The "Stand-Inn" project for a better exchange of technical data
The construction sector is an environment where the many participants make information exchanges complex. Computer-oriented information exchange standards are often insufficient and are sometimes badly used; players communicate through protocols that are different from one profession to another and from one project to another. Also frequently, initial data for the first participant (for example the architect) are re-input into software tools used by the next participant (structure engineer, design office, etc.), and those data may heavily vary. But these standards are continuing to be more widely used. Furthermore, the growing number of labels and other certifications now related to inevitable environmental aspects require the use of performance indicators and baselines. Therefore standards are increasingly used and environmental constraints are becoming better and better defined, but the gateway between the two can and must be improved. The digital models and business information models in Construction must be further developed to genuinely satisfy the specific needs of sustainable development and to become the grounding for genuine decision making assistance tools.
Stand-Inn, as part of the Europe Innova program, was financed by the European Union and developed over two years by a large number of partners (see inset). Its objective is to inform, explain, assist, motivate and create contacts between all European contributors to innovation, to expand the use of standards based on information and communication technologies, particularly the digital model (BIM - Building Information Model) and IFCs (Industry Foundation Classes) so as to satisfy the specific needs of sustainable development.
Apply standards more broadly
The approach consists in listing and studying existing processes for exchanging data in the construction sector, designing new processes to take account of the concepts of sustainable development, and particularly to change behaviour by making good practices more widely used to encourage a more efficient working environment.
Stand-Inn created a manual that offers solutions and recommendations to professionals, customers and public authorities using exchange standards. For example, it contains advice about fixing realistic objectives in order to achieve a progressive transition from an existing system to a digital model, organising a team by investing in appropriate training courses, receiving advice from specialised companies, producing a good design for a project, and verifying that suppliers use software that supports IFCs. The work by Stand-Inn has been recognised by the European Community through the Europe Innova Prize, which elected it the "Best 2008 network".
This work « initiated », among others, a research action, resulting in ELODIE* now being connected to the digital model.
* ELODIE: software to evaluate the intrinsic environmental properties of a building as a whole, using Environmental and Health Declaration Datasheets recorded in the INIES base (in French).
Protocol, standard, code of practice… Decoding
Set of rules and codes designed for data exchanges. It describes all necessary details so that two computer systems can communicate between themselves.
Set of rules fixed within a group or a community, to define a working method. A standard allows elements from different sources to communicate between themselves. When a standard is widely distributed (and used) we talk about a "de facto" standard. A standard may be the subject of a normalisation process, and thus become a code of practice (and acquire a legal value – “de jure” standard). The opposite of a standard is a proprietary system.
- Code of practice
Set of rules setting down conditions for construction, execution or production. It assures interchangeability and compatibility. A code of practice is defined in a document produced by a group of specialists in a field and is approved by a recognised standardisation organisation.
- IFCs (Industry Foundation Classes or Information For Construction)
Neutral and open exchange format designed to facilitate data exchanges related to a building throughout its life cycle. IFCs are used particularly for producing shared digital models.
The consortium includes 27 partners and 12 European countries and China.
- Norway: SINTEF Byggforsk (coordinator), Standards Norway, IAI Norway, EnviChina, EPM Technology
- Finland: VTT, Senate Properties, Confederation of Finnish Construction Industries RT, Building Information Foundation
- France: CSTB
United Kingdom: AEC3 Ltd, Faithful & Gould Limited, IAI international Council Ltd
- Sweden: Center for Built Environment University of Gävle, Ljustech Konsult, Swedish Standards Institute
- Italy: IAI, Ente Nazionale Italiano di Unificazione
- Lithuania: Vilnius Giaediminas Technical University
- Spain: Fundacion LABEIN, Associacion de Inverstigacion de Industrias de la Construccion
- Portugal: UNINOVA
- Germany: IngenieurBüro Dr.-Ing. Wolfram Trinius
- Belgium: Belgian Building Research Institute
- Netherlands: CIB
- China: China Academy of Building Research, China Institute of Building Standard Design & Research