The New Zealand BIM Industry Metadata Standards Initiative


January 22, 2015 by Chris Boyle

BIM, or Building Information Modelling, is a process that has become a discussion point within the specification and construction industry. While discussion around BIM should be focused on its ability to streamline the design, construction and maintenance phases of a building, it is often discussed with some confusion.

As building material suppliers in New Zealand begin to address BIM and the increasing requirement to provide branded BIM content, there will be and are significant technology/education hurdles to over-come.

A specific issue that has developed for building material suppliers through the generation of branded BIM objects, is around the selection of a BIM metadata standard.

To understand this issue, it’s necessary to understand BIM objects. To provide a layman’s explanation, at its most basic level, a BIM object for a building material, provides a graphical representation and also associated information for the product and its representative object. Both the graphical representation and the associated  information (the “metadata”) can be simply or highly detailed and may be shown in 3D or 2D or both.

As building manufacturers and design practices develop BIM content, they are faced with making a decision around how the BIM objects’ information is represented. There are many different standards that have been developed internationally to provide guidance on how this data is represented, with the aim that different BIM objects and models are interoperable with each other. In saying this, BIM objects developed to different standards may be interoperable at varying levels, or could be altered to be more interoperable. However, having content from different suppliers, developed using the same BIM standard aims to over-come this hurdle. At present there is no agreed standard for New Zealand.

The lack of a NZ standard prompted the birth of the NZ BIM metadata standard initiative, brought about through a meeting of stake-holders within the industry. The group was brought together during the Build a Better New Zealand conference with the specific aim of discussing how to get the industry  collecting and sharing agreed and useful metadata information on BIM objects. The meeting was chaired by the Productivity Partnership’s Chris Kane. The group represented large building product manufacturers, architectural practices, product libraries, online consent documentation sites, BIM practitioners, BRANZ and the Productivity Partnership.

So what happens if we continue to use different standards? Over time BIM objects would be released with varying levels of graphical, technical, performance, consenting, inter-object-relationship and pricing information. This lack of consistency would de-value the potential that could come from the use of BIM.

On the other side, in a utopian BIM world, all objects would contain all the possible information available for the products and systems and would sit nicely inside practitioners’ libraries, be freely available, carry warranties, and as such achieve the productivity benefits outlined of BIM.

The aim of the initiative is to begin an industry journey to develop and agree a BIM metadata standard, so that BIM objects can provide consistent levels of information and allow for measurable output-benefits to be realised from a completed BIM model.

While the proposed NZ BIM metadata standard won’t get to a utopian BIM position, having a pragmatic solution in place will allow the industry to begin the journey.

For the NZ BIM metadata standard project to be a success:

  • The industry would be provided with an agreed standard framework to be used for the creation of BIM objects.
  • The NZ BIM metadata standard would make it easier for BIM practitioners to create objects which will work with each other.
  • The NZ BIM metadata standard would support better stream-lining of object organisation and object library organisation.
  • The NZ BIM metadata standard will provide a building industry wide framework for the use and leverage of information generated over the life of a building, especially for facilities and asset management.
  • That the NZ BIM metadata standard would be agnostic to systems, products and software.   

As this project aims to be agnostic and representative, stake-holder feedback sessions will be held, and feedback welcomed. Further information will be provided early in 2015 on the dates, times and locations for the sessions.

For further information, please contact Chris Boyle, Project Manager, on [email protected]

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