Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a term known throughout the Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Owner-operated (AECO) industry. Its use has been so widely adopted that BIM has gone from leading edge to standard practice in just a few years. Or has it? While the use of BIM software platforms and the sharing of information among disparate project team members are all commonplace, and the advancement of technology has made design and construction projects more collaborative, efficient, and safe, one area where BIM adoption has lagged is its use with facility owners and managers. However, that is changing as more owners are leveraging the benefits of BIM – the data – for lifecycle operation and maintenance.

When the Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) was first adopted by the National Institute of Building Sciences for its National Building Information Model standard in 2011, it served as a turning point for facility owners – especially healthcare, higher education, and other institutional owners – as many began to develop their own information deliverable requirements, the intent of which is to inform designers and builders of what standard project data is expected and required to run facilities. Increasingly savvy facility owners and operators are demanding a much greater volume of more accurate data than required in the past, and they’re doing so with the understanding it is possible to get the information they need in an immediately usable format. (Gone are the days of dozens of boxes of paper piled high on wooden pallets.)

For large educational and institutional owners, the quality of data received can make or break the lifecycle performance of a building. Extensive inventorying of materials used, equipment and systems installed, and spaces built allow for the development and implementation of preventive maintenance routines, warranty-mandated services, scheduling of future equipment and material replacement, expedited response time for work orders, and improved budget forecasting for facility maintenance. The advent, and continued refinement, of BIM processes and software is empowering facility owners and managers to be more effective and efficient than ever before.

As the in-house capabilities of facility managers and owners mature, designers and builders must continue working with (and learning from) them to best understand what information is needed, when it is required, and how it will be leveraged. Doing so will lead to better quality of information throughout a project lifecycle, which, in turn, will result in more comprehensive adoption of BIM and more effective project delivery for the AECO industry.

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