BIM: The Container For Your Building Data

Building Information Modelling

The Container For Your Building Data

Container (in computer science)a data structure whose instances are collections of other objects… they store objects in an organised way. (Wikipedia)


A BIM model provides a visual representation of your estates facility. It aligns the designed visual element of your project with the built physical reality. I want you to consider your building model in a way that is different from the norm. I want you to consider how your building model is used for storing data. Data can be added to any of the objects within your building model. Each building model has its own data, but each building is also a master data container – it contains spaces that each have their own data. Each space contains objects and each object has data. So, we have data containers within data containers. Your model provides a visual representation of the rooms within your facility and other elements within those rooms, such as ventilation ducts or boilers.

All these visual elements of your model can be used as containers for storing data. The whole facility – floors, common spaces, zones made up of a group of common spaces and individual components and assets – can be used for storing data. Some data will only apply to your facility as a whole and only needs to be linked to the master data container.

This could be information from the design and construction phase, site investigations or planning consents and it will usually consist of pdf documents. Information for the whole-facility master data container can be easily added to these pdfs – as hyperlinks – when cloud storage is used. Each individual building component becomes its own data container for specific and detailed data. For example, building components such as an air-handling unit, a fire damper or a door can contain: the name of the manufacturer; a serial number; a warranty start date; a warranty duration; and countless other data attributes. This provides the asset owner or estate manager with all the information they need to maintain the building efficiently and effectively.

The data that you can add to your facility has no technical limitations. Information can be provided to enable life-cycle costing, operational cost forecasting, tracking compliance, progress during design, and data that enables the assessment and tracking of Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) sustainability credits. External dynamic data sources can also be linked to the model. Some of these can be generated from the Internet of Things (IoT), through which connected online devices can provide information such as facility usage and people’s movements via movement sensors. Dynamic data sources allow your model to become a visual method for analysing and monitoring dynamic information.


Room Data Sheets: Understanding the Data Within a Model

A room data sheet provides a good framework for understanding the data within a model. A traditional room data sheet contains information that defines a space such as the finishes, the furniture and the environmental conditions.

It’s possible for a significant quantity of room data sheet information to be generated directly from the model, or through linked data sources. Some parts of a room data sheet are directly related to the space and this information will be associated with the space data container. The name of the space, room number, occupancy and environmental parameters would all be derived from model data. Area, perimeter and floor-to-ceiling heights are all calculated from geometric visual data. Then finally, equipment lists are developed from the items actually located and modelled within the space, the number of twin socket outlets is generated from the actual number located within the space.

The information for a room data sheet comes from the model. The presentation of the information can be tailored for your needs, individual sheets for each space or a full table of all the spaces and all the relevant attributes. But, the big advantage is that the room data sheet actually represents what has been designed. As a room size changes, the calculated area will change and this will be instantly available within a new room data sheet output, the information is fully coordinated.


Other Relevant Resources:

BIMToolbox (Free BIM Resources)

BIM for Estates (Our Amazon Best-Selling Book)

BIM Glossary of Terms


Author: Ian Yeo
Editor: Alison Rolfe
Published: 1 Feb 2019
Last Updated: 5 Mar 2019



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