buildingSMART alliance Specifiers' Properties Information Exchange (SPie) Project

Specifiers' Properties information exchange (SPie)


Bill East
(217) 373-6710


Despite staggering advances in computing technology in the last thirty years, the selection of building material, products, and equipment has remained virtually unchanged. Members of the buildingSMART alliance have undertaken a project that promises to forever change the way that building materials, products, and equipment are designed, discovered, specified, purchased, delivered, installed, and operated.


The objective of the SPie project is to create set of product templates that can be used by manufacturers to export product data into an open-standard format consumed by designers, specifiers, builders, operators, and owners. This project extends manufacturers' efforts in Building Information Modeling, e-marketplaces, and standard identification tagging and delivers value through the entire supply chain.

To learn more, please view the SPie Overview movie.

Open-Standard Product Templates

Search the product template library on the productguide™. Or use the links below to browse highlighted objects for:

Current Status

The project team is now seeking manufactures of manufactured products that are individually identified on design drawings to participate in this project by implementing their product libraries using these templates developed to date.

Project History

The following history is provided to document the efforts that have gone into the SPie project to date.


This project began in late 2007 with members of the Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP) and Construction Specification Institute (CSI) who developed product type templates from outline specifications. Demonstrations of these templates, published in the first Whole Building Design Guide productguide™, showed the technical feasibility of using open standard product data provided in IFC, ifcXML, and COBie data formats.

A critical set of information related to open standards for structured product information is to define the workflow for the delivery of this information during the planning design, construction, and operations of a facility. The Life-Cycle information exchange (LCie) project has defined that workflow. LCie identifies the points at which equipment information is both produced and consumed. The data specification for what portion of the COBie (or equivalent IFC file) is required at any given stage in that workflow is precisely defined.


The initial conception of the SPie project was to reach out to product manufacturers and their associations directly.  The draft project management plan from 2010 reflects this approach. While some limited success was achieved in 2010, contacts with manufacturer associations did not yield the expected groundswell of interest in creating a specification for the open exchange of structured product data. Therefore the team determined another direction was needed.

Also in 2010 the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) worked with AEC3 UK to develop a tool to automatically export the entire set of building product data from IFC into a standard set of files that include IFC, ifcXML, COBie, a property set report, and a product schedule report. This set of 1,200 generic templates is the basis for the current version of the productguide™.


Concurrent with development of the 1,200 product templates, the SPie team received requests from additional groups to include property sets related to sustainability and operations with specifications properties. The timing of these parallel efforts in the fall of 2011 has provided an important opportunity to collate the requirements of multiple communities into the original scope to provide a richer set of building information and reduce the number of times manufacturers will be engaged to automate the production of their product templates.

The SPie team's first round of sustainability properties was collated by two Chicago architecture firms, Kristine Fallon and Associates and Primera Architects for a subset of the overall 1,200 product templates. CSI's National Technical Committee is currently reviewing this subset of list. This initial list and product templates may be found here: initial product list

In a parallel action the NIBS' Facility Maintenance and Operations Committee (FMOC) distributed a series of surveys to identify properties of interest to facility operators. A property that may only be of interest to a facility operator might be "fan belt size". An example property that may be of interest for sustainability and operability when looking at a refrigerator is "pounds of refrigerant." Survey forms used to collect information about these products are listed below:

The combination of updated SPie templates, sustainability properties, and operators properties were evaluated and collated by volunteer members of the Construction Specification Institute. This review resulted in a total of 55 consensus product property templates. For 37 of those 55 products illustrative geometry and geometry software implementation instructions were provided. These templates were made public on 08-Dec-2011 as productguide™ templates. The reader can review an example of the version 2.0 templates by clicking thru to the productguide™ to review the templates for centrifugal air foil fans. In addition to the standard productguide™ template files version 2.0 submissions include several additional documents including: a record of the team consensus process, geometry implementation agreement, 3D PDF file.

A demonstration of the use of one of the commercial partners in this effort, Vectorworks, has prepared a video demonstration about how the illustrative geometries were created for the templates released in 2011.


In 2011 and into 2012 CSI was engaged in a national project to ask its membership to review the complete set of 1,200 productguide™ 2011 templates. A video describing the simple review process can be found here. Due to lack of response from CSI Chapters, this iteration of SPie was cancelled in the summer of 2012. Other efforts, such as those to consider "Operators Properties" also were not successful in 2012 due to lack of response to a survey provided to members of the NIBS Facility Management and Operations Committee. The conclusions reached by the summer of 2012 were that the size and complexity of the problem did not facilitate industrial and practitioner engagement.


For SPie results to be useful they must meet two essential criteria. First, SPie must include the high-value objects that would typically be included in a building information model. Second, SPie content must be authoritative. The 2013 iteration of the SPie project used as its authority two sets of information. The first is the Unified Facility Guide Specifications the second is the COBie Guide. Together these two sources provided the basis for the publication of proposed minimum specifications for BIM object properties needed to support both the construction specifications and handover requirements. The report, published in March 2013, may be found here.

SPie Workshop Proceedings

Additional Resources


Creative Commons License
Specifiers Properties information exchange and associated building product templates by the buildingSMART alliance are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

References to this work should be in the form of: East, E. William, Kalin, Mark (2012) "Specifiers' Properties Information Exchange (SPie)," buildingSMART alliance, National Institute of Building Sciences, Washington, DC. (cited DD-MMM-YYYY).

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