BIM Glossary Terms and Definitions – NBIMS-US – 2013

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There are many exciting things go one.  Below, a list of terms and definitions being submitted for voting is just one of several important initiatives.

Building Information Modeling Model Management


BIM is a term which represents three separate but linked functions:

Building Information Modeling: Is a BUSINESS PROCESS for generating and leveraging building data to design, construct and operate the building during its lifecycle. BIM allows all stakeholders to have access to the same information at the same time through interoperability between technology platforms.

Building Information Model: Is the DIGITAL REPRESENTATION of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. 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: Is the ORGANIZATION & CONTROL of the business process by utilizing the information in the digital prototype to effect the sharing of information over the entire lifecycle of an 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 developing an asset lifecycle process and model from conception to final retirement.



1. In general, attributes represent the characteristics of objects. e.g. Attributes defined by a building element class may be Name, Length, Weight, Price, etc. The attribute values of a specific building element of a specific building may be Name = ‘Wall-123’, Length=6500.0, Weight=7300, etc.
2. In EXPRESS, (See Standards Section – EXPRESS) an attribute of an entity type has a name and data type, and they represent characteristics of an entity type and relationships between entity types.


BIM Implementation

1. The management of work processes and software tools to produce required project information.
2. In BIM software development, the incorporation of features in software, or the form those features take in the software.
3. In an IFC context, an application’s capability to create, use, import, and export IFC Project data.


BIM Life-Cycle Views

The various perspectives of BIM held depending upon facility phase, facility element, AECOO discipline, and Level of Development. These different views often create unneeded semantic conflict while well-defined and accepted terms for all phases could be achieved.

Construction Delivery Method

See Project Delivery Method

Cost – Avoidance, (Interoperability)

According to a NIST study (NISTR 7417), the categories of costs that are typically incurred to minimize technical, software, and/or data interoperability problems. For example the lack of using an information management strategy.

(3)FALLON, K. K and PALMER, M. E. General Buildings Information Handover Guide. Principles, Methodology and Case Studies (NISTIR 7417), August. 2007.


Raw factual bits of unprocessed information. Can be structured, but as an aggregate, has no more meaning than the individual facts alone convey.



Practice area and specialty of the actors (participants) that carry out the processes and procedures that occur during the life cycle of a construction entity.


IFC Certification Procedure (IFC 4×4**)

Certification testing is a process for testing software’s conformance with a given IFC release specification and its subsets, defined as views. The aim of the certification testing is to promote quality in IFC implementations and demonstrate to end-users that the software passing the certification implements the IFC specification in a consistent way, hence being able to exchange IFC product data with other certified software unambiguously. The buildingSMART IFC Software Certification procedure is intended to promote consistent and reliable implementations of the IFC specification by many software vendors across multiple software applications. The consistency aimed at by the certification program will help drive rapid evaluation, deployment and acceptance of the IFC standard for the exchange and sharing of Building Information Models. In 2010 buildingSMART developed the new IFC Certification 2.0 procedure to significantly improve quality assurance and service to participating software companies. It cancels and replaces the old IFC Certification 1.0 procedure that had been used 2001-2010.


Level of Development


Level of Development is the degree to which the element’s geometry and attached information have been thought through—the degree to which project team members may rely on the information when using the model.


Level of Precision

The closeness of agreement within individual


Life-cycle Assessment


1. A compilation and evaluation of the inputs, outputs and the potential environmental impacts of a product system throughout its life cycle.
2. A tool used to understand the energy use, other environmental impacts, and costs associated with all life cycle phases of the building: procurement, construction, operation, and decommissioning. Its use requires a set of guiding principles, which consider the unique character of each “building” design, complexity in defining systems, and related decisions.

1. 14040:2006

2. (10)

Life-cycle Costs


The sum of the present value of investment costs, capital costs, installation costs, energy costs, operating costs, maintenance costs, and disposal costs, over the lifetime of the product, product, or measure


Life-cycle Stages


Four (4) areas considered as components of life-cycle assessment (LCA):
1) Materials Manufacturing: Removal of raw materials from earth, transportation of materials to the manufacturing locations, manufacture of finished or intermediate materials, building product fabrication, and packaging and distribution of building products
2) Construction: All activities relating to the actual building project construction
3) Use and Maintenance: Building operation including energy consumption, water usage, environmental waste generation, repair and replacement of building assemblies and systems, and transport and equipment use for repair and replacement
4) End of Life: Includes energy consumed and waste produced due to building demolition and disposal of materials to landfills, and transport of waste materials. Recycling and reuse activities related to demolition waste also can be included and have a “negative impact.”


Metadata, Administrative

Data necessary to allow a repository to manage information objects, such as when, how and by whom a resource was created and how it can be accessed. Elements in administrative metadata can overlap with technical and preservation metadata because it shares the same purposes, i.e., to make the resources accessible in the future. Sometimes technical and preservation metadata are also added as administrative metadata.


Metadata, Structural

Data indicating how compound information objects are put together. Example: how pages are ordered to form chapters.



A collection of data, behaviors, and attributes or properties that is handled in computer applications (and by users) as a single unit with relationships to other objects. May refer either a class or an instance of a class.


Overview Map

A high-level BIM process map that illustrates the relationship between BIM uses which will be employed on the Facility. Each of the BIM Uses then gets its own lower level Process Map. See also Process Guidance Map in Penn State PxP Guides and NBIMS 2.0



In BIM parameter estimating, the accuracy[1] of a measurement system is the degree of closeness of measurements of a quantity to that quantity’s actual (true) value. The precision[1] of a measurement system, also called reproducibility or repeatability, is the degree to which repeated measurements under unchanged conditions show the same results.[2] Although the two words precision and accuracy can be synonymous in colloquial use, they are deliberately contrasted in the context of the scientific method.
A measurement system can be accurate but not precise, precise but not accurate, neither, or both.



See Characteristic


1. Quantitatively, The probability that the system or component will perform its intended function for a specified period under stated conditions. Period can be measured in cycles of use or duration.
2. Qualitatively, a measure of aggregated accuracy, certainty, and precision that may be assumed of a unit of information.


Service Life

The expected serviceable lifetime, or the acceptable period of use of a product. It is the time that any manufactured item can be expected to be ‘serviceable’ or supported by its manufacturer.



When referring to a programming language or command, a set of rules that are associated with the language or command.  When referring to an error, a syntax error is an error that is encountered when the programmer or individual who wrote the code has not followed the rules of the language, causing the program to fail.




V3 Definition*


BIM Wash(ing) A term describing the inflated, and/or deceptive, claims of using or delivering Building Information Modeling services or products.
Event In process mapping, an occurrence in the course of a business process. Three types of events exist, based on when they affect the flow: start, intermediate, and end. 5.3 BIM Proj Exec Planning Guide
Life-Cycle Views Defined sets of information intended for use at specific stages of a project. See NBIMS v1, Life-Cycle Views NBIMS 1.0 and specific figures: 2.1-2; 2.1-4; 2.2-2; 3.1-1
Metadata 1. In context of Information Architecture or Engineering, the structural elements used to construct the data model. From a more generalized perspective, “data about data;” functionally, “structured data about data.” Metadata includes data associated with either an information system or an information object for purposes of description, administration, legal requirements, technical functionality, use and usage, and preservation. In the case of Dublin Core, information that expresses the intellectual content, intellectual property and/or instantiation characteristics of an information resource. See Section 1.1 of this guide. For a history of the term See Caplan, pp. 1-3. See Data Schema or Metadata Repository projects used in advanced organizations such as NIEM, FIBO, etc..1.2. Data useful for the description, administration, legal handling, technical functionality, use, or preservation of the primary data stored in an information management system or model of such a system. For example, if an article in a periodical is the primary information in a card catalog, the publisher is metadata.
Metadata, Descriptive 1. Information used to search and locate data, and/or an object such as title, author, subjects, keywords, publisher. See also, metadata, structural metadata, administrative metadata and preservation metadata.2. Data useful characterizing or classifying other information. Example: In a system where morphology of things is a primary attribute of things recorded in the system, the morphology classification system used and the specific class assigned to each primary data element are descriptive metadata. METADATA STANDARDS AND METADATA REGISTRIES: AN OVERVIEW
Bruce E. Bargmeyer, Environmental Protection Agency, and Daniel W. Gillman, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Daniel W. Gillman, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, DC 20212
NISTIR 7417 page 76 Fallon definition
Open Format, BIM In the context of BIM supporting software and processes must facilitate, not
inhibit, project planning, design, construction, commissioning and lifecycle
management.Software and processes. support non-proprietary, open standards for auditable information exchange and allow for confident information exchanges across applications and across time. This can be accomplished through professional, public and privatesector adoption of open standards. Many professional assocaitions, public agencies, etc. encourage and/or play leadership roles in the ongoing development of open standards for BIM is open format standards, in contrast to other conditional or limited use formats.
Process Map, Process Plan – BIM


A project specific BIM-supported list of tasks and/or diagram along with information exchange requirements. Syn: Process Diagram project which, Page 103, Figure 5.2-9
Project Delivery Method A contractual method / business process which assigns responsibility for project development and execution services. Examples of delivery methods for design and construction services include “Design-Bid-Build” (DBB), “Design-Build” (DB), “Integrated Project Delivery” (IPD), “Job Order Contracting” (JOC), and “Private Public Partnerhip” (PPP). An example of a delivery method for constuction services only (a Construction Delivery Method) is “Construction Manager at-Risk” (CMAR, CM at-Risk). An example of a delivery method for all project development services, from concept and feasibility through initial occupancy is “Turnkey”. Adapted from – Primer on PROJECT DELIVERY,2011, Joint publication by AIA and AGC.
Project Team Contract Agreements Signed documents specifying roles, responsibilities, rewards, and penalties for achieving time, quality, and cost milestones over specified facility lifecycle phases, made between members of a project team and designed by a qualified BIM attorney.  for general Project Team roles and conditions; also see BIM SCORE for risk management guidelines –
Reference Information Structured information resources (enterprise and external) that assist or are required to accomplish a BIM use. NBIMS 2.0 Reference Information sections
Subject Something that can be distinguished from other things and that can be recognized as such, and is represented by a name. In the bSDD, a subject is formally distinguished as an object (tangible or intangible), where objects are defined by formal characteristics. See also “Concept”. NBIMS V2
Unstructured Information Form 1. Information is data recorded in some Form (Document or Display). Unstructured Information is Data that cannot be readily machine interpreted. Data, in context of BIM, is said to exist in one of two forms: Structured Data or Unstructured Data. The distinction is usually made on the basis of “Machine Readability”. “Unstructured Information Form” is data that’s traditionaly been thought of as non-machine (computer) readable. However, recent technology development by IBM (See Watson vs. Jeopardy), Apple (See Siri), and others (Kayvium) strongly indicate that this distinction is disappearing in specific sectors as information tools for reading and interpreting massive amounts of unstructured text evolve and are commercialized for trustworthy use in construction law, environmental case law, construction liability and similar knowledge bases.2. Information exchanged by human language and generally not thought to be interpretable by a machine. Machines are extending their range of understanding of information previously thought to be unstructured.
Workflow(s) 1. A sequence of connected steps intended to produce a result. Historically, workflows have evolved without conscious management attention. Thus many workflows are woefully wasteful, ineffective, and self-reinforcing. Since 1917, Management pioneers have attempted to visualize workflows in order to achieve optimization of labor, materials, creativity, or related goals. Today, the identification and diagramming of how and why an exchange of data from one application/party to another is made. The CII Study of construction labor shows over 60% time is non-productive. Thus the NBIM Standard workflow will use the information exchanges, IDM process and model views to support a collaborative environment for building optimized workflow management. See the Construction Industry Institute Study at A sequence of connected steps intended to produce a result. The subject of abstract and applied study since many accepted management and production processes were shown to be wasteful. Improved workflow efficiency is a high priority goal of BIM.
Term Acronym Definition Source  
BIM Best Practice   BIM techniques, methods, and processes that provide consistent results superior to those achieved by other means. NBIMS Version 1                  
BIM Goals   Objectives used to define and prioritize the potential conflicting values of BIM within a facility or organization. NBIMS Version 1[1]  
Exchange Requirements Model ERM The data model addressing requirements for a single industry process is known as an Exchange Requirements Model (ERM). NBIMS Version 1[2]   
Geospatial Information Systems GIS A geographic(al) information system (GIS) captures, stores, analyzes and manages data and associated attributes which are spatially referenced to the Earth. In the strictest sense an information system capable of integrating, storing, editing, analyzing, sharing and displaying geographically-referenced information.  A building and each of its elements has GIS references – in 3 planes. Thus the increasingly large interest in improving BIM – GIS linkages. The OGC works closely with bSa – NIBS in the BIGie project. NBIMS Version 1[3]  
Harmonization   Comparison and normalization of two or more similar standards including issues such as scope, specifications, guidance or implementation. NBIMS Version 1  
Information assurance IA The practice of managing information-related risks. More specifically, IA practitioners seek to protect the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data and their delivery systems. These goals are relevant whether the data are in storage, processing, or transit and whether threatened by malice or accident. In other words, IA is the process of ensuring that the right people get the right information at the right time. NBIMS Version 1  
Meta Model   A meta-model is an explicit UML Diagram of the constructs and rules needed to build specific models within a domain of interest.  A meta-model can be viewed from three different perspectives:• as a set of building blocks and rules used to build models & ontologies• as a model of a domain of interest, (modules for distributed ontologies) and• as an instance of another model and this where the model views come into play. NBIMS Version 1[4]  
Roadmap   The overall implementation strategy document used to set the definition, direction, sequence and usually milestones for an initiative. For example, the FIATECH Capital Facilities Technology Roadmap at NBIMS Version 1