What really is COBie?

Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie) is an international standard relating to managed asset information including space and equipment. It is closely associated with building information modeling (BIM) approaches to design, construction, and management of built assets. COBie is technically a simple concept really and is a system where you can start small and then grow it as the building project grows.

COBie helps organisations to electronically capture and record important project data at the point of origin, including equipment lists, product data sheets, warranties, spare parts lists, and preventive maintenance schedules. COBie shares the structure of the buildingSMART data model and features three main areas – Design, Build and Common.

You’ve probably heard requests for a COBie spreadsheet, a COBie ifc model or a COBie compliant BIM. Or in some cases, a request for all three. Because of this, there is much confusion around how to collect, organize and manage a COBie deliverable. COBie is essentially an information exchange specification that can be viewed in the form of simple spreadsheets or within sophisticated design, construction and maintenance software. This versatility of the specification makes COBie ideal for all kinds of projects, irrespective of the size, scale and complexity.

As with all standards, the best place to start is to get a copy of the standard and read it. COBie is in Chapter 4.2 of the National BIM Standard – United States, Version 3. It is free to download and use.

COBie data, which is defined in .CVS or .XLS files, is a series of data fields that are organized in a spreadsheet with multiple worksheets. Each worksheet corresponds to a COBie table. This free tool from Autodesk will allow you to set up your Revit models to capture COBie data and then export that data to a COBie compliant spreadsheet.

We hope that article has demonstrated that in itself COBie is a simple concept and it is well connected to other openBIM initiatives. It can coexist both with IFC, with native BIM files or it can be used without any "BIM tools" at all. It is also a concept where you can start small and the system can grow with the user/ building owner. It is for both newbuilds and existing facilities.

At the same time COBie is a bit immature as a standard and concept. There are some misunderstandings and there are also room for COBie to grow with the AEC, FM and IT industries. We think COBie is the best we have out there for this need, so we may as well gather our initiatives around helping improve and clear up misunderstandings instead of complaining and making new standards.

COBie and related topics will be a returning theme on this blog. If you have experiences or want us to cover certain topics, please share by commenting below. If you find the article helpful please help us spread the message by sharing via the social media links given below.





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