buildingSMART alliance Building Automation Modeling information exchange (BAMie) Project

Building Automation Modeling information exchange (BAMie)


Billy Byrum
(703) 200-0605


As implemented today, the concept and benefit of Building Information Modeling (BIM) for the typical low-voltage building systems contractor is difficult to absorb. To many, BIM is simply a movement towards 3-D design that requires their system equipment and devices to be placed in a common model for coordination and visualization purposes. BIM offers a promise of reducing design time and cost while helping to avoid costly coordination mistakes and allowing for electronic deliverables for project closeout. But this does not directly translate into any tangible action that can be taken in order to achieve return on investment (ROI) from implementing BIM practices. At best, systems contractors can manage to extract more useful parts schedules from BIM software if they invest the requisite capital in software, training and content creation, but this in itself does not produce any ROI. At worst, BIM creates a new category of project deliverables and liabilities that require more effort to comply with than any measurable ROI can justify.

One example of how BIM can be leveraged to improve efficiency and reduce cost is in the project estimation and design initialization phases. From the perspective of a building systems contractor, the estimating process typically requires a deep dive into project design documents and specifications in order to form a bill-of-materials and labor schedule necessary to produce a proposal. This estimating process may utilize any combination of home-made spreadsheets, PDF markups and/or commercial software to achieve this. Regardless of the tools used in this process, it is critical that estimators perform their due diligence in order to ensure the project is bid properly and the system will function as required. If the project is awarded, the ability to roll the estimation data into the design workflow could potentially result in an immediate 30% design initialization with minimal duplication of effort.

A second example of the improved efficiency in a BIM workflow is in the production of the design submittal documentation. Typically, a system submittal will consist of shop drawings and a submittal book that contains schedules, calculations and product data. In addition to producing a 30% design directly from the estimating process, the time consuming process of creating, marking-up and maintaining submittal books could be replaced completely.

What is needed for systems contractors to begin leveraging the benefits of BIM in this manner is a data model that represents building systems from their perspective. With this data model, the workflow automation for which BIM is intended to promote is possible. By standardizing this model as a formal BIM Model View Definition (MVD), it can be exchanged with other project participants as required during the design phases in addition to becoming a project deliverable itself.


BAMie is a Control and Building Automation systems domain specific MVD that will provide the representational power required to define and validate compliance with system design criteria, ensure construction compliance and enable data export into other MVD's such as COBie for delivery of information needed by facility managers. In addition to these end-user focused modeling elements, commonly known as "deliverables", BAMie will provide levels of detail that enable workflow automation of the entire system life-cycle. This workflow automation - from early stages of proposal, layout and shop drawing creation to mobilization, installation, red-lines and as-built documentation - will empower producers of Building Automation systems BIM data to benefit from its creation through improved efficiency and avoided costs.

In order to achieve this level of modeling detail, BAMie will rely on the recently released Industry Foundation Classes version 4 (IFC4). Unlike most current BIM models, BAMie will necessarily include highly detailed and nested representations of equipment, components and field devices with type and instance based properties and settings. Individual connections between system elements must be modeled to include their interconnectivity with other elements and pathways required to achieve system functionality and validate system calculations.


All "ie" projects begin with a requirements analysis focusing on the essential elements needed to create a performance-based specification for the delivery of structured building information. This analysis, completed in 2010 by the Engineer Research and Development Center and Constructivity focused specifically the organization of control and automation systems, and the identification of the connections bewteen these systems and the controlled system.

The draft MVD was internally released in December 2011, but since the specification relies on compliance with IFC 2.4 the specification was not publically released. The scope of this MVD includes:

  • information required during the life cycle phases of buildings:
    • manufacturer product definitions;
    • coordinated design;
    • system deployment and addressing;
    • process configuration and programming;
    • control and monitoring;
  • information required by the various disciplines involved within the life cycle phases:
    • architecture;
    • building service;
    • facility management;
    • project management;
  • information about specific model objects including:
    • project structure;
    • physical components;
    • systems;
    • processes;
    • controls;
    • actors;
    • context definition.

March 2013

  • Draft MVD may be found here.

Additional Resources


Creative Commons License
Building Automation Modeling information exchange by buildingSMART alliance is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

References to this work should be in the form of: Bogen, Chris (2012) "Building Automation Modeling information exchange (BAMie)," buildingSMART alliance, National Institute of building Sciences, Washington, DC. (cited DD-MMM-YYYY).

Back to Information Exchange Projects

Innovative Solutions for the Built Environment

Established by the United States Congress, the Institute’s mission is to unite the entire building community in advancing building science and technology.

Address 1090 Vermont Avenue, NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20005-4950

© 2020 National Institute of Building Sciences. All rights reserved.

Contact Us:
Phone: (202) 289-7800
Fax: (202) 289-1092

Follow us on: