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GBE Database Proposal 21 07 2018

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GBE Product Database Proposal

GBE Product Database Proposal

GBE Database Proposal Briefing

  • Some of this will need discussion
    • Some wishful thinking
    • Some probably expensive
    • Some impractical


Data sources:

  • Books & Compendiums: Eco Products
  • Exhibition catalogues (Be very selective)
  • Cardsets: Top Trump game (Be very selective)
  • Datasets: Embodied Energy and Embodied Carbon (ICE etc) Its was the only information we had at the time
  • Datasets: Renuable’s LCA Datasets (Consistent approach, EN 15804)
  • Manufacturer’s
    • Product Literature: Printed hardcopy
    • Website softcopy: html page content
    • Product Literature: softcopy PDF
    • Product Literature: softcopy Word
  • Other websites (can list them)
    • Product databases
  • (recycled, water, renewable energy, energy saving, manufacturers, suppliers, bio-based, etc.)
    • 3D CAD file databases (Computer aided design)
  • NBIML National BIM Library, other BIM Repositories
    • 3D CAD BIM files (Building Information Modeling) with or without information
    • Product Data Files (for BIM)
  • CIBSE/CPA programmes
    • Specification clause databases
  • NBS, RIBA Product Selector+, SpecifyIt,
    • LCA & EPD databases (Life Cycle Assessment & Environmental Product Declaration)
      • Inventory of Carbon and Energy (ICE) ‘Top trumps’ applies here. Sourced from out of date LCA
      • Andrew and Callum’s collection 2000 Europe wide


Data Types

  • Website search facilities: inconsistent between website
  • Promotional literature and advertising
    • Limited data, ‘top-trumps’ data (focuses on single issue to the detriment of others)
  • Technical literature
    • More useful, but often limited (the creators of the literature or client)
    • Sometimes well organized
    • Little use of standards for information order (ontologies/classifications)
      • Recent BIM projects might address this,
      • CI/SfB has potential to do this
      • Uniclass has potential to do so too?
    • Specifications
      • Technical and orderly (if in National Building Specification (NBS) format) or
      • Too simplistic if not to NBS format
      • Sometimes NBS clauses for manufacturers are too simplistic
    • CAD Computer aided design files:
      • 2D or 3D or BIM Building Information Modeling ready
    • CPD Continuing Professional Development seminars about methods of construction, materials and products
    • LCA Life Cycle Assessments: few and inconsistent methods
      • 2000 in current EU EN 15804 format: (Andrew and Callum)
    • Images of products for use by designers in client presentation Schedules
    • Navigation icons for Database GUI (Zorro)
    • Video to explain parts of Database (SME Heroes or DIY+Cambridge Editor)


Other data:

  • Not in public domain
  • In company departments,
    • legacy, the creator left the company
      • not always understood by those that stayed
    • Sometimes inept at obtaining or giving it
      • If invoiced for content then they will put somebody on it.
    • Not on their radars yet (E.g. BIMformation) some companies behind the curve
    • BIM Models: expensive to create/obtain
    • Other data evidence expensive to create/obtain
      • (tests/assessments/labels)


Method of finding/collecting:

  • Prior Knowledge:
    • Manufacturers, Products, Databases
  • Prior Data: Specifications, literature,
  • Meet Spec or Sales representatives and populate during and write up/edit after
    • Quality depends on the individuals involved
    • Dropdown menus help limit and spell check cell content
  • Manual internet searches (via Google, etc.)
  • Manual data finding (or via search tool)
  • Manual data transfers
    • Read > Memorize > Recall > Type (error prone)
    • Copy and paste (safer, but error prone)
  • Dynamic: Open Data, Open Searches, Open Data Collection


Data Collectors

  • East Anglia: Brian & Paul (Products)
  • Anglesey: Andrew & Callum (LCA & EPD)
  • London:
    • Cath, Trevon (water & carbon)
  • Dan (Artisan tradesmen and products)
  • Dorset: Paul (3D CAD & BIM)
  • Others to be determined


Data Providers

  • Other websites
  • Other databases
  • Manufacturers
    • Websites, literature or representatives
    • OR via special collection interface
      • Past experience this needs strong management or policing
      • Or very clever software to manage entry


Data Users

  • East Anglia:
    • Brian (tools, datasets, calculators & downloads) (& sales)
    • Paul (sales)
  • Anglesey: Andrew, Callum (sales)
  • London: Cath, Trevon & Dan (sales)
  • Dorset: Paul (BIM & LCA & Products)
  • Devon: John (sales)


Data Location?

  • Server
    • with Electronic Document Management (EDM)?
    • g. locks a file whilst being edited to prevent 2 editing at the same time one overwriting the others work
    • Google Docs may solve this
    • None of us have EDM software
  • Website with EDM?


Data Security

  • LCA Life Cycle Assessments data collection and calculations is private and must remain so
    • Data must be secure
  • LCA results become EPD Environmental Product Declaration reports or certificates
    • EPD are intended to be Public Domain
    • With manufacturer’s approval (they can decline if their results do not look good)
    • But concerned stakeholders are pressuring EU, not to disclose
    • EU is reconsidering this
    • In which case why bother with LCA at all
  • Public/Private must be manageable


Data recipients

  • Public website Users
  • Formats:
    • PDF (Portable data file), DOCX (Word), RTF (Rich Text Format)
  • Product Data Collection outputs
    • Product Data Sheets (PDF)
    • Assessments & Reports
    • Specifications
    • and many other output files


Data Sharing

  • We have been approached by other data providers about sharing with them
  • Are general response is:
    • If you are willing to share yours
    • We are willing to share ours
    • If it bolsters the breadth of collective data
    • If it improves the data for its end uses
    • This is only products and companies not personal data
  • NGS have taken other’s data, improved it, used it and given it back


Data Protection Act

  • NGS has been Data Protection Registered since April 2001? when NGS established


General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)


Data Updates


Data Updates: Manual:

  • Excel spreadsheets or Word tables and text
    • Slow, inaccurate transfers
    • Static data, historic data, erroneous data
    • Erroneous data re-distribution within tables
      • g. Information in wrong cells moved to correct cells
    • Potentially more thorough searching


Data Entry: Manual

  • Different interfaces for different data collectors focused on their activity
  • Manual typing and editing
    • Ready made drop down menus to choose from to avoid spelling errors (exists already)
  • Metadata logging?
    • Who added what, when and where from (mixed manual/automatic)


Data Entry: Semi-Automatic

  • Spreadsheet import
  • Manual
    • Column header mapping facility
  • Automatic
    • Collecting data from spreadsheets and entering into correct cells
      • Probably an import function of Excel


Data Updates: Dynamic:

  • Big Data, Open Source, Open Data,
  • Prone to relocation, moving URLs (See DOIs above)
  • Intermittent, Regular or dynamic as requested
  • Little scope for judgment or interpretation
    • Difficulty interpreting text to tables?
  • Reliant upon data being in agreed formats
    • Highly unlikely in literature and websites
    • Possible but not probable in databases
    • NBS CPA and BIM4M2 recent project (See DOIs above)


Open Object

  • Developed by Jessi Baker @jessibaker, Creative Technologist, TBWA, is in #csgid
  • iPhone APP
  • Scan shelf content (not shelf edge labels, barcodes, etc.)
  • Recognizes company logos, names, colours, etc.
  • Scan the internet
  • Download: Company, CSR, Ethics, Policies, Product, Environmental data, etc.
  • All in 1 second (heading for nano-seconds)
  • Wish to engage Jessi on projects if we can (less of a priority now)
  • Want to publish QR codes for all uses if we do not get Jessi on board.
  • Provenance is her venture


How Open?

  • Windows v Mac v Open
  • Windows
    • Large audience
  • Mac
    • America and Designers and growing numbers (virus free reliable joined up world)
  • Open
    • Potentially everybody?
    • Via Windows or Mac?


Spreadsheets v databases?

  • GBE are used to Spreadsheets
    • GBE have 9000 products in many files
    • >4000 in one file, 400 columns of data
    • To be mappped to 1270 columns in GBE PDC (See below task 1 and 2)
  • Could be one file
    • Needs column headings rationalizing and files merging
  • Shortlisting products:
    • Currently GBE create many sort columns and use filters to find product that meet requirements
  • Could be database
    • (but have no experience)
  • GBE like using spreadsheets
    • Gives recipients access to data sets so they can do their own calculations
    • GBE Calculators can also do it for them


Data arrangement: Spreadsheets: 2 Approaches (No. 1)

  • Double ended funnel: >☐<
    • All data sources collected
      • into one table
      • distributed to many output tables/uses
    • Many data collectors
    • First collector’s data input feeds automatically to many users outputs
    • We need to organize data collection order (See GBE Product Data Collection 1270 rows)
      • Data common to many uses (always first)
      • Data to specific uses (to follow)
    • GBE Product Data Collection works this way
      • In some cases one cell updates many cells and updates many output schedules


Data arrangement: Spreadsheet: 2 Approaches (No. 2)

  • Open funnel: >>☐
    • All data collected by many into many tables with many end uses
      • Some overlap, repetition, duplication of effort
      • Use of Excel
        • ‘= function’ to copy data around collection for the output tables
        • ‘= function’ to distribute data from ‘cells in collection’ to ‘output schedules’
        • ‘= function’ location dependent on order of data entry
      • Data collected in many tables feed into single spreadsheet
      • CAPEM worked this way and it proved time greedy and financially painful
        • Lessons learned already fed into GBE PDC See tasks 1 & 2 below


Choice of approach

  • Gut instinct is the (No. 1) double ended funnel is the correct approach
    • One action feeds many
    • All data added to single file rather than links between them
  • Requires the data headings to be organized into common and specific order
    • Easily done
    • But time consuming process matching column heading order from many source datasets
    • Started this exercise already (but many more to go)
    • 1270 headings in GBE Product Data Collection are the starting point for all future alignments
  • It is fundamental that the spreadsheet or database can be edited to broaden or refine scope of data collected after collection has started



  • Emulate some aspects of past websites/tools
  • Consider if the database can help deliver any of the other GBE ambitions


Graphic User Interface (GUI) to Database or Spreadsheet and workflow to access and use data

  • Accessible from GBE Website, on own website?
  • Accessible from NGS Website when re-uploaded, on own website?
  • Accessible within GBE Website?
  • Use of navigation icons as filtering icons (filtering applications, properties and materials, etc.)
  • Filtering like CAPEM Compass website (see below)
  • Use of icons for export buttons (PDF, Word, Excel, TXT)
  • Hyper links to related list pages in GBE website


Ambition No.1: Big Spreadsheet (probably the most important outcome)

  • To use the existing collection of 46 schedules with well over 4600 products, and merge them into one file
  • Arranged them around 1270 rows of data in the GBE Product Data Collection
  • Check for currency by using URL to website and/or email address or phone number
  • Output to GBE Product Data Schedules to populate website pages
  • Create over 4600 GBE Product Pages (Posts) quickly and easily


Tasks for development

Ambition 1 Task 1 Compile all product data into a single spreadsheet

  • GBE has many spreadsheets of products
    • and there are many websites with more.
  • There are many GBE spreadsheets of products and materials that have varying columns/row orders
  • The spreadsheets need to be reordered and merged before anything useful can be done with them
  • This task needs to build around Task 2 Product Data Collection columns and row order
  • GBE has numerous readymade drop down menus which can be integrated to enable faster development of consistent cell content
    • Many more drop down menus can be developed
    • Drop down menus with a full compliment of Application Codes (see task 3 example) can be written and integrated.


Ambition 1 Task 2 GBE Product Data Collection is a service GBE offer to manufacturers

The output of task 1 needs to be robustly built around task 2 column and row orders

GBE collect information on any product to fill up to 1270 cells that then regenerates up to say 35 different subsets

Each Subset generates a different output: e.g.

Each output is separate GBE Collaborate Service that is offered to manufacturers and suppliers of problem solving products


Ambition No. 2A Interrogation of product data by calculators

  • The aim is to be able to shortlist suitable products, choose a few compare properties, choose one and deploy their properties into calculators
  • I wish to be able to filter/sift/sort through these using column content filters to be able to short list appropriate products against multiple properties
  • There are many more columns than can be added to enable more intelligent searches.
  • g. Application Codes that show where in a building the product has been designed for use in.
  • (see the image)
  • The content can be used to develop look-up-tables for calculator applications.


Ambition No. 2B Integrate product data within whole building calculators


Ambition No. 3: GreenSpec Download or NGS website

  • Site built on Concrete 5;
  • 2600 visitor/day at peak but now mothballed
  • Will be reestablished as
  • Relationship with Download site?
  • Spreadsheets or Database Outputs deployed via NGS or GBE websites
  • Many outputs of GBE Product Data Sheet as GBE Product Data Sheets to populate GBE Product Pages (GBE Product Page Schedules) on GBE or NGS Websites
    • Copy from excel and paste into Post (aka Website Page) blocks
  • PDF or Word or RTF or Excel outputs
  • Posted on Download GBE Website in Product Pages
  • Could the PDFs be:
    • Generated automatically from a database?
    • Updated and regenerate each time data is updated?


Ambition No. 4 Cycle Assessment Procedure for Eco Materials (CAPEM)

  • GUI and workflow to access and use data
  • GBE was a partner of CAPEM Interreg EU part funded project
  • Static 3D image of cutaway building with element names roof floor wall etc. (for foreign language users)
  • Shortlist products by filtering using numerous search criteria
  • Compare shortlisted product’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) impacts (to factory gate) using overlapping bar charts (histograms?)
  • Compare shortlisted product’s LCA impacts with Generic Materials LCA impact bar charts
  • Choose product, add building site country and postcode of (adds transport impacts from factory gate to site)
  • Generates Product Data Sheet with properties and LCA impacts to site
  • Product Data Sheet(s) can be pasted in Page(s) and posted as a PDF in Product Pages on GBE website
  • GBE or NGS Robust Specifications posted on GBE or NGS Website
  • See PowerPoint file


Ambition No. 5 GBE Specification Assembler

  • GUI and workflow to access and use data
  • MyGreenSpec renamed GreenSpecStudio
  • Was on (no longer part of website)
  • See PowerPoint for explanation
  • Choose methods of construction of elements of building via a hierarchy (4 to 6 steps)
    • g. External wall > cavity construction > brick outer/timber framed inner leaf > insulated in stud zone > plasterboard dry-lined
    • See PDF of Hierarchy
    • Created by Sandy Patience, Steve Porter and populated by BrianSpecMan
    • Can be recreated and developed by BrianSpecMan
  • GBE Beacon: created by BrianSpecMan
  • 892 ready made elemental assemblies exist in Excel spreadsheets
    • created by BrianSpecMan for GreenSpec whilst in my ownership at sponsors expense
    • can be filtered to remove worst assemblies and expanded by BrianSpecMan
  • GBE Building Elemental Screening Test (BEST) critique is displayed for review before making final choice
  • Users then choose one from shortlist of assemblies
  • Assembly is made of many layers each containing component parts made of generic materials
  • Replace some or all generic materials with products by populating a cell with a hook to a product page schedule found by focused navigation paths via predetermine ‘list pages’ to sets of relevant product pages
  • Half a day of selecting elements and products in this way will assemble a whole building.
  • Then press ‘go’ to assemble specification, the tool used the hooks into GreenSpec product pages to pull together the product page schedule entries into a single entity and exported to a single Word file


  • A great first step towards a great tool
  • Regrettably the product page entries were not good specification feedstock, therefore nor was the output.
  • The navigation needs to be directed to separate specification file/entry
  • The Excel file with 892 elemental assemblies now has better specification feedstock
    • (BrianSpecMan created)
  • Future development needs to get more detailed and address junctions between elements and other details
  • It could get a 6th part identifying it thermal performance as a U value e.g. 0.1 W/m2.K (
    • determined in GBE Elemental Calculator
  • Displayed as 21_F10_G14_K10_01_0.1
  • Or Energy standard: e.g. complies with Building Regulation Approved Document L2A (BRADL2A), Passivhaus (PH), Association for Environment Conscious Building Gold (AECBG), EnerPHit, CarbonLite (CL), CarbonLiteRetrofit (CLR) etc.
  • Displayed as 21_F10_G14_K10_01_BRADL2A
  • Displayed as 21_F10_G14_K10_01_PH, etc.
  • Consider renaming BEST to Building Element Assembly Performance (BEAP) or Building Element Assembly Critique (BEAC)


Ambition No. 6 GBE 2D VIEW (GUI and work flow)

  • See separate GBE Website page
  • A compromise if 3D is not affordable or is technically challenging
  • Both the 2D VIEW and 3D VIEW interfaces could be available and both may need to be there for different users.
  • They would link to the same website content and present it in similar ways
  • The big difference will be the navigation interface
  • GBE 2D VIEW will consist of 2D Elevations (Views of outside of building) Sections (Vertical and Horizontal) where the user can hone in on: elements, inner, core and outer sub-elements, junctions between elements, details between inner, core and outer sub-elements, components, material, finishes, furniture, fittings and equipment and services.
  • By hovering over, clicking or right-clicking on any point of the elevations or sections would engage with the encyclopaedia and deliver concertina/accordion menus of links to all relevant content pages and posts of the website


Ambition No. 7 GBE 3D VIEW (GUI and work flow)

  • See CPD on 3D View and page
  • See separate GBE Website page
  • Probably the most ambitious and most important ambition of them all
  • Probably only possible with crowd funding and possible the most interesting target for Crowd Funders
  • 3D is preferred choice if affordable and not too technically challenging
  • An electronic virtual 3D model of a building is the interface for the GBE Encyclopaedia
  • It includes all elements of the building from foundation to roof, includes all furniture, equipment, services
  • You will be able to see under, see over, see all around, walk/fly through, explore into rooms, cupboards, attics, below the surfaces to see services and core materials.
  • It might even have a 2D sectional view mode to see below the surface of materials
  • Wherever or what ever object your mouse hovers over, clicks on, left or right clicks, will interrogate the encyclopaedia and bring up concertina lists of all relevant web pages about the object: design guidance, checklists, products, specifications, CPD, etc.


Database search engine

  • Search: 1 table v many tables?
  • Many search criteria
    • as many as there are columns of data?
    • Organize into priority searches
    • And user preferences


Outputs: Web database

  • Searches:
    • Properties, functions, applications, elements, position
  • Filters:
    • User/client preferences, user/client requirements
  • Shortlist:
    • Materials, Products,
    • Manufacturers, suppliers, applicators
  • Identify
    • Product Literature, Specifications, CPD seminars
      • (URL and link to file on Download site)


Outputs: List Pages (current system 2012)

  • List pages
    • lists product pages by sub groups
  • Insulation
    • Walls
      • Masonry
        • Cavity
          • Full fill
            • List
              • Link to Product pages


Outputs: Product page

  • (current system 2012)
    • Product Information Schedule 1 (on page)
    • Manufacturer contact details 1 schedule on page (7 rows currently)
  • (additions)
    • Supply Chain contact details (difficult)
    • PASS+ Assessment Schedule 2 (on page)
  • (additions: Downloads)
    • Product Data Sheet
    • PASS Assessment Sheet (locked PDF)
    • PASS+ Report (locked PDF)
    • Product Page Specification (editable Word or RTF)
    • Identify GBE Studio assemblies (locked PDF)


Outputs: Parts


Output: GBE 3D Studio

  • Design & Specification Tool on GBE Website
  • Studio links to relevant List Page
    • Jump from List page to product page(s)
    • Choose product
    • Hooks specification information
    • Currently hooks: Product Page Schedule (not very specification)
    • Future: Product Page Specification / Studio Specification
      • are they the same thing? Probably yes
    • Links back to data base?
      • Building Element Assembly (walls floors roofs)
      • references applicable to products
      • applicable to materials
        • 3D CAD BIM files


Images from PowerPoint to be added later:

GBE Database

The following slides

  • Look at some of the Parts in detail

GBE PASS: 1 A4 Report

  • Product Accessory System Screening
  • against 400 characteristics:
  • some -ve many +ve

GBE PASS Information Scrutiny

GBE PASS Reporting


  • Product Accessory System Screening against 400 characteristics:
  • some -ve many +ve

GBE PASS+ 400 Criteria

GBE & CAPEM Product Data Sheet

GBE ROBUST Specification

© GBE NGS ASWS  BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
12th February 2005 – 21st July 2018
Originally a PPT presentation

GBE Product Database Proposal

GBE Database Proposal 21 07 2018

GBE Database Proposal 21 07 2018

© GBE NGS ASWS  BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
21st July 2018 – 22nd July 2018

GBE Product Database Proposal
See Also: 

GBE Proposal

GBE Templates

GBE Brainstorms

GBE Books

GBE Links

Other sources GBE are familiar with:

GBE Green Labels


© GBE NGS ASWS  BrianSpecMan aka Brian Murphy
21st July 2018 – 22nd July 2018

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