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IFC Longevity and Future-Proofing: The Pillars for Sustainable Construction

Here’s how IFC is revolutionizing the AEC sector, ensuring interoperability and data longevity. Discover the challenges and solutions for a more efficient construction future

The AEC industry isn’t static; it’s continuously evolving. As new technologies, materials, and construction methods emerge regularly, the IFC plays a fundamental role in future-proofing the industry by embracing these changes. In fact, the IFC flexibility allows it to adapt to evolving needs and requirements, ensuring it remains a relevant and indispensable tool for years to come.

What is IFC? Definition and Purpose of Industry Foundation Classes

IFC is a common standard format for data exchange in the construction industry. This data model facilitates collaboration and effective communication among various project stakeholders, ensuring data protection and longevity in an industry characterized by the use of different software and products.

Longevity and Data Protection with IFC: Ensuring Data Access Over Time

In an evolving sector, IFC’s ability to ensure data access and protection over time is a factor of stability and security. IFC not only ensures vital information remains accessible and unchanged but also helps build “future-proof” buildings by enabling file and data compatibility across different software versions.

The Challenge of Technological Change

New software versions are released regularly, each promising improvements and new features. The risk associated with this constant progress is data obsolescence. How can a project started five years ago remain relevant and accessible today? This is where IFC comes into play.

IFC: Guardian of Time and Information

IFC acts as a guardian of time and information. This file format, developed through the work of BuildingSMART International (bSI), is neutral and open, designed to be independent of the software used: this means that data stored in an IFC format can be opened, read, and manipulated by any application supporting the standard. Not only that.
Even across different versions of the same software. This ensures that even if the original software is no longer available or has radically changed, the data is not lost but remains accessible and usable. In other words, compatibility across different software versions: a file created with an older version of software can be opened with a newer version without losing critical information. This cross-compatibility ensures smooth data transition through various project phases, as well as their longevity.

Future-Proofing Projects

The concept of “future-proofing” is more than just a precaution in the modern construction world; it’s a strategic vision. It represents the adoption of proactive measures to ensure that project data and files are not just a temporary snapshot but a lasting legacy. Let’s see how “future-proofing” manifests through the use of IFC and its significant impact on the longevity and usefulness of projects over time.

A Vision Beyond the Present, an Investment in the Future

Planning for the future means surpassing immediate needs and anticipating and preparing for changes and evolutions that we don’t yet know. In the context of construction, it means ensuring that data generated today can survive tomorrow’s technological changes.
IFC is at the heart of this vision, serving as a bridge between the present and the future. This standard is designed to evolve with technology while maintaining backward compatibility. In practice, this means that data created today will not only be accessible but also usable for decades to come, regardless of software and platform evolutions.

Adopting IFC as a standard for data exchange and preservation ensures not only data longevity but also promotes a collaborative environment where information is freely accessible and shareable among different stakeholders, regardless of their software choices. It’s a step towards a more integrated and sustainable industry.

Project teams can rest assured that by adopting IFC, their work will not be in vain. Even in the face of radical technological changes, the data remains safe and accessible. This confidence frees professionals from the burden of technological uncertainty, allowing them to focus on creativity, innovation, and the quality of their work.

Benefits of IFC: Value in Interoperability and Communication

The main advantage offered by the IFC format, as mentioned, is the ability to enable free collaboration among various figures involved in the construction process, allowing them to exchange information through a standard format. This results in reduced time, information integrity, higher quality, error reduction, and overall cost reduction, thanks to consistent data and information during the design, construction, and maintenance phases.
All this, while ensuring the free choice of software in project work for every stakeholder involved.

Interoperability and application integration are also key factors in achieving open and interconnected information systems, necessary to achieve the goals of digitization in the construction sector.

The Future of IFC in BIM and the Construction Industry

The development of the IFC format continues unabated, and work is already underway on the new version 5, designed to integrate new concepts such as smart buildings, smart cities, and digital twins. The primary goal of this development is modernization and standardization, aiming to support new operational paradigms and advancements in the construction sector while maintaining the semantic integrity of its previous iteration. IFC data longevity and future-proofing.
Today, the structure of IFC focuses on defining a standard for file-based data exchange; new operational methodologies require IFC to adapt to new requirements to meet the needs of CDEs, digital twins, IoT, and smart cities. This basis anticipates a significant transformation from traditional file-based approaches in modeling.