European Facility Management Data Standard – EN 15221 – 3

Common taxonomy is critical to productivity, transparency, collaboration, and information re-use/management.  Within the facility management where process, technology, and productivity lags, common taxonomy must be at the forefront.

Various standards are in place and evolving.  Here’s a quick view of FM data standards for Europe.

EN 15221-1: Facility Management – Part 1: Terms and Definitions  Version EN 15221-1:2006

This draft European standard gives relevant terms and definitions in the area of Facility Management. It also provides a structure of facility services.

EN 15221-2: Facility Management – Part 2:

Facility Management — Agreements -Guidance on how to prepare Facility Management agreements Version EN 15221-2:2006

This document is a working and standardized tool intended for parties who wish to draw up the Facility Management agreement within the European Common Market. It offers headings, which are not exhaustive. Parties may or may not include, exclude, modify and adapt these headings to their own contracts.

Definition of Facility Management – an integrated process to support and improve the effectiveness of the primary activities of an organization by the management and delivery of agreed support services for the appropriate environment that is needed to achieve its changing objectives.

FM Model


EN 15221-3: facility management – Part 3:

Guidance how to achieve/ensure quality in facility management

Provides guidance how to measure, achieve and improve quality in FM. It gives complementary guidelines to ISO 9000, ISO 9001 and EN 15221-2 within the framework of EN 15221-1.


Normative references

Terms and definitions

Basics of quality management

4.1      Importance of quality in FM

4.2      Criteria, background, elements and influences to quality

4.3      Type of characteristics

4.4      Pathway from needs to experiencing Delivery

4.5      Quality management

Process of quality management

5.1      General introduction of the process

5.2      Demand

5.3      Determining and defining requirements

5.4      Service Level (SL)

5.5      Developing measurement metrics (hierarchy of indicators)

5.6      Quality aspects by organizing delivery of fm products

5.7      Quality aspects by delivering fm products

5.8      General introduction into performance management

5.9      Measurement and calculation

5.10    Analyze deviation

5.11    Actions based on deviation

5.12    Continuous improvement


degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfils requirements




need or expectation that is stated, generally implied or obligatory

Characteristic: distinguishing feature

A characteristic can be inherent or assigned and can be qualitative or quantitative. There are various classes of characteristics, such as the following:

— physical (e.g. mechanical, electrical, chemical or biological characteristics);

— sensory (e.g. related to smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing);

— behavioral (e.g. courtesy, honesty, veracity);

— temporal (e.g. punctuality, reliability, availability);

— ergonomic (e.g. physiological characteristic, or related to human safety);

— functional (e.g. maximum speed of an aircraft).


result of a process

product categories, as follows:

– services (e.g. transport);

– software (e.g. computer program, dictionary);

– hardware (e.g. engine mechanical part);


Category or rank given to different quality requirements for products, processes or systems having the same functional use.

service level

Complete description of requirements of a product, process or system with their characteristics.

The described set of characteristics in the SL can be graded within boundaries suitable for measurement and analysis.


Ceasured or calculated characteristic (or a set of characteristics) of a product according to a given formula, which assess the status or level of performance at defined time.

key performance indicator

Indicator that provides essential information about performance of the client´s organization.

The key performance indicators have to be given by the client´s organization, based on its strategic goals pursuing the development of the primary activities.


Indicator that measures the quality of fm products.

They are used on different levels (e.g. strategic, tactical or operational Level).

FM-key performance indicator (fm kpi)

Indicator directly impacting the primary activities and the objectives of the client´s organisation.

Fm-indicator linked to client’s organisation objectives and related product which directly impacts the primary activities.

FM Need or Expectation
FM Process Overview
Gap Model
Gap Analysis

EN 15221-4: facility management – Part 4: Taxonomy of facility management

Focused on the concept of classified facility products / services by defining relevant interrelationship of service elements and their hierarchical structures, associated terms and cost allocation

EN 15221-5: facility management – Part 5:

Guidance on the development and improvement of processes

Provides guidance to FM organizations on the development and improvement of their processes to support the primary activities.

EN 15221-6: facility management – Part 6:

Space measurement

Area and space measurement for existing buildings


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Omniclass is classification strategy for the built environment. Omniclass includes facility types, space types, properties, organizational roles etc. in  tables/Excel format. “OmniClass (or OCCS) 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.” (Source: OmniClass, Construction Specification Institute, www.
OmniClass is a standard used by  the National Building Information Modeling Standard(NBIMS) / buildingSMARTalliance , and used to support the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) supported by Whole Building Design Guide / Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).
The OmniClass-defined numbers, system name, and product name are the component identification aspects.
Some BIM (Building Information Modeling) software vendors are beginning to support this standardized method of classifying Objects/Things in the built environment.
When BIM or CAD data needs to work within exchange models, setting up exchanges and processing in various parameters is required:  BIM Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Capital Planning and Management Systems (CPMS),. Computer-aid Facility Management (CAFM), Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), Building Automation Systems ( BAS), and Adaptive Construction Delivery Methods ACDM) such as Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) and Job Order Contracting (JOC).
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High Performance Building – Definition is Evolving …. Just like BIM

Below is a recent IFMA sponsored article addressing the definition of a high performance building.

With the operational costs of buildings 60% t0 80% of the life-cycle cost of a building (the remainder of costs going to design, acquisition/procurement, construction, disposal), greater focus is needed upon “best-practices”, robust business / facility management processes,  and supporting technologies. BIM, with the “I”, information, portion the most significant aspect, holds great promise in being a central repository for enabling more efficient life-cycle building management.   The key is that BIM is a repository, and/or portal, drawing information from a variety of domain specific business process and applications, such as CMMS, CPMS, JOC, IPD, CAFM, etc. etc.etc.

Far too much fanfare is being giving to new building construction, LEED, etc, whereas the bulk of energy/carbon and dollar savings will come from the application of high performance building management to existing facilities.

It is indeed time for the AECOM / AEC / FM industry to strategically address the built environment from a systems perspective.  Failure to do so will be “politics as usual” vs. the collaborative approach we all will need to engage in to succeed.


Defining High Performance Buildings for Operations and Maintenance

Angela Lewis, David Riley, Abbas Elmualim


Most practicing facility managers, engineers and building owners, as well as academics and researchers of the built environment have heard of the term high performance building.  Some may even be designing, constructing or working in or researching high performance buildings.  However, what a high performance building is, especially for operations and maintenance, is still being debated and defined.  The aim of this research paper is to synthesize current literature about high performance buildings, with a specific focus on operations and maintenance.  In doing so, the paper seeks to further define what a high performance building is, while also hypothesizing that to overcome current challenges to achieve successful operation and maintenance of a high performance building will require practitioners and researchers to collaborate to solve the challenges necessary to successfully operate and maintain high performance buildings.  The paper concludes that systems-thinking, for both building systems (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning, lighting and others) and organizational systems, is necessary to achieving successful high performance building operation.

BAS: Building automation system
BIM: Building information model
CAFM: Computer aided facility management system
CMMS: Computerized maintenance management system
FDD: Fault detection diagnostics
HPB: High performance building
HVAC: Heating, ventilating and air conditioning
IWMS: Integrated work management system
O&M: Operations and maintenance


The operational phase of a commercial building is significantly longer than the design and construction phase of a project.  The lifecycle cost of the operational life of a building is about 60 to 85 percent of the total lifecycle cost, where as the design and construction is about five to ten percent. Acquisition, renewal and disposal costs are between five and 35 percent of the total life cycle cost (Christian and Pandeya 1997).  When employee salaries and benefits are included in the lifecycle cost, design and construction costs make up only one percent of the lifecycle cost.  Operations and maintenance make up 11 percent and employee salaries and benefits make up 88 percent of the lifecycle cost (NIBS 1998).

As the operational phase of a building is longer and more cost intensive, the focus of this research paper is to define what a high performance building is for the operations and maintenance phase of commercial buildings.  To date, much of the research work within high performance buildings has focused on design and construction.  In order to meet many energy efficiency and sustainability goals, there is a great need to define how current definitions apply to and can inform operations and maintenance of commercial buildings.  Within this paper, operations is defined as services necessary to keep equipment and systems operating as designed or at a level that meets the operational goals of the facility management team.  Maintenance services are defined as services that help restore equipment or systems to design conditions or to conditions that have been determined to be sufficient for the given project scope.  The building systems and equipment focused on within this paper are heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, building automation systems (BAS), lighting, renewable energy technologies and software that support these systems, such as computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), computer aided facility management systems (CAFM) and energy analytics software.  To operate a high performance building requires proactive management processes for energy and maintenance.

Within the United States, high performance buildings are a topic of interest to industry, academics, the research community and government. The goal of this paper is to help synthesize current literature and discussions with industry members and researchers from the fields of engineering (HVAC and control systems) and facility management (maintenance management, energy management and IT) to further define high performance building operations and maintenance.  The paper first seeks to further define what a high performance building is, and then discusses how to apply the definition through a discussion of technologies, processes and skills needed to operate and maintain high performance buildings.  The paper concludes with a discussion of systems thinking, a strategy which the authors hypothesize is important for successful high performance building operation and maintenance.

Defining a High Performance Building

Within both research and industry, the terms high performance building, green building, sustainable buildings, and intelligent buildings are used.  Although many would argue that many of these terms are still being defined or refined, this paper suggests that these terms are interrelated.  The relationship between these terms is very important to defining high performance building operations and maintenance.

To demonstrate the interrelations and support further refinement of the definitions of high performance, green, sustainable and intelligent buildings definitions from several industry, government and research sources are synthesized below.

As defined by the United States Energy Independence and Security Act 2007, a high performance building is:
“A building that integrates and optimizes on a lifecycle basis all major high performance attributes, including energy [and water] conservation, environment, safety, security, durability, accessibility, cost-benefit, productivity, sustainability, functionality, and operational considerations” (Energy Independence and Security Act 2007 401 PL 110-140).

The definition of an intelligent building is similar to the definition of a high performance building.  However, intelligent buildings emphasize the need for integration and application of technology.  As stated by Elmualim (2009) there is a myriad of definitions for intelligent buildings, none of which are scientific.  In an absence of such a scientific definition, six (ALwaer and Clements-Croome 2010; CABA 2008; Elmualim 2009; Finley et al 1991; Himanen 2004; Robathan 1996) were compared and contrasted to define an intelligent building within this paper, resulting in the following definition: An intelligent building is a building that integrates people, process and technology in an efficient and sustainable manner through the use of high levels of integrated technology, including but not limited to HVAC, plumbing, electrical, renewable energy systems and sources, information technology, control systems and management software to provide a safe, healthy and productive environment for building occupants that adapts quickly to change at the lowest possible lifecycle cost.

Comparing and contrasting the three definitions for green buildings (CABA 2008; US EPA 2010; LEED Reference Guide 2001), the definitions for green and intelligent buildings are more similar to each other than each is to the definition of a high performance building.  Synthesizing the definition from the three sources, a green building is a building that is designed, constructed and operated to minimize environmental impacts and maximize resource efficiency while also balancing cultural and community sensitivity.

CABA (2008) suggest that the concepts of intelligent and green buildings should converge.  CABA suggests that the convergence of green and intelligent building concepts should be called bright green. Within the convergence, topics that are both green and intelligent (bright green) include: energy management, asset management, space utilization, integrated design, sustainability, renewable energy, indoor environmental quality and green building purchasing structures (CABA 2008).

As the term sustainability has also been used within many discussions of HPB, intelligent and green, it is also important to define sustainability here.  Many built environment researchers, industry practitioners and professional organization use the definition or a variation on the definition commonly recognized as the Brundtland Report, Our Common Future (1987) as the definition for sustainability: “development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  As some may argue that this definition is more philosophical than practical, within industry this definition has often applied considering the triple bottom line, balancing environmental, economic and social goals (Hodges 2009; Lewis et al 2009).

Reviewing the definitions of high performance, intelligent, sustainability and green buildings, there are many similarities. The authors hypothesize that these definitions will continue to be debated and refined by researchers and practitioners. It is also hypothesized that facility managers and building owners will use different variations on the definitions, depending on goals and priorities.  In order to apply definitions and theoretical concepts, it is important to emphasize that successful operations and maintenance of a HPB requires integration and knowledge about HPB technologies, processes that support HPB and people with skills to effectively utilize HPB technologies.  Thus, technologies, tools, processes and skills necessary for high performance building operation and maintenance are discussed below.

High Performance Building Technologies

High performance buildings have more complex mechanical, lighting and control systems, many which are far from common place within the industry.  Some of the heating ventilating and air conditioning systems (HVAC) within HPB include, but are not limited to: radiant heating and cooling, dedicated outdoor air systems (DOAS), chilled beams and advanced control sequences programmed in building automation systems (BAS).  Advanced control strategies include, but are not limited to morning warm-up, fault detection diagnostics, the use of thermal mass for heating or cooling and demand response.  Additionally, HPB are more likely have software to monitor and benchmark energy efficiency and operational performance.  Thus, the number of meters and sensors linked to BAS is often greater than a non-HPB.

Lighting systems often included within HPB include, but are not limited to automated lighting control, such as motion sensor lighting, integration of daylighting and electronic lighting, automated shading, and light emitting diodes (LEDs).

Renewable energy technologies are also common to HPB, including solar, wind and geothermal systems.  Solar systems include photovoltaic arrays and solar thermal systems.  Photovoltaic arrays can be connected to inverters to invert direct current (DC) from the photovoltaic arrays to alternating current (AC), which is used for most commercial building applications.  Alternately, a less common application is to connect photovoltaic panels to a battery bank or devices that use DC current, such as LEDs or DC powered kitchen appliances.

Sophisticated technologies often found within HPB can cause some challenges to building operators and facility managers.  Challenges can occur when building operators, technicians and facility managers have not had the opportunity to learn about HPB technologies, especially what makes HPB technologies unique.

  • There are many new technologies that design and consulting engineers, contractors and facility managers are not familiar with.  Often, it is challenging to find the time and/or resources necessary to understand the benefits of the technologies, how they work and the cost of implementing them.
  • Many industry members seek out demonstration or pilot projects to determine the risk of designing, installing, operating or managing new technologies in an effort to reduce risk. Although there is general interest to support many new technologies, risk is often a barrier, as most designers, contractors and owners generally do not want to be the first to design, install, manage or operate a new technology.
  • The design, installation and operation of many HPBs require a systems-thinking and integrated approach.  However, neither systems-thinking nor integration are currently standard industry practice (McCaffer 2010).
  • The industry lacks a feedback loop for facility managers and building operators to communicate what systems and equipment worked as designed and where further improvement is necessary (McCaffer 2010; Arditi and Nawakorawit 1999).  A feedback loop for HPB is especially important as many HPB technologies are not standard practice and there are many, often conflicting opinions about what systems and equipment should be used in HPB.

High Performance Building Processes

The installation of highly energy efficient equipment and systems is only the foundation for achieving efficient high performance operation.  The processes used to operate and maintain buildings have an even larger cost and environmental impact than the design and construction process.  In fact, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) suggests that a building with good operations and maintenance practices that is poorly designed will often out perform a well-designed building with poor operations and maintenance practices (ASHRAE 2009).  HPB processes should include, but are not limited to the use of benchmarking for decision making, retro and/or re-commissioning, the use of proactive maintenance techniques, the use of rating and certification systems, systems thinking and balancing comfort and energy efficiency.

Benchmarking is the process of comparing measurements against a standard, average or best in the business with the purpose of improvement and movement towards best practices.  Benchmarking must be stakeholder driven and focus on improvement, rather than the status quo.  Benchmarking can be done once or continually (Atkin and Brooks 2000; Wireman 2004; Stapenhust 2009).  However, greater benefits are likely to result from continual benchmarking.  Although benchmarking is not a new practice to the facility management and building operations community, the use of benchmarking to set improvement goals is not currently standard industry practice.  Benchmarking can be used to help in decision making and meet sustainability goals. More specifically, benchmarking is beneficial because it can be used to (NREL 2003):

  • Determine how well a building is performing
  • Set targets for improvement
  • Facilitate assessment of property value
  • Gain recognition

Commissioning is the process of verifying that a building and its systems and equipment are operating according to the owner’s project requirements.  Retro-commissioning is the process of commissioning a facility that was not previously commissioned (ASHRAE Guideline 0 2005). Re-commissioning is the process of commissioning a building that had been commissioned before (ASHRAE Guideline 0 2005) .  Retro-commissioning and re-commissioning are important in order to keep buildings operating efficiently.  Over time, building functions change, equipment wears and sensors drift out of calibration.  The benefits of retro- and re-commissioning are well documented in both the research and trade literature.  For example, Claridge et al. (1996) finds that building energy consumption can be decreased by as much as 50 percent through retro-commissioning.  Mills et al. (2005) find that “commissioning is one of the most cost-effective means of improving energy efficiency in commercial buildings.”

Maintenance is the day-to-day activities required to preserve, retain or restore equipment and systems to the original condition or to a condition that the equipment can be effectively used for this intended purpose (APPA 2002; FMpedia 2010; WBDG 2009; Moubray 1997).  Proactive maintenance includes preventive, predictive and reliability-centered maintenance.  Preventive maintenance is a form of maintenance scheduled over time (Ring 2008; ASHRAE 2003).  The main function of preventive maintenance is to keep equipment running reliably and safely, not to increase efficiency (Ring 2008). The principal objectives of preventive maintenance are durability, reliability, efficiency and safety (ASHRAE 1991).  Predictive maintenance is form of maintenance based on equipment condition. Predictive maintenance uses non-destructive testing, chemical analysis, vibration and noise monitoring and visual inspection to determine equipment conditions and access when maintenance should be performed (ASHRAE 1991).  The philosophy of reliability centered maintenance combines preventive and predictive maintenance by balancing cost and the impact of equipment downtime on the facility using relationships about equipment failure rates (Moubray 1997).

Maintenance is a very important, but often overlooked part of HPB.  For example, Wood (2005) claims that building maintenance is under researched.  Maintenance is needed to keep equipment operating efficiently.  Without maintenance, overtime belts begin to slip, filters are filled with particulates, equipment begins to vibrate and bearings need greasing – all of these have the potential to decrease energy efficiency, while increasing utility costs.  In many cases, maintenance is one of the first costs to be cut from a facility manager’s budget because building owners and financial decision makers often do not understand the benefits of maintenance (Pugh 2010).

Although basic economic theory states the value of a dollar (unit of currency) today is greater than the value of the same dollar (unit of currency) tomorrow, there can be significant cost savings from investing in proactive maintenance.  Table 1 summarizes the annual cost savings (US dollars) for proactive maintenance practices in units of US dollars per horsepower.

Table 1: Cost Savings for Use of Proactive Maintenance, Compared to Reactive Maintenance (Piotrowski 2001)

  Cost [$/HP] Savings [$/HP]
Reactive $18/HP —-
Preventive $13/HP $5/HP
Predictive $9/HP $9/HP
Reliability Centered $/HP $12/HP

It is suggested that successful operation of a HPB requires proactive maintenance management practices.  To date, there is a great need for more maintenance related research to advance proactive maintenance management practices.  For example, Wood (2005) claims that building maintenance is under-researched.

Building rating and certification systems for existing buildings, such as the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Existing Buildings Operation and Maintenance (LEED –EBOM), Green Globes Continual Improvement Assessment for Existing Buildings, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) BuildingEQ or the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) Building Environmental Standards (BOMA BESt) can also help to inform HPB process improvements.  Many rating and certification systems have a checklist or set of credits or points that can be used to help set goals.  Setting goals and working to achieve a certification or rating can help to hold teams accountable to meet the goals set, while also providing opportunities for recognition.

Systems-thinking is a process of understanding how the parts of an organization or building fit together to make a whole.  Systems-thinking at the organizational level is the integration and understanding of the people that make up the organization, as well as the values, structure, processes, policies, regulations and supervision within an organization (El-Homsi and Slutsky 2010).  As stated by El-Homsi and Slutsky (2010), systems-thinking requires goal setting, development, incentives, communication, reviews, rewards and accountability.

Systems- thinking, when applied to building systems is the understanding of how all the components of a larger system interact with each other to meet the needs of the building occupant.  For example, using a systems thinking approach, when a technician is dispatched to respond to an occupant’s complaint that a room is too cold, the technician will consider how the adjustment made to the diffuser or damper within the terminal box will impact the entire cooling system, often including the chillers and the cooling towers.  As a second, more broad example, systems-thinking is also necessary during major equipment and system replacements and upgrades – if more efficient lamps are installed in an office area, the cooling load will be reduced, which will reduce the load on the chiller.  Depending on the operational parameters of the chiller, reduction of the amount of heat generated from the more efficient lamps and other factors, the chiller controls may need to be readjusted so that the chiller operates efficiently under new space conditions.

Finally, the function of the building, such as occupant comfort and providing a productive, safe and healthy indoor environment cannot be scarified to save energy or achieve sustainability goals.  Tom (2008) finds that keeping a building at a comfortable temperature and relative humidity is important for occupant satisfaction.  To keep building occupants comfortable while operating equipment efficiently requires a balance between energy consumption and comfort.  Although many facility managers measure energy, it is often more difficult to measure comfort.  Comfort is difficult to measure because it is subjective and depends on individual perceptions (Tom 2008).  To determine if building occupants are comfortable, two basic approaches can be used:

  • Monitor the number of comfort complaints (hot/cold calls) logged for the building or certain areas of a building
  • Perform a comfort survey of all building occupants

As shown, there are many different management processes that are used to keep a HPB operating efficiently.  Although many of these processes are documented within industry and research literature, implementing these and other HPB processes within an existing facility management organization can be challenging.  Some reasons process implementation is difficult include:

  • Facility management departments are often large and perform a diverse number of tasks to support the primary functions of the organization.
  • If it is necessary to adopt a new or refine an existing policy or procedure, employees of an organization can be resistant to change, as there can be a mind-set of “we’ve always don tit this way.”  Overcoming the challenge requires effective change management strategies and diplomacy.  Additionally, members of the facility management team must be educated about the reasons and value of the change.
  • Less research has been done within the areas of operations and maintenance of existing buildings, compared to the design and construction of buildings.  Therefore, there are fewer industry standards that facility managers can use as a foundation to create organizational specific standards and polices.
  • Existing job functions may need to be rewritten to accommodate new policies and procedures.

Tools to Manage High Performance Building Processes

Software is needed to manage the data and information necessary to make decisions about how to operate and maintain a high performance building.  Software used and discussed within this paper includes computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), computer aided facility management systems (CAFM), integrated work management systems (IWMS), enterprise resource systems (ERP), building automation systems (BAS), energy information systems and energy analytics software.  Elmualim (2009) suggests that intelligent building management [software] is about having a common user interface and integration. A common user interface and integration are key parts of HPB software because they support systems-thinking.  As previously discussed, a HPB cannot be operated or maintained without considering both the impact of decisions on the entire organization and the impact on the technical systems.  A common interface allows data from multiple sources to be viewed from one screen.  Interoperability is the process that supports the concept of viewing data from many sources from one interface.  The topic of interoperability will be discussed in later in the paper.

There are two platforms for O&M management software, local server-based and software as a service (SaaS).  Local server-based software requires that the software be located on servers at the facility. Local server-based software provides facility managers with the opportunity to customize and configure the software to meet specific organizational needs.  It also requires in-house staff or contracted staff to maintain the software and perform any necessary upgrades.  Software as a service can eliminate the need for in-house staff to maintain and upgrade the software, as the software is maintained and upgraded by the service provider.  However, opportunities for configuration and customization may be less available, as the SaaS model is generally has a standardized Internet-based user interface.

Within the United States market, there are three basic types of software for asset, space and maintenance management: computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), computer-aided facility management (CAFM) and integrated workplace management systems (IWMS).    The core function of a computerized maintenance management system is to manage information related to maintenance, including but not limited to work orders, asset histories, parts inventories, maintenance personnel management and the calculation of maintenance metrics.  The core function of a computer-aided facility management system is primarily space management, used to identify and manage assets.  An integrated workplace management system combines the functionality of both a CAFM and a CMMS, and sometimes may also include functionality more commonly associated with an enterprise resource planning system (ERP).  An ERP can be used across an entire organization to manage all types of information, including human resources, procurement and the functions of CAFM and CMMS.

Although IWMS, CAFM and CMMS software are becoming more commonly used (Sapp 2008), successfully implementing these systems can be challenging.  Berger (2009) found that more than 50 percent of CMMS implementations fail – or are underutilized.  Lewis (2010) found that part of the reason for underutilization was a lack of understanding of the importance of accurate asset inventories and maintenance records.  As a result, the most commonly used CMMS modules were those that did not require asset data to be populated into the system, including the work order generator, work order tracking and the storage of maintenance records.

A building automation system (BAS) is a control system that uses digital control (analog and binary signals) to monitor, control and manage mechanical (HVAC) and electrical systems within buildings.  The core function of a BAS is to maintain indoor environmental conditions (temperature and relative humidity) within a building during specified hours of operation.  A BAS also monitors equipment performance and failures, and can provide notifications of unsatisfactory operating conditions in the form of alarms to the building operator.  There are several other acronyms that are also used to describe and define a BAS, including energy management system (EMS) and energy management and control system (EMCS).
Although not the primary function, a BAS can also be used to monitor, trend and benchmark building energy consumption.  In order for a BAS to be used as an energy performance monitoring or benchmarking tool, sub-meters and equipment and system level sensors must be installed, a server to store trend data must be available and a report generator must be configured (Lewis 2010).

Three other products that can be used for energy performance monitoring and benchmarking are enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, energy analytics software and energy information systems.  These three products are similar to each other as they all aggregate data from meters, sub-meters and sensors to quantify building energy consumption in units that are useful to the end user and often use a dashboard to displays the information electrically. Specific information to include and how to display the information on the dashboard are currently being debated (Shadpour 2010).  These products can range from free and publically available, such as Portfolio Manager ENERGY STAR (Roskoski et al 2009) to very complex and potentially expensive, such as a customized application integrated with the ERP for the entire organization.

Interoperability and Integration

Interoperability and integration are key needs for true implementation HPB O&M technologies and practices.  Interoperability is the ability to manage and communicate electronic data between different software products and systems (Gallaher et al 2004).  Integration is the synchronization of two or more electronic products or systems.  The lack of interoperability and integration within current software is illustrated by Gallaher et al (2004): $10.5 billion (US dollars) is lost annually due to inoperability of software within the operations phase of buildings.  The use of building information modeling (BIM) promises to part of the solution to reducing interoperability and integration challenges for facility management.  Building information modeling is a structured dataset that describes a building (NBIM 2007), the data within a BIM often includes a three-dimensional computer model and a database (Fallon 2008).
There are currently many efforts underway regarding BIM and interoperability that show promise to help reduce the annual loss reported by Gallaher et al (2004).  A full review of these efforts is beyond the scope of this paper.  Readers interested in BIM are encouraged to view the buildingSMARTalliance website:

People: Skills Needed to Operate and Maintain High Performance Buildings

Trained facility managers, building operators and technicians are a critical part of HPB O&M.  Without properly trained staff, it will be difficult for the energy efficiency or HPB goals of any building to be met.  Facility managers and technicians must be knowledgeable of the technologies and processes previously discussed.  From a management approach using systems-thinking, facility managers must understand how HPB knowledge aligns with the core competencies of facility management.  The International Facility Management Association (IFMA) currently defines nine facility management core competencies (IFMA 2010):

  • Operations and maintenance
  • Real estate
  • Human and environmental factors
  • Planning and project management
  • Leadership and management
  • Finance
  • Quality assessment and innovation
  • Communication
  • Technology

The most recent IFMA Global Job Task Analysis determined that two additional core competencies should be added: environmental stewardship and sustainability and human and environmental emergency preparedness and business continuity.  From the list of competencies, there are many ways HPB O&M impact the daily responsibilities of facility managers.

The specific skill set of building operators and technicians is less clearly defined.  Similarly to facility managers, building operators and technicians are often required to have a very diverse skill set.  One example that summarizes this brief skill set of technicians is the North American Technician Excellence (NATE) Knowledge Areas of Technician Excellence (KATE) (NATE 2010).  This list of knowledge areas was determined through a job task analysis and defines core installation and core services areas.  Core installation and core service areas are generally categorized as air-side systems and fuel source (oil or gas) and refrigeration.

Two areas that are under defined within the NATE KATE is building automation system (BAS) and systems-thinking skills for operators and technicians, especially for medium and large commercial buildings.  A recently completed National Science Foundation (NSF) report, “Current Situation and Trends in Buildings and Facility Operations” (Ehrlich et al 2010) finds that there are few formal training and educational opportunities BAS technicians.  Although a few programs exist through community colleges and trade union apprenticeship programs, the most common form of training for BAS technicians is on-the-job training.  On-the-job training is necessary, and an important part of all jobs.  However, as technologies in buildings become more automated, Ehrlich et al. conclude that on-the-job training will not be sufficient to meet the needs of technicians who will operate and maintain HPB.  On-the-job training does not provide sufficient opportunity to gain an understanding of how systems work or general problem solving skills.

Defining a Systems-Thinking Approach to HPB

To truly operate and maintain a high performance building requires the synthesis of people, process and technology using a systems-thinking approach.  As demonstrated from the discussion above, this requires the extraction of knowledge from multiple areas of expertise, including but not limited to HVAC and control systems, energy and maintenance management, software and IT systems and competencies of managers and technicians.  In order to achieve the goals set by both government and private organizations, it will be necessary to transition from commonly used silo-thinking to systems-thinking.  This will require both researchers and industry practitioners to use non-traditional communication paths.  For researchers, especially academic researchers, this may mean an increased breadth of a research project to use a more holistic approach that includes analysis of the impacts of the technicians on the people and processes – not just the technologies.  For industry practitioners, this may mean a more diverse understanding foundational knowledge of multiple subsets within his/her discipline and/or determining how to more effectively share industry challenges with researchers who often have the skills necessary to solve complex problems and time to focus on research projects.


The purpose of this article was to define and synthesize what a HPB is for O&M.  In order for HPB technologies to truly be high performance requires the implementation proactive practices, especially for energy and maintenance management.  Finally, maintaining and operating a HPB requires properly trained personnel, including facility managers, building operators and technicians.  In doing so, the authors sought to provide insight about interdependencies and relationships between technologies, processes and people necessary for high performance building operations and maintenance.  In order to operate and maintain a HPB will require systems-thinking.  Systems-thinking must be applied to building systems (HVAC, lighting, etc) and to organizational processes (such as maintenance management, technician training and strategic planning).

It is through an integrated, systems-thinking approach that lifecycle costs of operation and maintenance and environmental emissions will be reduced and resource consumption as a result of building operation decreases.  As the result of the synthesis completed for this paper, the following areas of future research are recommended:

  • Data management and metric standardization for energy performance and benchmarking
  • Maintenance management process development and data management strategies
  • Interoperability schemas and use cases for building information modeling
  • Effective training methods for HPB technologies and processes


Paul Ehrlich and Jeffery Seewald of the Building Intelligence Group for helping to inform the thinking that helped develop the foundation for this article.  This article is part of a larger research project, A Framework for Improving Building Operating Decisions.  Funding that supported the foundational stages the research was provided from a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, an ASHRAE Graduate Student Grant-In Aid Award and the Partnership for Achieving Construction Excellence at The Pennsylvania State University.


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About the Authors

Angela Lewis, PE, LEED AP, is a PhD Candidate at the University of Reading within the Department of Construction Management and Engineering.  Lewis is also a Facility Management Consultant/High Performance Buildings Engineer with the Building Intelligence Group.

David is an Associate Professor at Penn State in the Department of Architectural Engineering specializing in green building methods and sustainable technologies.  David earned his PhD in Architectural Engineering from Penn State.  David currently leads a research program focused on the integration of mechanical and electrical energy systems with distributed renewable energy sources.  His research areas include the integration of green building technologies and high performance design process modeling.  As the Director of Penn State Center for Sustainability, he develops programs that engage students in the pursuit of sustainability challenges on the Penn State campus as well as external communities.

Abbas is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Reading and Coordinator of the Sustainable Design, Construction and FM research group.  He has a PhD in Sustainability and Renewable Energy from the University of Reading.  Currently Dr. Elmualim leads several industry funded collaborative projects.  Abbas’s research focuses on the development of integrative approaches to design, construction and facilities management. He is particularly interested in sustainability and digital technologies from a broad socio-technical systems perspective. The research approach seeks to combine engineering research methodologies with those derived from the social sciences.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

ISSN: 2150-3303


4D 5D BIM – Model Progression Specification

The Model Progression Specification is a language for owners, designers and builders intended to define elements and tasks in a building construction process.

The goal of MPS is to allow  can standardized RFP’s, budget reviews, estimates of cost from conceptual to GMP.

The Model Progression Specification assumes the premise that as the level of detail increases during the Design Process, the budgeted cost (estimated) becomes more and more accurate.

MPS is intended to define the interaction between the Owner, Designer and Preconstruction Team as they migrate from the initial idea through the conceptual phase, on to the schematic, detail, and construction phases of a program.  A framework for a written checklist of evolving elements of the design from a very schematic level of detail to a high level of detail in terms of 3D geometry, cost, and time.

5D BIM maps are intended to map directly to the most efficient business process for achieving program goals.  The MPS is designed to be standardized and repeatable and  bring efficiencies into a project that can be redeployed on multiple projects.

Caption: Moving from one project phase to the next is translated as increasing the level of detail in one or more sections of your model specification.

The Criticality of Construction Standards

IFC and similar data standards are extremely important.

It is because many of us are implementing advanced design, cost engineering, and construction strategies that taxonomy becomes critical for data use and reuse.

The  “proof” of the above is the adoption of Uniformat II and MasterFormat95.   While even today many don’t use these extremely useful data standards, those of us that do have a significant cost and efficiency advantage delivering solutions.

Many DOD and non-DOD government facilities steward lead the industry in adopting and rigorously implementing construction information data standards and advanced construction, operations, and maintenance procedures.

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE): Means and Methods | – A Must Read for BIM and Facility Managmenthe National Institute of Building Sciences

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE): Means and Methods

by E. William East, PE, PhD – Engineer Research and Development Center, U.S Army, Corps of Engineers and Nicholas Nisbet MA (Cantab) DipArch (UNL) – AEC3


Designers and contractors facing a COBie2 specification for the first time may think that they have a lot to swallow, however, the information required in COBie2 is no different from the information already required by design and construction contracts. This information is provided cumulatively during the design, construction, commissioning and handover phases. The information includes room lists and area measurements, material and product schedules, construction submittal requirements, construction submittals, equipment lists, warranty guarantors, and replacement parts providers is included in several different places within current contracts. The objective of COBie2 is not to change the type of information that is required, just to standardize the format of that information to save you, and the buildings’ owners and occupants, having to rekey this information multiple times.


The human readable format for COBie2 information is a conventional spreadsheet, provided in Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (Spreadsheet XML 2003) format on the WBDG Website. COBie2 also allows the exchange of facility management data using the buildingSMART Industry Foundation Class (IFC) open standard (or ifcXML equivalent). Translators between IFC-Express, ifcXML, to and from the COBie2 spreadsheet areavailable free-of-charge without technical support.


The objective of a contracted information exchange is to transform existing, wasteful paper or e-paper deliverables, into a deliverables that contains the same information, but in a new reusable format. The COBie2 specification (DOC), provides a vendor-neutral, non-agency specific, open standard specification clause for use within the existing contract specification. This specification requires the delivery of COBie2 data in the Spreadsheet XML 2003 format at each appropriate stage of the project’s life-cycle. The COBie2 specification should be implemented, not as a stand-alone or BIM-based specification, but within the context of the existing specifications (link to my JBIM article on performance based delivery of building information). The table below shows when COBie2 data should be specified and the general content of each of the deliverables.

Table 1. Expected Scope of COBie2 Deliverables

Phase Required COBie2 Information
Architectural Programming
  • Contact details
  • Facility naming
  • Space and room data sheets
  • Space layouts
  • Space zoning
Early Design updated previous phase information, as needed and

  • Floors
  • Space finishes
  • Zoning and space allocations
  • Architectural product schedules
Coordinated Design updated previous phase information, as needed and

  • Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing product schedules
  • Building Systems
  • Product data (SPie defines minimum product templates)
  • Design document register
  • Indicative sizes for spaces (optional)
Construction Documents updated previous phase information, as needed and

  • Submittal document register
  • Assignment of component to systems
  • Connections between components (optional)
Construction Mobilization updated previous phase information, as needed and

  • Updated submittal document register
Construction 60% Complete updated previous phase information, as needed and

  • Manufacturer contact information for all approved submittals
  • Model and Serial numbers on all installed products/equipment
  • Components identified by tag or bar codes, as appropriate
  • Installed product data (SPie defines minimum product templates)
Beneficial Occupancy updated previous phase information, as needed and

  • Updated space function and room area measurements
  • Warranty, parts, and handover documents
  • Operation and maintenance documentation
  • Installed product data (SPie defines minimum product templates)
Fiscal Completion updated previous phase information, as needed


There is no one best way to create COBie2 deliverables.

The decision about how you supply or consume COBie2 is largely based upon your firm’s current software stack. In many cases, the delivery of COBie2 content is already contracted out to others, in those cases the requirement for the delivery of COBie2 information falls across multiple contracted parties. As with all design related information, the lead Architect/Engineer firm is responsible to coordinate the compilation of all COBie2 information into a single COBie2 deliverable file when the deliverable is required during design. In the case of construction related information, the prime contractor is responsible for the delivery of a single COBie2 deliverable file when the deliverable is required during construction.

COBie2 may be created using one of three methods: (1) use of COBie2 compliant software, (2) development of custom transformations of existing data into a COBie2 compliant file, and/or (3) direct use of the COBie2 spreadsheet format. In most cases, it can be expected that a combination of these methods will need to be used to correctly meet the deliverable requirement.

COBie2 and IFC Compliant Software

When using COBie2 compliant software users should initially be reminded that the use of such software, alone will be insufficient to produce a correct COBie2 deliverable file. Often COBie2 deliverables require manual configuration of the Building Information Model software at the start of the project. Because of these configuration requirements, points of contact are listed for COBie2 technical support for all products tested against the COBie2 specifications.

Commercial software vendors have demonstrated two approaches to creating COBie2 files. The first approach is to produce a file that complies with the buildingSMART international’s Facility Management Handover Model View Definition (MVD) specification for Industry Foundation Class (IFC) Building Information Model (BIM) files. There is no technical difference between FM Handover MVD file and the COBie2 formats, however, to ensure compliance with COBie2 contract language the project team must deliver the COBie2 formatted files. This requires the project team to translate the vendors IFC file into a COBie2 formatted file. Users should check with vendors about any available utility for translations. A free, no warranty or tech support tool may assist if vendor tools are not provided.

The alternative approach is to use applications capable of producing a file in the COBie2 Spreadsheet format. Vendors directly producing the Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet version of the COBie2 file may be required to open the file in Excel in order to save the file as an Excel 2003 XML file format in lieu of the direct Excel spreadsheet format.

The table below identifies vendors who have competed in COBie2 Challenges. Only the most recent COBie2 event that the company’s product has participated in has been identified. Follow the links on the product name to view the results provided from the event listed. If the company has participated in multiple events, then previous results will be found at the bottom of that product’s page.

Participants Event and Method
Company Product Country Market Event Producer Consumer Method
Bentley Architecture US Design Dec 2009 X FM MVD IFC
DDS DDS-CADD Norway MEP Design Dec 2009 X FM MVD IFC
Graphisoft ArchiCAD Hungary Design Dec 2009 X FM MVD IFC
FaME FaME Germany FM Dec 2009 X FM MVD IFC
Granlund RYHTI Finland FM Dec 2009 X FM MVD IFC
Onuma OPS US Multiple Dec 2009 X Spreadsheet
Onuma OPS US Multiple Dec 2009 X Spreadsheet
SMB Morada Germany FM Dec 2009 X Spreadsheet
TMA TMA US FM Dec 2009 X Spreadsheet
Vizelia Facility Online France FM Dec 2009 X FM MVD IFC
Tokmo Tokmo US Construction Dec 2009 X Spreadsheet
Tokmo Tokmo US Construction Dec 2009 X Spreadsheet

Based on the Dec 2009 COBie2 Challenge virtually all software produced through the FM Handover MVD will require some minimal manual adjustment to ensure compliance with the COBie2 format. Since software that direct consumes FM Handover IFC files is not responsible to produce specified COBie2 deliverables, such software has been demonstrated to be a point where multiple types of FM Handover IFC Files can be consolidated to create a proper COBie2 deliverable.

Custom Transformations to COBie2 Format

The majority of COBie2 information is already contained in the large number of software tools and documents supporting the facility life-cycle. For example Applications that produce or consume room and equipment lists are well on their way to produce the vast majority of the required content of any COBie2 file. These sources may often be “coaxed” into yielding information that can be transformed into COBie2 compliant information. Where existing software systems provide spreadsheet exporting capabilities, such spreadsheet information may reorganized by hand or custom computer software to create COBie2 information. The COBie2 spreadsheet has been designed to encourage the use of cut-and-paste, particularly column by column from other reports, as long as the unique naming of Components, Product Types etc is consistent. Users may also find the use of the Filter and Sort commands can rapidly highlight rows needing attention.

Direct authoring in the COBie2 Spreadsheet

Designers and contractors may want to directly interact with the COBie2 spreadsheet information. Use of the COBie2 spreadsheet is a very effective method for designers to check the accuracy of their file prior to submitting the deliverable. Based on the December 2009 COBie2 Challenge designers could be expected to manually enter space zones, building service systems, and complete the information about authorship. Designers can also be expected to need to manually verify that unique names for spaces, equipment types, and specific equipment are identified in the COBie2 file. These manual updates are expected since some BIM software is currently non-compliant with COBie2 requirements in these areas.


Regardless of the method use to create COBie2 files, the supplier of the file should run COBie2 checking software against the expected deliverable. Some owners may require that the COBie2 checking software report accompany the deliverable of COBie2 data. The checking file will identify all significant errors that would keep the COBie2 file from being accepted. The current version of the COBie2 checker may be found here.


Just as with construction scheduling services, some companies will determine to include COBie2 capabilities within their own firms, other firms will simply contract the requirement for the delivery of COBie2 information to commissioning consultants. There have been a number of consultants who have participated in the COBie2 events who may be able to assist you. This list of consultants is provided without any warranty of any time. Users needing such services are suggested to contact all firms prior to making a decision about which firm to engage.

Vendor Consulting Services
Company Country Market Event Producer Consumer Primary Methodology
AEC InfoSystems US All Dec 2009 X X IFC
AEC3 UK All Dec 2009 X X IFC or Spreadsheet
PSI US FM July 2009 X X Spreadsheet
Woolpert US All Mar 2009 X X Spreadsheet

If you are a software service provided and would like to be identified in the table above, you will need to (1) be an active participant in buildingSMART alliance or the National Institute of Building Sciences and (2) participate in a minimum of one future COBie2 Challenge events, or host a COBie2 Challenge of your own at a major public conference or trade show. Please contact Dominique Fernandez at NIBS to discuss your firm’s participation.


There are a number of software companies who participated in COBie1 Challenges but did not participate in COBie2 Challenges. These vendors are listed in the table below along with the results of their previous Challenge results pages. Use of this software is not recommended for the purposes of complying with the COBie2 specification since the COBie1 format was explicitly NOT adopted internationally. COBie1 formatted files will not yield to manual checking and no automated transformation and checking of COBie1 files is provided. If you use one of these systems, you may want to consider contacting these firms to inquire about the firm’s plans to comply with the COBie2 requirements.

Company and/or Product Market Segment Tested
AutoDesk Revit Design July 2008 IFC Coordination View
AutoDesk Revit Design July 2008 COBie1 Spreadsheet
MicroMain CMMS March 2009 COBie1 Spreadsheet
Nemetscheck VectorWorks Design March 2009 IFC Coordination View
ProjectBluePrint CAFM July 2008 COBie1 Spreadsheet

via bSa Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE): Means and Methods | The National Institute of Building Sciences.

NIBS BIM Taxonomy – Initiatives | Whole Building Design Guide

Building Smart Alliance including International (IAI) Sites

The acronym “BIM,” is historically linked in the minds of many to 3-dimensional and now 4D (time) and 5D (cost) virtual modeling of buildings. BIM, however, has the capability and even the responsibility to be much more.

“Building” in this usage is a noun referring to the structure more than the process and accordingly, current BIM examples tend to be virtual models of individual or small clusters of buildings executed in proprietary software for the purpose of supporting the design, detailing and construction phases of the lifecycle. Used within this scope, BIM speaks primarily to architects, architectural engineers, specifiers, estimators, scientists interested in performance modeling, constructors and construction vendors, computer application vendors interested in this business space, and owners as they participate in the new-building development process. The future of BIM modeling is to expand the information model to include more of the life cycle phases (ie: real property commerce, maintenance and operations, environmental simulation, etc.), to standardize life cycle process definitions and associated exchanges of information, and to standardize information content so that meanings and granularity are clear and consistent. This expanded scope definition will make BIM useful to a wider community including, for example, real property managers, appraisers, brokers, mortgage bankers, facility assessors, facility managers, maintenance and operations engineers, safety and security personnel as incident responders, landscape architects, infrastructure engineers and operators, and others outside the business verticals associated with new building design and construction.

Although BIM applications and practices in current use are vastly superior to manual and 2D-only CAD methodologies, current usage of BIM technologies and techniques must be improved further. Currently, processes and content are locally negotiated on a project-by-project basis and data sets (i.e.: models) are not necessarily capable of being used for different purposes through unassisted machine-to-machine and application-to-application exchanges. To realize needed end-to-end efficiencies in the capital facilities industry these are the characteristics that are needed in BIM methods.

Ironically, many BIM applications are already capable of supporting standardized interoperable processes and content if they existed. But in the absence of standards and associated best practice definitions, this support is only utilized on an ad-hoc, project-by-project basis and often is re-negotiated and/or recreated for each services contract and/or project.

It is true that associating BIM with the development and use of 3D virtual building modeling techniques and technologies can yield very productive results. However, when used in this context, BIM tends to be focused on data and technology standards during design and construction and may not fully realize the potential for information-based, interoperable business processes related to “building” (the verb). The application of BIM is pertinent to at least all the following participants in the facilities industry:

  • Owners—High level summary information about their facilities
  • Planners—Existing information about physical site(s) and corporate program needs
  • Realtors—Information about a site or facility to support purchase or sale
  • Appraisers—Information about the facility to support valuation
  • Mortgage Bankers—Information about demographics, corporations, and viability
  • Designers—Planning and site information
  • Engineers—Electronic model from which to import into design and analysis software
  • Cost & Quantity Estimators—Electronic model to obtain accurate quantities
  • Specifiers—Intelligent objects from which to specify and link to later phases
  • Contracts & Lawyers—More accurate legal descriptions as well as more accurate to defend or on which to base litigation
  • Construction Contractors—Intelligent objects for bidding and ordering and a place to store gained information
  • Sub-Contractors—Clearer communication and same support for contractors
  • Fabricators—Can use intelligent model for numerical controls for fabrication
  • Code Officials—Code checking software can process model faster and more accurately
  • Facility Managers—Provides product, warranty and maintenance information
  • Maintenance & Sustainment—Easily identify products for repair parts or replacement
  • Renovation & Restoration—Minimizes unforeseen conditions and the resulting cost
  • Disposal & Recycling—Better knowledge of what is recycleable
  • Scoping, Testing, Simulation—Electronically build facility and eliminate conflicts
  • Safety & Occupational Health—Knowledge of what materials are in use and MSDS
  • Environmental & NEPA—Improved information for environmental impact analysis
  • Plant Operations—3D visualization of processes
  • Energy, LEED—Optimized energy analysis more easily accomplished allows for more review of alternatives – impact of re-siteing by 5 degrees for example
  • Space & Security—Intelligent objects in 3D provide better understanding of vulnerabilities
  • Network Managers—3D physical network plan is invaluable for troubleshooting
  • CIO’s—Basis for better business decisions and information about existing infrastructure
  • Risk Management—Better understanding of potential risks and how to avoid on minimize
  • Occupant Support—Visualization of facility for finding places – people can’t read floor plans
  • First Responders—Minimize loss of life and property with timely and accurate information Each of the above requires information as well as creates information for others. The optimized BIM would only contain the information needed by others, however since this is currently an expanding concept it is likely better to err on the side of collecting too much information.

Each of the above requires information as well as creates information for others. The optimized BIM would only contain the information needed by others, however since this is currently an expanding concept it is likely better to err on the side of collecting too much information.

National BIM Standard (NBIMS)

The work of the National BIM Standard Committee (NBIMS), a committee of the National Institute for Building Sciences (NIBS), is to knit together the broadest and deepest constituency ever assembled for the purpose of addressing the losses and limitations associated with errors and inefficiencies in the building supply chain¹.

The current NBIMS Charter signatories (a list of which can be seen at the NBIMS web site) represent most, of the active end-user constituencies as well as many of the professional associations, consortia, and technical and associated services vendors who support them.

Several organizations have initiatives underway to develop data technology (i.e., interfaces, encodings, schema, etc., that enable different technologies to “plug and play”), generic business process workflows and content standards. One of the most important tasks for NBIMS is to coordinate these efforts and harmonize work between all organizations with similar products and interests. Many professional organizations are actively endorsing NBIMS as well as providing subject matter expertise and important development resources. In addition, over 300 applications now support IFC’s and most BIM application vendors have indicated their support for BIM standards and are participating on the committee both in an advisory capacity and through participation in test bed demonstrations. Lists of the active organizations are found at the end of this resource page.

NBIM standards will merge data interoperability standards, content values and taxonomies, and process definitions to create standards which define “business views” of information needed to accomplish a particular set of functions as well as the information exchange standards between stakeholders. This is significantly different from previous initiatives, which have focused primarily on data-centric approaches. Using business views as guides, NBIMS standards will identify information needed to support these views, appropriate content standards, and provide a technical description that developers can use to provide supporting computer-based applications.

To illustrate this and to give readers a sense of what to expect, here are some of the distinguishing characteristics of and goals for the Committee:

  • The scope and planned products are much more practice-oriented rather than data-centric. Both the organization of and representation on the Committee reflect this intent.
  • The Charter assumes and encourages participants from, and value propositions for, all phases of the building process lifecycle.
  • A primary goal is to maximize value for all process participants involved in the building lifecycle.
  • A primary strategy is to maximize existing research and development through alliances, cross-representation, active testing and prototyping, and an open and inclusive approach to both membership and results. NBIMS will, through memorandums of understanding, recognize and harmonize its work with other standards-development organizations.
  • The Committee has significant representation from government owners, private and government practitioners, vendors, and specialist professionals. It is actively seeking more involvement from, for example, private owners, A/E/C practitioners, property and facility managers, and real property professionals.
  • The Committee supports the view that a building process lifecycle is not a strictly linear process but is a primarily cyclical process with feedback and cycle-to-cycle knowledge accumulation. The best representation of the building process lifecycle is therefore believed to be a business process helix with a central knowledge core and external nodes representing process suppliers and external consumers. Between these three elements exist information interchange “synapses” which require exchange rules and agreements.
A helical building process lifecycle model

A helical building process lifecycle model (used with permission)

  • One of the principal products of the Committee’s work will be process standards describing parties to a process and the contracted information exchange requirements between the parties. It has been estimated that about 250 process definitions will eventually be required to support an interoperable building supply chain. Through a spiral development process, NBIMS plans to release developments in packages that will be immediately useful even as each release adds additional and more mature concepts and practices. The first packages are scheduled to be available in late 2006.
A NBIMS scoping diagram showing business processes and exchanges on a backdrop of life-cycle phases

A NBIMS scoping diagram showing business processes and exchanges on a backdrop of life-cycle phases
(© NIBS 2006)

  • NBIMS will support the development of content standards including taxonomy standards such as CSI OmniClass; which provides organized classification of elements important to the building process lifecycle.
  • NBIMS will recognize and facilitate the harmonization of software implementation views as they provide necessary “machine interpretable” data sources to the building information exchange process. buildingSMART™, .ifc, ifcXML, BLIS, AEX, CSI/2 and others are examples of software implementation views.
  • Vendors are actively participating on the Committee because they see value in having consistent and predictable processes to which they may apply their technical solutions. Having to develop, market and maintain products to support multiple, inconsistent processes, content, and interchange methods is expensive and complicates the product development cycle.
  • Though not a CAD standard, NBIMS will address CAD graphic and non-graphic information and processes as well as phases both before and after design and construction (where CAD is most often used). However, the National CAD Standard will continue to be important as, for the foreseeable future, building processes will continue to need standards for 2D drawings as well, and even into the future to define standard reports out of a model.

By now, readers should understand that the work of the National BIM Standards Committee is the next logical step in transforming the building supply chain. The Standard assumes that a paradigm change is required, since the definition of paradigm change is “reforming the underlying pattern or model on which actions are based”. Participants in the building supply chain, through standards development and use of existing BIM technologies are already well on the way to changing the underlying patterns and operating practices used during the building lifecycle. But to realize the greatest efficiencies, BIM approaches must be based on broad aggregations of best practices rather than narrow, project-specific, proprietary solutions. By focusing now on the business view of contracted information exchanges and best-use of interoperable data sources, and by expanding the conceptual scope of BIM to include all phases of the building lifecycle, we can realize promised new levels of quality and efficiency.

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE)

COBIE is an IFC reference standard supporting the direct software information exchange and a spreadsheet that can be used to capture COBIE data for both small renovation and capital projects. COBIE may be directly incorporated into existing post-construction data exchanges using existing contract specifications. COBIE data can also be captured during the design and construction process by adding information as it is created. Capturing COBIE data during the project and eliminating paper exchange is expected to significantly decrease existing paper based exchange costs. Owners and construction managers’ implementation instructions will allow COBIE data to integrate within existing maintenance, operations, and asset management systems.

National Institute of Building Sciences Council Involvement

via NIBS BIM Initiatives | Whole Building Design Guide.

Out of BIM Chaos, the Road to Structured Data

Out of BIM Chaos, the Road to Structured Data

By Stephen R. Hagan, FAIA

These days, much is being written and hyped about Building Information Modeling (BIM). To my count, at least 10 initiatives (either ongoing or in start-up mode) focus on BIM and various interoperability and industry process issues:

• National BIM Standard
• National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) International Alliance for Interoperability—North America (IAI-NA) and its buildingSMART initiative
• GSA requirements for Industry Foundation Class (IFC)-based BIM submissions for design starts in Fiscal Year 2006 and beyond (see Section 3.4 of the GSA Public Buildings Service CAD Standards)
• Virtual Builders Roundtable
• NIBS Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee
• National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) effort on the Capital Facilities Information Handover Guide
• FIATECH Capital Projects Technology Roadmap
• Federal Facilities Council (FFC) Emerging Technologies Committee focus on BIM and Interoperability
• AIA TAP’s own focus on three inevitable technologies: BIM, interoperability, and collaboration
• Construction Users Roundtable focus on A/E productivity
• Various international efforts in Finland, Norway, Singapore, and Australia.

I’ve probably missed a few in my list above, including TAP’s own “Building Connections: The 2nd Congress on Digital Collaboration in the Building Industry,” which convened on November 10, 2005 (see related article in this issue of EDGES).

We can elaborate on each of these efforts at another time. However, they all seem to have energized members, created a flurry of activity (at least as evidenced by e-mail and listserv traffic), and contributed to a growing excitement and buzz about BIM and the future of our industry.

Nonetheless, this flurry of excitement and activity also has the potential to explode into a fragmented effort if all of these individuals and organizations run in different directions and with different agendas.

Can this fragmentation be prevented?

One topic not yet fully aired is an underlying classification and/or taxonomy structure to what we call BIM. If BIM is as much about data as it is about geometry, then it is essential to ensure that this data is structured.

Robust industry classification systems have the potential of forming the essential underlying BIM foundation. In fact, if all objects in a BIM conform to the same underlying classification system and industry taxonomy, that in itself is arguably a fundamental form of interoperability.

Why Classification Systems and BIM?
So what is so exciting about classification systems? Do you remember elementary or high school and walking into the school library? What confronted you first? Rows and rows of card catalogs—the “search engine” to thousands if not millions of books. And what made all of these documents searchable and retrievable? A universally accepted classification system! First we had the Dewey Decimal System and later the Library of Congress classification system for books. Of course, newer search technologies (deployed, for example, by Amazon and Google) are changing the playing field, but classification systems remain critical in all industries and professions

UniFormatMasterFormat, and the newly developed OmniClass are three of the foundational classification systems of the design, construction, and facility/real-estate industries.

The original UniFormat was developed jointly by the General Services Administration (GSA) and the AIA in 1972 for estimating and design cost analysis. UNIFORMAT II, which ASTM first issued in 1993, is an enhanced version developed by a task group that included the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), GSA, AACE, the Tri-Services, R.S. Means, and others.

Elements are traditionally defined as “major components, common to most buildings, that perform a given function, regardless of the design specification, construction method, or materials used.” In practice, an element may be considered any logical component of a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). From a project management perspective, the UNIFORMAT II classification is the ideal WBS for the design phase of a building project to control scope, cost, quality, and time. For more information about Uniformat, see the following:

• NIST UNIFORMAT II Elemental Classification for Building Specifications, Cost Estimating, and Cost Analysis (PDF)

• UNIFORMAT II home page

• “ASTM Standard E1557 and CSI Practice FF/180:  New Design Management Tools for Project Managers.”

Also developed by CSI, “MasterFormat™ is the specifications-writing standard for most commercial building design and construction projects in North America. It lists titles and section numbers for organizing data about construction requirements, products, and activities. By standardizing such information, MasterFormat facilitates communication among architects, specifiers, contractors, and suppliers, which helps meet building owners’ requirements, timelines, and budgets.

The MasterFormat 2004 Edition is the most significant in the product’s 40-year history and reflects the growing volume and complexity of information generated for commercial construction projects.”

CSI developed OmniClass (formerly known as the Overall Construction Classification System [OCCS]) in collaboration with other industry partners: “Having recognized a need for classifying the majority of construction subjects, the increased use of electronic information technology, and the expanding focus on the complete life cycle of construction, the concept of an Overall Construction Classification System (OCCS) was born.”

What do you think? Are consistent industry classification structures and taxonomies crucial to the notion of Building Information Models? Weigh in with your thoughts by sending an e-mail to

Stephen R. Hagan, FAIA, is 2006 chair of AIA TAP Advisory Group and director of the Project Knowledge Center, GSA Public Buildings Service, Washington, D.C.

via Out of BIM Chaos, the Road to Structured Data.

Facility Management – BIM – Taxonomy


This facilities management taxonomy has been produced to help BIFM members and the wider facilities management community to structure its understanding of the scope of the field.

Click on the arrows icon to expand and collapse levels in the taxonomy.

Click on a taxonomy term to access articles, documents, news and other content relating to that term. NB some content will only be available to members.

If you have any comments on the taxonomy please email

Strategic Facilities Management

Business Organisation

FM Development and Trends

Business Management

Physical asset management




Information & Communications Technology

Fleet Management

Decommissioning & Disposal

Services Management


Post & Messengers

Waste Management





Information & Knowledge

Library & Document Archive

Reprograhics, Printing & Stationary

Travel Booking


Process Management

Human Resources Management


Customer Service

Financial Management

Procurement, Project & Contract Management

Health & Safety Management

Quality Management

Performance Management

Risk Management

A taxonomy is the systematic distinguishing, ordering and naming of type groups within a subject field. In the business environment a taxonomy is a classification system for improved information management.

via BIFM – Taxonomy.

Facility Management – Information / Data Standards

Many real property / facilities / building management have not been optimally handled by the industry.

Areas critical to improvement includes common taxonomy, definitions, data architectures, processes, etc. etc. etc. …..

The OmniClass consortium working on the fundamental taxonomy used by the buildingSMART Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) model.   COBIE, a construction submittal standard, uses the OmniClass tables.

Federal agencies and other are participating in these efforts.

The OmniClass Facility and Space Types Table  combines definitions from DoD, GSA, IFMA, BOMA and others.

The geospatial and building modeling communities are also working together through the Open Geospatial Consortium and the buildingSMART Alliance to assure the interoperability of data standards.    SDSFIE, for example, are essentially geospatial standards, while the IFC model is based upon an ISO/IGES/STEP standard for the AECO (Architecture, Engineering, Construction, Operations/Maintenance)  industry. SDSFIE was original developed from field installation defined requirements with limited conceptual, theoretical foundation. Structural deficiencies in the SDSFIE have been addressed by DoD.

See and for more info. on the National Building Information Model Standard.

re-crafted via Discussion: Federal Real Property Association (FRPA) | LinkedIn.