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    10 BIM terms an
    architect should know

    arrow Back to blog 22nd December 2016

    But, as with all developments and technology, it inevitably comes with a wealth of terminology. That’s why we’ve put together this piece focusing on the key BIM terms you’ll need to know when introducing BIM into your architectural processes:

    4D, 5D and 6D

    You’ll already be more than familiar with 2D CAD and 3D CAD. Well, now three more extra dimensions will be added to various projects. They refer directly to the linking of the BIM model itself with time, cost and schedule-related information.

    BEP (BIM execution plan)

    PAS 1192-2 proposes that a BIM Execution Plan be used in order to manage the delivery of a project, and that it be split into ‘pre-contract’ and ‘post-contract’ BEPs. The former will be comparable to ‘contractor’s proposals’ and the latter will set out the contracted delivery details.

    CIC BIM protocol

    This is a supplementary legal agreement created to be used by both construction and contractor clients, which will be incorporated into professional services appointments and construction contracts. It is classed as an amendment to standard terms, and will create additional rights and obligations for both the employer and the contracted party. The aim is to facilitate collaborative working whilst maintaining intellectual property ownership and liability differentiation.

    Common Data Environment (CDE)

    Owned and operated by the originator, the CDE is a form of information repository that can be accessed by all stakeholders in a project. Cloud storage is already a popular method for providing the CDE, though a project Ethernet could also work effectively. The requirements for a CDE are defined as part of PAS 1192-2.

    COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange)

    This is a form of data schema delivered in the form of a data spreadsheet. It is set out to contain a ‘subset’ of the information in the building model, though will not include the graphical data. Information can be added to the project from a number of other sources related to brief, design, operation, construction, refurbishment or demolition, as well as CAD sources. BS 1192-4 documents the best practise for the Government’s Level-2 mandated requirements.

    Data Drop

    This is a key part information delivery stage, and is referred to as part of the BIM Industry Working Group’s Strategy Paper for the Government Construction Client Group and the CIC BIM Protocol. Documented in PAS 1192-2, they match common project stages from the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, but will be made electronically. These are a COBie standard, as part of the government’s Level 2 compliance.

    Data Exchange Specification

    This is simply a specification for electronic file formats used for exchanging digital data between the BIM software applications. IFC and COBie, for instance. Again, information exchange activities are outlined in PAS 1192-2.

    Federated model

    In basic terms, this is an amalgamation of several different Building Information Models into one. It could also be created by importing one model into another through collaborative working. An example of this would be an architect adding a model from a structural engineer into their own spatial design.

    GSL (Government Soft Landings)

    This is the term used for a government-initiated handover protocol designed to help champion better outcomes for any built assets created during the stages of design and construction. The aim of the GSL is to help cut both capital and running costs, as well as helping to improve both delivery and operations of the relevant assets. A BIM can help assist this process, through being used both as a data management tool and in helping to carry out a Post Occupancy Evaluation.

    IFC (Industry Foundation Class)

    This is an object-based format that enables different software packages to exchange information. IFC is an official standard under BS ISO 16739, and can contain geometric – as well as other – data.


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