buildingSMART alliance Specifiers' Properties Information Exchange (SPie) Presentation

SPie - Cutting Out the Cut Sheet

DECEMBER 6, 2010
by Nicholas Nisbet MA (Cantab) DipArch (UNL) - AEC3


It won't be long until product specification sheets are a thing of the past. A new, easier way to select products, the Specifiers' Properties information exchange (SPie), is helping manufacturers to deliver product information to specifiers and designers in an easy-to-compare, digital format. "Establishing a consistent definition and use of materials, products, equipment and assemblies is vital to the exchange of building information," said Nicholas Nisbet, Director of AEC3 UK Ltd., who is assisting NIBS and industry trade associations to implement the SPie standard. "We're working with trade associations to define the minimum properties for their members' products so that designers and specifiers can compare product information directly against their requirements."

SPie is attractive as it allows the specification and the manufacturing communities to come together through their professional trade associations to create a common standard for specifying, selecting and delivering products with their product data.

A special presentation at Ecobuild in Washington, DC on December 6th 2010 highlighted the original ideas behind SPie and provided an update of recent progresses (PDF).


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP), and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) are spearheading the SPie project. Manufacturers and manufacturing associations, including the National Electrical Manufacturing Association (NEMA), the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI), the Woodwork Institute (WI), the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) and the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) are active participants.


Bill East of the USACE presented (PDF) the needs of the client, the owner and the operator for accurate, complete, accessible and manageable product data.


The first use case is to bring together the process of specification of products, with those that are used to select them. This is a consensus process: SPie has published its project management plan (PDF) — the recipe — for how the industry can organize itself to overcome the biggest barrier to systematic working — one work section at a time.


During the event three associations showed how their products can be described using the SPie process. The demonstrations showed how adopting the SPie standard can improve the specification/selection process as well as other downstream processes. The following trade associations reported on progress on implementing the project management plan for their members:

  • AWCI (PDF) showed how the outcome from the Wall-E project will help manage the selection of wall solutions.
  • WI (PDF) showed how their standard catalogue can help manage the specification of cabinetry. COBie2 can be used to manage the submittals.
  • NEMA (PDF) showed how their IDEA database is being extended to deliver SPie data alongside other formats used for electronic trading. This offers the imminent prospect of hundreds of thousands of electrical products being available to designers and engineers, specifiers and selectors.


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