BIM, Standards & Interoperability

2013 Building Connections Congress

BIM Standards/Guidelines

In 2012, AIA TAP compiled a survey of the current global state of BIM Standards/Guidelines. This spreadsheet documented known private and public specifications, both well-established and those currently being developed. Links to the organizations and documentation were provided. In January 2014, buildingSMART alliance and buildingSMART International launched a new wiki website to further expand, examine, evaluate, and curate this content.

View the buildingSMART International BIM Guides Wiki.

The National BIM Standard - United States® (NBIMS-US™) provides consensus based standards through referencing existing standards, documenting information exchanges and delivering best business practices for the entire built environment. With open BIM standards we can build detailed models then deliver accurate products that can be used during commissioning and operation to ensure facility functionality throughout the life of the facility and to deliver high performance, carbon neutral, and net zero energy based facilities."

If you have any additional comments, please feel free to respond via the AIA KnowledgeNet Discussions Forum, or contact us via email:

AIA Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community

Position Statement on BIM Technology and Interoperability
October 01, 2012

AIA TAP fully supports the AIA Board of Directors Directory of Public Policies and Position Statements, amended on May 2012, Section II: The Practice, item B.7: Interoperability, page 12.

Open standards and true, non-proprietary interoperability are key to the long and short term success of the building industry as it moves forward with BIM processes and technology.

Open standards are mandated by many major building owners such as the U.S. General Services Administration, Norwegian Statsbygg, and Finnish Senate Properties. Such organizations recognize the the following advantages of such a strategy:
  1. Allowing each project team member to use any tools available on the open market that best suit their needs;
  2. Facilitating data exchange throughout the project lifecycle;
  3. Maintaining consistent data standards across the owner’s portfolio;
  4. Promoting competition among software vendors to produce the best possible products;
  5. Maximizing the openness and competitiveness of the market for design services;
  6. Ensuring that project data remain usable in the future, independent of the policies and business decisions of individual vendors.

AIA TAP encourages owners to evaluate their end uses of BIM data carefully in establishing their BIM standards/guidelines. Requiring data of uncertain utility incurs unnecessary expense. For example, if an owner intends to import operational data from a BIM to a CMMS, it is not necessary to require a construction level BIM as a deliverable.

AIA TAP encourages owners to consider the entire building life cycle and the data required to manage each stage. Considering the span of time involved, it is vital to remember that BIM technology will undergo major unforeseeable changes during that time. Over-reliance on the technology and capabilities of current market products should be avoided. Public standards are much more likely to remain viable.

AIA TAP monitors BIM standards being developed around the world and in the U.S. While many use open standards, some owners require proprietary BIM tools and their file formats as a deliverable in their BIM standard. While maintaining our commitment to open standards as serving the best interests of all participants and the industry as a whole, we realize that the realities of working on projects may motivate a decision to “standardize” on single applications. Where possible, AIA TAP recommends that these tools support the exchange of building information data through internationally recognized standard data formats and protocols.

AIA TAP will serve as a resource to help all building industry participants identify opportunities for using open standards as a foundation for project deliverables as well as the risks of not doing so. We will do this while still encouraging and supporting the many ways that the industry decides to adopt or adopt partially the open standards. As part of this effort AIA TAP will engage with open standards organizations such as the buildingSMART alliance to support the advancement of open standards and at the same time encourage the immediate need of our members to use BIM on projects.

Interoperability Links

When we talk about "open standards" and BIM, we are talking about non-proprietary file format and exchange protocol technologies that have been developed by public, private, and public/private entities. These include the following groups and base technology standards:

buildingSMARTalliance and buildingSMART International - home of Open BIM, IFC, and IFC-based standards, processes, and technologies

IFC - Industry Foundation Classes, the data model specification for building information modeling and data exchange. A list of application certified by buildingSMART International for the import and export of IFC data can be found here.
MVD - Model View Definition, the specification for subsets of all available BIM data to serve a stated purpose or process
IDM - Information Delivery Manual, the business case specification for exchange BIM data, including  end user Exchange Requirements (ERs)
bsDD (IFD) - buildingSMART Data Dictionary (International Framework for Dictionaries), a catalog of common industry concepts rationalizing varied terminology, due to language, market, or professional idioms, for the same concept.
COBie - Construction Operations Building Information Exchange, an information exchange specification for capturing BIM data related to building lifecycle management
BCF - BIM Collaboration Format, an XML schema that encodes messages to enable workflow communication between different BIM (Building Information Modeling) software tools. the public GitHub development repository for version 2.0 can be found here.

OGC - Open Geospatial Consortium, international industry consortium for developing standards for geospatial data-enabled technologies

gbXML - Green Building XML, a file format schema for exchanging BIM data for building energy performance simulation and analysis

BIMXML - an XML schema developed to represent a simplified subset of BIM data for web services

PDF - Portable Document Format, originally developed by Adobe for the electronic exchange of any printable document.
DWF/DWFx - Design Web Format, originally developed by Autodesk, as a PDF alternative for CAD data/documentation