As part of the BIM Toolkit project, NBS are working on 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 have worked with experts from across the industry to develop the new classification system – Uniclass 2015. This builds on previous versions and developments of Uniclass, but significantly extends the 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 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 that is mapped to NRM1 and supports mapping to other classification systems in the future
  • A classification system that will be maintained and updated by NBS.
  • Within the BIM toolkit a database of synonyms to make it as easy as possible to find the required classification using standards industry terminology.


Uniclass 2015 has been restructured and redeveloped to provide a comprehensive system suitable for use by the entire industry, including the infrastructure, landscape, engineering services as well as the building sector, and for all stages in a project life cycle.

The 2015 version of Uniclass has been in development for some time, previously referred to as Uniclass2. This version attracted considerable feedback which has been used to make changes, with the most significant change being the removal of the Work Results table.

Feedback and comment from professional institutes, construction professionals, librarians and manufacturers have all led to major restructuring of the tables themselves and changes to the terminology used, and we’re still asking for feedback on the latest drafts of the tables, so we can improve them further.

Uniclass 2015 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 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. Over the coming months we will consult with industry on the development of other tables covering Form of Information, Project Management, Construction aids and Properties and Characteristics.

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.

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.


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.

These tables are also suitable for buildings and other assets in use, and maintaining asset management and facilities management information.


The suite of tables are broadly hierarchical, and allow information about a project to be defined from the broadest view of it 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 depending on the particular use.

Entities can also be described using the Spaces and Activities tables if required, and at the more general level the Complexes table contains terms that can be thought of as groupings of Entities, Activities and Spaces.

For detailed design and construction, the main starting point are Entities, which are composed of Elements; Elements are made up of Systems which in turn contain Products.

The Uniclass 2015 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.

This defines the activities to be carried out 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.

These spaces in the restaurant provide for the activities of dining and access.

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. Also classed as spaces are transport corridors that run between two locations, such as London Kings Cross to Newcastle, or the M1 from London to Leeds.

This Space is for an accessible toilet with internal wall Elements.

Elements and services
Elements are the main components of a structure like a bridge (foundations, piers, deck) or a building (floors, walls and roofs). Functions cover things like lighting, heating and water: general requirements that are not yet designed.

Systems are the collection of components that go together to make an element or to carry out a function. For a pitched roof, the rafters, lining, tiles, ceiling boards, insulation and ceiling finish comprise a system, or a low temperature hot water heating system is formed from a boiler, pipework, tank, radiators etc. A signal system for a railway has a number of components and products; and the scum removal system is part of a wastewater treatment entity.

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

Complexes                University campus          Rail network                                Wastewater treatment plant
                                                                         Road network
                                  Private home

Entities                      Teaching block                Bridge                                         Primary wastewater treatment plant
                                  House                             Tunnel
                                  Nurses residential Block

Activities                    Lecturing                         Transportation                             Wastewater treatment   

Spaces / Locations    Student bar                     Embarkation point                        Control room
                                  Departure lounge            Workshops

Elements and services Roof                             Rail track                                       Treatment vessel
                                     Wall                              Drainage

Systems                     Timber roof framing        Ballasted rail track system            De-sludging systems

                                   system                            Hot rolled paving system              Crossflow grit removal systems
                                   Low temperature hot

                                   water heating system

Products                     Joist hangers                  Conductor rails                              Chain and flight scrapers
                                   Terrazzo tiles                  Rail track tie bars                          Scum removal boards
                                   Gas fired boilers              Hot-rolled asphalt (HRA)

                                                                           surface courses and slurries


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
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 services such as heating, hot and cold water, drainage, power and lighting, etc. – all classed as services in Uniclass 2015 – are also selected from the Elements table.

During the rest of the detailed design process through to construction itself, the details of how each elements 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.


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.

Uniclass2015 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 at NBS, introduces Uniclass2015 explains more in this article.​