The A-Z of BIM

Glossary of terms



Asset Information Requirements (AIR) – Specification for information and attributes for items that the client has defined that they need to operate and maintain the asset.

Asset life cycle – The complete life of an asset from feasibility and planning through design, construction, and operation, to eventual disposal or repurposing.

Asset Management (AM) – The process of managing the financial aspects of assets, including buildings, properties and infrastructure, and issues such as initial value, depreciated value, and future commitments.

Asset Management System (AMS) – technology that supports the management of an organization's assets.

Attribute – Graphical and non-graphical details relating to an object

Augmented reality – Technology that superimposes a computer-generated image or information on a user’s view of the real world, providing a composite view.

4D BIM – A 3D model linked to time or scheduling information. Model objects and elements with this information attached can be used for construction scheduling analysis and management. 4D BIM can also be used to create animations of project construction processes.

5D BIM – A 3D model linked to cost information. The time information adds another dimension to cost information, allowing expenditure to be mapped against the project programme for cash flow analysis, etc.

Appointed party – From ISO 19650. The organisations that are engaged by the client (appointing party) to design and construct the project. A lead appointed party may be assigned during the design phase (lead consultant) or during construction (main contractor).

Appointing party – From ISO 19650. The client or employer. The organisation that is commissioning the project or owns the asset.

Asset – Completed building, facility, or infrastructure

Asset Information Model (AIM) – A maintained information model used to manage,maintain, and operate the asset. May contain documentation, non-graphical information, and graphical model.


BIM evaluation and response template – A supplementary document to the project BIM brief in the RFP, or contractor procurement stage, that aims to provide a consistent framework for the BIM component of an RFP.

BIM Execution Plan (BEP) – A formal document that defines how a project will be executed, monitored, and controlled with regard to BIM. A BEP is developed at project initiation to provide a master information management plan, and agree roles and responsibilities for model creation and information integration throughout the project.

BIM information manager – Same as BIM manager.

Building information management (data definition) – Building information management supports the information standards and information requirements for BIM use. Data continuity promotes the reliable exchange of information in a context where both sender and receiver understand the information.

Building Information Model (BIM) (product) – An object-based digital representation of the physical and functional characteristics of a facility. The building information model serves as a shared knowledge resource for information about a facility, forming a reliable basis for decisions during its life cycle from inception onward.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) (process) – A collection of defined model uses, workflows, and modelling methods used to achieve specific, repeatable, and reliable information results from the model. Modelling methods affect the quality of the information generated from the model. When and why a model is used and shared impact the effective and efficient use of BIM for desired project outcomes and decision support.

BIM management plan (BMP) – Same as BEP.

BIM manager – Leads and coordinates the BIM processes for the project.

BIM use – A unique project task or procedure that benefits from the application and integration of BIM into that process, e.g design authoring, 3D coordination (refer Appendix D)


Computer Aided Facilities Management (CAFM) – An IT system that supports facilities management. CAFM systems focus on space management issues, asset information, maintenance history, and equipment documentation.

CBI – Coordinated Building Information system of New Zealand. The classification system can be used to organise specifications, and structure information libraries, classify generic and branded product information, and classify BIM objects.

Collaboration – Multiple parties working in a way that is focussed on a common outcome rather than individual goals.

Common Data Environment (CDE) – A single source of information for any given project. CDE functions as a digital hub from which project stakeholders can collect, manage, and disseminate relevant approved project information in a managed environment.

Construction BIM execution plan – A BIM execution plan for the construction phase of a project.

Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) – A system for capturing information during the design and construction of projects. Used for facilities management purposes, including operation and maintenance. A key element of the system is a pre-formatted Excel spreadsheet for recording this information.

Coordination – The process of ensuring the correct spatial separation of elements within a model or on site.


Deliverables – The product of engineering and design efforts, delivered to the client as digital files and/or printed documents. A deliverable may have multiple phases.

Design and Build (D&B) – The project procurement method in which the client enters into one contract for the design and construction of a project with an organisation, generally based on a building company providing all project management, design, construction, and project delivery services.

Design-Bid-Build (DBB) –project procurement method in which the client enters into separate contracts for the design and construction of a building or project. Design and documentation services are generally provided by a professional design consultancy. Documents are used for bidding (tendering). The successful bidder, generally a building company, enters into a contract with the client to build the project.

Design BIM execution plan – A BIM execution plan for the design phase of a project.

Design BIM lead – The BIM lead for each design discipline or sub-trade.

E - G

Early Contractor Involvement (ECI) –The project procurement method where a contractor is engaged during the design phase (with no assurance of continuing to provide physical construction services) to provide buildability, programming, and systems selection advice.

Facilities Management (FM) – The process of managing and maintaining the efficient operation of facilities, including buildings, properties, and infrastructure. The term also applies to the discipline concerned with this process.

Federation/federated model – The combination of multiple models into a single model for review or coordination.

gbXML – Green building extensible markup language (XML). A digital file format for exchanging sustainability information in simulation applications.

Generative design – Automatically creating alternative model solutions based on ranges of inputs and output goals.

Geographic Information System (GIS) – A system that integrates hardware, software, and data for capturing, managing, analysing, and displaying all forms of geographically referenced information.

Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) – A unique code identifying each object/space. A GUID should not be confused with code – as in room code, equipment code, or space code. The GUID assigned by the BIM authoring tool persists through room name changes and various other modifications, allowing the object/space to be tracked throughout the project execution process.

H - I

Horizontal infrastructure – Network assets, including road, rail, water, power, and communications distribution systems

Industry Foundation Class (IFC) – A system for defining and representing standard architectural and construction-related graphic and non-graphic information as 3D virtual objects. Promotes information exchange among BIM tools, cost estimation systems, and other construction-related applications in a way that preserves the ability to analyse those objects as they move from one BIM system to another.

Integrated project delivery (IPD) – The project procurement method in which the client enters into a contract with a number of organisations, including design consultants and building contractors, at the earliest stages of the project to create an integrated team. Characterised by an expectation that the team will work collaboratively to deliver a product that meets client requirements.

Intellectual Property (IP) – The legal term relating to the ownership of specific design elements, tools, and processes. IP ownership should be defined in the contracts with designers.

Interoperability – The ability of two or more functional units to exchange information and use it readily. Exchange should not require users to possess knowledge of the unique characteristics of those units.

L - N

Level of Development (LOD) – A scale used to describe the level of completeness to which a model element can be relied on at different times during model development.

Metadata – Commonly defined as data about data, though differing from the data itself. For example, in a BIM context, object size = 300mm – object size is metadata, 300mm is data.

Model Description Document (MDD) – A document issued with a model to describe what it contains and any limitations of use.

Model element author – Ensures the model develops and is coordinated according to project requirements.

Model Element Authoring schedule (MEA) – Assigns responsibilities to model elements via an author. Defines the LOD of model elements aligned to project phases.

Model/information model – A model comprising documentation, non-graphical information, and graphical information

Model manager – Same as discipline BIM lead.

Model View Definition (MVD) – MVD defines a subset of the IFC schema, providing implementation guidance for all IFC concepts (classes, attributes, relationships, property sets, quantity definitions, etc.) used within this subset. It represents the software requirement specification for the implementation of an IFC interface to satisfy the exchange requirements.

Non-graphical Information – Information, such as operating manuals, performance limits, and supplier details, that can be attached to a graphical object within a model.

O - V

Object – A modelled item within and asset.

OmniClass – A classification system for the construction industry, developed by the Construction Standards Institute (CSI), and used as a classification structure for electronic databases.

Project – The process of creating or modifying an asset.

Project BIM brief – A document developed by a client to outline their BIM requirements when engaging designers or design and build teams.

Project information model – The information model relating to the design and construction delivery phase. May contain the information model, contracts, reports, certificates, and communications data set.

Project objectives – Overarching outcomes that the client aims to achieve from the project, e.g. improved operating efficiency operation, stakeholder satisfaction, reduced journey times.

Request for Information (RFI) – A documented request for information on a matter from one party to another. Typically managed through formal procedures agreed by members of the project team.

Record modelling – The creation of a digital record of the as-constructed graphical and non-graphical information relating to an asset.

Uniformat – A classification system for building elements, including designed elements, that forms the basis of Table 21 of the OmniClass system. A product of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC).

Virtual reality – An immersive 3D environment, isolated from the real world, where graphical and non-graphical information can be viewed and interacted with.