Geo Week News

May 23, 2012

First ever consensus-based BIM standard released


BuildingSMART Alliance unveils NBIMS-US V2 at AIA Conference

WASHINGTON – Here at the American Institute of Architects annual conference, the National Institute of Building Sciences buildingSMART Alliance released the National BIM Standard-United States Version 2, what is the first consensus-based standard governing BIM use in the U.S.

You can download it here.

What does “consensus-based” mean and why wasn’t that the way Version 1 was done when it was released back in 2007?

“Basically,” said Deke Smith, executive director of the buildingSMART Alliance, “what we found when we started with version one was that there wasn’t much to standardize on … It was really the first time we’d written down anyplace what the process was for information exchange and things like that, and it was more about how to put a standard together in the first place. It had some content, but there wasn’t a lot.”

Since then, buildingSMART developed a process whereby any member of the buildingSMART Alliance could contribute to the standards-building process, “and it’s open for anyone to join the project committee,” Smith said, “and we made sure we had representatives from the whole building life cycle in the voting process.”

In all, more than 200 people voted on the standard, and already more than 400 people have downloaded NBIMS-US V2, as it’s known.

In fact, NBIMS-US V2 consists of three different kinds of standards. The first are reference standards, those standards like Industry Foundation Classes/ISO 16739 that have already been developed by other organizations and have been accepted as widespread and effective. Second are information exchange standards, like the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (known as COBie), which governs the handoff data from construction to operations as a building is completed.

“Then we have best business practices,” said Smith, “which really isn’t a true standard, but what we’re trying to do here is pull the industry together; we’re trying to make it a team sport instead of an individual sport. Everyone has historically worked on their own, but if you’re going to enter data once and use it over and over again, we need trust.”

If every organization entering the BIM process doesn’t have to reinvent workflows and best practices, it’s more likely there will be wider-spread adoption and success.

What this isn’t, however, Smith said, is “a standard on how to do BIM.” Rather, it standardizes certain pieces of the process so that innovation can continue at a more rapid pace and that software developers, for example, can make better decisions on the future of their R&D programs.

Many BIM-related activities and technologies are “just so new it’s not ready to be standardized yet,” Smith said.

Those in the data-capture industry might notice some of those missing pieces. For example, the E57 file format standard for point clouds is not part of NBIMS-US V2. “That’s a ballot we’d like to see as a reference standard,” said Birgitta Foster, assisting director of the buildingSMART Alliance, referring to the process whereby contributing members to the standards create ballots that describe processes, reference standards, or formats they’d like to see added to NBIMS-US. Committees then vet those ballots before putting them before the membership for voting. “That’s an excellent example of things we’d like to see come through.”

The work on V3 of the standards begins essentially now, with the next round of ballots starting to be taken up around August. What the buildingSMART alliance is really looking for is more participation, particularly from both building owners and the data capture community.

One thing Foster noted is that not every person interested in helping to develop the standard need be an expert in every facet of the BIM process. For each ballot, members can vote yes, no, or abstain, and that abstain vote is important, she said. “These ballots range from really deep technical software stuff, all the way to best practices, like a BIM execution plan. And people range all over on what they feel they can actually weigh in on. You can just abstain on the stuff you don’t know that much about,” she said.

Any contributions to the standard are pretty certain to be widely felt. According to the buildingSMART Alliance, Canada, Korea, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand are all planning to take the NBIMS-US V2 as the basis for their own standards.

“There are some really good things that are missing and we know need to be in the standard,” Foster said. “Rather than us coming up with projects and trying to get them funded, I’m looking to industry to do it, and they’ll probably push it faster.”

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