Key Takeaways from the buildingSMART International Standards Summit 2023

By Enzo Blonk, Managing Director at Konsenzo and Head of Market Europe at Cobuilder

Snapshot of some of the participants at the Summit in Lillestrøm, courtesy of bSI

The BuildingSMART International Summit in Norway was a great success with a lot of participants from all over the world. Here are some key takeaways and essential insights from the summit.

Cobuilder had an active role at this edition of the bSI summit which took place in Lillestrøm, Norway. The Summit was focused on the upcoming changes in EU regulations for the construction industry, including the requirement for (Construction) Digital Product Passports (DPP) and the industry’s current digitalisation challenges. It also provided an open platform for all participants to discuss digital changes ahead.

More than 180 speakers shared experience and knowledge. The event was visited by representatives from 39 countries from around the world and received an 8.4/10 average event rating.

A transformative workshop: “OpenBIM and Product Passports – Are You Fit for 55?”

One of the standout sessions at the summit was the full-day workshop, “OpenBIM and Product Passports – Are You Fit for 55?”. This workshop delved into the use of open standards, such as bSI and GS1, Data Templates, Data Dictionaries, the GTIN (Global Trade Item Number), and focused on key aspects of EU regulations, including the European Green Deal, the revised CPR (Construction Products Regulation), the ESPR (EcoDesign Sustainable Product Regulation), and the creation of Digital Product Passports.

The forum included industry experts with different backgrounds and fields of expertise. Among those were Oscar Nieto Sanz, Policy Officer at the European Commission, Lars Fredenlund, CEO of Cobuilder, and Pedro Mêda, Professor at the University of Porto, among many others.

On the stage: Enzo Blonk, Hansueli Schmid, Lars Fredenlund, Knut Jøssang, Pedro Mêda. Courtesy of bSI

The workshop targeted a broad audience of different industry stakeholders, such as product manufacturers, associations, authorities, construction companies, clients, and asset owners. The central theme revolved around interoperability by breaking down silos and improving information exchange to foster a more connected construction value chain. The overarching message was clear: To work efficiently and cohesively, stakeholders must enhance their processes for information exchange by adopting common practices for data management.

Key takeaway: Achieving interconnectivity is essential for the construction value chain. It should function as a single living organism. Breaking down the silos within the industry can only be achieved through the adoption of open standards that ensure free information flow.

EU legislation changes and the digitalisation imperative

During the discussions, it became evident that forthcoming EU legislation changes, including the revised CPR and ESPR, will be approved sooner rather than later. Waiting for these changes to become mandatory is no longer a viable strategy. The urgency to prepare and digitise data was a resounding message.

Furthermore, the connection between digitalisation and sustainability was highlighted. An interesting metaphor was used by Pedro Mêda during his presentation on the GrowingCircle project. He referred to construction products as having multiple “nth lives”, instead of “end-of-life”, emphasising the importance of reusing construction products and aligning with the sustainability objectives of the European Green Deal.

Key takeaway: EU legislation changes are imminent and digitalisation is an important enabler for improving sustainability.

Use case: the Power of QR codes, the GTIN, and GS1 Digital Link

A compelling use case demonstrated the remarkable potential of QR codes, the GTIN identifier, and the GS1 Digital Link. By scanning a QR code on a construction object, various stakeholders can access pertinent information. The information revealed depends on the user’s access rights. For example, scanning with a smartphone redirects to the manufacturer’s product webpage providing basic information such as fitting instructions or certificates, while using a specific 3rd party application grants access to environmental data sourced from the Environmental Product Declaration, such as the product’s Global Warming Potential (GWP) or to the maintenance record of that specific product instance.

The key to making relevant information available to all stakeholders is the use of the GTIN. This unique product identifier developed according to a global identification standard (ISO 15459) enables users to simply scan a QR code and get quick access to a pool of valuable product information.

The presented use case demonstrated the practical application of the Digital Product Passport and the potential of adopting global identification standards that enable access to a comprehensive data repository through a simple scan of a QR code.

Key takeaway: Leveraging the GTIN as a digital link allows seamless access to the right product information for relevant construction actors.

Audience scanning the QR codes, courtesy of bSI

Digital Product Passports: a living document

The audience also gained insight into the difference between static and dynamic information in Digital Product Passports (DPP).

Static information is provided by the manufacturer, encompassing details, such as data on raw materials, components, classifications, and certifications.

DPPs will also have a dynamic component that evolves as the product is purchased, installed, and maintained.  The Digital Product Passport will function much like a medical “health chart,” keeping a record of a product’s operational history, maintenance, and environmental impact.

Similar to a medical health chart, the DPP is a living document, continually enriched with new information, aiding stakeholders in making informed decisions throughout a project lifecycle.

Key takeaway: Digital Product Passports are akin to a medical “health chart” for construction products, offering continually updated information during the life-cycle of a project to support decision-makers.

On the stage: Lars Chr. Fredenlund

Cobuilder and Define Data Dictionary

Cobuilder’s commitment to structured and standardised data was met with enthusiastic acceptance during the bSI summit.

The industry has reached a level of maturity where the importance of efficient data management is recognised.

More and more construction organisations realise the benefits of using a common digital language that is based on standardised data dictionaries such as the Define Data Dictionary. This approach not only helps them to “speak” the same digital language but also improves operational efficiency and accelerates the transition to net zero.

In summary, the buildingSMART International Summit 2023 provided valuable insights into the evolving landscape of the construction industry, emphasising the urgency of digitalisation, the significance of sustainable practices, and the power of standardisation and structured data. Cobuilder received recognition for its role in providing a practical approach to digital transformation based on the application of international standards for managing construction data as a way of achieving free information flow and synergy across the construction value chain.

Read more about the buildingSMART International Standards Summit in Lillestrøm at the official BSI website.