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#Working With… IFC, MVD and IDS

Introducing the world of open formats for BIM – and why they are here to stay


Written by BIMBox

Image by Evgeniy Surzhan on Unsplash


The main goal of RECONMATIC project is to test, validate and integrate innovative solutions and tools for C&D waste management within the whole life-cycle of buildings and infrastructure, in order to address the challenge for a zero waste construction industry in Europe and a low energy consuming sector. This will be achieved by developing automated tools and digitalised processes and decision-making, in order to mitigate and reduce waste, and to foster higher added value reuse of C&D waste materials. As part of the project, one task is concentrated on finding the common language on how waste information may be exchanged. To support the widest audience possible, the project will be software neutral, with the team selecting to base the solutions on openBIM standards to achieve this aspiration.


What is openBIM®?


You might have heard about openBIM, Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) or even Model View Definitions (MVD). Now we even have something that is called as Information Delivery Specification (IDS). What do they mean and why do we need them?

As defined by buildingSMART International – openBIM® “extends the benefits of BIM (Building Information Modelling) by improving the accessibility, usability, management and sustainability of digital data in the built asset industry. At its core, openBIM is a collaborative process that is vendor-neutral.”


Based upon standards and workflows, through openBIM, people are able to share their data with any compatible BIM software. This is where the IFC format files come in – this is the most common open format solution to delivering openBIM.

An Introduction to IFC


In general, IFC, or “Industry Foundation Classes”, is a standardized, digital description of the built environment, including buildings and civil infrastructure. It is an open, international standard (ISO 16739-1:2018), meant to be vendor-neutral, or agnostic, and usable across a wide range of hardware devices, software platforms, and interfaces for many different use cases. In summary, it is much like a library of objects with associated information:



To boost interoperability between all project partners, we use IFC schema to define the requirements to exchange waste related information so that all stakeholders can use data as we move through the built asset’s lifecycle. While IFC schema presents the bones for structured information exchange, we have already identified some shortcomings of the IFC schema, especially when it comes to material definition. Yet, we will cover this in more detail in our next article.


How MVD relates to IFC


As described by buildingSMART International – a MVD, or “Model View Definition”, is a “specific use of IFC to describe facilitate a specific use or workflow. MVDs can be as broad as nearly the entire schema (e.g. for archiving a project) or as specific as a couple object types and associated data (e.g. for pricing a curtain wall system)”. This is visualised below:


In many ways, whilst IFC considers the bigger picture and a large set of agreements, MVD typically defines dedicated exchange standards for specific use-cases.


While MVD was a great concept, according to buildingSMART Technical Roadmap, it will be replaced (or supplemented) by Information Delivery Specification. The reason for parking the concept was that MVD’s were not meeting the expectations of the end users and software certification routes were too complex and expensive, preventing many vendors from implement them.


How IDS progresses openBIM


As described by buildingSMART International - an Information Delivery Specification (IDS) is a “computer interpretable document that defines the Exchange Requirements of model-based exchange. It defines how objects, classifications, properties, and even values and units need to be delivered and exchanged.”

While IDS is still in development, it has great potential when it comes to exchange information requirements. It will impact how we as an industry record the exchange information requirements and how we validate deliverables. Further, it will allow us to automate the process of information exchange, minimising cost and time associated with information checking - providing more reliable and predictable exchange workflows.

In practice, this will lead to the improved consistency and reliability of information management, supporting practical decision-making and increased certainty. For more information visit Technical Roadmap 2020 - buildingSMART International.


Given the proposed benefits, the RECONMATIC team will endeavour to base the solution of waste information exchange requirements using the IDS. This will allow the project team to test, automate and validate information exchanges which will lead to better decision making when it comes to waste management.

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