Division 17 lets our industry speak in its own voice

hat is Division 17, and why does the communications industry need it? Before I answer this question, let me provide some background.

Thomas C. Rauscher, Archi-Technology LLC

hat is Division 17, and why does the communications industry need it? Before I answer this question, let me provide some background.

For three decades, the construction industry has used the MasterFormat document to organize construction requirements, products, and activities. The MasterFormat, which is a master list of numbers and titles, was developed by the Construction Specifications Institute (csi--Arlington, VA) in conjunction with Construction Specifications of Canada (csc--Toronto).

The current MasterFormat contains 317 pages of information, only two of which are dedicated to technology requirements. Furthermore, these two pages are located within Division 16--Electrical Requirements. Consequently, the MasterFormat minimally identifies technology requirements. The MasterFormat was prepared from the construction industry`s perspective for the construction industry. Clearly, there was little or no input from the communications industry.

This lack of input from our industry means that, typically, the electrical engineer becomes the de facto consultant charged with the responsibility of defining the communications technology requirements for the construction project. It further follows that the electrical contractor becomes the contractor responsible for installing that technology infrastructure.

While I am sure that most electrical engineers and electrical contractors are adept at preparing and working from accurate written specifications and scaled drawings for lighting and power systems, the vast majority are not qualified to design or install communications systems or infrastructures.

On the other hand, I will concede that while there are many communications consultants and contractors who are qualified and experienced with communications systems and infrastructures, they typically lack the experience required to prepare or work from performance specifications or scaled drawings.

So, if you accept the premise that it is important to include communications systems and infrastructures in new or renovated buildings and you agree with the last two paragraphs, you have the answer to why I believe we need a Division 17. Over the last decade, technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. Now is the time to make it an integral part of our buildings.

The current draft of the organizational model outlines the importance of technology in a construction project. The model has been designated as "Division 17" because the MasterFormat currently ends at Division 16--Electrical Requirements. Division 17--Technology and Communications Requirements--was developed to organize technology systems and infrastructure requirements. This model allows the communications requirements to be incorporated into the formal design and construction process of a new or renovated building.

Division 17 specifically organizes the requirements for the cable plant as well as the voice, video, data, and other low-voltage systems. It also contains administrative sections that allow it to serve as a stand-alone model for planning, designing, bidding, constructing, and implementing a communications infrastructure. These administrative sections can be eliminated if the technology requirements are included in the overall scope of the project under an architect.

By establishing and agreeing on Division 17, the construction and communications industries will have a foundation on which to communicate. It will also signal that the construction industry acknowledges communications technology as a fundamental system and is ready to accept communications professionals into the construction process. Equally important, Division 17 will save a building owner time and money because it will allow technology to be strategically planned and implemented for the life of the building.

The current draft of Division 17, developed from the perspective of the communications industry, can be obtained in a pdf file format at www.division17.net.

Thomas C. Rauscher is president of Archi-Technology LLC (Rochester, NY), which designs and documents technology infrastructures.

More in Home