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The New ISO BIM Standards

By Gregory Ceton, CSI, CDT posted 03-04-2019 11:54


This month’s article is a request by a reader, who had heard about new building information modeling (BIM) standards and wanted to know what these new standards might mean for him personally as well as for his colleagues and projects.

Last December, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 19650, “Organization and digitization of information about buildings and civil engineering works, including building information modelling (BIM) — Information management using building information modelling,” was published. Part 1 of the standard addresses “Concepts and principles” and Part 2 is about  “Delivery phase of the assets.” I have reviewed both parts. Here are my thoughts on what they offer to CSI members and others in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.

As a starting point, it is worth noting that all ISO standards are voluntary. They may be incorporated into regulations in some areas, most commonly the European Union (EU), or into contracts for delivery of services on a project, but they do not have the force of law. Even so, they often contain good and accepted practices for managing processes and outcomes that will be followed by a large percentage of the industry, and as such can be looked to for guidance from an authoritative source.

A little history

Both parts of ISO 19650 follow the precedent set by British standard (BS) 1192, Collaborative production of architectural, engineering and construction information, and British publicly available specification (PAS) 1192-2, Specification for security-minded building information modelling, digital built environments and smart asset management. These two resources have been instrumental in the British government’s construction strategy that mandates BIM and governs and sets goals and requirements for its use in all publicly funded building in the UK.

What the standards say

ISO 19650 Part 1 takes on defining aspects of building information, transfer, storage, and use in collaborative construction environments. These topics are defined very generally so that they can be applied to many types of projects in many countries.

The information models and requirements in Part 1 are defined in relation to their use in project delivery and the transfer of that mature and fully iterated information to asset management. In ISO 19650, information creation, iteration, use, and delivery, and the establishment of requirements for its uses take place between “appointed parties” (those responsible for facility work and delivering and modifying information) and “appointing parties” (generally owners and asset managers receiving and using information). Appointed parties typically are charged with information development and its uses to meet requirements of appointing parties.

Part 1 includes useful descriptions of model maturity and development of information requirements. The 19650 model is federated, meaning it is made up of distinct information repositories in a common data environment (CDE), divided conceptually into a project information model (design, execution, and delivery) and an asset information model (operation and maintenance). Though the information transfers and requirements in ISO 19650 take place in the context of BIM, readers familiar with the basics of project delivery will see parallels with concepts they already know.

ISO 19650 Part 2 picks up where Part 1 leaves off, by providing the possible requirements for information during project delivery. As with Part 1, it presupposes a collaborative project delivery environment that allows multiple parties to produce and iterate on project information. Part 2 does not discuss operations, or the asset management models and requirements defined by Part 1.

Part 2 does contain a detailed methodology, again, defined in broad terms, for information transfer, storage, and use during the early parts of the project lifecycle, such as bidding (in ISO terms, tender) and participant selection to construction phase (mobilization), and close-out activities and requirements. These detailed requirements will likely be most useful for  construction professionals using BIM to evaluate their execution plan or responses to one.

What it all means

As stated earlier, because they are voluntary, these standards may never be part of your workflow, but even so they can be instructive. ISO 19650 contains a significant amount of information that can help standardize your project delivery process in a collaborative, BIM-enabled environment. While not a first step for the uninitiated, it is worth reviewing by construction professionals pursuing a more mature level of BIM use.

A quick reminder before you leave this page: if you’d like to propose a subject or ask a question as the reader behind this month’s article did, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. E-mail

Until next month!




03-15-2019 10:37

There is little correspondence between NBIMS-US and the ISO standard. As mentioned, the ISO standard focuses on relationships, information deliverables, and the requirements for a model to fulfill those needs. 

NBIMS-US is a collection of information standards that can and should be followed to ensure quality information transfer in project delivery. Both standards have the same aims, but NBIMS-US is more focused on the technical solutions for achieving the ends that the ISO standard offers more general guidance on. The ISO standard does have a better narrative structure and set of how-to guidance than NBIMS-US currently does.

As CSI is a major contributor to NBIMS-US, I expect that we will follow all appropriate sections of NBIMS-US in all CSI digital standards and efforts.

Thanks for raising these great questions.

03-14-2019 18:35

I'm curious how the new ISO standard compares to the NIBS National BIM Standard.

Also, whether "Project Dynamo" is intended to be coordinated with NBIMS-US.

03-06-2019 14:21

Yes, based on the intro and other content within Parts 1 and 2, additional parts are planned for this family of standards. As is typical for this sort of ISO guidance standard, they also indicated that the subcommittee anticipates iteration and update in the near future based on use and commentary received, so we may see a Part 1 and 2 update in another 2-5 years.

As far as the CSI BIM project, otherwise known as Project Dynamo, we’re working through a series of next steps and gauging interest. CSI plans to reach out to those who indicated interest when we’re at a stage where individual user feedback will be most helpful. Hold tight.

03-06-2019 13:52

​​Thank you for the summary.  It sounds like there will be a few more parts developed to the standard so perhaps a follow up article at that time.

That reminds me, has there been any movement with the CSI BIM project?  There had been a call for volunteers maybe 12-18 months ago and I haven't heard a thing since filling out the survey I was interested.  Thanks!