Experts say version two of the nation’s first consensus standard for the setup and exchange of building information models advances the use of BIM by providing a road map and common language for model building.

“This is truly a big change,” says Deke Smith, executive director of the buildingSMART alliance of the National Institute of Building Sciences and the standard’s developer. But he also says there is much work to do and obstacles to overcome on the way to a more mature standard. “We have only scratched the surface on these efforts,” he says of the version that came out last month. Work on the standard’s third version starts in August.

The Washington, D.C., alliance is responsible for developing the National Building Information Model Standard-United States Version 2 (NBIMS-US V2). The group’s main goal is to help the practitioner who is attempting to implement BIM. Another goal is to provide information for the next generation of software, after people have changed the way they do business and can take full advantage of BIM, says Smith.

The purpose of the standard is to provide a means of organizing and classifying electronic object data associated with a facility throughout its life. A section for software developer-vendors offers reference standards developed by allied organizations as well as exchange standards written and balloted by the standard’s project committee. For BIM users, the standard contains best-practice guidelines and more.

The general consensus is that the standard helps address the needs of facility owners and practitioners looking for BIM guidance. Moreover, the standard will serve as a catalyst for defining data exchanges and advancing BIM best practices in other countries.

Many vendors view the release of the standard as a significant step forward. For ArchiCAD vendor Graphisoft, it is a validation of the Open BIM initiative, led by members of the alliance. The initiative is a universal approach to the collaborative design, realization and operation of buildings based on open reference standards, information exchange standards, best practices and workflows—particularly with regard to interoperability based on Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs).

Others are more circumspect. “I think, at some point, vendors will incorporate NBIMS or parts of it into their various authoring tools,” says Robert Anderson, vice president for integrated practice for 3D software vendor Nemetchek Vectorworks, which also owns Graphisoft. “So far, they really haven’t,” he adds, explaining that Vectorworks’ big push is toward meeting  IFC certification, not NBIMS.

Think of IFC as a brick and NBIMS, based on IFCs, as the building, he says. “It doesn’t make sense to work on NBIMS until IFCs are in working order.”

The parts of NBIMS that software developers can implement are the model view definitions, he explains. MVDs are more tightly defined ways of transferring information using IFCs.

There are myriad technical and cultural obstacles to NBIMS development. Huw Roberts, a vice president with engineering software vendor Bentley Systems Inc., says the industry needs greater owner participation and validation of standards.