Wednesday, 9 May 2012


What is COBie?

Construction Operations Building information exchange (COBie) addresses the handover of information between the construction team and the owner. It deals with operations and maintenance (O&M), as well as more general facility management information.

Traditionally, O&M information is provided in an ad hoc structure at the end of construction. COBie outlines a standard method for collecting the needed information throughout the design and construction process, as part of the deliverable package to the owner during commissioning and handover. It collects data from designers, as they define the design, and then by contractors as the building is constructed. It categorizes and structures the information in a practical and easy-to-implement manner.

The UK Cabinet Office have adopted COBie2. The specific version adopted is version 2.4. COBie is now mandatory for publicly funded projects in the UK. Some public clients are now starting to issue a COBie document as part of the design brief but can mandate that a COBie document be completed as part of submissions, tenders and design documentation.

Is this a software package or specification?

COBie is not software although software can be used to help build and maintain the COBie data. COBie is an Excel spreadsheet document based on a template created and maintained by the National Institute of Building Sciences in the US. The Excel template contains a list of Excel sheets or tabs which contain predefined columns and rows to be completed by either the designer and/or contractor. 

Mandatory information must be completed at each phase as listed below:


Architectural Programming Phase

  • Contact Details
  • Facility naming
  • Space and room data sheets
  • Space layouts
  • Space zoning

Architectural Design Phase

  • Floors
  • Space finishes
  • Zoning and space allocations
  • Architectural product schedules

Coordinated Design Phase

  • Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing product schedules
  • Building Systems
  • Product data (SPie defines minimum product templates)
  • Design document register
  • Indicative sizes for spaces (optional)

Construction Documents Phase

  • Submittal document register
  • Assignment of component to systems
  • Connections between components (optional)


Construction Mobilization Phase

  • Updated submittal document register

Construction 60% Complete Phase

  • Manufacturer contact information for all approved submittals
  • Model and Serial numbers on all installed products/equipment
  • Components identified by tag or bar codes, as appropriate
  • Installed product data (SPie defines minimum product templates)

Beneficial Occupancy Phase (Practical Completion)

  • Updated space function and room area measurements
  • Warranty, parts, and handover documents
  • Operation and maintenance documentation
  • Installed product data (SPie defines minimum product templates)

Fiscal Completion (End of defects liability period)

  • Updated previous phase information, as needed

At each phase, data from the previous phases must be reviewed and updated.

How is COBie data created?

COBie2 may be created using one of three methods:

  1. use of COBie2 compliant software.
  2. development of custom transformations of existing data into a COBie2 compliant file, and/or 
  3. direct use of the COBie2 spreadsheet format. The standard format is Excel.

In most cases, it can be expected that a combination of these methods will need to be used to correctly meet the deliverable requirement. Cobie2 compliant software or custom transformations are not a requirement but can automate tedious tasks of exchanging data between BIM software and the COBie spreadsheet.

For the first year of the UK Cabinet Office transition to BIM for public projects, only option 3 is required. Thus only Excel software and a knowledge of COBie2 is required which will allow up to one year for organizations to evaluate software systems and adapt processes to suit COBie. Organizations can continue to use only Excel thereafter but for larger projects, translating and coordinating design and specification data to and from COBie would become too burdensome and tedious.

What software is currently COBie2 compliant?

The following is a non exhaustive list of software that implement COBie.

Company Product Market Producer Consumer
Bentley Architecture Design X
EagleCMMS Proteus MMX FM X
LATISTA LATISTA Field Construction QA X X
Onuma Onuma System Multiple X X
Tokmo Tokmo Production System Construction X X
VELA VELA Systems Commissioning Software Commissioning X X

A producer can output data in COBie2 standard format whereas a consumer can import COBie2 data. Applications such as Onuma can create spaces in BIM software such as Revit and ArchiCAD from COBie data and maintain the relationship thus reducing the time and errors involved in synchronizing data.

NBS are releasing a COBie compliant export tool with NBS Create in 2012. This will create the product data required at the coordinated design phase.

Where can I find the COBie2 template

The current version as adopted by the UK Cabinet Office is 2.4 and is available at: See Templates and additional resources at the bottom of the page.

Additional reading

Necessary Disclaimer:
While I strive to make the content as accurate as possible, I make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the contents of the information in this post. Following any advice here is done entirely at your own risk, with no liability to this site, or the site owner.


Michael Earley is a Computer Applications Developer and an Architectural Technologist. I currently maintain blogs on both of my professional interests, and

1 comment:

  1. Well said, Microsoft Office Word and Excel have their own distinct advantages. There are people out there like me that keep track of users through templates!
    Business templates | Excel templates


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