Tom Holdsworth Designed using 13 BIM models, the University of Delaware's Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Lab, by Ayers Saint Gross, was recognized in AIA's 11th annual Technology in Architecture Practice Innovation Awards.

As part of its longstanding effort to establish an open exchange of information and common protocols and standards in the digital Wild West of building information modeling (BIM), the BuildingSmart Alliance, a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences, in Washington, D.C., has released the National BIM Standard–United States Version 3 (NBIMS–US V3). The result of a multiyear effort by volunteers in myriad industries, including AEC and software, the standard seeks to help players in the building space—from architects to contractors to building owners and even realtors and lawyers—get the most out of BIM by streamlining knowledge sharing, collaboration, and file interoperability.

In the past, BIM was perceived by some in the design fields as an overrated virtual 3D architectural model. But, as defined in NIBS’ original NBIMS document: “A BIM is a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility. As such it serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility forming a reliable basis for decisions during its lifecycle from inception onward.”

The latest edition of the free, consensus-based standard seeks to “facilitate the efficient life-cycle management of the built environment” from planning and design to building operations, according to NBIMS–US V3’s scope. The 3,100-page document prescribes “effective, repeatable elements and mechanisms,” such as reference standards, classification systems, and conformance specifications, to inject consistency in the practices of building design, construction, and operation.

Version 3 builds on earlier editions of NBIMS while significantly expanding the document's scope. The first edition of the standard, U.S. NBIMS Version 1–Part 1: Overview, Principles, and Methodologies, was released in December 2007 and set the groundwork for developing ​​​open BIM standards. The second version, which came out in May 2012, contained reference standards, terms and definitions, information exchange standards, and practice guidelines for implementing open-BIM standards-based deliverables. It was also the first open-consensus BIM Standard; building professionals worldwide could provide feedback and propose changes, which the NBIMS-US project committee then reviewed and voted on. Several countries, including South Korea and the U.K., adopted portions of the NBIMS–US V2 in their own BIM standards, according to NIBS press release.

Similarly, NBIMS–US V3 was developed using a consensus process. Of the 40 submissions received, the project committee included 27 ideas covering concepts such as: the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBIE) Version 2.4, which specifies the content and format of information to be collected at each phase of design and construction to hand off to the building owner; the Level of Development specifications, which articulate how much detail and content architects and designers should include in their building information models at different project phases; OmniClass tables, which organizes construction information; and the U.S. National CAD Standard.

NBIMS–US V3 was originally slated for release in April, but was postponed due to administrative issues, NIBS BuildingSmart Alliance program director Dominique Fernandez wrote in an email to ARCHITECT: "We had not received all of the required copyright releases.” Much of the NBIMS–US V3 standard comprises documents and language written by other organizations and associations.

Despite the extensive efforts of NIBS and its volunteer committees to deploy standardized BIM workflow and communications protocols, NBIMS-US V3 has yet to be officially adopted by many businesses, jurisdictions, and federal agencies in the U.S. To date, many architecture firms have also not bought into the notion of a national BIM standard partly because of indifference, unawareness, and doubt about its significance.​ However, as BIM becomes more popular in conjunction with integrated project delivery, and as more building owners are required to benchmark their projects’ post-occupancy performance, the potential of a national BIM standard may be better realized.