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Reliable and comprehensive data exchange between participants in a facility's life cycle of design, construction, commissioning, and operation and maintenance (O&M) has been a goal of the buildings industry for decades. This goal has long been recognized as providing significant value in coordinating and performing tasks such as energy performance analysis of architectural design alternatives and clash detection for construction planning. Less attention has been given to the benefits of data exchange from construction to O&M, such as handover to facility management of as-built HVAC&R equipment inventory and maintenance data.

The inadequacy of current data exchange practice is not primarily due to a lack of technical Building Information Model (BIM) standards developed to provide software developers and users with rich data schemas for sharing consistent, accurate building information between software tools used throughout a facility's life cycle. Rather, the current inadequacy is primarily due to a lack of easily adopted work flow information exchange standards that clearly document the data requirements, personnel responsibilities, and information exchange flows for supporting a specific work process across a facility life cycle.

ASHRAE has not to date been active in the process of defining and promoting information exchange standards that are of relevance to ASHRAE member work processes. Without input from ASHRAE, other organizations will continue to drive the adoption of new data exchange capabilities that may not address ASHRAE members' needs. ASHRAE Guideline 20 provides a method for documenting information exchange standards (referred to within the remainder of this document as use cases) that has been tailored to ASHRAE members. This project is an effort to kick-start the documentation of ASHRAE-specific use cases that support O&M activities.