Tag Archives: IFC4

buildingSMART shows how we can Build Smarter


BIM is fast becoming the Holy Grail in facilities and asset management. But how is BIM being applied in the real world today? Is it working? What results are being achieved?

This buildingSMART Australasia Seminar will address these questions and more with a case study presentation from the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA) on the century old heritage-listed Pyrmont Bridge, a major Sydney landmark that attracts more than five million pedestrians each year.

Wayne Sahlman, Senior Facilities Supervisor at SHFA, will present a case study on the 3D BIM solution that has been implemented for the Pyrmont Bridge.

A supporting presentation will also take place in each State providing examples of BIM Modelling for Asset Management:

  • Melbourne – Daniel Kalnins, Senior Engineer – Digital Engineering, CIMIC Group
  • Brisbane – Paul Nunn, General Manager BIM, PDC Group
  • Adelaide – Harry Turner, Transport Services Leader, Aurecon
  • Sydney – Bob Baird, Executive Director – CFPC, Department of Defence

The evening will close with a panel discussion. Places are limited in each location, please follow the below links for further event specific information or to book your ticket online!


When Richard Petrie joined buildingSMART as chief executive officer in 2013, he took on the goal of driving the standards-writing organization’s growth — in order to drive change across the entire architecture, engineering and construction industry.


Having worked in construction as both contractor and client, Petrie has seen firsthand the frustrations of a slow-to-evolve architecture, engineering and construction industry. From within buildingSMART — a not-for-profit organization that has been working to standardize the language and processes of BIM (Building Information Modeling) users since 1995 — Petrie has observed an increasing emphasis from several European governments on improving construction efficiency.

“All of those governments have very serious social needs that they have to fulfill with increasingly limited budgets,” Petrie says. “Completing these projects in the best way possible is very important, and you can’t do that if you don’t have accurate and clear data.”

buildingSMART is setting out to provide that data by leading the entire building industry into the digital economy.

Overcoming Fragmentation

There are two key challenges in architecture, engineering and construction industry that buildingSMART is seeking to address.

First is the fragmentation of the supply chain.12 As designers, builders and owners expand their focus to the entire life cycle, it becomes increasingly important to understand how each component and system impacts others. While savvy suppliers are integrating vertically, providing inter-related products, services and knowledge, many designers are finding the information they need through sharable information made possible by BIM.

Second, Petrie finds, construction clients are rarely well informed about the construction, building management and asset ownership process, which means they are also fragmented. For example, the efficiency to which buildings are designed isn’t always met in operation. This is in part because product data isn’t easily transferred from designers and builders to owners and facility managers.

“Altogether, this disjointed relationship with clients and the fragmentation of the supply chain is a great drag on the transformation of the industry,” Petrie says.

 Creating a Universal Approach to Construction

buildingSMART describes openBIM as a “universal approach” to the collaborative design, realization and operation of buildings based on open standards, such as its IFC family of standards. This approach allows all project members to participate in modeling, regardless of the software tools they use; it creates a common language for widely referenced processes; and it provides one system for housing asset data over its entire life-cycle.

Petrie sees openBIM as a solution to the industry’s fragmentation challenges and buildingSMART as a path to the significant opportunities for improvement in building and infrastructure cost, value and environmental performance.

“I believe those opportunities are only truly available with open international standards and, in order to create those open international standards, a neutral entity for the development and promulgation of those standards is needed,” Petrie explains. “That is the role buildingSMART International is taking on.”

With its newly defined vision, the volunteer-driven organization has made major headway in the past year. From creating new standards to defining data to the harmonization of processes across the supply chain, the group has demonstrated real progress and results.

The Push for Interoperability

The group’s push for progress aligns with demand from several governments. As a case in point: Petrie indicates the UK government’s push for interoperability as an example of where openBIM is heading.

While the UK has had requirements for open data since 2012, in 2016 the government will formally launch a program in which procurements must use BIM Level 2 documents.

This set of methodologies is designed to introduce the construction supply chain to trading and operating in a data environment, allowing the government to focus on the strongest leaders and drive value for its spending programs.

It’s a demand driven not by technology, Petrie says, but a cultural shift resulting from seeing real change in how each construction dollar is spent. “That is the reality that will provide the real driver to ensure that this program moves forward the way we hope it will,” he says.

Petrie adds that thus far the group is achieving its predicted targets in the UK, and work is underway for a Level 3 program slated for 2020-2025.

The Smart Future of Building

To expand the organization’s work, Petrie is seeking to build a community of experts to ensure that future standards accurately reflect the needs of real-world users. Volunteers work at both the international and chapter level, in an integrated process for developing new standards and deploying them into user communities.

buildingSMART graphic_03.2015

Membership in buildingSMART International is open to companies, government bodies and institutions from around the world. Dassault Systèmes joins buildingSMART as an International Member, with full voting membership rights on the new Standards Committee and membership rights with buildingSMART chapters.

The company joins other leading proponents of openBIM that recognize the benefits from openBIM can achieve the greatest impact and momentum by working together in a common community.

Members benefit from the collective activities of other members locally and internationally, and play an active role not only in identifying issues, but also in the development of solutions.

The nature of buildingSMART is that it is a voluntary organization where solutions are developed on a mutually supportive co-developed basis, and so we need members to be active in our community,” Petrie explains.

Petrie acknowledges that it will take time to develop and communicate the organization’s mission, but, he adds, “The changes that we are hoping will be available as a result of these new standards will not only affect the technical communities, but will have implications for the way in which companies function.

As published on April 9, 2015



Autodesk “wins” buildingSMART COBie challenge

One assumes that you could have heard a pin drop in the “Big 3” offices when the results of the buildingSMART COBie challenge were read out. Autodesk 1st, daylight second, and Bentley out-performs Graphisoft by over 2:1

“Autodesk Revit wins the buildingSMART alliance’s Design COBie Challenge. The Design COBie Challenge is an opportunity for software vendors to demonstrate the conformance and accuracy with the vendor-neutral interoperability format (COBie) that supports the exchange of building asset information.”

How could this be??

Well, although the official press-releases don’t mention it, the initial pilot project that the vendors were require to model was particularly difficult.  Apparently, given this was a mock project, many of the parameters were left blank by some participants, and actually marked for completion by the “end-user” as would be the case in a real-world scenario.

These were then interpreted by the buildingSMART judges as errors, and penalties applied. According to a source, all submissions made this type of error, however in the case of the Graphisoft submission, this error was replicated many times throughout the project file – thus accounting for the large penalty difference.

With that in mind, it would seem that the follow-up COBie Challenge for 2014 (which begins shortly) will be a much closer affair, as all participants will now take much “extra care” to avoid such errors.

Autodesk Revit wins the buildingSMART alliance’s Design COBie Challenge. The Design COBie Challenge is an opportunity for software vendors to demonstrate the conformance and accuracy with the vendor-neutral interoperability format (COBie) that supports the exchange of building asset information.

Challenge details:

  • The 1st test was for architectural design software at the early stages of the design process.
  • The 2nd test was with software that supports the delivery of a consolidated design model at the Construction Documents stage of design.
  • The 3rd test was with construction and commissioning software that imports data from Construction Documents stage COBie, updates that with construction data, and exports the Construction Handover Stage file.

The Results

The Autodesk Revit 2013 COBie Toolkit (plugin application) allowed the user to streamline the export and comply with the COBie xml table format (e.g. MS Excel) with almost zero errors. The user utilizing Autodesk Revit 2013 software is estimated to have to spend 9 minutes cleaning/fixing the COBie file for a facility of comparable size and complexity.

Company Product Result/Details
Autodesk Autodesk Revit 2013 9 minutes to correct
Bentley Systems AECOsim Building Designer (BETA) 3.6 hours to correct
GraphiSoft ArchiCAD 17 Beta 8 hours to correct


IFC4 officially released. The Evolution of BIM.


Congratulations to Dr Thomas Liebich and the team on the public release of IFC4!

IFC4 Officially Released

After over 6 years of development and over 1100 issues being resolved, on 12. March 2013 buildingSMART international has finally released the new generation of IFC schemas – IFC4. It will now be the basis of future work of establishing new open BIM enabled work flows by defining new IFC4 based model view definitions. The official IFC4 release includes both the IFC4 EXPRESS schema to support current STEP-based IFC exchanges, and the ifcXML4 XSD schema to support new simple ifcXML transactions.

Visit the full announcement at http://www.buildingsmart-tech.org/news/ifc4-officially-released 


A recent article regarding the significant improvements to the IFC4 schema was included in the Spring edition of JBIM (Journal of Building Information Modelling) by Tim Chipman is deputy leader of buildingSMART International’s Model Support Group.


IFC4: Evolving BIM By Tim Chipman

Tim Chipman is deputy leader of buildingSMART International’s Model Support Group and develops software at Constructivity.
JBIM (Journal of Building Information Modelling) is an official publication of the National BIM Standard (NBIMS) and the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) 

In recent years, the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standard for building information modelling (BIM) has seen widespread adoption, supported by approximately 150 registered software applications.

This article describes the next evolution across software applications. The goal of IFC has always been to describe how building information can be leveraged across applications within and across vertical industries, supporting the vast array of disciplines encountered in the building industry. To be useful across such a large ecosystem, such standards must capture necessary detail to describe how a building is to be built, along with the many non-physical aspects describing who is doing what, when, how and why.

Meanwhile, many downstream applications are only concerned with subsets of this information. Another aspect to address is the format of information, which must accommodate changing technology and diverse platforms, such as phones, tablets, desktops and servers.

For basic applications, XML provides ease of integration; compact formats such as STEP Physical Format (SPF) are more practical for representing buildings in detail; spread sheets such as Excel provide access to a wide range of users without custom software; and databases of various forms may support collaboration among concurrent users.

Meanwhile, as more applications adopt IFC, customers have asked for deeper integration to capture more detailed information across applications in a consistent way. To support this growing usage, IFC has evolved with initiatives on multiple fronts.

Data model: A number of enhancements have been introduced in IFC4, with a focus on system-wide improvements while maintaining backward compatibility.

Parametric design: While buildings are ultimately made of discrete components, during the design process it is often desirable to use higher-level representations reflecting the design intent, so that changes can be made in one place, where the composition and layout of components, can be automatically updated to reflect the change.

IFC4 introduces the concept of material profiles, where axis-based components, such as beams, pipes and ducts, can be described by paths and cross-sections of materials, along with offsets relative to the axis and end points. Similarly, a concept of material constituents has been introduced where components, such as doors and windows, can have various parts (for example, framing and glazing) designed by geometric aspects and corresponding materials. Material layers allow flat components, such as slabs and walls, to be described by material thicknesses and boundaries with offsets.

Geometry: IFC4 expands geometry to support more complex shapes as well as simplified geometry. Complex shapes may be exactly described using Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline (NURBS) curves and surfaces. Simplified shapes may be described using tessellated surfaces with compact lists of vertices and triangles, providing the closest mapping to GPUs and more efficient processing as may be suitable for mobile applications.

Libraries: IFC4 supports capturing templates of products, processes, resources and property sets. These files can be referenced by other IFC files that include instances of such templates.

Ports: Ports provide the capability for MEP elements to connect through pipes, ducts or wires. IFC4 extends the capability for defining ports at product templates and standardizes ports on objects according to product type. For example, a water heater may have ports for gas or electricity as input, cold water in and hot water out. This enables products from different manufacturers to be intelligently connected according to system type and connection geometry.

Processes: IFC4 expands the process model to support scheduling of tasks, procedures and events, with expanded detail as found in leading scheduling applications and 4D simulations. Process templates allow common processes to be captured in libraries and re-used.

Resources: IFC4 expands the resource model to track costs and environmental impacts of materials, labour, equipment and other project resources with expanded detail. Resource templates allow common resources to be captured in libraries and re-used.

Constraints: The constraint model has been formalized so that requirements may be directly validated on any object attribute, either directly or along a graph of objects and collections. For example, a requirement may indicate that the height of a space must exceed a certain length. Constraints may also be used to indicate mapping of data to external files, conflicts when multiple versions of a model are merged, formulas based on calculations from other attributes and tables of values that apply for parametric modelling.

Documentation: Published as ISO 16739, the documentation for IFC had to undergo rigorous adaptation to meet requirements for formatting and content. At the same time, documentation was expanded to provide real usage examples for hundreds of product types, while eliminating redundancy by organizing common concepts in a central place. Documentation is now multi-lingual, with translations in five languages as of this writing.

Definitions: IFC, along with hundreds of other engineering standards, is defined using the EXPRESS data definition language, where the rich semantics allow virtually any other schema representation to be derived. The IFC4 documentation now includes a simplified XSD-based representation for all data types, enabling XML to be used in a more compact form with better readability.

Diagrams: Instance diagrams are now included for all data types. Because building Journal of Building Information Modelling components in the real-world have a vast number of relationships (for example, how connected, where placed, when constructed, who is responsible and what changed). Relationships must also be captured in data model, where diagrams make it more clear how the various objects interact.

Examples: Sometimes it is easier for software developers to understand new concepts by seeing tangible examples rather than sifting through definitions. The IFC4 documentation now includes a comprehensive set of examples in various domains including: architectural; structural; mechanical, electrical and plumbing scheduling; and estimating.

Model views: While the IFC specification defines how to represent BIM electronically, it does not indicate what should be included for particular scenarios. The concept of a model view definition (MVD) has evolved to fulfil this role, describing exactly what information must be included for a handover, such as for a building maintenance request.

Contracts may be written to require information at a particular stage using the referenced model view, where submissions may be electronically validated and enforced.

mvdXML: In parallel with IFC4, the MVD approach has been formalized so that requirements may be defined in a way that is computer-interpretable, yet human-readable in resulting documentation, using a format called “mvdXML.” MVDs may also define mapping formats for translating information into general-purpose applications such as spread sheets. The electronic encoding of MVDs now also makes it possible for a new class of software applications to adapt data to conform to the MVD without prior knowledge.

Tools: buildingSMART International has provided a new tool called ifcDOC for authoring model view definitions and producing resulting schemas, documentation and diagrams. “is same tool is used for generating IFC documentation, the Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) specification and a growing population of MVDs.

To take advantage of new BIM capabilities and much-improved software interoperability, visit www.buildingsmart-tech.org to find the growing list of applications supporting IFC4.

The National BIM Standard and the National Institute of Building Sciences are pleased to announce the continuation of our relationship with Matrix Group Publishing in the production of the Journal of Building Information Modeling, an essential information source on business, standards and technical issues related to BIM. http://www.wbdg.org/references/jbim.php

RMIT SIAL to host OpenBIM event : Monday, 18th February 2013

SIAL is pleased to host an OpenBIM event on the evening of Monday, 18th February 2013.

Jonathan Mirtschin will present on OpenBIM workflows and the research/development that he has done in the past 3 years. This will include insights to project application of generative BIM workflows form Grasshopper to Revit and Tekla.

Jon will be joined by Dr Thomas Liebich, team leader of of the IFC Development for Building Smart International and also a director of AEC3 based in Germany.

Jon Mirtschin
Jon Mirtschin a structural engineer who completed a double degree in Structural Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Melbourne. He worked as a graduate at Aurecon on projects such as Eureka Tower, Melbourne Cricket Ground Redevelopment before moving to London. There he was introduced to Rhino3D which was successfully used on projects including the Infinity Bridge and Olympics Velodrome.

This work formed the basis of his company Geometry Gym specializing in Computational Geometry and BIM Software tools including Rhino to Revit IFC connector, Rhino3D Structural Analysis Plugin to convert structural models to Rhino.

Dr Thomas Liebich
Leader, IFC Development Team
Director, AEC3 GmbH
Dr Thomas Liebich graduated from Architecture from the Bauhaus, Weimar in 1994. Since 1999 he has lead the IFC development team (Model Support Group) of buildingSMART International. In 2001 he was instrumental in the development of ePlanCheck in Singapore, the world’s first automatic test system of the building permit. In 2006, Thomas formed AEC3 GmbH, completing several major projects including the first German BIM policy, and the first BIM report for the public sector in Germany.

Please rsvp to attend or for more details on the event to jonm@geometrygym.com
Registrations commence at 5:30 pm with presentations from 6pm.
Venue: Design Hub (Building 100, Level 1 Multipurpose Room). The Design Hub is at the corner of Swanston & Victoria Street.

Another Evening with IFC: The Shape of Things to Come

Geometry, Collaboration, & OpenBIM Model Exchange


With the success of our first IFC Evening Event, Cadimage is holding a follow-up presentation featuring a “sneak peak” of IFC4 and its extended geometrical capabilities. Special guest speaker Jon Mirtschin, blogger, engineer and software developer will present his observations, research and tools which utilise the IFC standard for BIM and geometry exchange.

Jon will also demonstrate some of the improvements in the new revision IFC4 (pre-ratification) and will open up discussion on is can be done to motivate software vendors to embrace and utilize this technology, opening up more collaborative and powerful workflows. The presentation will also demonstrate some exchange improvements Jon has developed with BIM software including Revit, Archicad, Tekla and Solibri and some of the projects that have benefited from it.

IFC Melbourne Event: Wednesday February 20th, 2013
05:30 PM – 06:00 PM  Arrival and Registration
06:00 PM – 06:15 PM  Welcome and introduction: Matt Rumbelow, Cadimage
06:15 PM – 06:30 PM  Guest presentation: Recent Arup BIM Projects
06:30 PM – 07:30 PM  Guest presentation: Jon Mirtschin, Geometry Gym
07:30 PM – 08:00 PM  Guest presentation: Matt Rumbelow, Cadimage

CPD Points: Registered attendees will receive 2 CPD points as accredited by the Australian Institute of Architects Continuing Professional Development Program.

Where: Where: Arup Melbourne (street access closed after 6pm) Level 5, 215 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
RSVP:  Friday, November 15th, 2013
Register : Click here to register online
Ph: 1800 172 893  
Web:  www.cadimagegroup.com