Building Information Modelling (BIM) is a very broad term that describes the process of creating and managing a model containing digital information about a build asset.

The common data environment (CDE), is the single source of information used to collect, manage and disseminate documentation, the graphical model and non-graphical data for the whole project team. Creating this single source of information facilitates collaboration between project team members and helps avoid duplication and mistakes.

Ownership of information within the CDE remains with the productor of that information. Also individual models produced by different project team members do not interact, they have clear authorship and remain separate. This means that the liabilities of the productors are not changed by the incorporation of their model into the federated model.

So, the CDE is a central repository where construction project information is housed.

Who contributes to the CDE?

Construction draws on the skills of a wide range of disciplines and the CDE brings together the information from all who work as part of the wider project team.

For example, a project might have inputs and deliverables from architectural, landscape, structural, civils/infrastructure and mechanical, electrical, plumbing/services staff and these will be added to the CDE as data drops at specific points in the project set out in Employer’s Information Requirements.

What form does the CDE take?

In establishing a CDE you should be mindful of the requirements of contributing parties and of the security policy on information.

What do I need to consider when working with the CDE?

In working with files collaboratively you should consider some kind of workflow / sign-off process so it is clear which information remains work in progress, which has been shared (following appropriate review) and which published (following stakeholder sign-off). You’ll also need to think about versioning of assets and archive for those that have been replaced.

What advantages do I get from using a CDE?

  • Shared information reduces the time and cost related the project.
  • Any number of documents can be generated from different combinations of model files.
  • Extracting information of the latest approved data from the shared area

Tips for implementing a CDE

These courses delve into the following critical components of a CDE:

  • Start with your requirements.
  • Agree on EIR.
  • Leverage industry standards like PAS1192 and BS1192.
  • Document your BEP (BIM Execution Plan).
  • Select a CDE that matches your needs.
  • Name the CDE within the EIR so teams are mandated to use it.
  • Ensure that all task/information managers are named and documented.
  • Continuously review everyone is fulfilling their obligations and improvements are put into place if required