The European Confederation of Woodworking Industries (CEI-Bois) delivers interoperable data to the international openBIM community

Published on November 22, 2023

The European Confederation of Woodworking Industries is now able to provide standardized, high-quality data to the international openBIM community through several interconnected data dictionaries hosted in the buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD).

The European data dictionary for wood products

Morten Loës
Morten LoësHead of Research and Development at VIE build GmbH

“The entire project started with the international collaboration TIMBIM as part of the digitalization effort of the European Confederation of Woodworking Industries, CEI-Bois”, explains Morten Loës, member of the Austrian chapter of buildingSMART and  Head of Research and Development at VIE build GmbH in Vienna.

“The main goal of the TIMBIM project was to offer a standardized data format that enables the European Woodworking industry to provide their data to the entire European construction sector”, continues Morten. “We developed the data structures, called data templates, in Define, a powerful platform led by forward-thinking industry actors and managed by Cobuilder on behalf of the industry. Define enables industry organizations to implement relevant international standards when managing, organizing and governing their data.”

Interconnected data dictionaries

As a next step in the project, buildingSMART Austria, representing the Austrian timber industry, were tasked to find a viable solution for connecting and integrating the data developed by the TIMBIM project into BIM models. Standardized, high-quality data as part of the model brings huge advantages to the way a project is executed. The data stored in the data dictionary is neutral and can be used in many different systems and tools, but in combination with geometrical information, such as location, dimensions, mass, etc., provides huge practical benefits.

“Through the data dictionary, developed by CEI-Bois, we have managed to standardize the data on product level”, says Morten. “But in the built environment we have also combined superstructures for building elements, such as walls or slabs, that consist of more than just one product layer, and have their own specific properties that cannot always be derived from the product properties of a single material layer. Nevertheless, it is important that those are incorporated into the BIM model, so their respective data can be taken into account when developing the project.”

Having the European wood products data dictionary within the buildingSMART ecosystem gives a great advantage because it can be linked to other data dictionaries hosted in bSDD, most importantly to the IFC-Schema. The CEI-Bois data dictionary is already linked to a data dictionary for life-cycle indicators, and buildingSMART Austria is about to launch another data dictionary, called Dataholz, in bSDD. Dataholz contains standardized data on timber building elements and is the only European database for the timber industry with certified building-element structures. For every material layer in the superstructure, a respective link to the European data dictionary for wood products will be integrated. This way the European data dictionary will be linked to the Austrian data dictionary for timber building elements as well.

Product data in superconstruction

Seamless integration of high-quality data

“By linking together several data dictionaries, we will be able to achieve data consistency and integrity across different interconnected databases”, continues Morten. “This enables all the actors in the international openBIM community to integrate all the data contained in the different data dictionaries into their BIM models.”

The BIM model is the basis for the realization of sustainable construction projects. Currently, building permissions are still granted based on plans delivered on paper, and data about construction objects is still stored in PDF files. Such outdated processes for managing data lead to poor efficiency and risk of errors.

“All project information must be stored in a digital format, in the BIM model”, says Morten. “We cannot keep sharing information by analogue means. The ever-growing complexity of project requirements, particularly related to sustainability and circularity, creates a need for the adoption of digital technology. This is why data consistency is key. The work we have done integrating different databases that contain high-quality standardized information, enables data integrity and seamless flow of digital information across systems and BIM software.”

In addition to being able to deliver generic data through these linked data dictionaries, buildingSMART Austria is planning on providing manufacturers of wood products with access to data templates, so that they can digitize specific data about their products. This way manufacturers will have the option to either benefit from the already developed generic objects available in the CEI-Bois data dictionary, or provide information that is strictly specific to their own products.

Data integrity is key to achieving sustainability goals

“To comply with the Ecodesign Directive for Sustainable Products (ESPR) and EU taxonomy as tools for implementing the EU Green Deal, it is important to have reliable proof for the sustainability of a building”, explains Morten. “This cannot be done without reliable, transparent data. Through the integration of data from a data dictionary within the model, we will be able to prove the sustainability of the project already before the tendering process. We will be able to do simulations and compare generic or specific products in the model. We can do calculations by combining dimensions, mass, location and data from the data dictionary to prove in a transparent way the sustainability of the project, be it to meet EU taxonomy or different certification requirements for green construction. This is essential to achieve efficiency when working with complex sustainability requirements.“