NECA proposes "Integrated Building Systems" division to CSI

July 24, 2001
July 25, 2001 The National Electrical Contractors Association is proposing that the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) incorporate an "Integrated Building Systems" specification into the next issue of the MasterFormat.

July 25, 2001 The National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA—www.necanet.org.) is proposing that the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) incorporate an "Integrated Building Systems" specification into the next issue of the MasterFormat. In a release announcing its proposal, NECA described MasterFormat as "an outline using a list of numbers and titles for organizing construction that allows consulting engineers to develop construction-project specifications by 'filling in the blanks.'"

CSI and MasterFormat have been topics of discussion among communications-cabling professionals because a cabling-industry group is proposing that CSI add a 17th division to the MasterFormat, devoted to communications-infrastructure systems.

NECA's proposal calls for consolidation of all electrical-power, communications, and control systems into a single division entitled "Integrated Building Systems." Currently, most electrical and communications specifications are in Division 16. But Brooke Stauffer, NECA's director of codes and standards, points out that some building-systems specifications are located elsewhere in the document. For example, detection and alarm systems, building-automation control, lightning protection, and instrumentation control are in Division 13. And grounding information is in Division 12.

"CSI's MasterFormat system has proved its value to our industry over nearly 40 years of use," Stauffer said during a panel discussion at the recent Electric East 2001 show. "Now it needs to be updated to reflect the rapid evolution in electrical power, communications, and computerized control systems. NECA's proposed revision is intended to help bring the industry's leading spec system into the twenty-first century. In particular, we think MasterFormat should reflect the reality of today�s fully integrated, fully networked buildings."

Revision proposals are due to CSI by August 1. The next edition of MasterFormat is scheduled for release next year. Thomas Glavinich, PE, chair of the University of Kansas architectural engineering department, is authoring NECA's proposal.

"Building systems are converging, and the trend is toward the integration and interoperability of all components and technologies," Glavinich said. "Increasingly, the building is viewed as a whole, and this creates the need to integrate not only power, communications, and control, but also the foundation and structural systems; the building envelope; heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning systems; and others. This trend is what led us to the new organizational scheme that NECA is proposing for approval by CSI."

Proponents of a separate Division 17 devoted to non-electrical cabling cite the increasingly important role these systems play within buildings. Their proposal, however, would have the practical effect of dissociating non-electrical cabling installers from electrical contractors on construction sites. In the current 16-division MasterFormat, communications-infrastructure specifications are included in a subsection of the electrical-wiring-based Division 16.

Stauffer summed up NECA's proposal by saying, "Integrate—don't separate. That's the message we're trying to get across to CSI."

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