Open Industry Standards and BIM

The rapid IT development in recent years has affected many other fields and the construction industry certainly is one of them. Software tools have made design, drawing, calculation and communication faster, more convenient and more precise.


Despite this there is a substantial loss of data that inevitably occurs during a building’s life-cycle. To combat this issue BuildingSMART has established several open industry standards which enable all players to exchange information, be it simple materials information or complex building models.


These open industry standards are the ISO 16379 (Industry Foundation Classes), the ISO 29481 (Information Delivery Manual) and the ISO 12006-3 (BuildingSMART Data Dictionary). These three open industry standards when combined ensure a stable BIM experience. But what does each one do?


#1 BuildingSMART Data Dictionary The “BuildingSMART Data Dictionary” relates objects and terms. Basically, it acts as an actual dictionary defining and naming concepts in different languages. It also goes further than that describing the relationships between different concepts e.g. the properties of a wall or the types of door. In this way actors from different fields and countries are assured that they are using the precise terms.


#2 Industry Foundation Classes The aim of “Industry Foundation Classes” is to ensure that no information is lost through communication between designers, contractors, sub-contractors or facility managers. Simply putting it – it makes sure that the same concept, e.g. a door, is understood as what it is from all participating specialists. It tries to characterise the door from all view-points so that anyone can use the data, only relevant for them and their work. Although this sounds like what the BuildingSMART Data Dictionary does in this case we are talking about a project-specific context – it is used to refer to “this door in that building”. The IFC essentially allows different specialized software tools to communicate with each other better.


#3 Information Delivery Manual The “Information Delivery Manual” provides the means to capture and specify processes and information flow during the life-cycle of a facility. It is capable of bringing together the different information streams used in construction into a single operating environment thus reducing the need for the various types of paper document used by the industry today.


Apply a standard for a truly open construction industry Developers who wish attach “openBIM” to their product portfolio must take into consideration at least one of these three standards.


Together they form the only regulated mean for accomplishing real state-of-the-art open construction industry.