SPie - Specifier's Properties Information Exchange

Last week I attended the Ecobuild America conference held in Washington DC. As you might
expect from the name, the conference focus is on sustainable design. However
there is also a strong emphasis on BIM and specifications because of the
influence of National Institute of Building Science (NIBS), buildingSMART
alliance, and Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP).

 The prominent specifications discussion centered on SPie, the Specifier's
Properties Information Exchange. This is a product of a joint effort led by the
Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and SCIP. The project was funded
through a grant from the US Army Corps of Engineers. The goal of the project
was to define the minimum property sets for building model objects with consistent
defined materials, products, equipment, and assemblies.

 The project resulted in an extensive list of properties for over 400 specification
sections. The properties represent the common applications, sustainability
requirements, basic materials, and options that are required to specify
products for construction projects. The hope is that manufacturers will use the
property sets to organize their product data so the data can be transformed
into an IFC (industry foundation class) file capable of being used by modeling
software to describe the product as a BIM object.

 The property sets are available in an on-line searchable database. The searches can
be completed by MasterFormat™ 2004 specification section number, UniFormat™
assembly number, title, or property. The property sets for each specification
section number offer a good list of the common choices that designers must make
and that specifiers must incorporate into construction specifications.

 Good luck trying to find the Specifier's Properties Information Exchange on the NIBS
Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) website. The page is not available from the
navigation menu or site map. However, it is available on WBDG's site at http://www.wbdg.org/references/pg_spt.php,
found through search engines using "specifiers property set" as the
search term. Let's hope that NIBS corrects the website navigation menus and
site map to show the links to the ProductGuide page.

 Here is an example of the property sets. This set is for flush wood doors specified in
Section 081416. The properties listed are not the complete set needed to
describe factors affecting wood door specifications. Veneer cut, veneer leaf
matching, and door face matching can greatly affect material waste and
consequently door cost. Additionally, the door core construction may be implied
by fire resistance ratings and certified materials, but options are still
available that will affect durability and cost. Not shown in the example values
are two common values included for each property: "Other" and
"Not Defined." These additional values are available choices when
manufacturers complete the property sets for their products.





Locations indicated

Remodel and clean existing


Fire resistance rating per applicable code


Oak veneer

Cherry veneer

Maple veneer

Birch veneer

Plastic laminate

As selected

Match existing



Shop-primed and site-finished

Site finished





Tempered safety glass, ASTM C 1048

Insulating safety glazing, 16 CFR 1201


Custom, AWI

Premium, AWI


As selected


Standard Duty, WDMA I.S.1-A

Heavy duty, WDMA I.S.1-A

Extra heavy duty, WDMA I.S.1-A


Reclaimed and salvaged materials

Low-emitting materials, composite woods and agrifiber products

Certified materials


1-3/8 inches (35 mm)

1-3/4 inches (44 mm)


Solid core

Hollow core


Manufacturer's warranty

Veneer Matching

As selected

 As these property sets are used, I expect they will be refined as the manufacturers begin
to identify the salient properties of each class of product. I believe the
intent will be to avoid properties that are entirely proprietary due to the
open nature of the buildingSMART alliance projects. Meanwhile, I applaud all
the participants that contributed to creating the property sets. And I
encourage manufacturers to begin developing their input for the property sets
to generate the industry needed IFC files supporting BIM objects.

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