COBie inventor develops open source improvements

A team of English, Irish and US architects and engineers have published a set of models that are being made available to industry which will improve the reliability of BIM data handed over to clients and between project teams.

The new models help test the accuracy of how well data is being delivered in the government’s preferred standard format, known as COBie (Construction-Operations Building information exchange).

These sets of multidisciplinary open-source models, simulated contract drawings and files can be used to demonstrate the delivery of COBie and Coordination MVD in Revit as an integral part of the design process.

COBie is the standard format of asset data sets that project teams must use to comply with the government’s BIM Level 2 mandate when they hand over the BIM model.

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The idea behind COBie is that the key information is all pulled into one format and shared between the construction team at defined stages in a project. It delivers equipment lists, product data sheets, warranty information and maintenance in a simple, easy to understand database schema, often presented in a spreadsheet.

COBie was devised by Bill East of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, who authored a pilot standard in 2007 to improve the process of handing over information to building owners, occupiers and operators, enabling them to manage their asset more efficiently.

Now East, of Prairie Sky Consulting, has worked with Metz Architects, MLM group, Bond Bryan Digital and MMA Environmental to develop these new model sets, based on a test building, the East Dormitory, in Illinois.

BIM vendors are still trying to iron out their COBie export capabilities, mapping asset information from proprietary BIM models to the defined COBie schema.

In recent BuildingSmart industry tests, 8,000 errors within a COBie file was deemed to be quite normal. For a file in the range of 600,000-800,000 rows representing a typical building, that is said to equate to a 1%-1.3% error rate..

More details available at:

Image: COBie is often presented in spreadsheets (

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  1. Sorry but there’s nothing “open source” about a bunch of Revit and ArchiCAD models.
    Those models and related files are released under a Creative Commons license, which is different.

  2. Hi Rene,

    Thanks for your interest in the free supplementary models, reports, etc. that go along with the book. As the second author of the book, I partly agree with your comment, however, I believe that is not what is conveyed here. Open source tools are in fact utilised to check the COBie files in different formats, e.g. IFC SPFF and XLSX. The QC Reporter Command line tool and plugin for BIMserver are open source. With that said, there is a difference between open source and OPEN STANDARD.

    COBie, is an open standard, which also has supplementary documents known as the COBie Guide (the commentary), and each project has a specification because COBie is per BUILDING and nothing more…etc etc…(in the book!)

    In relation to your comment about the licensing of models, please refer to Section “ Test files” in Ch 4.2 COBie of NBIMS US V3 to find the facts there. No one has stated that the Revit models and Archicad models are “open source”. They are in fact open to the public for use for free.

    I believe you will very much enjoy the book, and all the facts in relation to COBie and this web post about the files, is in the book.

    Hope you enjoy it, and best wishes,
    Dr. Shawn O’Keeffe
    BIM Development Director and PI of R&D
    MMA Environmental / BIM&Scan

  3. Hi Rene,

    I’m Dr. Shawn O’Keeffe – second author on the book. I’m pleased to see your interest in the book in supplementary models, etc. The title of this post is indeed a little misguiding. No one claimed the .RVT and .PLN models are open source, and in fact the PLN Archicad models from “prior works” are not even posted. So not sure why you mentioned that.

    With that said. The models are free. The models in IFC SPFF, are free and use open standards, i.e. COBie , IFC (ISO 16739), etc. The verification reports we created are free and use open source tools. These tools have been improved and they always will be because they are open source. For COBie validation we provided our drawings for free. Etc. etc.

    Anyhow, all this is very clear in the book and we really hope you and everyone else really enjoy our efforts.

    Link to book release:

    Dr. Shawn O’Keeffe

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