What is building documentation? Ask a building owner and you’ll get one answer, ask an architect you’ll get another answer, ask a surveyor and you’ll probably get an entirely different answer. Building documentation can mean different things to different people. Can bringing these diverse groups together help advance the building documentation industry? If it can help, how do we define what building documentation is and what its core elements are? The answers to these questions create the foundation for the growth of education and standards in the building documentation industry.
There are many different stakeholders with an interest in building documentation. The primary stakeholders include owner/operators, architects, engineers, contractors, surveyors and service providers, among many others. Each of these groups has its own unique interests in capturing, representing and managing building data. Often times, the needs of one stakeholder are completely foreign to the needs of another. For example, an owner may need to know the rentable area of a building to lease tenant space, whereas a contractor may require square footages for the purpose of material takeoffs and estimating. The methods of calculating each of these are completely different and require different sets of inputs to arrive at an answer.
It is easy to see how the needs of a particular stakeholder group may cause it to focus on certain elements of documenting a building and ignore other elements all together. In fact, it is common to find a group of stakeholders congregating in their own silo, separate and uninformed regarding what another group is doing to advance the means and methods of building documentation.
Is there common ground where these various stakeholders can assemble to break down the barriers that separate them? Is there a way to bring these groups together to combat the inefficiencies and improve the interoperability of the building data as it transfers from one stakeholder to the next throughout the building lifecycle? This is precisely the goal of one industry non-profit membership organization, the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD) www.usibd.org.
However, merely bringing together various stakeholders is only a start. Building documentation must be clearly defined so the various stakeholders can speak a common language and understand how the information that is important to one stakeholder affects another. To do this, one must begin by identifying the core elements of building documentation, which sets the foundation for the development of standards and educational programs. As with buildings, it is critical to start with a solid foundation.
At the SPAR International Conference 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the USIBD began by asking these questions: What is building documentation, and what are its core elements? Efforts are currently underway by the USIBD to bring clarity to these questions. As such, the USIBD is asking all stakeholders with an interest in building documentation to help by getting involved in its Education and Standards Committees. If you would like to help set the foundation for standards and education by defining the core elements of building documentation please contact the USIBD today by completing the form on the Contact Us page of their website at http://www.usibd.org/contactusibd. Working together, we can break down the barriers that separate us and help accelerate the advancement of our industry.