First published 8th April 2015, last updated 24th April 2019.
Uniclass 2015 is a unified classification for the UK industry covering all construction sectors. It contains consistent tables classifying items of all scale from a facility such as a railway down through to products such as a CCTV camera in a railway station. Sarah Delany, Technical Author and Head of Classification at NBS, introduces Uniclass2015 in this article.
As part of the BIM Toolkit project, NBS have published the next version of the Uniclass classification scheme. Originally released in 1997, Uniclass allows project information to be structured to a recognised standard. This original version has now been heavily revised, to make it more suitable for use with modern construction industry practice, and to make it compatible with BIM now and in the future.
As a key deliverable of the BIM Toolkit project, NBS worked with experts from across the construction industry to develop the new classification system – Uniclass 2015. This builds on previous versions and developments of Uniclass, but significantly extends its scope and responds to industry feedback to the draft tables CPI published in 2013. Uniclass 2015 provides:
- A unified classification system for the construction industry. For the first time, buildings, landscape and infrastructure can be classified under one unified scheme.
- A hierarchical suite of tables that support classification of all ‘things’, from a university campus or road network, to a floor tile or kerb unit.
- A numbering system that is flexible enough to accommodate future classification requirements.
- A system compliant with ISO 12006-2 Building construction — Organization of information about construction works Part 2: Framework for classification that is mapped to NRM1 (published by RICS), and also allows mapping to other classification systems in the future.
- A classification system maintained and updated by NBS.
- A database of synonyms within the BIM toolkit to make it as easy as possible to find the required classification using standard industry terminology.
What we’re doing and why
The 2015 version of Uniclass has been in development for some time, previously referred to as Uniclass2. It provides a means of structuring project information essential for the adoption of BIM level 2. Information about a project can be generated, used and retrieved throughout the project life cycle.
Feedback and comment from professional institutes, construction professionals, librarians and manufacturers led to major restructuring of the tables themselves and changes to the terminology used, and we’re still asking for feedback on the published tables, so we can improve them further.
Uniclass 2015 has now been restructured and redeveloped to provide a comprehensive system suitable for use by the entire industry, including the infrastructure, landscape and engineering services, as well as the building sector, providing for and supporting all stages in a project life cycle.
The initial classification work has focussed on the 7 core tables that describe an asset required to support the Digital Plan of Work. Subsequently, following consultation with industry, additional tables have been developed for Form of Information, Project Management and Tools and equipment. A table for Properties and Characteristics will be considered in the future.
We know that not everyone will want or be able to adopt it immediately, and so by providing a route between classification schemes, all BIM Toolkit users should be able to share in its benefits. Initially, this mapping will be to NRM1, assisting in costing work, but other classification schemes can also be mapped to Uniclass 2015 in the future such as asset registers and Omniclass.
Uniclass 2015 has been carefully structured to be in accordance with ISO 12006-2 Building construction – Organization of information about construction works – Part 2: Framework for classification. This means that Uniclass 2015 will be particularly suited to use in an international context where mapping to other similarly compliant schemes around the world should be streamlined.
What it’s for
Uniclass 2015 is divided into a set of tables which can be used to categorise information for costing, briefing, CAD layering, etc. as well as when preparing specifications or other production documents.
Additionally, these tables are suitable for buildings and other assets in use, and maintaining both asset management and facilities management information.
The suite of tables is broadly hierarchical, and allows information about a project to be defined from the broadest view to the most detailed. The Complexes table describes projects in overall terms and can be thought of in terms of the provision of an Activity. Complexes can be broken down as groupings of Entities, Activities and Spaces/ location depending on the particular use.
Entities can be described using the Spaces/ location and Activities tables if required. The linear Entities can also be described using the Systems table.
For detailed design and construction, the main starting point is Entities.
The main architectural components of an Entity are Elements, such as roof, walls, floors, etc. Other requirements in an Entity, such as drainage, heating or ventilation, are included as Functions which are part of the Elements table which is named Elements/ functions. Functions can be used in the early stages of a project to define what services are required but can also be used to describe facets of an asset manager’s role for managing these services or functions.
Elements and Functions are described in more detail by Systems which in turn contain Products. >
Uniclass 2015 - Complexes, Entities, Spaces/Locations and Activities tables
Uniclass 2015 - Entities, Elements/Functions, Systems and Products tables
Looked at more closely, the tables comprise:
This describes a project in overall terms. It can be a private house with garden, drive, garage and tool shed, or it can be a University campus with buildings for lecturing, administration, sport, halls of residence, etc. Rail networks and airports are also all examples of complexes.
This Complex is a holiday village.
Entities are discrete things like buildings, bridges, tunnels etc. They provide the areas where different activities occur.
Within the holiday village above is a restaurant which is an Entity.
The Activities table defines what user activities are accommodated in the complex, entity or space. For example a prison complex provides a Detention activity at a high level, but can also be broken down into individual activities like exercise, sleeping, eating, working, etc.
The Activities table also includes project management, surveys, operation and maintenance and services. The user activities of dining and access are provided for by the Spaces in the restaurant
In buildings, spaces are provided for various activities to take place. In some cases a space is only suitable for one activity, for example a kitchen, but a school hall may be used for assemblies, lunches, sports, concerts and dramas. For linear entities, such as transport corridors, the term location is more appropriate than space for breaking the project into suitable sections. For example, transport corridors that run between two locations, such as London Kings Cross to Newcastle, or the M1 from London to Leeds.
For a building, this Space is for an accessible toilet with internal wall Elements.
Elements are the main components of a building (floors, walls and roofs) or of a structure like a bridge (foundations, piers, deck). Functions are the building services to be provided and managed.
Either one or more Systems are collected together to describe an element or a function. Systems are collections of products, for example, a system for a timber pitched roof includes timber structural members, boards, fastenings, etc.; and a low temperature hot water heating system includes a boiler, pipework, tank, radiators, etc. A signal system for a railway is made up of signals, detection and warning equipment, posts, cables, etc.; and a scum removal system, part of a wastewater treatment entity, includes scum containers, scum pipelines, valves, pumps, etc.
This illustrates a ceiling system with ceiling tile products.
Finally, the individual products used to construct a system can be specified, e.g. joist hangers, terrazzo tiles, gas fired boilers.
|Buildings||Linear Infrastructure||Geospatial infrastructure|
Wastewater treatment plant
Primary wastewater treatment plant
|Spaces / Locations||Buildings:||
Timber roof framing system
Low temperature hot water heating system
Ballasted rail track system
Hot rolled paving system
Crossflow grit removal systems
Gas fired boilers
Rail track tie bars
Hot-rolled asphalt (HRA) surface courses and slurries
Chain and flight scrapers
Scum removal boards
Additional tables for managing the BIM process
The Project management table includes classification codes for information for use throughout the life cycle of a project.
Tools and equipment
The Tools and equipment table includes lists of plant, equipment and tools for carrying out the construction of a project and the maintenance of a project.
Form of Information
The Form of Information table includes codes for the type of information format. For example, Communication includes Brochure, Correspondence and Memo; Graphical includes Animation file, Model – Three dimension, Photograph; and Record information includes Certificate, Plan, Report and Survey. The table does not include details of content.
Using the classification system
The tables need to be flexible and to be able to accommodate enough coding’s to ensure coverage, to allow for a multitude of items and circumstances, including new technologies and developments that are yet to emerge.
Work is being done to support the tables and their users: synonyms are being added to terms to aid searching, and mappings to other classification systems are being prepared, to allow a seamless cross-over.
Each code consists of either four or five pairs of characters. The initial pair identifies which table is being used and employs letters. The four following pairs represent groups, sub-groups, sections and objects. By selecting pairs of numbers, up to 99 items can be included in each group of codes, allowing plenty of scope for inclusion.
For example, Systems are arranged in groups with subgroups which are sub divided, which leads to the final object code.
- 30 Roof, floor and paving systems
- 30-10 Pitched, arched and domed roof structure systems
- 30-10-30 Framed roof structure systems
- 30-10-30-25 Heavy steel roof framing systems
- 50 Disposal systems
- 50-75 Wastewater storage, treatment and disposal systems
- 50-75-67 Primary sewage treatment and final settlement systems
- 50-75-67-46 Lamella tank systems
As an example, consider a new school classroom block to provide facilities for teaching art and cookery.
The Client sets out the requirements in terms of the activities that need to be accommodated in the new classroom block. These can also be thought of as spaces.
|Activity||Space or location|
|Art teaching||Art studio|
|Secondary teaching||Secondary classrooms|
|Cookery teaching||Teaching kitchen|
|Assembly Performance||School hall|
The relationship between activities and spaces
The school as a whole is a complex. The new block is a building, which is an entity. Other entities will be required such as paths and roads to the new block, landscaped areas and possibly a car park.
The building (or entity) is divided into spaces which accommodate the required activities.
For the concept design, the entity can be described as being formed from elements – which can be thought of as the basic building blocks of a structure – and functions such as heating, hot and cold water, drainage, power and lighting, etc.
During the rest of the detailed design process through to construction itself, the details of how each element should be constructed is described using the Systems table; systems are themselves made up of products.
As an example, consider a new wastewater treatment facility.
The Client sets out the requirements in terms of the activities such as primary and secondary wastewater treatment. The whole facility is a complex, each of types of treatment are carried out in ‘small’ entities. The entity is composed of a number of systems including a concrete vessel, wastewater distribution pipelines, sludge removal, scum removal etc.
Using Classification to interrogate models
As a different example, imagine a requirement to check that all doors in a project model are compliant with the requirements of Part M of the Building Regulations. There may be hundreds of doors on the project but they are all classified as door systems using the Systems table:
- Ss-25-30-20 Door, shutter and hatch systems
The data can be searched for instances of this code to produce a list of all objects classified as doors. Once all the doors have been identified, software can interrogate the properties of the objects to determine for example, whether the clear opening width of each door is in accordance with the requirements of the regulations.
An asset manager needs to be able to find details of plant and equipment quickly when issues arise, and having them classified can help with this.
The spaces within a building or other facility can be listed using their classification codes, along with all the activities associated with them. The systems serving each space and the products that form them can also be included by classification, providing a complete information trail. When a product reaches the end of its life and needs to be replaced, having it correctly classified makes it easy to identify which spaces are affected, so that arrangements can be made and people informed.
Latest updates (April 2019)
This is the latest in our quarterly updating programme for Uniclass 2015 and includes updates to seven tables, and the publication of two new tables.
Publication of 'Form of Information' and 'Roles' tables
Following the publication of the Annex to ISO 19650-2, we have been liaising with the team writing the guidance to the new Annex to ensure that the 'Form of Information' and 'Roles' tables meet the requirements of the fields in the container names. This builds on the work that we have been doing with Transport for New South Wales. These tables have now been published, following their period as beta versions.
Updates to existing tables
During the last three months, we have been continuing our work with Royal HaskoningDHV and Northumbrian Water Ltd, and as a result a number of codes have been added to the 'Entities', 'Spaces/ location', 'Systems' and 'Products' tables.
We have also consulted Virtus Traffic Management Solutions Ltd and added some codes to the 'Elements/ functions' and 'Spaces/ location' tables to meet their requirements.
We have made some amendments to codes and classifications in the 'Systems' and 'Products' tables following some queries about the details. This should ensure that there is more clarity for users of the classification.
Continuing input and feedback
Between updates, we liaise regularly with a growing number of individuals and organizations using the tables, in order to provide support and evaluate requests for new codes. We are grateful to all the organizations that we have worked with for their input. As we share details of this activity, industry professionals can learn more about who else is using the tables, what purposes they are using them for, the range of changes to expect and the reasons for them.
The work of maintaining and enhancing Uniclass 2015 to continually support the needs of those operating in the built environment is an ongoing exercise. We welcome comment and input from all sectors in the construction industry via uniclass2015@theNBS.com.
Changes to published versions
Status and revision information is available alongside each Uniclass 2015 table. Each information sheet (pdf) provides a summary of the changes made, as well as code-by-code details.
Uniclass 2015 is a dynamic classification for the construction industry. If you wish to get in touch, please do so at uniclass2015@theNBS.com
Download the tables:
The current status of the classification tables is listed below.
|Table||Status and revision information|
|Co - Complexes||v1.7, Published August 2018|
|En - Entities||v1.12, Published April 2019|
|Ac - Activities||v1.9, Published April 2019|
|SL - Spaces/ locations||v1.12, Published April 2019|
|EF - Elements/ functions||v1.5, Published April 2019|
|Ss - Systems||v1.14, Published April 2019|
|Pr - Products||v1.14, Published April 2019|
|TE - Tools and Equipment||v1.5, Published August 2018|
|PM - Project management||v1.4, Published April 2019|
|Zz- CAD||v1.0, Published July 2015|
|FI - Form of information||v1.0, Published April 2019|
|Ro - Roles||v1.0, Published April 2019|
The unified classification system for the construction industry was developed by the Construction Project Information Committee with assistance from a government funded research project and first published in 1997.
Uniclass 2015 is a development of this unified classification system by NBS and is licensed for use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence.
The article within this page introducing Uniclass 2015 is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported licence.