Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a very broad term that describes the process of creating and managing a digital model of a building or other facility (such as a bridge, highway, tunnel and so on).
Open BIM has been defined as '… a universal approach to the collaborative design, realization and operation of buildings based on open standards and workflows' (ref BuildingSMART). It allows project team members to participate in building information modelling (BIM) regardless of the software tools they use. It promotes a transparent and collaborative open workflow, creates a common language for widely-referenced processes, and provides enduring project data for use throughout the asset lifecycle.
Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) are the open and neutral data format for openBIM. They are the international standard for building information modelling used for sharing and exchanging construction and facility management data across different software applications.
IFC were first developed in 1994 by the Industry Alliance for Interoperability, a consortium formed by Autodesk. To allow the continued development of IFC as a non-proprietary data format, the consortium became the International Alliance for Interoperability in 1997 and has now become buildingSMART, a not-for-profit organisation.
IFC 1.0 first went into use in 2000. IFC4 was released on 12 March 2013, it is registered with ISO as ISO16739.
The improvements delivered by IFC4 are described by buildingSMART as:
- Enhanced specification capability with new geometric, parametric and other features.
- New BIM workflows, including 4D and 5D model exchanges, product libraries, BIM to geographic information system (GIS) interoperability, enhanced thermal simulations and sustainability assessments.
- Improved readability and ease of access to documentation.
- ifcXML4 and EXPRESS schema.
- Integration with mvdXML technology and definition of data validation services for data submissions.
- Corrections for technical problems.
- Extension of IFC to infrastructure and other parts of the built environment.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- BIM articles.
- BIM collaboration format.
- BIM Task Group.
- BS ISO 16739:2013 Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) for data sharing in the construction and facility management industries.
- Construction Operations Building Information Exchange (COBie).
- CIC BIM Protocol.
- Collaborative practices.
- Government Construction Strategy.
- Geographic information system.
- Industry Foundation Classes.
- Open BIM.
- Open data.
- PAS 1192-2:2013.
- Soft landings.