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Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Using SEPS2BIM for Facilities Management in Healthcare Projects

May 31st, 2017 by Susan Smith

Kimon Onuma has been hosting webinars on various aspects of SEPS2BIM, the Space and Equipment Planning System (SEPS) is a standalone Government off the Shelf (GOTS) web based application and database. The recent webinar focused on how architects could tap into owners’ data, and gather more information from them for the BIM process.

SEPS2BIM authors baseline Programs for Design (PFD) and Project Room Contents (PRC) for Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Health Agency healthcare projects.

The MILSTD 1691 Equipment database and associated BIM objects are used in the VA and DoD DHA standard room templates. Designers can use the objects and templates to manually create BIMs or the SEPS 2 BIM tools can automate the creation of BIM from SEPS.

Onuma Inc., founded by Kimon Onuma, FAIA, is the author of the ONUMA System, the engine that drives BIMStorm LAX, the largest real-time massive BIM collaboration charrette. The company uses their own products in concert with BIM such as Autodesk Revit. In the webinar, ONUMA System, Revit, ArchiCAD, Sketchup and other tools were used to link into the SEPS2BIM system. The focus of the work is on the process.

Brian Sickles, project architect, from Sherlock Smith &  Adams demonstrated some abilities of the SEPS2BIM that they use at the VA and DOD.

“The goal is to open the owner’s data to any application, making data accessible, which has been the object for many years now. The DOD and VA have presented this, working with the agency to support flow of data to architects, planners and designers,” said Onuma.

This started in 2013 with a strategic plan with the National Institute of Building Sciences, to look at programming requirements and how they can share data more efficiently. SEPS2BIM is not restricted to health care or large projects.

“What’s significant of DOD is they have a shared system (and VA), and this is a problem – no consistent naming through departments,” said Sickles. “We can’t do this from memory and technology allowed us to automate that. There’s huge opportunity to become more efficient and to provide better value back to our people.”

“Even if it’s in A BIM template, for an operating room, park it on the web, it’s a static document, if the specs change, the documents haven’t been able to keep up,” said Onuma. “That is the opportunity we see with BIM processes as the owner moves away from static documents. VHA and DOD have space requirements and a catalog – while cataloguing this, they can communicate and maintain it for designers out there.”

A stack of excel or PDF documents can be daunting for a small clinic, as these documents hold what needs to be in a dental exam room, for example. All those documents equal information that leads to millions of data points, especially in a larger project. The SEP2BIM process looks at a way to make this accessible, in a database format on web that moves away from static documents.

SEPS2BIM is a tool used by DOD and VA to define requirements for facilities, design new clinics, identify how many patients, what requirements, equipment is needed. With the old static document method, an architect needed to consume data and put it into the project. Although each project was unique, there were templates, but always a need for some unique features and constantly changing requirements. The DOD and VA looked at moving the system to the web, and opening part of the system data to the public. By sharing it via typical standards, the architects can see what goes into it.

From an IT perspective, They already had a SEP2BIM system running online, and they wanted to open up part of the data online to the public and to themselves. They decided they needed a neutral IT environment to make that happen. The internal IT infrastructure was too complicated, so they decided to go to a government server call, where government agencies and the public can share information and information can be shared between government agencies.

In the past, this information was shared by CD and sent by mail, which of course is very dated now. Today with the web, users can search and find information in the catalog web services that are accessible on

In that catalog and SEPS2BIM are IDs. Now the output from SEPS2BIM is an excel file that can be pulled into BIM.

Owners have a lot of knowledge and data that existed in the wrong format and was difficult to share with the industry.

At a project-specific level, it now takes seconds or minutes to sift through thousands of pieces of data and put it into BIM, whereas it used to take days or weeks before SEPS2BIM.

“It’s a stack like Legos,” said Onuma. “The SEP2BIM process allows infrastructure to use it as a government tool and externalize that data and allow other consultants to tap into it.

You can go online and try yourself which links to other data like at, if the catalog changes we can see it immediately and see the changes.

There are lists of typical spaces, icons, etc. and you can search for specific things like an exam room. The tool is set up like an Amazon shopping cart, so you can say I would like to have one of these labs, a dental exam room, and can change quantities, add classroom space, or an office. You can go back to cart and enter the total square footage and it will change that it links right into the database for the VA and DOD.

Sherlock, Smith & Adams is a full-service health care design firm, working mostly through the DOD. They design clinics, labs and hospital design and provide full service architects, interiors, structural, civil professionals to projects. They maintain a department offering medical planning, equipment planning, equipment procurers, and a former nurse and hospital administrators are on staff.

In making specific updates to equipment, a library of standard room templates is all automated and saves a lot of time.

The architectural design firm reviews three potential footprints and department layouts with the owner and end users, and works with them for a couple of days. They return to the office with the site and building footprint with departments worked out. At 20% complete in the design they have the departments broken down into rooms. At 35%, they can show the client all the equipment within the rooms and can make necessary changes. After this, the information passes through SEPS2BIM to Revit so the design can be completed.

This 1-to-1 translation gives the team all the information they need and eliminates error. The rooms can be grouped and the rooms bring the equipment with them.

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Categories: 2D, 3D, 3D PDF, AEC, AECCafe, Autodesk, BIM, building information modeling, buildingSMART, construction, data archiving, engineering, IES, IFC, project management, site planning, video, visualization

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