Interoperability, the seamless flow of data among related software applications and platforms used by the building community, took a step forward with the recent action of the International Standards Organization (ISO). The current version ofthe International Alliance for Interoperability(IAI) Industry Foundation Classes (IFCs) was approved in November as an international standard. The IFC2x platform passed an important ISO balloting process in Seoul, South Korea at a meeting of ISO Technical Committee 184/Subcommittee 4.

IFCs are recognized international standards that provide an organized structure for construction-related data. Use of IFCs, for example, would enable a window manufacturer to provide its product data in a format that can simply be inserted into a CADD design program. This "intelligent" window carries data about its properties, such as dimensions, materials, strength, energy performance, fire rating, code compliance, applicability, cost, availability, and source. Appropriate property data about the window can then be exchanged with downstream applications such as cost estimating and energy analysis.