Article Date: 03/29/2013

Experts Report Progress in the Crusade to Promote BIM Use and Related Standards

By Steve Rizer


There are several new developments to report in the effort to promote building information modeling (BIM) use and related standards both in the United States and abroad -- news that buildingSMART alliance (bSa) Executive Director Deke Smith and bSa Assisting Director Birgitta Foster shared during a webinar that WPL Publishing held last week. The webinar, entitled “Owner Expectations: NBIMS-US V2 to Accelerate BIM Usage over the Next 5 Years,” is the first of four webinars in WPL’s “BIM Roadmap 2013” interactive series for owners, contractors, construction managers, owners’ representatives, and others within the construction community. 


During a discussion about ISO (International Organization for Standardization) 16739:2013, Smith reported, “By the end of this month, we will have an official announcement that says that IFC [Industry Foundation Class] 4.0 has been released and is a full ISO standard.”


ISO 16739:2013 specifies a conceptual data schema and an exchange file format for BIM data, according to ISO. “The conceptual schema is defined in EXPRESS data specification language. The standard exchange file format for exchanging and sharing data according to the conceptual schema is using the Clear text encoding of the exchange structure. Alternative exchange file formats can be used if they conform to the conceptual schema. ISO 16739:2013 represents an open international standard for BIM data that is exchanged and shared among software applications used by the various participants in a building construction or facility management project.”


ISO further explained that 16739:2013 “consists of the data schema, represented as an EXPRESS schema specification, and reference data, represented as definitions of property and quantity names and descriptions. A subset of the data schema and referenced data is referred to as a model view definition [MVD]. A particular [MVD] is defined to support one or many recognized workflows in the building construction and facility management industry sector. Each workflow identifies data-exchange requirements for software applications. Conforming software applications need to identify the [MVD] they conform to.”


Within the scope of 16739:2013 are BIM exchange format definitions that are required during the life-cycle phases of buildings and BIM exchange format definitions that various disciplines involved within the life-cycle phases need.


Smith also reported that four software packages “have gone through the second level of certification at buildingSMART International.” The organization’s “Certification 2.0” acknowledges that the products have been tested and shown to comply with the IFC open standards for the functions specified within the testing environment.


The four successful products are Autodesk Revit Architecture, Graphisoft ArchiCAD, Nemetschek Allplan, and Nemetschek Scia Engineer, which received certification for their export functionality. Other products are still being tested and audited. Certified products can display the buildingSMART certification logo on their packaging.


In 2010, buildingSMART launched its certification scheme, introducing what the organization believes is a “clear distinction” between import and export functions and improving quality checks. “The scheme uses a web application, the Global Testing and Documentation Server (GTDS), which provides automated online testing of IFC files, tools for documentation of manual tests and is a place where candidates for certification can run tests to ascertain compliance. The database of GTDS stores all test results and provides test reports.


Smith told webinar attendees that “we see a lot more [software packages] that are waiting in the wings and are getting ready to come out.”


Later during the webinar, Foster reported that bSa soon will kick off the first of several educational classes on the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie). The first class “probably” will take place in May, she said. “It will be online through [bSa] to members and non-members.”


A recording of the 90-minute webinar can be purchased via the following link:



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