Insider Reports

QUICK Sign-up

New Content Updates
Educational Webcast Alerts
Building Products/Technology Notices
Access Exclusive Member Content

All fields are required.

Building Operating Management
Green Building Report PAGE Practical Considerations for Using BIM for FM Establish Uniform Naming Conventions to Best Use BIM for FM USGBC Perspective: USGBC Works Toward Seamless Integration of Rating Systems

Establish Uniform Naming Conventions to Best Use BIM for FM

Second part of a three-part Green Building Report.

By Michael Tardif March 2017 - Facilities Management   Article Use Policy

With the scope of required assets and the information and documents required for each type defined, the next step is to establish naming/numbering conventions for buildings, floors, spaces (rooms), zones, and systems. This will take time, but it’s critically important. Without a prescriptive specification for names, design and construction teams will use whatever naming/numbering convention is most familiar to them. For facility management teams managing large real estate portfolios, the data for new buildings must harmonize with the data for existing buildings without creating duplicate data records (every building has an air handler named “AHU-1,” for example).
One approach is to develop a concatenated naming convention for assets, which allows design and construction teams to create unique asset names on the fly that conform to the FM/O&M team’s requirements. For example, the name “120Bdwy-Floor05-501-AHU1” uniquely identifies an air handler located in room (or space or area) 501, on the 5th floor of the building named 120 Broadway, which cannot be confused with an “AHU-1” located on any other floor or in any other building. Design teams will number multiple instances of equipment types on a floor or in a building (AHU-1, AHU-2) sequentially for any given project, but a concatenated naming convention will still result in unique names for each asset.

For the concatenated naming convention to work, the FIS must include a prescriptive list of names or codes buildings, floors (including all sub-grade levels, penthouses and roofs), rooms, and asset types, so that design teams are able to create the unique, concatenated names for each individual asset. Room name/numbering can be particularly challenging; it’s generally better to develop a clear set of rules for how rooms should be numbered, rather than trying to control or specify the naming/numbering of individual rooms.

Electronic data file format requirements
Specifying the electronic data file format for information deliverables is critical. The facility management team should verify which data file formats are supported by its FM software, and require that data from BIMs be exported in that file format. Most BIM applications can export (and most CMMS/IWMS systems can import) data in spreadsheet (MS-Excel or equal) format, but each application may have a specific spreadsheet layout or structure that conforms to its proprietary data model. If the data models of the export/import applications don’t match, some modification of exported BIM data may be needed before it can be imported into the CMMS/IWMS software. Analyzing and addressing these data format compatibility issues before any data is created in a BIM can greatly minimize those issues. If both applications support COBie, you can specify that data from the BIMs be delivered in a COBie-compliant format.

It is equally important to specify the format for document submittals. Nearly all “project closeout” documents originate as “intelligent” PDFs provided by the product manufacturers, meaning the documents are software-generated and are both editable and searchable. Most construction specifications only require that project closeout documents be submitted in PDF format. Scanned, hand-annotated, compiled PDFs meet such a vague contractual requirement, so the language of the requirement must change. An FIS should specify that all required submittals be submitted as individual, editable, searchable, software-generated PDFs, annotated electronically using Adobe Acrobat or another PDF markup tool. Equally important, the FIS should specify how all document submittals are to be named. If a concatenated naming convention is specified for assets, the naming convention for documents is simple, e.g., “120Bdwy-Floor03-301-AHU1_Owner_Manual,” or “120Bdwy-Floor03-301-AHU1_Warranty.”

Preparing a Facility Information Specification takes time and effort, but vastly improves both the quality and quantity of the facility information received from design and construction teams. It places facility management teams at the project table at the outset, and dramatically improves the relationships among design and construction teams, capital projects teams, and facility management teams by improving, rather than disrupting, existing business processes. It eliminates the ambiguity and risk of vague or contradictory facility information requirements, enabling design and construction teams to deliver a better product to their clients.

Michael Tardif is managing partner of Building Informatics, which helps building owners lower the total lifecycle cost of buildings by specifying and applying the information created during design and construction that is needed for lifecycle facility management.

Email comments and questions to

Continue Reading: Green Building Report

Practical Considerations for Using BIM for FM

Establish Uniform Naming Conventions to Best Use BIM for FM

USGBC Perspective: USGBC Works Toward Seamless Integration of Rating Systems


Find us on Google+