New MasterFormat Finally Launches

As part of an ongoing educational campaign targeting major conferences and tradeshows, the Construction Specifications Institute chose the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild conference in Portland, Ore., last month, to launch its much-delayed MasterFormat revision. "It's not a revision," clarified CSI Executive Director Karl Borgstrom.

12/01/2004


As part of an ongoing educational campaign targeting major conferences and tradeshows, the Construction Specifications Institute chose the U.S. Green Building Council's Greenbuild conference in Portland, Ore., last month, to launch its much-delayed MasterFormat revision. "It's not a revision," clarified CSI Executive Director Karl Borgstrom. "It's a revolutionary change."

The veracity of that proclamation remains to be seen, but the major players who put the new edition together met with the media at the conference to answer questions.

According to Dennis Hall, AIA, Hall Architects, Charlotte., N.C., the expansion task force chairman, a big part of the revision was to address more engineering matters, especially communications, life safety and security. Life-cycle issues were also an important addition, added Ross Spiegel, AIA, of Fletcher Thompson, Shelton, Conn., a former president of both CSI and USGBC. "The new edition also has a very green tone to it," he said. For example, it now addresses facility performance requirements and has added sections for close-out documentation.

Hall was quick to point out, however, that the new MasterFormat is not text for specifications, but rather an organizational tool, and Borgstrom likened it to the Dewey Decimal system. "Part of our job was to set the table—create places for inserting text about preformance requirements, commissioning or even something as specific as dealing with construction waste," said Hall. "The big challenge for designers will be to identify these pigeonholes so you can incorporate more detail, such as sustainable requirements."

As for the acceptance of the new system, Hall anticipates people will start adopting it sometime between the fourth quarter of next year and mid-2006. There have already been some big early adopters, including the U.S. Dept. of Defense, NASA and the Veterans Administration. Architects First Source, Sweets and Arcom are all expected to have revised versions of their products by January 2005.

Richard Heiserman, a senior associate with Portland architectural firm Ankrom Moison, who will transition to the new system by January 2006, noted a major challenge is not just integrating this into his firm, but also reaching out to the consultants and specialty contractors they work with. "We realized we need to do this all at one time," said Heiserman. "And we really need to push our subs who have a lot of issues that need to be addressed so their bids are written correctly."

Although it will be a tough chore, Hall believes, in the end, that the new format will truly help firms. As an example, he pointed out a mechanical engineering firm he's worked with frequently in this process. He noted the firm wanted to be truly cutting edge, but declined to adopt the '95 revision as it was too much work to amend their master specifications. But in adopting the '04 edition, they were forced to make the change, and in doing so, found they were pumping out a lot of not-very-useful information. Now their specs are very streamlined.





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