How the Brits View BIM – Buildling Information Modelling

What is BIM?

A multi-dimensional tool, Building Information Modelling (BIM) involves generating a visual model of the building which also manages data about it, at the design stage, throughout the construction phase and during its working life. Typically BIM uses real-time, dynamic building modelling software working in 3D, 4D (workflow) and, increasingly, 5D (quantity surveying) to increase productivity and efficiency, save costs in the design and construction stages, and to reduce running costs, after construction.



Building Information Modelling (BIM) covers geometry, spatial relationships, light analysis, geographic information, quantities and properties of building components, project management and post-construction facilities management. BIM data can be used to illustrate the entire building life-cycle, from cradle to cradle, from inception and design to demolition and materials reuse; quantities and properties of materials, which can be easily extracted from the model; and the scope of works, including management of project targets and facilities management throughout the building’s life. Furthermore, systems, components, assemblies and sequences can be shown in relative scale to each other and, in turn, relative to the entire project.

NBS National BIM Report 2012NBS National BIM Report 2013
Our national survey on knowledge and uptake of BIM in the UK construction industry
Download report


IFC/COBie Report 2012IFC/COBie Report 2012
Is the buildingSMART IFC file format capable of supporting the creation of COBie datasets?
Download report

The Government’s Industrial Strategy, published in early 2013, states that £40 billion of public money is spent on Centrally Funded Public buildings, every year. From this, millions of pounds are lost through poor integration and not learning from past mistakes. The strategy suggests that:

  • 30% of the construction process is rework
  • 60% of the labour effort is wasted
  • 10% loss is due to wasted materials
  • 3-5% of the construction turnover is wasted due to loss of interoperability.

It follows that construction information is, therefore, often:

  • Inaccurate
  • Incomplete
  • Ambiguous.

By 2025, Government is aiming to maximise efficiency in the construction industry through legislation and best practices aimed at:

  • Lowering costs
  • Speeding delivery
  • Lowering emissions
  • Increasing exports.

Early BIM demonstration projects have already achieved savings of around 20% during the construction phase, with some on course to make 33% savings over the life of the building; future projects are targeting even greater savings.

However, BIM goes beyond simply switching to new software. It requires changes to the definition of traditional architectural phases, more data sharing than architects and engineers are used to, and a willingness to embrace partnering in an approach that collects all project related information digitally. BIM is able to achieve this by modelling representations, specifications, and the critical paths of actual parts and components used in the construction process, representing a major shift from traditional computer aided design.

The interoperability of the model requires that drawings, master building specifications, standards, regulations, manufacturer product specifications, cost and procurement details, environmental conditions (emissions data), critical paths, clash detection and submittal processes all work together. The whole process is about disparate information resources feeding into a central store of digital documentation, which then becomes the heart of the building information model.

BIM is far more than 3D CAD modelling; it is a rich information source containing geometric, visual, dimensional, and process information. If the software is the interface to a building information model; rich information content is its body and soul. Managed BIM will reduce the information loss associated with handing a project from design team, to construction team and to building owner/operator, by allowing each group to add to, and reference back to, all information they use/create during their period of contribution to the BIM model. To put it simply, without the embedded information, BIM is little more than 3D pictures.

For further discussion on the introduction of new legal and contractual documents that will underpin the adoption of BIM in UK projects, read The CIC BIM protocol – a critical analysis.

How does BIM work?

Building Information Modelling can, of course, still produce drawings, but the process is no longer focussed on lines, shapes and text boxes; it is now based on data sets that describe objects virtually, mimicking the way they will be handled physically in the real world. The real difference that BIM offers, however, is that it is a truly interoperable system, offering full integration, allowing the inputs of the various professionals and specialists involved in every stage of the life-cycle to work together, without data or process conflict.

Video: NBS Lakeside Restaurant

Discover the benefits of incorporating information rich Building Information Modelling (BIM) through the case study project ‘NBS Lakeside Restaurant’

Depending upon the perspective of approach to BIM, it can relate to lots of different things:

  • • To an engineer – energy consumption
  • To a contractor – buildability
  • To a client – useable space
  • To a manufacturer – product maintenance, servicing, product performance.

On a technical level Industry Foundation Classes (IFC or ifcXML) is an open specification for Building Information Modelling; they are effectively an object-based file format tied to a specific data model. IFC was originally developed by buildingSMART to facilitate interoperability in the architecture, engineering and construction industries, and forms a commonly used collaboration format in BIM projects.

Green Building XML (gbXML) is a schema specifically focused on green building design and operation and is used as the input in several energy simulation applications; gbXML powers a number of building energy simulation tools available to the market.

The IFC model specification is an open and available online (see Further information). The IFC format is registered by the International Standards Organisation (ISO 16739:2013).

A more in-depth view of the technical aspects of Building Information Modelling, can be accessed through BIM and building properties.

4D scheduling in BIM allows the designer/manager to see problems scheduled in the works durations and analyse congestion and accessibility more effectively than through standard Gantt charts. A more powerful aspect of 4D schedules are that, unlike a static building model, they are in a dynamic state. By linking time to structural components, it is possible to carry out time related structural analysis using the actual BIM model.

If workflow analysis of the model is carried out at design stage, it may determine the preferred material and the construction methodology in order to save time and money.

Clash detection
Clash detection is one of BIM’s buzz phrases, primarily because it puts a value on the savings made from eliminating problems found during a review. Clash detection can be broken into three categories or types:

  • Hard clash
  • Soft clash/clearance clash
  • 4D/workflow Clash.

A hard clash is simply when two objects occupy the same space. For example, a pipe going through a wall where there is no opening.

Soft clashes refer to allowable tolerances or space; for example, buffer zones between components left to provide space for future maintenance.

4D/Workflow clashes refer to clashes in scheduling work crews, equipment/material fabrication delivery clashes and other timeline issues.

Quantity Surveying/5D
The level of BIM utilised is often down to the maturity level of the team and that of its respective parts, so utilising fully integrated 4D and 5D is still uncommon, mainly down to software costs and educational/training limitations. However, the certainty of quantities generated from the BIM model allows several different assessments in finding the most effective solutions prior to construction – BIM modelling means that a schedule of quantities can be produced instantly; whereas previously a QS could spend considerable time measuring and taking quantities from 2D drawings. However, despite BIM’s accuracy, there remains the issue of differences in ‘standard methods of measurement’. The UK uses several SMMs, Ireland mainly uses a version of ARM (Agreed Rules of Measurement), and the US and Australia use other variants. So, a common international standard method of measurement, compatible with all BIM software, seems to still be a way off.

Classification in BIM and the differences in standard methods of measurement is discussed in greater detail in Coordinating common arrangement, Uniclass, NBS and rules of measurement.

Benefits of BIM

Managing a construction project and building lifecycle using a building information model can result in substantial savings, in both time and money, from design and construction through to on-going maintenance.

The model saves time and waste on site, and renders extra coordination checks largely unnecessary; the information generated from the model leads to fewer errors on site, caused by inaccurate and uncoordinated information. When all members of the construction team work on the same model, from early design through to completion, introduced changes are automatically coordinated through the BIM, across the whole project, and information generated is therefore of high quality.

BIM has already given the industry measurable positives:

  • Increased understanding and predictability – offering greater certainty and reduced risk
  • Improved efficiency
  • Improved integration and coordination – meaning less problems onsite
  • Less waste
  • Better value and quality
  • Better buildings throughout their life-cycle.

Information technology is an integral part of today’s commerce, and transferring design/construction information from designers to producers/constructors is an example where, with the availability of modelling software, the tools are already in place. However, when choosing which simulation tool to use for a project, the teams involved must consider the application’s accuracy, reliability, user base and possible needs for training, considered against the project information they will have at their disposal.

Construction is the world’s most wasteful industry; it is the largest consumer of global resources, raw materials and global energy supplies; it creates the largest amount of global solid waste; and it is responsible for around 50% of greenhouse gas emissions. However, it is worth trillions of dollars per annum globally.

BIM technology presents a great opportunity for manufacturers, but they must ensure that they keep up and are part of the industry changes, not a future ‘Kodak’.

BIM in the UK

The proliferation of interpretations of BIM currently hampers the adoption of a working strategy to improve the built environment, and in turn the quality and sustainability of deliveries from design and construction teams to clients. In the UK, the Construction Project Information Committee (CPIC), responsible for providing best practice guidance on construction production information, proposed a definition of Building Information Modelling for adoption throughout the UK construction industry. This was jointly forwarded by the RIBA, CPIC and buildingSmart as a definition of BIM for the UK construction industry, to act as a starting point for discussion and refinement. It is:

‘Building Information Modelling is digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility creating a shared knowledge resource for information about it forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle, from earliest conception to demolition.’

It should be borne in mind that adoption of BIM in the UK is not a mandatory undertaking, yet. However, the Government aims for all publically funded works begun after 2015 to be carried out through a building information model; it is anticipated that where the government goes, regulation and the rest of the construction industry will follow. And, because the public purse funds so much of the building work in the UK, within a very short time, what is currently voluntary is very likely to be mandatory.

The article The buildingSMART Data Dictionary offers a brief introduction to what the dictionary project is all about.

BIM and the NBS

As leading providers of information to the UK construction industry, NBS offers a range of software tools and information resources that support the design team across the project timeline, enabling the production of co-ordinated digital information. NBS are investing heavily in turning specification and product information into digital objects in anticipation of the industry-wide adoption of BIM. As part of this NBS aims to regularly publish guidance and information on BIM resources for the construction industry.

The NBS National BIM Library, NBS Plug-ins and NBS Create will aid information flow throughout the BIM process, enabling more efficient and accurate working when generating design documentation. Even from the project concept stage, objects can be selected from the NBS National BIM Library and added directly to design models; and, due to the direct linkage between design and specification through NBS Plug-ins, access to expert guidance is maintained within NBS Create. By using the plug-in, an outline specification can be automatically produced from the design model. Both specification and model are synchronised, making it possible to manage links to the specification throughout the project.

As the design evolves, proprietary objects can be substituted from NBS National BIM Library, while developing the specification detail within NBS Create, providing real-time information on cost and performance.

BIM and data modelling techniques offer the opportunity to create specifications differently, meaning a big change in the process. This is outlined in What does Building Information Modelling (BIM) mean for specifications?

NBS National BIM Library

A digital model is built using lots of small digital components, called BIM objects. These objects are the building blocks of all digital models. However, in the case of BIM, the objects are not about imitating catalogue products; they are digital replications of products and are assembled in the information model.
There is currently a huge demand from designers for manufacturers’ BIM objects, but creating and maintaining them requires expertise that architects and designers don’t have time to commit. Furthermore, there’s no efficiency for UK construction if every designer creates their own BIM objects for each manufacturer. This is where the NBS National BIM Library comes in.

NBS National BIM Library is a publishing tool, which uses the latest web technology to place manufacturer’s products in the cloud, connecting them to other objects, and getting them used by the construction industry. The NBS National BIM Survey 2013 says that:

  • Over 110,000 BIM objects have been downloaded so far this year
  • NBS National BIM Library hosts an active user community, who are passionate about BIM
  • NBS National BIM Library covers all formats
  • NBS National BIM Library uses cloud technology so that objects can be used anywhere
  • NBS National BIM Library offers manufacturers detailed usage analysis to help win business.

NBS National BIM Library maintains a focus on high quality digitised objects, available on all platforms. As BIM unfolds and becomes the de-facto source of design information for the industry, quality and ubiquity of data objects will separate success from also ran. Simply put, if your object is not available as a digital object, then your product is unlikely to be bought.

Best of all, for users of the NBS National BIM Library resource, it’s free…

BIM objects are much more than just graphical representations and using them as placeholder to connect to wider sources of information provides a powerful design tool. A picture paints a thousand words, but never underestimate the power of text investigates linking NBS National BIM Library objects to NBS Create.

BIM for existing buildings

Laser surveying and cloud points can replace the need for traditional 2D surveys, delivering accurate models of existing buildings and infrastructure as 3D models. This can also be achieved faster, with a greater accuracy than traditional methods reducing overall project costs.

3D laser scanning has been around in the offshore sector for many years, creating accurate ‘As-Built’ models of oil rigs and plant facilities. However it is only in the last couple of years that the technology has been cost effective to use in the built environment sector.

While there have been attempts at creating a BIM for older, pre-existing facilities; trying to model a standing building or structure requires numerous assumptions about building design standards and codes, construction methods and materials available at the time of construction. These factors should be borne in mind before undertaking a 3D survey of an existing structure.

Future of Building Information Modelling

The future of architecture and the construction industry is digital; of this there can be no doubt, and BIM is the future of design and long term facility management; it is government led and technology driven; and it is implementing change across all industries, but there is still much confusion about what exactly it is and how it should be utilised and implemented. BIM is a digital model which helps everyone understand the building; however, it is a new technology in an industry typically slow to adopt change. Rest assured though, BIM will grow to play a crucial future role in building design and documentation.

BIM provides the potential for a virtual information model to be handed from Design Team (architects, surveyors, consulting engineers, and others) to Contractor and Subcontractors and then to the Owner, each adding their own additional discipline-specific knowledge and tracking of changes to the single model. The result greatly reduces information losses in transfer; makes buildings work, and helps build better value constructions. By signalling conflict detection BIM prevents errors creeping in at the various stages of development/construction, because the model actually informs the team about parts of the design which are in conflict or clashing. Finally BIM offers detailed computer visualization of each part and assembly in relation to the total building.

As hardware, software and cloud applications herald greater capability to handle increasing amounts of raw data and information, use of BIM will become even more pronounced than it is in current projects.

This article was produced with the technical assistance of Ian Chapman and Stefan Mordue, both of NBS.
Michael Smith is a member of the Construction Information Service editorial team. He is a mechanical engineering and building services specialist, chartered information specialist (MCLIP) and chartered environmentalist (CEnv).

Further Information

NBS BIM information pages
NBS Published guidance and information on BIM resources for the construction industry

NBS National BIM Library
NBS National BIM Library contains over 5000 proprietary and pre-configured generic objects covering all major building fabric systems for walls, ceilings, roofs and floors; with new content added every few weeks, and all available free

NBS National BIM reports
Includes links to the National BIM Survey reports, IFC/COBie report and BIM for the terrified, all available for free

BIM – Changing our industry
WSP Group’s online hub exploring BIM in the construction industry

Construction Project Information (CPIC)
Promoting collaborative working within the construction industry.

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC/ifcXML)
Official source of all information about the technical specifications issued by buildingSMART International and of the supporting interoperability implementation programmes.

IFC Model specification pages
Contains an overview about IFC releases, including current IFC release, background information about previous releases, and preview of future releases

Green Building XML (gbXML)
gbXML open schema helps facilitate the transfer of building properties stored in 3D building information models to engineering analysis tools

November 2013



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BIM is NOT 3D Visualization – 4D, 5D …..

Building Information Modeling, BIM, is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology.  As such, the core requirements of BIM include collaboration, standardized information, multiple domain competencies, and several supporting interoperable technologies.

Let’s face it, BIM continues to languish.  Sure a lot of architects use it for pretty pictures to win business, and there are several “case studies” surrounding clash detection, etc. etc.   However, life-cycle and/or ongoing facility management using BIM?  No so much.

This is not only sad but economically and environmentally imprudent.   The efficient life-cycle management of the built environment is critical to both global competitiveness and preserving sustainable resources.

Why is BIM of to a slow start?  Too much focus on 3D visualization, too much “reinventing the wheel” trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, and virtually NO EMPHASIS upon the requirements for life-cycle management… associated competencies, domains, technologies, ongoing collaboration, integration, and continuous improvement.

Design-bid-build and “low bid” awards are the downfall of the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Owner, and Operations sector.   The method is antagonistic, wasteful, and typically delivers poor initial and ongoing results.

Focus upon CHANGE MANAGEMENT and building awareness relative to both COLLABORATIVE CONSTRUCTION DELIVERY METHODS AND LIFECYCLE, TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP MANAGMENT is the only thing that will “kick start” BIM.

Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC) are both collaborative construction delivery methods that have been proven for decades, however, awareness remains low.  IPD’s focus is upon major new construction, while JOC focuses upon the numerous renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction projects so critical to efficient use of our current infrastructure.

The below diagram outlines the competencies, technologies, and process required for the lifecycle management of the built environment.

BIMF - Building Information Management Framework

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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.

3D, 4D, 5D BIM Growth — UK

BIM Life-cycle Managment of the Built Environment Supported by Digital Technology

A recent study by NBS provides a snapshot of  BIM (Building Information Modelling) implementation within the UK’s construction industry.


Conducted between December 2012 and February 2013, a cross section of 1,350 professionals spanning a range of business sizes and disciplines from across the industry including architecture, engineering and surveying were included.

71%  of respondents to the NBS survey agreed that BIM represents the ‘future of project information’.

39% confirmed that they were now actually using BIM.

Fewer than half of respondents are aware of the different levels of BIM, despite Level 2 being    mandatory on all Government projects by the end of 2016.

74% agreeing that ‘the industry is ‘not clear enough on what BIM is yet’.

Only one-third of those questioned claim to be ‘very’ or ‘quite’ confident in their BIM knowledge and skills.

Despite the uncertainty around the subject, the survey once again supported the view that the greater use of BIM is unstoppable with 73% agreeing that clients will increasingly insist on its use, 66% saying the same about contractors and 51% confirming that the Government ‘is on the right track with BIM’.

Of those who have adopted BIM, more than half believe that the introduction of BIM has resulted in greater cost efficiencies whilst three-quarters report increased coordination of construction documents. Improved productivity due to easy retrieval of information and better quality visualisations were other gains.


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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

BIM Standards and Why They Matter! – National BIM Standard

” The construction industry is in the middle of a growing crisis worldwide. With 40% of the world’s raw materials being consumed by buildings, the industry is a key player in global economics and politics.

And, since facilities consume 40% of the world’s energy and 65.2% of total U.S. electrical consumption, the construction industry is a key player in energy conservation, too! With facilities contributing 40% of the carbon emissions to the atmosphere and 20% of material waste to landfills, the industry is a key player in the environmental equation.

Clearly, the construction industry has a responsibility to use the earth’s resources as efficiently as possible.

Construction spending in the United States is estimated to be $1.288 trillion for 2008. The Construction Industry Institute estimates there is up to 57% non-value added effort or waste in our current business models. This means the industry may waste over $600 billion each year.

There is an urgent need for construction industry stakeholders to maximize the portion of services that add value in end-products and to reduce waste.

Another looming national crisis is the inability to provide enough qualified engineers. Some estimate the United States will be short a million engineers by the year 2020. In 2007, the United States was no longer the world’s largest consumer, a condition that will force United States industry to be more competitive in attracting talented professionals. The United States construction industry must take immediate action to become more competitive.

The current approach to industry transformation is largely focused in efforts to optimize design and construction phase activities. While there is much to do in those phases, a lifecycle view is required.

 When sustainability is not adequately incorporated, the waste associated with current design, engineering, and construction practices grows throughout the rest of the facility’s lifecycle.

Products with a short life add to performance failures, waste, recycling costs, energy consumption, and environmental damage. Through cascading effects, these problems negatively affect the economy and national security due to dependence on foreign petroleum, a negative balance of trade, and environmental degradation. To halt current decline and reverse existing effects, the industry has a responsibility to take immediate action.

While only a very small portion of facility lifecycle costs occur during design and construction, those are the phases where our decisions have the greatest impact.

 Most of the costs associated with a facility throughout its lifecycle accrue during a facility’s operations and sustainment.

Carnegie-Mellon University research has indicated that an improvement of just 3.8% in productivity in the functions that occur in a building would totally pay for the facility’s design, construction, operations and sustainment, through increased efficiency. Therefore, as industryfocuses on creating, maintaining, and operating facilities more efficiently, simultaneous action is required to ensure that people and processes supported by facilities are optimized.

BIM stands for new concepts and practices that are so greatly improved by innovative information technologies and business structures that they will dramatically reduce the multiple forms of waste and inefficiency in the building industry.

Whether used to refer to a product – Building Information Model (a structured dataset describing a building), an activity – Building Information Modeling (the act of creating a Building Information Model), or a system – Building Information Management (business structures of work and communication that increase quality and efficiency), BIM is a critical element in reducing industry waste, adding value to industry products, decreasing environmental damage, and increasing the functional performance of occupants.



.Information Model Standard™ (NBIMS) is a key element to building industry transformation. NBIMS establishes standard definitions for building information exchanges to support critical business contexts using standard semantics and ontologies.

Implemented in software, the Standard will form the basis for the accurate and efficient communication and commerce that are needed by the building industry and essential to industry transformations. Among other benefits, the Standard will help all participants in facilities-related processes achieve more reliable outcomes from commercial agreements.

Thus, there is a critical need to increase the efficiency of the construction process. Today’s inefficiency is a primary cause of non-value added effort, such as re-typing (often with a new set of errors) information at each phase or among participants during the lifecycle of a facility or failing to provide full and accurate information from designer to constructor. With the implementation of this Standard, information interoperability and reliability will improve significantly. Standard development has already begun and implementable results will be available soon. BIM development, education, implementation, adoption, and understanding are intended to form a continuous process ingrained evermore into the industry.

Success, in the form of a new paradigm for the building construction industry, will require that individuals and organizations step up to contribute to and participate in creating and implementing a commonBIM standard.

Each of us has a responsibility to take action now.”

David A. Harris, FAIA President National Institute of Building Sciences


©2007 National Institute of Building Sciences. All rights reserved


via – Premier cost estimating and project, contract, and document management software fore efficient construction delivery – JOC, SABER, IPD, SATOC, IDIQ, MATOC, MACC, POCA, BOA.

BIM for FM…. Or Big BIM Process & Strategy

BIM 3D,4D,5D & Constructio Project Devlivery – Process First! – 8March2011


Looking at a BIM PROCESS and STRATEGY… should happen well before any technology discussion, though technology is the enabler for implementation, deployment, scalability, etc.
Everything starts with you…. Your situation … Your needs …. Your resources … and Your PROCESS.
The lack of robust PROCESSES has been endemic to and a virtually unique aspect of, the AEC community.
BIMF for Building Information Modeling Framework, is used to describe an integrated approach to facility management and BIM… also referred to a “big BIM”, with the FOCUS upon the “I”, INFORMATION aspect and sharing information from formerly disparate FM silos.

Construction Delivery Methods – Free WebCast February 3rd

Construction Delivery Methods are a critical component of BIM as well as Facility Management in general.
And no one enables JOC, and other construction delivery methods better than 4Clicks and RSMeans.
Please join us February 3rd for a free WebCast.
See how we help Owners …
  • Manage multiple projects, contractors, bids and estimates, cost books, and users
  • Track  construction progress, documents, milestones, modifications, inspections, warranties, and closeouts quickly, easily, and with greater accuracy.

Contractors and A/E’s also love working with our solutions as collaboration, communication, and longer term partnerships are enhanced for all parties.


Software Technology to Improve Project Delivery

Presented by:

4Clicks logoRSMeans logo


Join Michael Brown, Founder and President of 4Clicks Solutions, LLC, and Bob Gair, Principal, RSMeans for a discussion of a cost estimating, program management, and document management software specifically developed for Job Order Contracting, SABER, IDIQ, and similar project delivery methods.


In this FREE webinar, you will learn:

#1Why JOC is the most efficient construction project delivery method for facility repairs, renovation, and green/sustainability.

#2How JOC can shorten the traditional construction procurement timeline from 15 weeks to 5 weeks.

#3What a strategic partnership with RSMeans and a  complete 400,000+ detailed line item cost database can do for you.

#4How you can get away from spreadsheets or cumbersome, outdated software and nearly eliminate estimating errors, reduce project costs, and improve collaborative communications with internal and external project partners.

Register Here



Thursday, February 3, 2011
1:00 pm EST

What is BIM – Software, Business Process? – BIM Definition – NIBS – National BIM Standard – BIM Standards

Both….  BIM is a digital technology and a business process for life-cycle facility management, from concept thru disposal.

The below figure represents components of a BIM strategy.

What is a BIM?

The National Building Information Model Standard Project Committee defines BIM as:

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility.  A BIM is a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life-cycle; defined as existing from earliest conception to demolition.

A basic premise of BIM is collaboration by different stakeholders at different phases of the life cycle of a facility to insert, extract, update or modify information in the BIM to support and reflect the roles of that stakeholder.

The US National BIM Standard will promote the business requirements that BIM and BIM interchanges are based on:

  • a shared digital representation,
  • that the information contained in the model be interoperable (i.e.: allow computer to computer exchanges), and
  • the exchange be based on open standards,
  • the requirements for exchange must be capable of defining in contract language.

As a practical matter, BIM represents many things depending on one’s perspective:

  • Applied to a project, BIM represents Information management—data contributed to and shared by all project participants.  The right information to the right person at the right time.
  • To project participants, BIM represents an interoperable process for project delivery—defining how individual teams work and how many teams work together to conceive, design, build & operate a facility.
  • To the design team, BIM represents integrated design—leveraging technology solutions, encouraging creativity, providing more feedback, empowering a team.¹

NBIM standard will incorporate several elements described later in this document but the focus will be on standardized processes which define “business views” of data needed to accomplish a particular set of functions.