What is Uniclass?
Uniclass is a unified classification system for the built environment covering all sectors and roles, delivered by NBS.
Uniclass is a way to organize everything required for built environment assets and provide a logical code for each general item, which can be used by anyone to identify and refer to it.
What is Uniclass for?
Uniclass uses a set of tables to group similar things together, arrange them consistently, and make searching easy. The tables are ordered as a hierarchy (imagine a ladder or pyramid) which helps users classify at all scales, from very large things like a hotel complex or road network to small products like staples or clay bricks, and everything in between. In addition, there are also tables to support information management processes, project management and communication.
The name Uniclass expresses that it is a unified classification, suitable for everyone involved in the built environment, where the whole lifecycle of buildings, landscape features, and infrastructure assets can all be classified using its consistent approach, and with the scope to expand for any future industry needs.
For example, infrastructure managers or asset owners may use Uniclass to classify an existing network of buildings, bridges, waterways, and tunnels, and assign everything a consistent reference. Design teams of engineers and architects might use Uniclass to structure specifications and modelling software to associate objects with NBS specification clauses, annotating drawing outputs with consistent Uniclass references.
How does Uniclass work?
The Uniclass tool is the best place to search, browse, and learn about Uniclass. You can download the most recent tables, discover how the tables have changed, and access previous versions.
- Tables that support classification of the entire built environment for activities, complexes, elements, entities, equipment, functions, forms of information, locations, products, project management, roles, spaces, systems, tools, and graphical model content.
- Classification for all stages in the project lifecycle, from concept, design and construction, in-use asset management and FM, development and re-use, demolition, and land management.
- Codes that are flexible enough to accommodate new technologies and materials, new processes, new asset types, and new users as the built environment evolves.
- Compliance with classification standard ISO 12006-2, which assists in mapping Uniclass to other construction classifications, and makes Uniclass ideal for ISO 19650 information management and related BIM processes.
- Simple terminology where possible, and a database of synonyms to make searching easy, using everyday plain language and standard industry terms.
- Tools to search and browse the tables, and support to provide the help you need.
Uniclass is maintained, updated, and moderated by NBS to ensure quality and accuracy. Currently Uniclass updates are provided quarterly, and users can see what new codes have been added, and any changes that have been made.
Uniclass is designed to be used anywhere in the world and has many users contributing globally, with particular success in Australia. It continues to evolve to support construction activity and asset management in various countries, and users can request that NBS to add additional codes to reflect specific requirements.
NBS platforms like NBS Chorus and NBS Source use Uniclass as the core classification structure for organizing system-based specifications and manufacturer product information, and developing new content, making it easy for specifiers and suppliers to produce outputs in Uniclass structure.
Information managers and contractors can use the classifications to filter and search model information for instances of the same types of items. For example, to locate all doors in an entity to review them, the user can search for the relevant Uniclass code and even with hundreds of door types across the project, they can be quickly identified from this classification to include them in that checking process.
Asset managers and FM teams can quickly find details of plant and equipment when issues arise, and Uniclass can be used to classify spaces and the activities associated with them. The classification of systems and products within each location provides a complete information trail, as part of the golden thread of information, improving the safety of built assets.
What are the Uniclass tables?
The Uniclass tables are a set of classifications grouped into logical arrangements, organised to provide increasingly detailed descriptions and to support specific aspects of asset management, construction projects and data processes.
The Uniclass tables classify:
- Activities (Ac)
- Complexes (Co)
- Entities (En)
- Spaces/ locations (SL)
- Elements/ functions (EF)
- Systems (Ss)
- Products (Pr)
- Tools and equipment (TE)
- Project Management (PM)
- Form of information (FI)
- Roles (Ro)
- Materials (Ma)
- Properties & characteristics (PC)
- CAD and modelling content (Zz)
Uniclass allows users consider assets at a high level, and progressively classify more detailed items to the most appropriate level for their needs.
Imagine looking at a hotel complex from high above it.
There are entities like accommodation buildings but also separate bars, restaurants, gyms, crèche facilities and a spa. Other entities include swimming pools, terraces, and bridges. Some of the spaces and locations are designed for multiple activities like entertainment, fitness classes, and business events.
Moving closer to the hotel, you can see it is made of construction elements like walls, floors, roofs, and ramps but also requiring complex functions like lighting, water treatment and energy supply. Elements and functions can be used in early design stages to define what construction elements and services are required in a project or can be used by asset managers to record the existing elements and functions that require maintenance.
There are hundreds of systems you could identify within the construction like glass wall systems, sports surfacing or doorset systems, and to run the hotel services, including security, fire extinguishing, and various fittings, furnishings, and equipment. Finally, across the complex there will be thousands of products like chairs, tiles, lamps, display screens, plants, and signs.
The tables can be broadly described with this hierarchy from large concepts to detailed items, but there’s also an important relationship between the Elements/ functions, Spaces/ locations, and Activities tables as they work together. In the hotel above, let’s use the example of an indoor sports court. Elements like walls and floors define the space, and it requires functions like heating, drainage, and ventilation strategies; the space (Indoor sports court) can be classified, as can the activities that happen or need provision within (exercising, dancing, teaching). Users can choose the best approach for their project by using a combination of Uniclass tables.
In addition, there are a number of tables to support information management and BIM process. The Project management table provides codes for reports, defining requirements, modelling, and certification across the lifecycle of a built environment asset. Closely related, the Roles table describes the participants in asset management and projects, with codes for operational roles, clients, specialist engineers, or members of the design team. The Tools and equipment table classifies the plant, machinery, equipment, and tools used in the construction and maintenance of the built environment. Form of information codes the types and formats of data in the construction industry, such as a snagging list, room data sheet, a variation, or press release, but not the details of their content. The Zz_ table supports CAD and modelling content including codes for hatching, comments, dimensions, setting out gridlines, topography contours, and specific drawing symbols.
You can find out more about how to use the tables here.
What are Uniclass codes?
Uniclass tables are dynamic, so they are able to cover the full variety of the built environment and to accommodate any codes required for the future of the construction industry, and as more assets and organizations provide feedback on Uniclass from their sectors.
The first two characters identify which table is being used to classify the item and uses two letters to describe each table, e.g. Co_ for complexes, Ss_ for systems, and Pr_ for products.
Each code consists of two letters and then two-digit numbers, up to four of them depending on the table. Some tables like Form of information have around one hundred items so have shorter codes, whilst the Systems and Products tables have many thousands of entries, making use of the full-length code with four double-digit numbers.
- FI_20_15 Contract (CC)
- Ss_45_40_47_28 Extensive green roof systems
Each level allows for increasingly detailed sets of items, starting with groups, then subgroups, sections, and object codes. Up to 99 items can be included for each pair, e.g. Ss_99_99_99_99, providing futureproofing for inclusion of potential systems.
For example, Systems are arranged in groups with subgroups, which are sub-divided into sections, and object codes, progressively more descriptive at each level:
|• Group:||Ss_30||Roof, floor, and paving systems|
|• Subgroup:||Ss_30_10||Roof structure systems|
|• Section:||Ss_30_10_30||Framed roof structure systems|
|• Object:||Ss_30_10_30_25||Heavy steel roof framing systems|
|• Group:||Ss_50||Disposal systems|
|• Subgroup:||Ss_50_70||Drainage storage, treatment and disposal systems|
|• Section:||Ss_50_70_85||Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)|
|• Object:||Ss_50_70_85_70||Rainwater harvesting systems|
Uniclass is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-ND 4.0) licence, allowing users and organizations to share and apply the tables on any kind of personal or commercial project. However, users should not adapt the tables and add their own codes, but instead contact NBS to suggest additions and changes to ensure that the logic and consistency of Uniclass continues.
NBS regularly liaise with industry to gather feedback from all sectors. Please get in touch if you think Uniclass could be useful for your assets, projects, or industry.