Open BIM

What is open BIM?

Building information modeling (BIM) is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. The resulting building information models support decision-making about a facility from earliest conceptual stages, through design and construction, and its operational life and eventual demolition. This process is supported by various tools and technologies. Building information models are often files but not always in proprietary formats and contain proprietary data that can be extracted, exchanged, or networked to support decision-making regarding a built asset. This information is shared either through open BIM or closed BIM format. So, what is open BIM and why is it important, let’s understand.

Open BIM is a format that allows each and every project member to access the information model without hampering the native design. It is a universal approach to collaborate with design, realize, and operate buildings based on open standards like IFC, BCF, and others.

To have a better understanding, let’s take a concrete example. When we write a document and want to share it with someone, we usually send it in PDF format. The PDF format allows to see the document, add comment and suggestions but keep the original text or visuals unchanged. However, it is not the same as when we share that document in a word format. It is easy to change the original text in that way. Same is with BIM. Here we create a model and then we send it to all project members. If we share it in native file format chances are that anyone can make changes in the original model. But, when the model is shared in open BIM format then the data of it is viewable, measurable, and usable, and the model content is protected. The original file cannot be altered by any other member. Open BIM supports transparent, open workflow, allowing project members to participate in it regardless of the software tools they use. It is an approach — a philosophy that empowers all industry stakeholders to participate with meaningful, bi-directional workflows, resulting in better buildings.

The core values of open BIM

According to buildingSMART, an international organization leading the digital transformation in the construction industry, open BIM is based on 6 core values:

  • Interoperability is key to the digital transformation in the built asset industry.
  • Open and neutral standards should be developed to facilitate interoperability.
  • Reliable data exchanges depend on independent quality benchmarks.
  • Collaboration workflows should not be limited by proprietary processes or data formats.
  • Flexibility of choice of technology creates more value for all stakeholders.
  • Sustainability is safeguarded by long-term interoperable data standards.

The benefits of open BIM

  • One of the biggest benefits of open BIM is that it supports a transparent, open workflow and allows project members to participate regardless of the software tools they use.
  • Open BIM creates a common language for widely referenced processes, allowing industry and government to procure projects with transparent commercial engagement, comparable service evaluation, and assured data quality.
  • Open BIM provides access to BIM data created during design for the whole life cycle of the built asset.
  • Small and large software vendors can participate and compete with their independent systems.
  • Open BIM energizes the online product supply side with more exact user demand searches and delivers the product data directly into the BIM.
  • Open BIM facilitates a common data environment that provides opportunities for users to develop new workflows, software applications, and technology automation.
  • Project members can choose to work in the best of breed solutions according to their disciplines and solutions.
  • Open BIM enables an accessible digital twin which provides the core foundation to a long-term data strategy for built assets. This provides better sustainability for projects and for more efficient management of the built environment.