COBie Fact or Fiction – Part Deux

 Bill East
 Lean Handover Production and Consulting

So, let’s see how everyone did with COBie Fact or Fiction Part 1! Before we start, let me define COBie. This definition will help clarify several of the answers.

COBie is the Construction Operations Building information exchange. The COBie standard defines the requirements for, and business case of, one very specific problem. The solution to the problem, identified in the standard, is an information schema whose information may be captured during the life of a building project. The information schema has been defined as a subset of the ISO 16739 (Industry Foundation Class Model) schema. Subsets of IFC such as COBie, are according to ISO 16739 called Model View Definitions (MVD’s). COBie information may be exchanged in one of several ways. For many designers, COBie information may be presented in a so-called “IFC file”. For others, COBie information is most often presented in a spreadsheet. 

1. COBie is a spreadsheet? True/False
False. see definition. The alternative statement "COBie data can be delivered in a spreadsheet," is True.
2. IFC Replaces COBie? True/False

False. see definition. The alternative statement "COBie is based on IFC," is True.

Just to be clear -- there is actually no such thing as an “IFC File” either. What most people consider to be an “IFC File” is actually a file that delivers information specified in the Coordination Model View Definition. The purpose of the Coordination MVD to perform geometric collision detection. It is any wonder then that a file supplied meeting such criteria has limited information? The purpose of such a file is simply to support the 3-D version of the "light table" reviews we used to do forty years ago with 2-D drawings.

3. COBie is an MVD? True/False

False. COBie is a standard whose required information is specified in an IFC MVD.

You can find it here. The alternative statement "COBie has an MVD," is True.

4. COBie is BIM Level 2 True/False

False. COBie doesn’t need a Level of 2, a Level of Detail, a Level of Development, the next Dimension of BIM, or any other branding.

Why? Because, COBie simply requires that the information about the spaces and equipment in a building be delivered in a common open-standard format. For design, COBie-data is the complied set of information in drawing schedules. For construction, COBie-data is the information currently in equipment lists, spare parts lists, and operations and maintenance manuals. Since COBie is what we already do, there is no need for branding. There is only need for software that deliver “data that matches drawings."

5. LoD defines BIM quality? True/False

False. See #4.

6. COBie requires BIM? True/False


The suspension of disbelief that occurs when we view BIM images must to be shattered if we are to advance our industry. For most of the BIM files I see, it is easier to scrape data from PDF drawings than to try to fix the poor data behind that geometry. Better information management (BIM) must not be an add-on but an integral part of our process.

7. Embedded Carbon Analysis is within COBie’s Scope? True/False

False. per definition.

The relationship between MVD's is often a sticking point. Let's think about it like this... We have many different types of design disciplines and construction trades. Each brings specialized knowledge and skills. It is a simple, obvious, and true fact that different jobs require different knowledge.

Each important and needed analysis to be done might take advantage of some COBie data, but that analysis will also require its own, additional and unique set of information. The complete set of information needed to solve each problem must be explicitly defined as part of a separate MVD and contract deliverable. Anything else is sloppy software engineering that will eventually fail. Clearly defining that knowledge is the job at hand.

An alternative, true statement is "There is no BIM file to rule them all." (with apologies to J.R.R.T.)

8. Life-Cycle Costing is within COBie’s Scope? True/False

False. #7

9. Installed equipment lists are with COBie’s Scope? True/False

True. per definition.

10. “ie” are my initials? True/False


But, it certainly was funny when I was heckled with this statement during one of the first COBie Challenges! What do the initials “ie” mean? “Contracted information exchange.”

I hope that by taking this quiz you will have seen what a truly important idea COBie is - an idea that simply requires that we unlock the information already on our paper contract deliverables. Unless we can trust that what we get in a file, at least in some defined sense, is - exactly the same - as what we get in a contract, we will never move from paper to electronic deliverables. What happens after that, well. Come to The COBie Academy to find out!

Thanks to all for playing COBie Fact or Fiction!

Published July 2016