Construction-Operations Building information exchange (COBie)

1. Introduction

COBie is a filtered part of the IFC data model for the use case of operations and maintenance with specific constraints and rules, but what has made COBie so prominent is that the multifaceted data model of IFC has been flattened and visualised in tables so we can relate to it far better than the scariness of data models. So when people build upon COBie for other use cases they are building upon a specific output and not the source IFC data model which might have additional features which benefit the other use case far more. We should really be going back to the IFC source, work out what is needed through information requirements and the subsequent data model can be filtered and visualised in any way required. Always think IFC first, not COBie.

While COBie can exist in multiple formats (spreadsheet, STEP physical file format, STEP XML format, and COBie lite transactional XML format) it is most likely you will encounter COBie as an .XLSX spreadsheet. That’s the format that most people understand and can interpret easily. COBie itself is a schema designed to provide information about a project, not necessarily a building. It provides a series of standardised inter-related fields which together form a record of the quantities, location and maintenance associated to equipment. While it’s commonly used for Facilities Management at the end of construction, it can be used in simplified form, with less onerous data requirements, at other stages of the project. For example, it can be used to provide information about space planning, provisional costing or even risk management at earlier stages.

2. IFC vs COBie

The following nuances are noted between the use of the IFC and COBie schemas:

  • Contact
    • The IFC schema uses the property ‘Region’ whilst the COBie schema uses ‘StateRegion’;
  • Facility (IFC uses data from Project, Site and Building to populate this COBie sheet)
    • The IFC schema uses ‘Name’ for the Name of the Project, whilst the COBie schema uses ‘ProjectName’;
    • The IFC schema uses ‘Description’ for the Description of the Project, whilst the COBie schema uses ‘ProjectDescription’;
    • The IFC schema uses ‘Name’ for the Name of the Site, whilst the COBie schema uses ‘SiteName’;
    • The IFC schema uses ‘Description’ for the Description of the Site, whilst the COBie schema uses ‘SiteDescription’;
  • Type
    • The IFC schema uses the property ‘ServiceLifeDuration’ whilst the COBie schema uses ‘ExpectedLife’;
    • The IFC schema uses the property ‘ModelLabel’ whilst the COBie schema uses ‘ModelNumber’; and
    • The IFC schema requires for the ‘Manufacturer’ field the Name of the Manufacturer whilst the COBie schema requires the email address of the Manufacturer.

3. COBie 3.0 buildingSMART UK&I Position Statement

COBie 3.0, is an update to the Construction-Operations Building information exchange (COBie 2.4) Specification. COBie 3.0 also will be published as an integral part of version 4.0 of the National BIM Standard – United States®.

COBie 3.0 has been developed for U.S. agencies, building owners, and facility managers, as a method to not only allow the exchange of information at the handover between construction and operational phases but  it also now includes the exchanges within the operational phase and between owner to owner. However, it has not been tested here within the UK and is not being adopted as a UK standard. ISO 19650-4 UK NA still specifies the use of COBie 2.4.

The buildingSMART UK&I chapter recommends that unless full understanding of the impact and risk is known (for example, reworking of existing workflows, upskilling the project teams and lack of technology which supports COBie 3.0 from a delivery, assurance and use perspective) appointing parties should refrain from specifying COBie 3.0.

At a time when the buildingSMART International Asset Operations Handover project is complete and the digital infrastructure is in place to support it, buildingSMART UK&I will review the future of COBie 2.4.

4. Additional UK Specific Properties

BS 1192-4:2014 previously identified a series of additional UK specific properties which could be utilised with COBie. These are no longer identified in BS EN ISO 19650-4 but for consistency these optional properties can still be utilised when identified in Exchange Information Requirements.

Download : Additional UK Specific Properties

5. Documents

6. Test Files

7. COBie Checkers

8. COBie Templates

The following downloadable COBie Template files are provided in .XLSX format and include tables using Uniclass as the preferred classification.

9. Archive

COBie for all 

This includes a review of the challenges raised relating to the use of COBie in infrastructure and worked examples of 5 specific cases.  This was a collaborative project by a number of infrastructure partners including Transport for London (TfL) and Highways England (HE).

Download : COBie for All

COBie Templates (Archived)

These illustrate the information required for specific component and product types as web-pages, COBie spreadsheets and IFC files. They were prepared to support the COBie pilot implementations in 2012.

COBie Property Sets

These summarise the additional property sets recommended in BS1192-4:2014 clause 7 for use with COBie in the UK. The property sets are presented as web-pages and as buildingSMART PSet definitions in XML

Download : UK COBie Property Sets