buildingSMART alliance Water System information exchange (WSie) Project

Water System information exchange (WSie)


Bill East
(217) 373-6710


The Engineer Research and Development Center, working with subject matter experts and software companies, lead the development of a domain-independent facility control framework enabling improved management and control of facilities and the resources that they consume. This framework includes:

  1. the definition of the expected resources required
  2. components, assemblies and systems using these required resources
  3. a feedback loop which compares plan resources to actual resource use


The objective of the WSie project is to provide an open-standard format for the components, assemblies, and systems that distribute and remove water within a facility.


Date Milestone
April 2010 Project began at ERDC
February 2011 Domain modeling requirements identified
June 2013 Publication of Model View Definition
June 2013 Demonstration MVD Application
June 2013 Release of Common Model Examples
September 2013 Release of on-line documentation
September 2013 Submission of NBIMS-US V3 Ballot


All "ie" projects begin with a requirements analysis focusing on the essential elements needed to create a performance-based specification for the delivery of shared, structured building information. This analysis identified several model artifacts that require specific support. These three critical components are:

  • Piping components—connections between managed components
  • Control components—controlling flow rates (typically on/off)
  • Mixing/Transformation components—to potable, non-potable, and/or waste water

The requirements for WSie indicate the need to describe the geometric location and properties of each of the three water system elements listed above. As such WSie is an extension of the standard IFC Coordination Model View Definition. Extensions to this standard Model View ensure that product properties needed for the management of water systems are included.


The application of WSie requires that modelers consider how information currently split between multiple models is to be merged into a single model describing this complete electrical system. One approach to merge multiple models that may contain the same components was proposed by the buildingSMART alliance and used as part of the Jan 2013 bSa Challenge. This merging algorithm may be found here.

At a minimum, common naming and classification of system components will likely be needed. If WSie is to be used to support the analysis of water use then components that transform or mix different types of water will need to be more explicitly defined that is currently done in architectural models. For example, a sink will need to modeled in WSie with to have a potable hot-water connection, a potable cold-water connection and a waste-water connection. Some additional properties supporting analysis of water use will also need to be exported from plumbing design software products.

Owners and modelers will also need to be explicit about those components that should be considered to be part of the water system and those components that are considered to be consumers. The connections between such devices should, in the short term, identify specific ports on the water-using components that correspond to connections with water system piping and associated shut-off valves.

Although WSie is new and most Building Information Modeling software does not claim to have extensive IFC 2X3 export support for MEP systems the results released in 2013 indicated that more than two-thirds of the included concepts were successfully exported to IFC. As the requirement to deliver shared, structured information about electrical systems becomes established by building owners and managers it is expected that additional work on WSie will improve the results obtained in 2013.

Additional Resources


Creative Commons License
Building Programming 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: East, E. William (2013) "Water System information exchange (WSie)," buildingSMART alliance, National Institute of building Sciences, Washington, DC. (cited DD-MMM-YYYY).

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