Skip to main content
A construction site
The Future of the National BIM Standard – United States
Posted By Dr. Carrie Sturts Dossick and Dr. John Messner

The challenge that has been driving the National BIM Standard-United States® (NBIM-US™) effort since its inception is the industry’s challenges around information management in a fragmented networked industry. Emerging database technology such as BIM enable designers, contractor, and owners to create and exchange information in unprecedented ways. However, to implement these technologies in practice the construction industry needs to be able to specify the data structure and content as well as establish coordination processes and practices across the industry network. This is where the standard plays a role – to create standard data requirement specifications and structures for BIM uses and information exchanges.

BIM has been in the U.S. building construction market for about 20 years and more heavily in use for 10 years. At this point, the challenge is a proliferation of standards and requirements throughout the industry. Many owners, federal, state, and private, have developed their own BIM standards documents with variations between them. One example of this is the Level of Development standards. In her study published in 2016, Marzia Bolpagni identified 28 different LOD standards internationally. Even within the current NBIMS-US, we have incorporated or referenced three of these 28 standards. The challenge for the next version of the NBIMS-US is to reconcile variations across standards and create a unified core standard for our industry. Consequently, we seek to develop a standard:

  1. To coordinate different BIM practices to make it more efficient to implement on projects
  2. To make it easier for the AEC industry to implement BIM
  3. To ensure that owners and team members receive the information needed for better facility performance
  4. To facilitate the development of comprehensive data for operating and maintaining facilities
  5. To coordinate with international standards

The NIBS BIM Council is one of several significant BIM standardization efforts underway. Going forward, we will be in close coordination with and in some cases seeking partnership with:

  • BuildingSMART International
  • BIMForum
  • UK British Standards Organizations
  • International Standards Organization (ISO)
  • ASHRAE
  • AIA
  • Consensus Docs

The current NBIMS-US Version 3 includes several core items that people use, including the information exchange standards such as COBie (Construction to Operations Building information exchange) and Spatial Program Validation, the BIM Project Execution Planning Guide and Templates, the definitions of BIM uses, and the BIM contracting framework. Since its publication in 2015, however, many have had concerns about the challenges of referencing this content directly within a contract. Also, we recognize that as it is today, NBIMS-US Version 3 is not comprehensive, but a collection of useful material that can be individually implemented and referenced.

NBIMS-US Next Steps

The goal for the next iterations of the NBIMS-US is to create a collection of standards and guidelines that support the implementation of building information modeling in planning, design, construction, and operations of buildings and infrastructure in the U.S. and beyond. To this end, the NIBS BIM Council stood up the NBIMS-US Planning Committee to oversee the content and development of NBIMS-US version 4 and beyond. This committee established focus areas which include:

  • Develop and manage content within NIBS BIM Council Workgroups
  • Convert the NBIMS-US to online delivery (currently pdf)
  • Create a clear distinction between standards and guidelines
  • Create the ability to reference individual sections in contracts
  • Update modules independently and more frequently

As suggested by these guiding principles, the future design of NBIMS-US is as a library of standards and guidelines managed and published as modules. Workgroups will manage and develop modules that correspond to contractable standards as well as guidelines for use in practice. The process begins with the Planning Committee (the PLC). They determine that specific content is a priority and establish a scope description to establish a workgroup or add a project to an existing workgroup. Once the workgroup is formed, this workgroup will develop, approve and submit the candidate module to the PLC for approval. Once approved by the PLC, the candidate module goes to the NBIMS-US Project Committee for a final consensus vote.

While we anticipate standing up more workgroups as the PLC defines other modules, the initial workgroups for NBIMS-US v4 include: Core BIM Requirements, BIM Execution Planning, BIM Uses, and COBie. The descriptions of these working groups can be found on our website.

About the NIBS BIM Council

NBIMS-US is a product of the Building Information Management (BIM) Council within the National Institute of Building Sciences. The BIM Council (previously the buildingSMART alliance) is one of eight NIBS councils with the mission to lead the development and deployment of broadly adopted national information management standards and processes. To date, the three main products include the United States National CAD Standard® (NCS), the National BIM Standard-United States® (NBIM-US™), and the National BIM Guide for Owners.

Councils