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OL-1 Object Libraries

Summarizing initiatives on object libraries around the world.

OL-1 Object Libraries

With the increased use of BIM authoring tools, there is increasing interest in non-proprietary Object Libraries for sharing independent of specific construction projects.

There are three levels of object libraries:

  • Object templates which identify the objects, classifications, representations and properties without necessarily providing values. These act as guidance and standards for generic and product objects.
  • Generic objects which can be used during earlier stages of design, prior to specific product selection. In some cases generic objects are sufficient to allow construction.
  • Product objects which represent manufactured products.


IFC can represent all such levels and there are initiatives within buildingSMART international and in several buildingSMART chapters to explore this opportunity:

  • PA-1: The proposed parametric extensions for IFC will be relevant to capturing product catalogues and ranges. The extensions support arithmetic, geometric and dimensional constraints on any aspect of the IFC schema.
  • United States: the buildingSMART Alliance under NIBS has the Specifiers Properties Information Exchange ('SPie') initiative. This combines buildingSMART recommendations with US specific practice as documented by SCIP, CSI and various trade associations.
    The templates are being developed further to include operational data and sustainability data and these should be available for selected product types after their  launch at Ecobuild in Washington DC in December 2011.
  • Australia: CSIRO is commencing a project on the potential for object libraries.
  • Germany: Groups of accessory product manufacturers, organized in the industry association 'BV Bausysteme' are coming forward to explore the opportunity of a neutral component catalog. Another group of building service component manufacturer (mainly for heating components) decided to move their own neutral delivery format VDI3805 into an ISO standard and pledged to coordinate it with buildingSMART. Further information can be found at:
  • France: Leading French product and construction material suppliers have explored systematically upgrading building models to incorporate products. CSTB is working with French product and construction material suppliers to:
    • Define object templates related to their solutions
    • Implement product objects representing parts of their catalogues.
    • Current applications include internal and external thermal insulation systems, partition walls, ceilings and slabs (for Saint-Gobain, Isover and Placoplatre) and electrical installations (for Legrand).


Please contact MSG member Nick Nisbet to update this list and provide links to more information.


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