Asset Life-cycle Model, Asset Information Model, and Why BIM Won’t Work

The U.S. tried to foster BIM with NBIMS,  also others in the world tried PAS this and PAS that, and ISO this and ISO that… the issue remains that standards can’t replace knowledge and competency.

At the end of there day BIM represents nothing new relative to the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment.  Sure, software firms, and folks that love 3D and make a living from it will tell you otherwise, but the simple truth is that BIM, as we now know it, can not and will not survive.

The fact that BIM is a failure is sad because the world desperately needs to get a grip on how to manage its limited economic and environment resources and built structures are significant in that process.   Furthermore, there are critical life-safety and security issues associated with our crumbling and mismanaged physical infrastructure.

The primary issue is that many facility management and AEC professionals confused 3D visualization with asset life-cycle management.  While 3D visualization is nice tool, is is just that, an individual component in the toolbox.  It’s not even the most important tool.   Large, multi-site, multi-national real property portfolios can be efficiently managed WITHOUT 3D visualization and BIM software as now available.

Thus the pressure by countries, such as the UK to use BIM is misdirected.

Any government regulation should be directly solely at Owners.  More specifically, asset life-cycle management practices and collaborative construction delivery methods (integrated project delivery – IPD, job order contracting – JOC)  should be mandated.  This includes a formalized set up key performance indicators (KPIs), robust lean best management practices, and ongoing education and training.

The methods to eliminate the rampant environment and economic waste endemic to the Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Owner sectors has been available for decades,  we simply don’t require Owners to do their jobs.

Owners must be required to develop technical and business competencies with respect to asset life-cycle modeling and total cost of ownership, and be able to LEAD collaborative teams of service providers.     Until this happens….   nothing will change, it is indeed as simple as that.

BIM asset life-cycle competencies

Asset Comptency Model

BIM Use… The Real Numbers

BIM UsesThanks a recent survey (AN ONTOLOGY OF THE USES OF BUILDING INFORMATION MODELING, A Dissertation in Architectural Engineering By
Ralph G. Kreider
© 2013 Ralph G. Kreider) that defined BIM uses and looked a actual project, we now have a much better picture of the “BIM State of the Union”.

BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment.  Note how many respondents were using BIM for asset management… less than 10%.

Until there is a robust focus upon the business process competencies required for life-cycle management of the built environment, and an associated ontology… little substantial progress can be made.

So….  how does one begin to develop an ontology for BIM / Life-cycle management of the built environment?

Well.. help me draw on a napkin?



My BIM is Your BIM – Owners, Contractors, AEs, Building Users, Oversight Groups, Business Product Manufacturers, Community ….

BIM is the life-cycle management of the built environment supported by digital technology.   It is first and foremost the process of developing and leveraging actionable information (standardized, accurate, transparent) to efficiently manage the total cost of ownership and functional requirements of a built asset (building, infrastructure, etc.).

BIM is NOT rocket science, it is not 3D pretty pictures, it is not all about technology.  BIM first and foremost about early and ongoing collaboration, continuous improvement, and robust life-cycle management process supported with integrated technology and standardized information.

Collaboration construction delivery methods such as Integrated Project Delivery for major new construction, and Job Order Contracting for renovation, repair, sustainability, and minor new construction are important, if not requisite, components of BIM.  Equally important from an Owners perspective is the integration of multiple competencies, business processes, and technologies such as capital planning and management (CPMS) for capital reinvestment strategy, computerized maintenance management (CMMS) for “movable” asset inventory and routine/preventative maintenance, computer aided facility management (CAFM) for space mangement, building automation (BAS) for security/energy, and geographical information (GIS) for rapid locationing.  Forget “integrated workplace management systems” (IWMS), they are attempts at BIM by single vendors.  As one might expect, no single company can be expected to be competent across all knowledge domains and practices.  Through the use of standardized informatoin exchanges, “best in class” technologies will finally be easily integrated as “plug-ins” to a users cloud-based technology platform.

The day is here….   you can wake up or go back to bed…your choice.

Key additional items/areas to consider:

COBie – Construction Operations Building Information Exchange – Organisation and structuring of information. This is information that is essential not only to the design and construction of a built asset, but also its operation and maintenance. Currently focused upon delivering FM information at handover, but rapidly expanding.

OMNICLASS – A standardized information classification system for the built environment.  An integration and expansion of UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, incorporate all buildings spaces, equipment, processes, technologies, etc.

Standard Cost Data – Most notable example is RSMeans.   Well researched cost data (material, equipment, labor) and associate construction / facility management sq. ft., assembly, and unit cost information and associated task listings.  Critical for use to “benchmark” and/or “confirm” local processes/projects.  Also standardized using Masterformat.

Job Order Contracting – Collaborative construction delivery method using a standardized unit price book (UPB) based upon RSMeans and/or customized cost information.  Cost are best update annually or quarterly.  Process has been embedded within software to enable cost effective and consistent deployment.  Reducing procurement costs, mitigates change orders, and virtually eliminates legal disputes.

Integrated Project Delivery – Similar to JOC, however best suited for major new construction only.





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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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Open BIM – What’s it going to take to get there?

1.  Robust, collaborative construction delivery methods – IPD, Integrated Project Delivery, JOC – Job Order Contracting, et al .  Collaboration in the building industry requires the integration of complex inter-related workflows whereby multitude of stakeholders are incorporated into a common pool of information, decision-support, and activities over an extensive period of time.

2. Standardized “Glossary”.. terms, acronyms, definitions.

3. Benchmarks, metrics.

4. Life-cycle perspective and management techniques/processes… vs. a “first cost mentality”.

5.  Technology focused upon enabling robust processes…vs. current focus upon 3D modeling.  Embedding vetted processes with technology enables consistent, scalable deployment.

6.  Current examples of “open’ and standardized knowledge domains, processes, terms, and  technologies.

Capital planning and management systems (CPMS) – physical and functional condition monitoring and associated capital reinvestment planning.  traditionally dealing with expenditures in excess of $10,000.

Computerized Maintenance Management systems (CMMS) – inventory, repair, maintenance of ‘movable equipment’.  Typically involving expenditures of $10,000 or less.

Computer-Aid Facility Managements Systems (CAFM) – space planning, move management, space utilization.

Building Automation Systems (BAS) – security, life/safety, access control, environment systems management.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – computerized location management / positioning.

Create, read, update, delete) operations (CRUD)

Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) – structure enabling native storage of instance models

Simple Object Access Protocol, is a protocol specification for exchanging structured information in the implementation of Web Services in computer networks.

Representational State Transfer (REST)  is an architectural style for large-scale software design

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) a specification used in the handover of Facility Management information.

OMNICLASS  in simple terms, a standard for organizing all construction information. The concept for OmniClass is derived from internationally-accepted standards that have been developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Construction Information Society (ICIS) subcommittees and workgroups from the early-1990s to the present.
ISO Technical Committee 59, Subcommittee 13, Working Group 2 (TC59/SC13/WG2) drafted a standard for a classification framework (ISO 12006-2, more information below) based on traditional classification but also recognized an alternative “object oriented” approach, which had to be explored further.

UniFormat is a standard for classifying building specifications, cost estimating, and cost analysis in the U.S. and Canada.

MasterFormat is a standard for organizing specifications and other written information for commercial and institutional building projects in the U.S. and Canada.

BIM and Big Data
BIM and Big Data

The “I” in BIM, OMNICLASS, and the Criticality of Getting it RIGHT…. Now!

In order to efficiently manage the life-cycle of the build environment, robust process, terms, and decision support tools are required that deal with physical and functional conditions, costs, priorities, risks, etc.

Business Case –  The classification and identification of equipment assets within a facility has to-date typically been accomplished through the use of internally developed legacy systems that do not integrate with other similar systems in use in other facilities, or new or existing technologies. Without an industry standard, users have been unable to cross reference data between organizations, agencies, industry, disciplines, and software solutions, creating inaccuracies and inefficiencies that have a major impact on effective maintenance, operations, and management of assets and facilities. There are shortcomings in all existing industry standards that define or classify objects in a way that allows facility life cycle capture of data. – Inter-agency Federal Asset Classification Team (IFACT)

The ability to define a “thing”, and recall that “thing”, and be able to discuss that “thing”, and all of its attributes, and track it’s changes…both planned, and unplanned, is critical.   Yet, the capability is NOT present at this time.    Here’s a short list of what is holding us back.   The good news is that it’s not “rocket science”.    The bad news is that is will REQUIRE SIGNIFICANT CULTURAL CHANGE with the Architectural, Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Owners sector.

  1. Faceted vs. Hierarchical Data Structures / Architectures
  2. Object-oriented technology to support Faceted and/or Hybrid classifications
  3. Collaborative, cloud-based systems that are multi-language, multi-currency, secure, fast, and never delete information.
  4. A life-cycle vs. first cost mentality/approach for planning, decision-making, and resource allocation.

OMNICLASS and cloud-computing will enable BIM leap to the next level, that is…. life-cycle management of the built environment, vs. pretty pictures.

Here’s some related work on the Government side:

A National Building Information Model Standard Project Fact Sheet Inter-agency Federal Asset Classification Team
(IFACT) –   The National Building Information Model Standard (NBIMS) is a set of interoperable standards for exchange of facility and infrastructure data through the life-cycle of a project. NBIMS is a joint project coordinated by National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) in conjunction with the buildingSMART Alliance (bSA) and many other facilities-related associations and software companies.

Results to Date

  • Progress towards complete revision of OmniClass Table 23 – Products
  • Progress towards compiling new abbreviations to submit to the United States National CAD Standard® consensus process.
  • Construction Specification Institute is the key authoring authority on project.
  • Participating Agencies: General Services Administration, Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of State, Department of Homeland Security
  • Future Applications – Enhancements to OmniClass and the United States National CAD Standard® will allow a higher degree of data integration for all related software solutions and facility management systems.

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Building Innovation 2013 Conference & Expo – Proceedings / Presentations – OnLine

Many of the excellent presentations at the Building Innovation 2013 Conference & Expo are available on-line at

buildingSMART alliance Conference Integrating BIM: Moving the Industry Forward – LINK

FEDCon® – The Annual Market Outlook on Federal Construction – LINK

Sustainable Buildings Industry Council Symposium – Fostering Innovation to go Beyond GreenTM – LINK

Innovative Technology Demonstrations — Including the buildingSMART Challenge, Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) Calculator and Specifiers Properties information exchange (SPie) Catalog, and introducing information exchanges for Building Programming (BPie), HVAC (HVACie), Electrical Systems (SPARKie), Building Automation Modeling (BAMie) and Water Systems (WSie).  – LINK

BIM Academic Education Symposium Setting the Course for a BIM Educational Strategy – LINK


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BIM vs Information Silos

 BIM is not about software or technology but about CULTURE CHANGE and CHANGE MANAGEMENT.

BIM is about simplifying and adding visibility to the life-cycle management of the built environment.  You are either “on-board” or “not”.  It’s up to you.

BIM and FM are synonymous.  Unfortunately there are very few instances of BIM.

The biggest mistake made by most people new to BIM is to assume that BIM is all about technology, and so focus all their efforts on mastering the technology rather than considering the impact that the application of this technology will have on the processes among Owners, AEs, Contractors, Subs, Business Product and Service Providers.

IFMA BIM Lifecycle Operations Community of Practice (BIMLO COP) Kickoff Meeting Video –

BIM requirements:

  1. Organizational Commitment
  2. Collaborative, Efficient Project Delivery Methods (IPD- Integrated Project Delivery, JOC – Job Order Contracting …)
  3. Standards (OMNICLASS, COBie, IFC), Common Terms, Definitions, Metrics, Cost Data (Standardized Cost Data, example-RSMeans)
  4.  Life-cycle Information
  5.  Open digital technology supporting the above
  6.  Continuous Training and Improvement

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BIG DATA, BIM, Life-cycle Management of the Built Environment



(Sources –, CSI)


The OmniClass Construction Classification System (known as OmniClass™ or OCCS) is a classification system for the construction industry. OmniClass is useful for many applications, from organizing library materials, product literature, and project information, to providing a classification structure for electronic databases. It incorporates other extant systems currently in use as the basis of many of its Tables – MasterFormat™ for work results, UniFormat for elements, and EPIC (Electronic Product Information Cooperation) for structuring products.

Download the tables in PDF format
See descriptions of the tables



Release Date

Introduction – OmniClass Introduction Release 2006-03-28
Table 11 – Construction Entities by Function Release 2006-03-28
Table 12 – Construction Entities by Form Release 2006-03-28
Table 13 – Spaces by Function Pre Consensus Approved Draft 2010-06-24
modified by Committee action 2011-05-23
Table 14 – Spaces by Form Release 2006-03-28
Table 21 – Elements
(includes Designed Elements)
Pre Consensus Approved Draft 2011-02-11
Table 22 – Work Results Pre Consensus Approved Draft 2011-04-11
Table 23 – Products Pre Consensus Approved Draft 2010-06-24
Table 31 – Phases Release 2006-03-28
Table 32 – Services Pre Consensus Approved Draft 2010-06-24
Table 33 – Disciplines Release 2006-03-28
Table 34 – Organizational Roles Release 2006-03-28
Table 35 – Tools Draft 2006-03-28
Table 36 – Information Pre Consensus Approved Draft 2010-06-24
Table 41 – Materials Release 2006-03-28
Table 49 – Properties Draft for Comment 2010-06-24

BIM – The New Standard of Care for AEC / AECOM . (Architecture, Engineering, ConstruBuilction, Operations, and Maintenance of the built environment)

Much has been said about BIM, and many misunderstand its core definition and purpose.

BIM is the process of  efficent  life-cycle management of  facilties and associated infrastructure, supported by digital technologies.

BIM is not IWMS, CPMS, CMMS, CAFM, BAS, GIS ….. , but the integration of these and other core knowledge domains within a collaborative enviroment… with Owners, Contractors, AEs, facility/infrastructure users, service providers, and oversight groups… sharing information via open, comment defintions, taxonomies, benchmarks, practices and standards.

Technology now allows for the relatively simple task of integrating multiple technologies and knowlege domains and enabling accurate, secure, and rapid access to detailed informations and decision support systems.  However, the REAL ISSUE is that the AEC / AECOM sector must change its “ad hoc” and traditionally unproductive ways of doing business.

The below BIM Framework, BIMF is a represetation of how the process side of BIM can be applied, with appropropriate customization, for any organization.   Expanded details of each component is readily available.    Also, it is important to become familiar with the following, if you are not current tracking these key initiatives/technologies/processes:  Cloud technology, COBIE, IFD, IFC, OMNICLASS, UNIFORMAT, MASTERFORMAT, STEP, reference cost books / guides, JOC / Job Order Contracting, IPD / Integrated Project Delivery, FCI / Facility Condition Index , SCI / System Condition Index …….,

BIM Framework - BIMF

Total Cost of Ownership Framework