BuildingSMART COBie Challenge 2013 | Result

Bentley successfully participated in the ‘buildingSMART COBie Challenge 2013’ for architectural and mechanical, electrical, plumbing (MEP) design using AECOsim Building Designer. 


Based on the IFC 'Facility Management Handover' Model View Definition, COBie (Construction Operations Building information exchange) is an information exchange specification to capture data during design, construction, and commissioning for handover to operations and management. Data is created by architects and engineers, who provide floor, space, and equipment layouts, and contractors, who provide make, model, and serial numbers of installed equipment, possibly provided by product manufacturers.

Further information at:  


buildingSMART COBie Challenge 2013

Organized by Bill East of the Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), U.S. Army, Corps of Engineers, the ‘buildingSMART COBie Challenge 2013’ consisted of 2 parts:

1. Format Compliance

Assessment of the submitted IFC file against the requirements of the FM Handover MVD as the prerequisite for the transformation to a COBie spreadsheet.

ERDC’s conclusion:

‘This company [Bentley] successfully completed the construction COBie challenge by producing the handover COBie file of the Medical Clinic model. No errors were encountered based on the quality control report; therefore no penalty was applied for the data format, delivery of required fields, and proper referencing across the worksheets.’

Undoubtedly, format compliance with the COBie requirements of the output is most important for COBie producers (architects & engineers) and especially COBie consumers (facility owners & operators). Therefore, it is worth noting that:

  • Bentley successfully completed the construction COBie challenge.
  • As one of only 2 companies, Bentley participated in the ‘architectural and mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) category’.
    (Autodesk was the other participant in this category, while Graphisoft participated only in the architectural one.)
  • MEP components probably make up about 80% of ‘serviceable assets’ that COBie is focused on, thus matter most for owner/operators.
  • AECOsim Building Designer was the only application in the arch/MEP category to score 
  • 0 errors based on the quality control report (Autodesk Revit 2013: 1 error);
  • 0 penalties for the data format, delivery of required fields and proper referencing across the worksheet (Autodesk Revit 2013: 5-minute penalty to correct the error).

2. Content Quality

Evaluation whether the data found in the submitted IFC file matched the information content found on the drawings of the challenge model, a fully-equipped 260-room hospital.

ERDC’s conclusion:

‘The quality of the produced data did not match 100% to the sample data provided and penalties were applied as described above. A total of 218 minutes (3.6 hours) penalty was applied for the data mismatch. This means that a user utilizing Bentley software would have to spend 3.6 hours fixing/cleaning the COBie file.’

A 1-minute penalty was given for each data found in the submitted COBie file that did not match the sample data in one of the tested rooms and multiplied by the total number of rooms. Bentley’s penalty minutes were applied for:

  • incorrect type/category labels (fixed);
  • missing units for some property values (fixed);
  • possibly duplicate Type properties (questionable due to AECOsim Building Designer ‘soft typing’ approach; see below).

However, with 80 types, 1,397 components, 18,171 attributes, Bentley’s model was by far the most complete and data-rich, thus posing a greater potential for data mismatches/penalty minutes. (Autodesk: 37 types, 478 components, 8,748 attributes; Graphisoft: 31 types, 472 components, 4,346 attributes). Also, the challenge was conducted with a beta version of AECOsim Building Designer and issues that incurred penalty minutes will be fixed in the released application.

Arguably, penalty minutes for content quality of the reproduced sample model have little relevance for the compliance with the COBie requirements of the output. Therefore, the conclusion that ‘a user utilizing Bentley software would have to spend 3.6 hours fixing/cleaning the COBie file’ is rather arbitrary and meaningless as it depends on the type of data, size of the model, skill of the user, etc.

For the full result, see Bentley’s result including links to key documents on the buildingSMART Alliance website.


AECOsim Building Designer

To meet the COBie challenge requirements, several new features were implemented in AECOsim Building Designer, such as

  • option to extend the workspace with the IFC and FM Handover dataset extensions;COBie template project for the US;
  • option to select the ‘IFC2x3 Coordination View 2.0’ or ‘FM Handover/COBie’ Model View Definition (MVD) on IFC export;
  • option to create a COBie spreadsheet and/or i-model for the ‘FM Handover/COBie’ MVD;
  • DataGroup catalog type mapping to IFC entities as primary method, part mapping as secondary;
  • mapping of AECOsim Building Designer properties to IFC properties to avoid duplicates;
  • COBie Transformation Utility to create COBie spreadsheets and/or i-models from IFC files;
  • auto-assignment of models and references to building/site and floors defined in the Floor Manager based on z-range with override option.

These features, documented in the attached draft of the COBie User Guide, will be available in the upcoming release of AECOsim Building Designer.


Stong vs. soft types

COBie has a preference for ‘strong’ types, i.e. changing any of the key properties (e.g. size, fire rating, material, ...) of a type/DataGroup catalog item requires the creation of a new type/catalog item, and key properties cannot be overwritten on instances of that type. This approach is more applicable during the construction documentation and product specification phase. AECOsim Building Designer favors by default ‘soft’ types, i.e. key properties defined (e.g. size) or undefined (e.g. material), for the type/catalog can be changed or added for instances, which is highly beneficial for the design process. 

The attached COBie User Guide includes a section about ‘soft’ vs. ‘strong’ types and how to create ‘strong’ types in AECOsim Building Designer. Note that this is a draft version and likely to change for the commercial release.