buildingSMART International | bSI Newsletter No.10. December 2012 | Building Information Modeling | Engineering




International home of openBIM ®

Sustainability by building SMARTER

NEWSLETTER • No 10 • November 2012

Decision time in Tokyo
The working groups and committees that form the life-blood of buildingSMART International met in Tokyo during 15–19 October 2012. Through a busy week of meetings and workshops, the themes of infrastructure and the Data Dictionary emerged as decisive areas for action. The openINFRA project received a lot of support, and the technical work will now begin in earnest.
The Product and Process Rooms shared a joint opening session with the International User Group (IUG) and the International Technical Management (ITM) committee. Technical experts from the buildingSMART community gave presentations on areas that will require further development if the BIM vision is to be fully realised. product/system attributes and the use of bSDD. Web workshops are planned to help define the business case.

Tokyo conference welcomes international speakers On 18 October, a buildingSMART conference was held in Tokyo to coincide with the week of meetings. The event was opened by Professor Toshio Ojima (president, Building Maintenance and Management Centre), followed by Deke Smith (US), Inhan Kim (Korea) and John Mitchell together with Wayne Eastley (Australasia). Local speakers Yoichi Itai and Kouji Muramatsu covered BIM in relation to education and design.

Process Room
The Process Room, meanwhile, concentrated on how to benefit from using open BIM during design, construction and operations. New tools were showcased, including the BIM Collaboration Format (BCF). Appropriate to the venue, a presentation was given on Japanese initiatives using open standards. Examples of IDM (Information Delivery Manual) were aired, showing ways of specifying information exchange, for example in FM. One of the most significant decisions reached by the Process Room was that buildingSMART should offer accreditation of third-party data validation services. ‘This means that users that have defined their data exchange as IDM in the future could be able to verify that they receive the information they asked for,’ says Jan Karlshøj, who leads the Process Room. ‘This will increase the quality in data exchange. It’s similar to wysiwyg or What You See Is What You Get, but here transformed into What You Get Is What You Specified – wygiwys.’ Other decisions centred around the need for new developments to adhere to buildingSMART standards and secure recognition. Two areas were identified as high priorities for the use of BIM – asset management

Product Room
The Product Room held an operational review and looked at the topic of structured product data from many angles: user requirements, tools and technologies, use cases and prospects for making the transition to standardised product data. It was clear that while local content developments were valuable, the international harmonisation of product/system properties was necessary for interoperability. There was confidence, too, that software developers would ultimately recognise open BIM, despite their proprietary systems. Product Room members agreed to establish a pilot project to assess product/system attributes in the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD), with contributions from at least three countries, using an acoustic ceiling for the project. Following on from this, work will be done to identify potential improvements to the process of content creation and to make the business case for development of

and building programming (or scheduling) – and five chapters will be involved in defining the business case. The Process Room has also set itself the task of reviving work on international BIM guidelines, as a precursor to an international standard, and four chapters will be involved. Contractual issues and educational material were identified as important topics for the next meeting. The buildingSMART standard IFC4 is soon to become an ISO standard and plans were made to publicise the event and encourage roll-out of the standard.
A list of the resolutions and presentations from the meetings are available at ITM and User Group ITM celebrated its 50th meeting in Tokyo – a milestone in its long and productive history. ITM’s technical roadmap to 2016 puts a strong emphasis on getting open BIM more widely adopted, and the UK government BIM programme is providing a strong impetus. The International User Group also met, and Kjell Ivar Bakkmoen takes over from Jøns Sjøgren as chairman of IUG.

Celebrating the 50th meeting of ITM

New cycle starts for US NBIMS standard
Work underway on Version 3 Version 2 of the US National BIM Standard – or NBIMS – was published in May and covers the full life-cycle of buildings. Work on Version 3 kicked off immediately to ensure that NBIMS remains current and useful in the evolving landscape of building information modelling.

‘Version 2 was the first-ever consensus-based standard for use in the US,’ says Deke Smith, executive director of the buildingSMART Alliance (bSa), which operates within the US National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS). ‘And other countries are showing an interest in using NBIMS as the basis for their own standards.’ NIBS and the bSa co-ordinated the work.

The COBie standard
COBie – Construction Operations Building information exchange – was developed in the US to collect information during design and construction, ready for handing over to the building operator. It is based on the buildingSMART IFC data model and derives from the FM handover model view definition. The COBie standard can be used in three formats: IFC SPFF, ifcXML and SpreadsheetML. The spreadsheet option makes it particularly attractive to less experienced users along the supply chain. COBie is an internationally recognised data specification. It can be implemented in commercial software and then used in construction projects. It enables each stakeholder to do their job as specified in the contract, but information is captured as it is created, not by a retrospective trawl through the files, and duplication of effort is avoided. The need for high-quality integrated information at the point of handover has long been recognised as a priority, and COBie was developed to meet this need. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been a prime mover in development and implementation, while over in the UK the government has approved the use of COBie in its fiveyear programme to secure full asset information in public projects.

Version 2 – the process
A wide range of contributors, representing architecture, engineering, software, insurance and more, took part in planning and developing V2. This process means that the standard incorporates industry input and captures best practice, so that it does not drift into becoming an out-of-touch top-down diktat. ‘This is a volunteer organisation comprising some very smart and dedicated people who are setting aside time to make significant contributions to the building industry,’ says Tom Gay of FM Global and bSa chairman. Version 2 includes nine reference standards, four information exchange standards and five practice documents for planning and execution, as well as numerous terms and definitions. One of the standards is COBie (see box and case study), developed in the US by a core technical team of Bill East (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), Nick Nisbet (AEC3 UK and bSUK’s technical coordinator), Thomas Liebich (AEC3 DE and leader of the Model Support Group) and the late Jeff Wix (of bSUK, who took part in numerous innovative projects). So who is benefiting from Version 2? To date, there have been over 2,500 downloads from the open bSa website and the members’ portal. ‘We will be sending a survey to those who have registered, intending to learn a bit more about our focus audience,’ adds Tom.

Version 3 – the prospects
The first version of NBIMS was published in 2007, but the need for further versions was recognised from the beginning. A plan for V3 has been created, but the planning committee, by design and charter, will be responsive to ideas put forward by participants. ‘Collecting all the components needed to properly leverage the technology and make it truly interoperable is the challenge,’ concludes Tom, who is continuing his participation, notably on the Project Committee. ‘And keeping the momentum going and maintaining a schedule for version release is the biggest business problem we face.’
Case study COBie pilot at Alexandria


The U.S. Department of Defense needed a new office building to accommodate 6,400 employees in the Washington area. It opted for a site in nearby Alexandria, Va, close to Interstate 395. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed the project, through its New York District, for the end-users, Washington Headquarters Service.

Mark Center

The Corps of Engineers was one of the parties involved in developing COBie. It specified the use of Alexandria both COBie and BIM for each facility within this mega-project, known as the Mark Center. The general contractor, Clark Construction Group, gave two full-time engineers the job of managing COBie and BIM. As the project progressed, information was extracted from the various BIMs and used to populate the COBie spreadsheets, covering architectural, mechanical and electrical data. The contractor subsequently added document identification references, and the project team bar-coded many building components to link them to the component data and documentation. There were a number of learning points, together with issues that the COBie development team has set about resolving. But this was the Corps’ first large-scale implementation of COBie, and the Mark Center was completed in August 2011, 37 days ahead of schedule. Mark Center with Interstate 395 in foreground Source: U.S. Department of Defense
Source: William East, Corp of Engineers Pilot COBie (see NIBS website)



John Mitchell – man of parts

John Mitchell was founding chairman of buildingSMART Australasia in 1997. He has had two periods in office – 1997– 2000 and November 2004 to the present – and brings varied experience to the role. experience of A Tasmanian childhood
John was born in Adelaide and grew up in Hobart. His father, an arch dams engineer, decided that John should be an architect. On matriculation, he was too young to go up to university, so he spent a year in the office of Bush Parkes Shugg and Moon. His boss and mentor, Jim Moon, had worked for Hansen & Schlegel’s practice in Copenhagen in the 1950s. ‘I can still remember Jim’s immaculate drawings of the Tivoli Concert Hall he would show me as he taught me pencil and ink drafting,’ John recalls. ‘How technology has changed since I started.’

On his return to Australia in 2004, a spell with Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of New South Wales followed. He introduced a new BIM-based course, which was probably the first multidisciplinary team course in BIM using many IFCcompliant tools and the model server from Jotne.

Early career – boom times abroad
After his studies at Adelaide University, he took a job in Canberra with a Dutch architect and town planner, Dirk Bolt, a proponent of modular construction. This chimed with John’s own interests: before joining Dirk, John had done research on prefabricated buildings for the Commonwealth government and travelled all over Australia, interviewing manufacturers and visiting large construction and mining sites. In 1971, he found himself travelling overland by Land Rover from Penang, bound for London: ‘all my mates were there by now,’ he says. But he stopped and stayed in Kuwait for 18 months, working for the Kuwait Oil Company, where he admits the wages were too attractive to ignore. Finally he reached London during the construction boom of 1972–3 and did contract work for big London practices, bringing with him his experience of practical construction.

his career; the complexities of this building type and the special interaction with users in the briefing phases highlighted the potential of architectural computing. John was the first Australian user of the BDS System, a 3D software package from Applied Research of Cambridge. The practice used another program TOPAZ (developed at Australia’s research organisation, CSIRO) on a number of master planning projects to optimise the configuration of hospitals. At this time he gained a diploma in architectural computing from the University of Sydney under computing guru John Gero. John left the practice in 1985 to set up his own practice and concentrate on computing; a defining project was the redevelopment of the Cockle Bay site for Sydney’s bicentenary. Here he integrated seven different CAD system drawings into a single 2D database – a steep introduction to CAD formats and interoperability. Yet this was a clear demonstration of the potential of multidisciplinary data and the Darling Harbour Database became relied upon by the master contractor to manage the complicated fast-track development of the site.

Moving construction into the digital age
The main task for John now, once again at the helm of bS Australasia, is to push for national BIM adoption in Australia. BIM uptake is probably only 5–10% of the industry, finding the greatest favour among architects and engineers. ‘The hard part is still to come: the retraining and introduction of BIM to the supply chain,’ he says. ‘Our aim is to get the National BIM Initiative adopted and ensure that Australia participates in the global drive to common standards.’

Intriguingly, he reveals that one of his passions is the Akkadian language, once spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. Research has uncovered building contracts in Assyria documented on cuneiform tablets – a far cry from the BIM-based contracts of today and tomorrow.

Changes of direction
As recession struck the region, John closed his practice in 1992 and later joined the firm of Woods Bagot as global CAD manager. From there it was a short step – but a long journey – to join Graphisoft in Hungary. ‘The move in 2001 to Budapest and Europe was another career milestone for me,’ he says. He wrote Graphisoft’s first IFC Guide and participated in EC construction research programmes. He met and worked with Europe’s top practitioners, construction companies, academics and IFC software developers.

And back to Oz
On his return to Australia, he joined Lawrence Nield, forming a new practice, specialising in health facility planning and design. He was the project director for a new 200-bed hospital at Mount Druitt in western Sydney. The project was a key

(Above top): Cockle Bay, Sydney; (middle and bottom) Mount Druitt hospital entrance and exterior


BIM summit in Qatar
According to a recent survey, 40% of the industry in the Middle East want to use BIM but don’t know where to start. So a conference on the effective use of BIM, bringing together an experienced international team of speakers in Doha on 24–25 September, was timely and well attended. The event was cohosted by IQPC and buildingSMART Middle East and received good feedback. ‘BIM is a team sport – you have to rely on others to be successful,’ said Deke Smith of the bS Alliance, in one of early presentations, emphasising the collaborative nature of BIM. Phillip Bernstein, vice president of Autodesk, talked about the future of BIM, predicting increasing data processing and storage ‘in the cloud’, more mobile use of technology and greater communication through social media. He urged the Middle East to seize the opportunity offered by its huge construction programmes – infrastructure, museums and the World Cup. Presentations were given by representatives of Ramboll, Solibri, Smart Buildings, Gehry Technologies and Synchro, among others. A case study of the London Victoria underground station from Mott MacDonald demonstrated the importance of a strong BIM execution plan. The concept of a ‘corridor of BIM potential’ – a path of increasing complexity – was discussed. A second UK case study from Hilson Moran featured 20 Fenchurch Street, London, where a private client had insisted on BIM, and was complemented by local case studies from the Middle East. Dr Stephen Hamil, of NBS/RIBA Enterprises UK, highlighted the need for BIM to include well-structured information behind the objects. ‘Qatar is about to become one of the most active markets in the world,’ said Tahir Sharif, president of bS Middle East, afterwards. ‘The conference showed us the economic and sustainability benefits of BIM.’
Thanks to Stephen Hamil for his blog on the conference (http:// html). You can follow Stephen on Twitter (@StephenHamilNBS); see also his article in the BIM Journal: http://www.

BIM survey in Middle East
Are you involved in construction projects in the Middle East? Are you using BIM? Or is it a BIM-less project? The Middle East (MENA) chapter is conducting a survey on the use of BIM – or decisions not to use it – in the Middle East, North Africa and India. How much progress has been made since the first survey two years ago? The findings of the current survey – an easy online questionnaire – will allow the chapter to tackle the factors hindering uptake and offer targeted education. The questionnaire is to be found at: survey/a07e60r45zhh3b3b2i8/start Or contact Nadia Wallett, operations manager (

BCF report
In September, Nick Nisbet – buildingSMART International’s IFCXML co-ordinator – issued a report, ‘Schema Adoption and BIM Collaboration Format’, which was commissioned by bSI’s ExCom. The report, which is released as a document for review, considers open BIM Collaboration Format (oBCF) – an XML schema developed outside buildingSMART by software companies Tekla and Solibri with DDS. ‘Schema Adoption and BIM Collaboration Format’ is intended for buildingSMART’s technical community; details from Nick Nisbet,
BuildingSMART International ExCom Chair: Patrick MacLeamy Deputy chairs: Øivind Rooth and Rasso Steinmann Treasurer: Jøns Sjøgren IUG chair: Kjell Ivar Bakkmoen ITM chair: Francois Grobler Members: Alain Maury and Deke Smith Secretary/business manager: Christopher Groome Newsletter & communications Editor: Betzy Dinesen Designer: Jane Thompson Contact points (technical management) (implementation and certification) (Thomas Liebich, IFC matters) (user group) (Product Room and bS Data Dictionary) (Jan Karlshøj, Process Room and IDM) (Chris Groome, bSI matters generally) (Warwick Hunt, website matters) (finance and administration) (newsletter)

Spanish chapter launches in tough climate
Spain has faced a double-dip recession, a continuously shrinking construction sector and a collapse in the housing market. But under a 15-year government plan, there is a commitment to rail infrastructure, and there is a trickle of projects in commercial, retail and hospitality. And it is in a downturn that industry players can take the opportunity to regroup and gear up for recovery. So a Spanish chapter has launched, amid a renewed interest in what IFC and open BIM can do for the industry. The new membership represents a wide range of private enterprises and public authorities, together with research oganisations. To mark the launch, the Spanish chapter held a BIM Day in conjunction with the Eduardo Torroja construction research institute in Madrid on 6 November. The presentations covered various aspects of BIM use in Spain, with Chris Groome, bSI business manager, bringing an international perspective on open BIM. Prizes for the best use of BIM will be awarded annually and in this, the first year, the prizes were given for the use of BIM in refurbishment.
Spanish contact: Sergio Muñoz (

Build Qatar Live – a chance to test your BIM skills
Following the success of Build London Live in May 2012, a similar event, Build Qatar Live, is being held on 27–29 November 2012. Participating teams will be asked to design a virtual project on a well-known site in Doha, with the design brief released just before the event. It is organised by Asite, AEC3 and buildingSMART MENA & India and sponsored by Nemetschek Vectorworks. Follow it on


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