- Technical support

Classification

First published 8th April 2015, last updated 8th February 2019.

author

Sarah Delany

Technical Author and Head of Classification at NBS

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.

View and download the classification tables | Latest updates.

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 tables

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 - Complexes, Entities, Spaces/Locations and Activities tables

Uniclass 2015 - Entities, Elements/Functions, Systems and Products tables

Uniclass 2015 - Entities, Elements/Functions, Systems and Products tables

Looked at more closely, the tables comprise:

  • Complexes
    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. Holiday village
  • Entities
    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. Restaurant
  • Activities
    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 Activity space
  • Spaces/Locations
    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. Accessible toilet
  • 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.
  • Systems
    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. Ceiling system
  • 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
Complexes Buildings:

University campus

Private home

Hospital

Airport

Linear Infrastructure:

Rail network

Road network

Geospatial infrastructure:

Wastewater treatment plant

Entities Buildings:

Teaching block

House

Nurses residential

Block

Linear Infrastructure:

Bridge

Tunnel

Geospatial infrastructure:

Primary wastewater treatment plant

Activities Buildings

Lecturing

Tutorials

Lighting

Heating

Linear Infrastructure:

Transportation

Drainage

Geospatial infrastructure:

Wastewater treatment

Spaces / Locations Buildings:

Student bar

Departure lounge

Linear Infrastructure:

Embarkation point

Workshops

Geospatial infrastructure:

Control room

Elements Buildings

Roof

Wall

Linear Infrastructure:

Rail track

Geospatial infrastructure:

Systems Buildings:

Timber roof framing system

Low temperature hot water heating system

Linear Infrastructure:

Ballasted rail track system

Hot rolled paving system

Geospatial infrastructure:

Desludging systems

Crossflow grit removal systems

Products Buildings:

Joist hangers

Terrazzo tiles

Gas fired boilers

Linear Infrastructure:

Conductor rails

Rail track tie bars

Hot-rolled asphalt (HRA) surface courses and slurries

Geospatial infrastructure:

Chain and flight scrapers

Scum removal boards

Additional tables for managing the BIM process

  • Project Management
    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

Example

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
Dining School hall
Caretaking Caretaker’s office
Reception Reception space

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.

Asset management

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 (January 2019)

This is the latest in our quarterly updating programme for Uniclass 2015 and includes updates to six tables, as well as the introduction of a new table.

New 'Roles' table created

The roles included in the Project Management table of Uniclass 2015 were developed using the BS/PAS 1192 standards and many of the roles listed in the digital plan of works.

More recently, our work with the team at Transport for New South Wales (TfNSW) in Australia has brought about the introduction of a new table for ‘Roles’. The TfNSW team launched their digital engineering procedures towards the end of 2018, which implement Uniclass 2015 as the classification structure for this project. In order to facilitate the management of maintenance costing and projects, we discussed the need for additional classification codes for tradespeople.

To meet this requirement, NBS took the decision that a separate table for roles was more appropriate, and therefore we have taken all the ‘Personnel’ codes from the ‘Project Management’ table and developed a new ‘Roles’ table. This table will be available as a beta version with the intention of publishing it in April 2019.

Updates to existing tables

'Entities' table: We have started to liaise with Royal HaskoningDHV to include classifications for marine projects. Two codes have been added in this update, with more to follow.

‘Elements/ functions’ table: We have added a new group and subgroup to this table for classifying a project site.

There are also additions to the ‘Systems’ and ‘Products’ tables as a result of requests from various users, and we have corrected a duplication in the ‘Spaces/ location’ table.

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.

Beta versions

The Form of Information (FI) table is currently available as a beta version. The status of this table is under review following the publication of the 'Project Management' table. Anyone wishing to feed into its development can do so 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

View and download the classification tables

Code Title

Licencing

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.

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