Workshop brings technologists together

Alexandria, Va. (May 13, 2008) – The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) recently teamed up with the buildingSMARTalliance™, buildingSMARTNorway and the International Code Council (ICC) to present the first-ever IFD Library/IDM/IFC Workshop in the United States, which took place April 6-8, 2008, just outside of Washington, D.C.

The workshop provided a comprehensive overview of buildingSMART core technologies:

  • Industry Foundation Class (IFC)
  • International Framework for Dictionaries Library (IFD Library)
  • Information Delivery Manual/Model View Definition (IDM/MVD)

The conference drew nearly 50 participants, including representatives of government agencies and codes and standards organizations, as well as application developers, standards developers, information technologists and information publishers.

"The sponsor organizations are committed to promoting integrated technology that facilitates the open exchange of building information," said buildingSMARTalliance Executive Director Deke Smith. "This meeting brought together technologists and practitioners working to create standards that will make it easier to share object-oriented information across different applications, an essential step to supporting the widespread use of Building Information Modeling."

Both U.S. and international experts addressed buildingSMART-related topics and the development and implementation of the latest open standard-based technologies for the AEC industry. CSI Technical Director Roger Grant, the workshop's moderator, described the event as an "opportunity to both advance development and share knowledge with potential implementers."

During the workshop the IFD Library was presented in depth and demonstrated live for the first time in the United States.

The IFD Library for buildingSMART will be an open, shared, international terminology library supporting object-oriented information exchange. It is being developed under the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) buildingSMART banner. CSI is developing a Terminology Library and Dictionary for North America as part of this initiative, thanks in part to a grant from the National Center for Energy Management and Building Technology.

IFD Library provides much needed flexibility for an IFC-based Building Information Model (BIM) allowing for the link between the model and various databases with project and product specific data. IFD Library opens up for a model enrichment that will allow for advanced analysis, simulation and design checks at a very early phase. It also provides:

  • A real opportunity to generate an IFC-BIM for operational and maintenance purposes with storage of product specific data
  • A feasible method of linking existing knowledge systems to an IFC-BIM
  • Multilingual and translation capabilities to the information in an IFC-BIM

Recent developments in the processes for defining and structuring exchanges – IDM/MVD – represented another principal focus of the workshop. Leaders in these areas of development from Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States addressed their latest work and discussed ongoing efforts. Structured exchanges allow computer applications to share information – e.g. structural steel design or energy analysis – accurately and openly to achieve interoperability. This improves the efficiency of BIM systems.

To illustrate the technologies in action and the benefits of implementation, a wide range of projects currently underway were presented and discussed at the workshop. To see a complete list of the projects and to request more information on the presentations, visit www.csinet.org/IFD.

The workshop concluded with a discussion of opportunities and challenges associated with changing AEC industry practices and using improved technology and open standards to achieve much needed efficiencies. Some of the key items identified for further action were:

  • Building on interest in BIM to expand communications to the industry and attract support for projects and implementations of standards
  • Leveraging and optimizing work by buildingSMART chapters and standards development in North America and Europe
  • Expanding the knowledge base on the core buildingSMART technologies and their application
  • Using the benefits of model based information to support the need for improved sustainability of the built environment.

"The workshop was one of the most impressive in recent memory," according to workshop participant David Hammond, senior program manager with the U.S. Coast Guard. "It provided me with a new understanding of the interrelationships between IFC, IFD, IDM and MVD and their importance to interoperability in a geospatial context within the AECOO industry. Having close and continuing discussions with professionals from five countries was invaluable."

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