openBIM and buildingSMART International pt 2


From BIM Journal. Click Here to Read Issue 1

continuing from part 1...

Core Principles

Developing many of the core principles associated with Building Information Modelling, buildingSMART seemingly argues the point that openBIM represents a further broadening of collaboration and the sharing of intelligent data within the constructs of the BIM itself.

openBIM as a collection of standards and an industrial ideal establishes the foundations for collaborative design and operation within the BIM. buildingSMART therefore summarises the apparent importance of openBIM as constituting a development beyond traditional BIM, in a way in which a common language can be utilised for a wide variety of processes. This then allows for transparent commercial engagement, assured data quality and comparable service evaluation as well[10].

These principles represent an almost-enforced honesty within a field reported to have struggled with transparency in the past. In line with the very principles of BIM itself, openBIM pioneers an approach which sees a platform for data sharing and communication used in a way that fully opens up the possibilities for the sharing of information without boundary or, in converse scenarios, the hiding or delay of vital project information due to miscommunication between differing platform integrations.

In supporting the notion of openBIM, buildingSMART International cites a number of benefits that go hand in hand with the openBIM process. These include improvements to performance, operational savings, waste reduction and the ability to develop improved techniques; techniques which then lead to improved margins amongst further core benefits too[12].

Improvements in these areas could also be seen to open up new markets and drive overall profitability for organisations working within openBIM systems as well. We’ll come back to this later, but thanks to the adoption of a more active role with members of the UK BIM Alliance[13], buildingSMART has since repositioned its focus to even better develop relations with the sector and maintain an active voice in the evolution of BIM within the UK context going forward.

Clearly understanding the importance of communication and the integration of leading industry organisations in relation to the direction of openBIM already , buildingSMART International has brought forward its “Rooms”[14] concept as well; to facilitate the debate and  discussions of standard developments more swiftly and in a manner that is open to all.


Maintaining an assortment of specialist forums or “Rooms” (which can then subdivided into Groups) each with differing topics and directions, buildingSMART International Rooms serve to form and support working groups and dedicated projects too. These Rooms are duly split into industry topics and pursue open data research into the development of further tools and training in support of wider industry and associated concerns [15].

Although not limited in direction, the majority of Rooms brought forward by buildingSMART see discussions from different industries that are external to, but impacted by, the construction industry and the application of BIM. Unsurprisingly the standards that are relevant to those industries are hotly discussed as well. This takes a considerable step away from a “one standard fits all” approach and sees relevance being drawn from all Rooms to ensure that appropriateness and integration remain core.

This includes Rooms such as the Airport Room, Infrastructure Room, and the Construction Room. Each of which sees a considerable extension of the openBIM philosophy into the development of the standards thereafter. As openBIM pioneers an open and transparent communication of information and new ways of working and interacting, the Rooms offer open methods of communication that represent core voices from the industries involved.

Looking at the Construction Room, buildingSMART International has called for engagement with key industry players to gather experiences for a combined discussion of the development of a road map via the active debate of data exchange standards for openBIM. This sees an ever-increasing level of industry engagement in development and ensures proper industry communication for standards evolution in the future.


buildingSMART suggest that individuals or organisation wishing to get involved in their standards development programmes are invited to contact them for an introduction to the appropriate Room leaders. The Rooms are[17]:

  • Building

  • Product

  • Regulatory

  • Technical

  • Infrastructure

  • Construction

  • Airport

The overall ratified outcomes from the Room discussions will be made available for adoption by the wider industry and software vendors thereafter[16]. Clearly important work on an international scale the next meeting for all Chapters (collective name for location specific buildingSMART members) will be at the Barcelona summit; hosted by buildingSMART International between the 3rd and 6th of April, 2017.[17]

Further developments have also been noted in other core Rooms too, including those of the Airport Room at Schiphol, which is reportedly developing a complete work plan for 2017 for activation at the April summit.


According to the asset management dept at Schiphol Airport who set the Room up, the benefits of the outcomes of this speciality forum are[16]:

  • Unification of digital standards to enable more efficient working from the common supply chain.

  • Enable Asset management decisions based on cost, risk and performance for the entire lifecycle of airport facilities to be easier to make and more robust

  • Make innovative design and build solutions, reducing disruption at the Airport, easier to justify and re-purposing of the facilities easier to execute.

  • Enable economies of scale with the supply chain and maintenance suppliers. Currently each airport group is developing its own BIM standards and there is not a uniform data exchange format to approach the market for airport facilities (eg. APBB, LEPC, airfield lights, scanners etc.).

  • Link to the wider buildingSMART Industry Foundation Class (IFC) environment to allow Airport Asset Managers to use the IFC developments for Buildings and Infrastructure in their portfolio.

The airport room is positioned to offer a link between the design, building and maintenance of airport assets and, as explained by Yannick Vos, Strategic Advisor, BIM and Asset Manager at Schiphol Group, it will see a commitment from Schiphol in supporting the development of a common language in processes and software for all airports to use.

“The Airport Room is the link between the design, building and maintenance of assets. Our goal is to develop one common language in processes and software for all assets at all airports.”


It has been noted that the commitment provided by Schiphol has brought with it a great impetus within the Airport Room. This has additionally seen a positive interlinking of ideologies between Schiphol and buildingSMART on the topic of transparency in practice while providing a strong example of how other industries can work with buildingSMART towards a common open goal within the structure of openBIM – this then bringing those benefits to all. I would love to say that this initiative is clearly taking off but I can’t bear it.

“The use of open data through our standards will bring down cost and schedules, improve quality and safety and lessen the impact on airport operations and the public.[18]


Additionally, buildingSMART International has also been working to develop its web presence in line with the evolution of its standards to reflect and embody the transparent approach of the company through open access to its information and activities[19].

Proposed as a virtual centre of standards development - with the skillful combination of Rooms and the increasing web presence, the organisation has made great ground in pushing the concept of openBIM directly to all levels of the industry. Certainly we are at a point where leading organisations recognise the proposition of openBIM and its benefits, but this does not answer the question as to whether industry is at a level of understanding for widespread adoption quite yet.

But the trajectory is a very good one.


Read both parts (and more) in BIM Journal