by Sarah Delany
Last amended on
26 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.
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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 to make it as easy as possible to find the required classification using standard industry terminology.
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.
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.
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||Geo-spatial infrastructure|
water treatment plant
water treatment plant
|Systems||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.
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.