Addressing Security: Plenty of Room in MasterFormat to Grow

By Tom Rauscher, CSI, President, Archi-Technology, Rochester, N.Y. July 1, 2005

It’s Monday morning. Jane leaves for the office. She drives up to the parking garage entrance and swipes a keycard to raise the gate. At the same time, a device scans her license plate and a CCTV camera images her face.

Then, she parks and walks to the elevator lobby, where she swipes a keycard for an elevator. After arriving at her floor, she enters a code on a keypad to unlock the door to her work area.

Even before her first cup of coffee, security and safety systems have “touched” Jane at least nine times. And if a smoke detector had gone off, automatic pages and alerts would go out building-wide and every door would be released from any lockout mode. It’s a level of sophistication nearly impossible even 10 years ago. The technology simply wasn’t advanced enough. But today both technology and expectations have reached unprecedented heights—and they’re still rising.

Every day, advancing technologies and rising expectations challenge those who design facilities’ safety and security systems. Such systems now account for nearly 5% of facilities’ total costs. U.S. demand for electronic security products and systems is projected to increase 8.7% per year through 2008 to $15.5 billion, according a study by international business research firm the Freedonia Group. As such, the construction specifications for such systems in commercial and institutional facilities must be increasingly comprehensive and detailed.

Necessary expansion

As the specifications for electronic safety and security systems have grown in breadth and depth, so has MasterFormat , the U.S.-Canadian standard for organizing specifications and other data for commercial and institutional buildings. MasterFormat 2004 Edition , released in November 2004 by the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and Construction Specifications Canada, has greatly expanded beyond the previous edition to include significant changes in design, construction and management of facilities. It is the first change in this classification system in 40 years.

MasterFormat 2004 Edition replaces the old 16-division arrangement with 50 divisions, including a new Division 28 designated specifically for electronic safety and security system specs. The 16-division framework had run out of organizational slots in many areas, especially for the fast-growing communications, life safety and automation areas. This led to construction documents having incomplete, misplaced or missing information, resulting in projects with major cost and schedule overruns.

Safe and secure

The new Division 28 has abundant sections and titles for electronic safety and security topics not covered, or covered sparingly, in MasterFormat 1995’s old Division 16 (Electrical, sections 700 and 800) and Division 13 (Special Construction, sections 800 and 900). The new division reflects a dichotomy now well established for present-day facilities; in addition to wiring to deliver power, there’s now wiring for data and communications.

To demonstrate Division 28’s breadth and depth, let’s use security access and surveillance as an example. In MasterFormat 1995 it’s just one section (13700) of the old Division 13 (Special Construction). That one section lists just four general topics: door answering, intrusion detection, security access and video surveillance. If a design professional had more detail for the project manual, he or she would have to make a best guess on where to put it, or create a non-standard number and title for it. Compare that to Division 28’s three separate sections for:

  • Electronic Access Control and Intrusion Detection (Section 28 10 00)

  • Electronic Surveillance (Section 28 20 00)

  • Electronic Detection and Alarm (Section 28 30 00)

And each of those three sections has more organizational slots at the next level of detail, Level 3. For example, the Level 3 sections for Electronic Access Control and Intrusion Detection (28 10 00) are:

  • Access Control Global Applications (28 13 13)

  • Access Control Systems and Data-base Management (28 13 16)

  • Access Control Systems Infrastructure (28 13 19)

  • Access Control Remote Devices (28 13 23)

  • Access Control Interfaces (28 13 33)

  • Access Control Identification Management Systems (28 13 43)

  • Security Access Detection (28 15 53)

Some sections have even more detail, at Level 4. For example, Security Access Detection (28 13 53) at Level 3 contains the following at Level 4:

  • Security Access Metal Detectors (28 13 53.13)

  • Security Access X-Ray Equipment (28 13 53.16)

  • Security Access Sniffing Equipment (28 13 53.29)

  • Security Access Explosive Detection Equipment (28 13 53.23)

The case for Division 28

Division 28’s comprehensive and detailed organizational structure is designed to help those who write electronic safety and security system specifications in several ways. It will help the design team:

  • Better create the best system for a facility.

  • Meet demands from owners, always seeking to maximize resources, for more detail in the design documents.

  • Reduce a project’s unknown variables, and the glitches they cause, through broader and deeper specifications, resulting in fewer delays and related costs.

  • Make deadlines and the workload easier to manage and help projects run smoother.

  • Accommodate rapidly advancing technology and owners’ constantly rising expectations.

Division 28 is part of MasterFormat 2004 Edition’s Facility Services Subgroup of divisions (Divisions 20—29). The subgroup also includes a new division devoted solely to communications (Division 27), which works hand in hand with Division 28. That’s because electronic safety and security devices are becoming integral parts of the facility’s data communications network. For example, new generation CCTV cameras don’t have to be separately wired for either power or video. Instead, they plug into a building’s Ethernet, which serves them like any other node on the network.

The challenge of transitioning to MasterFormat 2004 Edition should be minimal concerning the electronic safety and security aspect of facility design. Since Division 28 is new, it has no equivalent in the 16-division structure of MasterFormat 1995 , so there are hardly any section numbers or titles to convert. And the new division relieves the design team from having to figure out where to put more and more information within an old format that has run out of organizational slots.

Sooner rather than later

Switching to MasterFormat 2004 Edition sooner rather than later makes good sense. A growing number of major building owners have adopted the new edition or soon will. The federal government’s General Services Administration will adopt MasterFormat 2004 Edition October 1. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Naval Facilities Engineering Command plan to implement the new edition next spring.

Several master guide specifications firms are scheduled to realign their products per MasterFormat’s new edition by year’s end. They include:

  • Building Systems Design’s BSD SpecLink (completed)

  • ARCOM’s MasterSpec

  • CSRF SpecText

  • Digicon Information, Inc.

  • Canada’s National Master Guide Specifications (commonly known as the NMS National Master Specification)