BIM For Beginners - What Do All The Acronyms Mean?


The idea of BIM is that all data on a project is exchanged electronically in a format which will allow the final documentation to be prepared as the project progresses without extensive rework.

Everything associated with BIM is full of acronyms, and strange titles and you can't begin to understand any of it until they are translated.

Every sector of the construction process has it's own institute, every trade has it's own trade association and many other organisations exist as well - most of which are known by their own acronyms.

Every paper I have found is written in techno speak using 4 syllable words where 1 syllable will do. In trying to make a readable guide to through the jungle of acronyms I have simplified, possibly beyond the point of true accuracy and if so I apologise.

So here is my guide.

The Concepts and Their Acronyms

AEC - Architecture Engineering and Construction industry - a term adopted by software vendors primarily.

CAD - Computer Aided Design.

ERP - Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems - computer systems that share all management information across an organisation.

IFC  - Industry Foundation Classes – The data models that allows exchange of between different proprietary software applications so multiple programs can work on the same data because they all understand the data – the opposite of proprietary data formats.

BIM - Building Information Modelling - construction using modelling not drawings. Building should be done by sharing models not drawings.

3D BIM – the base level of BIM - 3D visualisations and walkthroughs, clash detection and coordination.
4D BIM – this is 3D plus time.
5D BIM – this is 4D plus cost.
nD BIM - 5D BIM plus accessibility and sustainability.
iBIM - fully integrated BIM where all aspects of the project are included in the BIM model.
Open BIM – BIM based on open standards.

BIM Levels

Level 1 - Unmanaged CAD.

Level 2 - Managed CAD in 2 or 3D format using BS 1192:2007 (see below) with a collaboration tool Commercial data managed by standalone finance and cost management packages with no integration. All government departments should achieve this in 2012.

Level 3 - Managed 3D environment held in separate discipline “BIM” tools with attached data. Commercial data managed by an ERP. Integration on the basis of proprietary interfaces or bespoke middleware could be regarded as pBIM (proprietary BIM). The approach may utilise 4D Programme data and 5D cost elements.

Level 4 - Fully open process and data integration enabled by IFC.  Managed by a collaborative model server.  Could be regarded as iBIM.

Soft Landing Framework - The Soft Landings Framework - also known as FM soft landings. It provides the structure for project teams to stay involved after practical completion, hand-holding the client during the first months of operation to fine-tune and de-bug systems and ensure the occupiers understand how to control and best use their new work environment. The Soft Landings process is designed to extend up to three years post-completion.

The Standards and Their Acronyms

BS 1192:2007  -The Standard collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information. - It establishes the way information is distributed together with a naming policy.

COBie -  Construction Operations Building Information Exchange - the standards which the data exchanged must comply with to allow final documentation without extensive reworking. In a typical construction project the information about the building is contained in drawings, bills of quantities and specifications. A number of construction professionals normally collaborate to put this documentation together. The documentation should then be updated through the construction phase and handed to the client. In reality, this does not always happen, or when it does, the documentation is supplied in a format such as PDF or paper that makes it very difficult for the client to use. The idea behind COBie is that the key information is all pulled into one format and shared between the construction team at defined stages in a project.

COBie - UK -2012 -  The UK version of CoBIe.

UNiclass - Unified classification for the construction industry - organises library materials and structuring of product literature and project information.

CAWS - Common arrangement of work sections – the arrangement for specifications and bills of quantities for building projects. It consists of a set of detailed work section definitions, all within a classification framework of groups and sub-groups. The CAWS classification down to the level of work section titles forms one of the 15 tables of the Uniclass classification scheme. CAWS includes about 360 work sections.

The Players and Their Acronyms

Cabinet Office BIM Task Group  - The Building Information Modelling (BIM) Task Group – help deliver the objectives of the Government Construction Strategy and the requirement to strengthen the public sector’s capability in BIM implementation The group has a series of working parties. These are:

Government Soft Landings - Advising on FM soft landings.
Training and Education - Advising on training for BIM.
Legal, Contracts and Insurance Group - Advising on documentation.
COBie data set requirements - Advising on COBie.
Plan of Works - Getting the institutes to develop plans.
BIM Technologies Alliance - a working group for the technologies.
UK Contractors Group - working with the contractors.

BIS - The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - the government department responsible for the  government’s BIM policy - it is headed at the moment by Vince Cable with this imitative coming under the portfolio of Mark Prisk who has appointed Paul Morrell (formerly of Davis Langdon) to be the chief adviser. BIS replaced BERR which was launched in 2007 as the new name for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The DTI had been rebranded before, in 2005, to become the Department for Productivity, Energy and Industry (DPEI). Seven days later, ministers reverted to the name DTI following criticism that it would be referred to as 'dippy'.

RIBA - Royal Institute of British Architects - lead organisation for Architect organisations.

RICS - Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors - lead organisation for Surveyor organisations.

UKCG - UK Contractors Group - trade association of UK Contractors.

ICE - Institution of Civil Engineers - lead organisation for civil engineering organisations.

CIBSE - Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers - the association for individuals in building services organisations confer initials on members FCIBSE and MCIBSE.

CIAT - The Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists - the association for individuals in architecture organisations- confer initials on members FCIAT and MCIAT.

CIOB - The Chartered Institute of Building - the association for individuals in building - confer initials on members FCIOB and MCIOB.

NIEP - The National Improvement and Efficiency Partnership for the Built Environment - the national body that aims to shape the future of intelligent local government asset management, and procurement for building and highways projects across the UK.

RIEP - Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships - work with NIEP to deliver the NIEP objectives.

CPIC - Construction Project Information Committee - a committee who are responsible for providing best practice guidance on the content, form and preparation of construction production information, and making sure this best practice is disseminated throughout the UK construction industry.

CIRIA - Construction Industry Research and information Association - provides  business improvement services and research activities CIRIA is an independent member based  association.

CBI Construction Group - The CBI were once known as the Confederation of British Industry - the Construction Group sponsors the Considerate Constructors Scheme - membership is drawn from trading organisations many of whom are members of UKCG.

IHS - Are an international commercial company providing information services.

NBS - National Building Specification - produce the national standard specification system for the UK. products cover building construction, engineering services and landscape design. They also produce a range of information products, including The Construction Information Service, a joint venture with IHS. They publish of the Building Regulations Approved Documents They are part of RIBA Enterprises Ltd, which is wholly owned by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). They also publish Uniclass (see above)

Constructing Excellence -- Is a limited company whose aim is to drive change in construction. In the mid-nineties it became obvious that construction had to change. In response to Sir Michael Latham's 1994 report 'Constructing the Team' and Sir John Egan's 1998 report 'Rethinking Construction' a number of cross industry bodies were formed which then merged as Constructing Excellence in 2003.

CIC- Construction Industry Council - The forum for the professional bodies, research organisations and specialist business associations in the construction industry.

BSI - buildingSMART International - an international non for profit organisation supporting open BIM through the life cycle.

BSI – British Standards Institution – the UK organisation that provide standards.

Where Are We Now?

In May 2011 Paul Morrell called for BIM adoption on UK government construction projects of £5million and over. Morrell also told construction professionals to adopt BIM or be "Betamaxed out".

In June 2011 the UK government published its BIM strategy, announcing its intention to require collaborative 3D BIM (with all project and asset information, documentation and data being

electronic) on its projects by 2016. Compliance will require building data to be COBie format,

The second National BIM Report was published in February 2012 showed that almost a third (31%) of construction professionals were using BIM on at least some projects – up from 13% in 2011.

In January 2012 Constructing Excellence received funding to help roll out BIM to the industry and supply chain.