End of Year Message and Review from buildingSMART International


2021 has been another colossal year for buildingSMART. I’d like to start with a massive declaration of thanks to the greater buildingSMART team. From rooms, project and chapters to the bSI management office I have really noticed an increased alignment and commitment to work together as whole buildingSMART team towards our common goals. This is great leadership, and it is a pleasure to watch the acceleration that follows. A special thank you to my immediate colleagues who have provided much of that vision.

Our mission has become more widely understood; clients and users are increasingly concerned about their data strategies (for surety, productivity and sustainability) and seeking better control of their digital destiny with more IFC Mandates around the world as a consequence.

All three of our core programs (User, Standards & Solutions and Compliance) have delivered major milestones. Our engagement and communications activities continue to grow from White Papers to the Awards and Podcasts. Our operational deliverables and technical services are now delivering robust standards and supporting solutions for IFC4.3 using modern tooling and upgraded bSDD and UCM services. Software certification is closely aligned with domain projects which will accelerate availability of the new standard for users. In parallel the professional certification scheme now has real momentum.

As always, I must extend and broad thank you to all our members and sponsors – without your support we could not deliver these achievements. A special welcome to Trimble and Schneider Electric both of whom became Strategic Members during 2021.

Richard Petrie, Chief Executive

buildingSMART International

Program Updates


On the technical side 2021 saw the first anniversary of the Technical Roadmap. The combination of several standards and services into an integrated offering started to shape in this year. Piecing together different jigsaws that all have a different maturity and development pace has been very rewarding.

When forced to mention three highlights of 2021 I would choose:

  • The Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) are now represented as a UML Class diagram. A new maintenance system combines the UML and Markdown documentation with thorough quality control and automated consistency checks. With IFC 4.3 now fully in the new environment we can much better anticipate community input and integration with other standards like GIS and Digital Twins. The automated checks make IFC 4.3 to the best ever tested release of IFC.
  • In 2021 a new ‘buildingSMART Data Dictionary’ was released. After a prototype focusing on usability in 2020, an enterprise stable deployment was launched mid-2021. The new bSDD provides the industry with a single-entry point for multiple data standards. With Frédéric Grand leading the development, bSDD adheres to all recent standards for both data structures (ISO12006-3, ISO23386) and APIs. The dedicated focus on usability for the industry led to a bSDD that is the basis for data quality in our industry.
  • The third highlight is more difficult to measure, but most definitely happening in 2021. It is the increased leadership role that Software vendors take in the development of openBIM standards and services. On all levels vendors and implementors are actively participating in the developments. Early and active vendor commitment improves the usability and scalability of openBIM solutions and is therefore paramount for the community.

That means some major developments like the birth of the ‘Information Delivery Specification’ falls outside of the podium this year. This IDS standard is a strategically important development to increase the usability of openBIM, and the reliability of workflows in practice. That also goes for the ‘Use-Case Marketplace’ where practitioners can find a reliable starting point to increase the effectiveness of their projects. I’m sure this end-user driven developments, together with a new approach to Software Certification will become the highlights of 2022!

Marketing and Communications

There have been many highlights in 2021, but some things really stand out. Firstly, I want to praise the community for their continued support of the work we do and the engagement we experience when we share news we feel is relevant to you. It can often be a fine line between what we think people will find interesting and valuable and what we feel helps move the industry forward. I am very pleased however with the volume and frequency and our social media footprint would suggest things are again moving in the right direction. My top three highlights for 2021:

  • We were able to hire Dan Little as a full-time events manager and marketing executive and his contributions have been huge. Many of the community will have worked with Dan during the virtual summits and his commitment and his hard work has been a huge help to buildingSMART. We were able to deliver two successful virtual summits and ensured the work in the community could continue.
  • The buildingSMART Awards Program continues to go from strength to strength. In 2021 we had an initial 150+ projects submitted and a bigger list of jurors than ever before! I am delighted that we were able to put together an Awards Yearbook and a variety of case studies to better tell the stories of these outstanding projects.
  • Finally, I was proud to launch the buildingSMART Digital Twins Podcast in January 2021 and we ran a series of interviews and discussions throughout the year. We had very good listenership and downloads and I was grateful to speak to some inspiring people within our industry who all endorsed the work we do. We hope to continue this in 2022.

There are of course many other highlights in the year, but now we look forward to another good 2022 with so much opportunity on the horizon and I’m looking forward to helping our users see the real value in open standards and openBIM.


2021 has been another strong year for the bSI Community in multiple ways. I have been delighted, but not surprised, that the output from the programs has increased during this time of enforced remote working. This is because the community network and processes are now well established, with great leadership teams in each of the steering committees.

The much in-demand and anticipated IFC 4.3 release has been published as a bSI Production Standard, and once the legacy building elements are incorporated this will be well on its way to becoming an ISO and CEN release. This is the culmination of several years' work on multiple infrastructure and rail projects. You can listen to their story on the latest podcast.

The building domains have also been busy. Projects are underway for Facilities management, fire safety, cost and scheduling prediction, regulation and a new standard for the Concrete pre-cast industry has been published.

The much-anticipated Use Case Management service has been refined and built into the bSI Process and several of the Rooms are using it to determine industry requirements and update with their activities.

The new Sustainability Energy Management Room launches in 2022, chiefly supported by bSI’s newest strategic members, Schneider Electric but of course open to all members.

The bSI Management Office is now able to support the Program with a full suite of International Project Coordinators after the recruitment of Laura Tan. Laura and the other IPCs provide the Rooms with management expertise and enable people from all over the world to operate as a professional executive committee. They also support the delivery of the Standards Summits which we held exclusively on-line again this year. You can catch up with all the content from the Summits here.

Growth of the support network is possible due to sound financial management and by constantly reviewing the costs and needs of the business we are able to make the most appropriate investments. The 2020 Annual Report was published in the year. I’m pleased to be able to confirm that 2021 has concluded with a modest surplus which of course will be invested back into the organization.

Another important output is the publication of White papers aimed at the industry leaders to keep them informed about the opportunities provided through digital transformation of their industry. Our report on Liberating Built Asset Information to achieve Organizational Objectives has been well received and created in conjunction with the Institute of Asset Management. These White papers prime the pump for future projects to address specific needs.

I would like to thank all the Room Steering Committees, Project Teams and support staff for their exceptional work and I look forward very much to 2022.

buildingSMART International would like to wish everyone a festive break and a Happy New Year.