ConstructionPro Week, Volume: 2 - Issue: 17 - 04/26/2013

Expert Discusses BIM Specifications and Information Management

By Steve Rizer


Specification writers for construction projects may be moving into the role of a ‘knowledge manager,’ the president of Kalin Associates, an independent specification consulting firm in metropolitan Boston, said during “BIM (Building Information Modeling) Specifications and Information Management,” a WPL Publishing webinar for which a recording recently was added to the ConstructionPro Network ( Download Library -- free of charge for members. The webinar was the third of four sessions in a series entitled “BIM Strategy: Leverage Your Business for Profit and Growth.”


Mark Kalin explained that specifiers “can help the design team with a lot of decisions that will constrain [a building information] model appropriately and get the right level of information in there so that everyone from the owner to the designer to the contractor or construction manager, all the way to the installer, will have the ability … to make [implementation of BIM technology] work.”


Kalin reported that although the ability to link BIM and specifications exists, “very few people are doing it right now because there’s a value proposition.”


The goal of this activity “is to create specs from the property sets in BIM so you can potentially have the ability to fly into your BIM model, look out through the window, see the list of materials that are being ordered, [and] see a hierarchy of the structure in the BIM model,” Kalin commented. “There are BIM model viewers now that specifiers are starting to use so they can look over the shoulder of the people entering the information. It’s a little bit of the ‘wild west’ right now because people are still trying to do the value proposition. No one wants to draw a building down to the last nail if no one will ever need that.”


The webinar was designed to provide a quick snapshot of BIM trends in contemporary practice and show examples of integrating BIM and specifications.


The 90-minute event was intended to help attendees via discussions of the following:

  • Trends in BIM and specification integration, examples of using the Specifiers Property Information Exchange data set, integrating building product models with BIM, and coordination with green building rating systems. Trends include structuring specification information for use in BIM models and improving design and specification coordination using BIM models.
  • An update of the use of specifier property sets with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers demonstration projects integrating specifications, the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange, and product guides of the buildingSMART alliance.
  • The potential for parametric indexing, search, and web services using a combination of OmniClass tables, MasterFormat, and UniFormat. Particular focus included the normalization of facility and space type namespaces, attributes and properties, mapping between standards and formats, avoiding markup disasters, and the role of metadata and ontology. A landscape of related standards and current initiatives was presented, culminating in an assessment of current adoption and use of open standards for various stakeholder needs.
  • How the sustainable design information of materials can be incorporated into a BIM model.
  • The relationship of project information and materials in OmniClass and BIM models.
  • Information management and the relationship of Construction Specifications Institute standards, BIM, and MasterFormat.

For immediate access to the complete webinar (full audio and visual) -- as well as two dozen other construction-related webinars that are available for download -- sign up to become a member of WPL Publishing’s ConstructionPro Network, a complete training, education, and development resource for the construction industry, at



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