The National Building Information Model Standard project committee is in dire need of volunteers to help it develop open building-information-model standards to foster interoperability among products of different software vendors. The buildingSMART alliance of the National Institute of Building Sciences, which is organizing the effort, is intent on delivering NBIMS at no cost to users.

That is not an easy thing to do. Much of the standard will be published in the form of information-delivery manuals. Progress in developing the manuals is based on the donated work of alliance members. “We have grown from 50 to over 500 members over the past year, but we need to expand to at least 5,000 over this year,” says Dana K. “Deke” Smith, executive director of the buildingSMART alliance at the Washington, D.C.-based NIBS.

Most of the work in the standard’s development is done with resources contributed by practitioners. But Smith says the project needs money to coordinate the effort. That funding comes from membership in the alliance.

The primary goal of the alliance is to develop open standards-based interoperability for the buildings sector, whether it be via industry foundation classes (IFCs), XML or other open formats. The aim is to ensure that each design or construction office, whether it is doing planning, design, construction or operations and “sustainment,” does not have to reinvent BIM.

The NBIMS committee already has knit together the broadest and deepest constituency ever assembled for the purpose of establishing and managing through an industry consensus process a series of open-source national standards and guidance for all aspects of BIM, says the alliance on its Website, www.buildings But the undertaking is huge, agree sources.

To disseminate information, bring users together and coordinate the effort, the alliance holds conferences, produces a magazine and offers other networking opportunities.

At the most recent buildingSMART alliance national conference, more than 20 colleges presented their approaches on collaborative learning. In addition, many of the major cost- engineering organizations signed a memorandum of agreement to coordinate efforts and attempt to eliminate duplication of efforts.

The alliance published the first part of the first version of NBIMS two years ago. Smith says the economic lull in the industry offers time to “retool” and further develop NBIMS so firms can be ready to roll using collaborative BIM when the recession ends.