, when, and where to publish data.   For example, you can maintain information in your private area, publish as read only to specified members within a private cloud…or publish to all members in a private cloud, or publish information to all members in public cloud and enable rights to use and modify data.
  4. Visualization –  Despite the pervasive misunderstanding of BIM and unfortunate focus upon 3D visualization, DATA visualization and the associated development and implementation of the colloborative life-cycle management of built environment are the benefits provided by BIM.  Cloud computing will accelerate data visualization and transparency among all stakeholders of physical infrastructure and promote performance-based processes.
  5. Agility – Our work and natural environments are changing at an accelerated pace.  Rapid deployment, monitoring,  and the associated modification of processes and policies is becoming increasingly important.  Cloud computing deploys process faster than any other method currently available.   There is no longer a need to rely upon internal “IT” for deployment or applications specific changes.
  6. Mobility – It is neither cost effective, nor efficient to have everyone working in offices or specified work settings.  Resources need to be tapped from multiple locations enabling use of “the best of the best”, and resources with localized resources and/or capabilities.   Cloud computing allows direct, transparent access to local resources while also communicating centralized processes and procedures.
  7. Centralization of Information – While information can be scattered among several data centers, it also can be instantly consolidated to provide global management in support of an organization’s mission as well as associated, efficient local action.
  8. Business Continuity – True, Internet access is required, however, would you rather store your information at your location and risk catastrophic failure, or have your information at multiple locations designed with redundancy, power backup, etc.?

BIG DATA and EFFICIENT CONSTRUCTION METHODS (Integrated Project Delivery, Job Order Contracting), CLOUD COMPUTING, and BIM are here to stay, are you ready?

via – Premier cost estimating and efficient project delivery software for JOC, SABER, IDIQ, SATOC, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA, …


BIM Evolution

In the long history of humankind, those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
– Charles Darwin

BIM, the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology, requires a fundamental change in how the construction (Architects, Contractors, Engineers) and facility management (Owners, Service Providers, Building Product Manufactures, Oversight Groups, Building Users) sectors operate on a day-to-day basis.  

BIM, combined and  Cloud Computing are game changers.  They are disruptive technologies with integral business processes/practices that demand collaboration, transparency, and accurate/current information displayed via common terminology.

The traditional ad-hoc and adversarial business practices commonly associated with Construction and Facility Management are changing as we speak.    Design-bid-build and even Design-Build will rapidly go by the wayside in favor of the far more efficient processes of Integrated Project Delivery – IPD, and Job Order Contracting – JOC, and similar collaborative programs.  (JOC is a form of integrated project delivery specifically targeting facility renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction).

There is no escaping the change.   Standardized data architectures (Ominclass, COBie, Uniformat, Masterformat) and cost databases (i.e. RSMeans), accesses an localized via cloud computing are even now beginning to be available.   While historically, the construction and facility management sectors have lagged their counterparts (automotive, aerospace, medical, …)  relative to technology and LEAN business practices, environmental and economic market drivers and government mandates are closing the gap.

The construction and life-cycle management of the built environment requires the integration off several knowledge domains, business “best-practices”, and technologies as portrayed below.   The efficient use of this BIG DATA is enabled by the BIM, Cloud Computing, and Integrated Project Delivery methods.


The greatest challenges to these positive changes are  the CULTURE of the Construction and the Facility Management Sectors.  Also, an embedded first-cost vs. life-cycle or total cost of ownership perspective.  An the unfortunate marketing spotlight upon the technology of 3D visualization vs. BIM.   Emphasis MUST be place upon the methods of how we work on a daily basis…locally and globally  − strategic planning, capitial reinvestment planning, designing collaborating, procuring, constructing, managing and operating.  All of these business processes have different impacts upon the “facility” infrastructure and  construction supply chain, building Owners, Stakeholders, etc., yet communication terms, definitions, must be transparent and consistently applied in order to gain  greater efficiencies.

Some facility life-cycle management are already in place for the federal government facility portfolio and its only a matter of time before these are expanded and extended into all other sectors.

BIM, not 3D visualization, but true BIM or Big BIM,  and Cloud Computing will connect information from every discipline together.  It will not necessarily be a single combined model.  In fact the latter has significant drawbacks.    Each knowledge domain has independent areas of expertise and requisite process that would be diluted and marginalized if managed within one model.   That said, appropriate “roll-up” information will be available to a higher level model.   (The issue of capability and productivity marginalization can be proven by looking a ERP and IWMS systems.  Integration of best-in-class technology and business practices is always support to systems that attempt to do everything, yet do not single thing well.)

Fundamental Changes to Project Delivery for Repair, Renovation, Sustainability, and New Construction Projects MUST include:

  • Qualifications Based or Best Value Selection
  • Some form of pricing transparency and standardization
  • Early and ongoing information-sharing among project stakeholders
  • Appropriate distribution of risk
  • Some form of financial incentive to drive performance / performance-based relationships