1. One of my clients is converting its sales literature from inch-pound to metric (with inch-pound units also shown in parentheses).
|#11 1-3/8" dia.|
The various approaches represent the different market conditions confronting each organization.
In the first instance, the US-based firm is aggressively moving into international markets and needs to speak the lingua franca used for most of the world's construction. The change will not harm domestic sales, since the company uses digital-fabrication to make bespoke parts without regard for the designer's system of measurement.
CRSI, on the other hand, focuses on regional and national promotion. As a commodity product, little quantities of rebar is exported. The industry began marking its product in nominal metric sizes when it looked like the Federal government was serious about enforcing a 1991 Presidential Executive Order mandating metrication. However, the Federal Highway Administration (FWA) retracted the requirement in 2008, and most building construction in the US remains firmly inch-pound. (The primary exceptions Government agencies such as the Department of Defense.)
Traditional rebar diameters are stated in 1/8 inch increments; #3 = 3/8 in. diameter, #12 = 12/8 in. = 1.5 in. These units just make sense when constructing a 1 ft. thick wall with 3/4 inch concrete coverage over rebar that must be spaced to allow passage of 1-1/2 in. dia. coarse aggregate. In CRSI's soft conversion, these correspond to #10 (9.525 mm) and #40 (38.1 mm) respectively. Soft conversion reduce the cost of producers, but frustrated everyone else. Builders using inch-pound had to convert sizes to traditional nomenclature to calculate positioning. And fractions of a millimeter confounded those used to using real metric sizes, where #30 bars have 30 mm dia.
Many US industry sectors are now firmly metricated. (When was the last time you bought a fifth of whiskey?) Yet it is unlikely that there will be a comprehensive countrywide construction conversion anytime in the foreseeable future.
Until then, each building product manufacturer will have to "weigh and measure" whether and when to embrace metric based on their unique marketing "metrics."
By the way:
"Metrication" is term for adopting metric measurements.
"Metrification" is term for using poetic meter.
"Henry Martyn Robert was an engineering officer in the regular Army. Without warning he was asked to preside over a public meeting being held in a church in his community and realized that he did not know how. He tried anyway and his embarrassment was supreme. This event, which may seem familiar to many readers, left him determined never to attend another meeting until he knew something of parliamentary law." (Robert's Rules of Order website)
I am reflecting on this following the recent Annual Meeting of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI). A simple motion from the floor devolved into confusion that delayed the meeting and frustrated members. This would not have been the case if the meeting had been assisted by an able parliamentarian or if the members had a better understanding of the rules of order.
Rules of order are similar in function to MasterFormat's Division 01 - General Requirements; both describe administrative and procedural requirements to be followed in order to achieve a goal. Conducting a meeting is far easier than managing a construction project.
"The application of parliamentary law is the best method yet devised to enable assemblies of any size, with due regard for every member’s opinion, to arrive at the general will on the maximum number of questions of varying complexity in a minimum amount of time and under all kinds of internal climate ranging from total harmony to hardened or impassioned division of opinion." (Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised, 10th ed., Introduction, p. xlviii)While CSI's meeting was tumultuous, the members were still able to approve the motion in question, with a substantial majority voting in the affirmative.
Familiarity with parliamentary procedures will enhance your participation in professional and trade associations and committees and in community affairs. To learn parliamentary procedures, I recommend reading Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised IN BRIEF, a clear, concise, and correct guidebook that is complete enough for use most meetings. I also recommend The A-B-C's of Parliamentary Procedures, a pamphlet that explains basic rules and is priced so that copies can be affordably provided to all members of an organization.
Roberts worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers, eventually becoming its Chief of Engineers. Among his many civil engineering works were improvements to waterways. Yet his greatest achievement was to improve the flow of group decision making and to drain the swamps of debate. It is altogether fitting that contemporary members of the construction industry follow his lead.
JMAT is one of three periodicals, along with the Journal of Building Enclosure Design (JBED) and Journal of Building Information Modeling (JBIM) published by NIBS.
While it is unlikely to become a major industry publication, it reaches industry leaders in government, research, and academia. It will also reach leading engineers and technical consultants working on advanced materials. These thought leaders will be interested in advanced materials and technologies being developed by building product manufacturers and their suppliers. It accepts contributed articles and advertising.
To meet this challenge, Green Advantage offers a personnel certification program by which a builder can demonstrate competency in these areas. Chusid Associates is providing marketing and technical support to the organization.
While the Green Advantage program has been gaining adherents since its launch in 1998, I believe it will soon gain critical mass and become part of the construction mainstream. One reason for this optimism is that USGBC has determined that a LEED Innovation Credit can be earned if 30 percent of a project's field supervisory personnel are Green Advantage Certified Practitioners. The Green Advantage Field Personnel Standard can also be embraced by building owners, designers, and contractors that are not pursuing LEED certification.
There are several ways by which building product manufacturers can take advantage of the Green Advantage program:
- Employees that go onto jobsites can become GA Certified Practitioners. This credential will enhance their professional stature and help establish their credibility.
- Having GA certified employees reinforces your brand's commitment to sustainable construction.
- GA certification can also be a criterion in the award of subcontracts since the 30 percent standard also applies to subcontractor personnel that provide services on the jobsite.
Finally, Green Advantage is a non-profit organization and needs corporate financial support to supplement its income from certifications. Support of the organization can provide PR and other benefits to your company. I encourage you to contact Liz to discuss this opportunity.
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) gives several awards annually that may apply to building product manufacturers and their employees. The deadline for submitting nominations is May 6, 2011, and awards will be presented at CSI Convention during the CONSTRUCT tradeshow in September. Consider the following:
- Construction Technology Award
- Excellence in Construction Information (EICI) Award
- Technical Document Award
This award is presented for:
a) Development or use of new materials, methods, technology or project delivery systems used in the building lifecycle; or
b) Development or use of existing materials, methods or technology in a new or innovative manner for the building lifecycle.
Excellence in Construction Information Award
In the Product Documentation Category, the award recognizes excellence, originality or creativity in processes, tools, or documents used in development or construction of the built environment. Nominations may be submitted for, but not limited to:
- Manufacturers Website
- Guide Specification
- Or other Product Information that is used by a project team that contributes to a successful project.
- CSI standards as outlined in The Project Resource Manual – CSI Manual of Practice.
- CSI principle of the Four C’s in preparing written documentation: Clear, Concise, Complete, and Correct.
Technical Document Award
Award is presented for a single outstanding accomplishment in technical writing other than project specifications.
Chusid Associates is available to help you take advantage of these or other award programs.
- Does the format of a manufacturer's guide specs need to change in order to be more easily imported into BSD SpecLink-E by design professionals who use it?
- What does it cost to add a proprietary guide spec to BSD's SpecLink database?
- Can specifiers learn to create the logical checklist links for SpecLink-E in guide specs, and is it worth learning to do it in-house? Can a manufacturer's specifying consultant be cost-competitive with BSD's own writing service?
- What data should manufacturers offer for BIM interoperability with LinkMan-E?
- What data should manufacturers offer for spec and BIM interoperability with CostLink/AE?
- How will CSI’s participation change BSD’s pricing structure for CSI members?
- Will CSI include discounted BSD products and services in its corporate partnership program?
I began reflecting on this after receiving the following email from an architect that had closed his small office after 25 years of practice at the same location. While his direct impetus was a downturn in workload, he points out the shifting nature of practice as follows:
"We have seen the tools of the trade evolve from Phones, Pencils, Parallel Rules and Paper - to black and white computers, fax machines, and pagers - to color computers and mobile phones the size of bricks - to 3D CAD drawings, remote access, and multi-media cell phones. Over the past several years, staff and I have taken advantage of this technology to work more and more from homes where we have ready access to our server and speedy graphic communications. So we have now moved our operations into our home offices."Another friend, a construction specifier, opened a home-based consulting practice after being laid off by a large A/E firm. After getting use to more flexible hours and being more available to her children, I doubt she will ever again take a job that requires her to commute into the city.
These two examples are being replicated throughout the country. The recession is accelerating a fundamental shift in design. More online bandwidth allows easier and speedier collaboration among far-flung project teams. Even as the recession recedes, it is likely that corporate offices will remain leaner while more employees work from the field or from home.
In the past, a rep could visit four or five design offices in a day and potentially see dozens of architects and specifiers at each. It would be a challenge to have as many face-to-face contacts with people working out of home offices or remote locations.
Unless, that is, the sales rep embraces the same communication technologies that designers are using: email, social media, file transfer protocols, webinars, computer-to-computer video links, mobile applications, and the rest.
The other response available to a sales rep is to take advantage of professional society meetings and other events that attract large numbers of designers.
Hanley Wood (HW) proposes to find out. They have partnered with a digital technology group to promote GreenExpo365.com, an "online community and virtual trade show."
The website is clearly advertising driven. That in itself is not a bad thing as most trade shows try to part manufacturers from their money. But can such an online forum really form a "community" of users? USGBC, CSI, AIA, and other organizations already offer real communities. Their online components are adjuncts to committees, chapter meetings, and real trade shows.
Here is an excerpt from an HW press release:
Starting in 2011, the publisher... will provide GreenExpo365.com users with increased access to green building and design resources and top-tier design and building industry experts. “GreenExpo365.com’s on-demand, community-focused platform is a natural extension of our green building information strategy,” adds Peter Goldstone, President of Hanley Wood. “Through this interactive site, we’ll be able to better help others increase their knowledge of environmentally responsible building practices and make well-educated decisions in the marketplace.”The recession has reduced attendance at real trade shows, and some people wonder whether the large event format can survive. So I can't disparage HW, a large producer of trade shows, from hedging their bets.
The award-winning GreenExpo365.com site is a resource for architects, builders, remodelers, dealers, code officials, manufacturers and others interested in green building design and construction. It offers quarterly “live” events in an online trade show format that includes expert presenters and exhibitors, bi-weekly webinars on a host of green building topics, on-demand continuing education courses registered with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and 24/7 interaction on blogs and forums.
Still, I think they would be better off exploring ways to build real online communities, forums that take advantage of the power of the web, rather than creating ersatz versions of trade shows.
Proprietary product data sheets will continue to be required for as far as I can see into the future. I offer five reasons why this will take so long:
- Consensus standards always take a long time to develop.
- The user-interfaces (BIM systems and mobile platforms, for example) will continue to change faster than the consensus standards can be implemented.
- Retraining an industry takes decades, even generations.
- Consensus standards work by defining minimum requirements, but designers, code bodies, and other industry forces constantly create new requirements that go beyond the minimum.
- Unless you manufacture a commodity product, you will want to compete on unique features and benefits that are not expressed in a standardized database.
Here is the full text of their press release:
Cutting out the Cut Sheet? SPie Streamlines the Product Specification and Selection Process
It won’t be long until product specification sheets are a thing of the past. A new, easier way to select products, the Specifiers’ Properties information exchange (SPie), is helping manufacturers to deliver product information to specifiers and designers in an easy-to-compare, digital format. Specifiers and designers can witness a free demonstration of how SPie works on December 6 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, during the National Institute of Building Sciences Annual Meeting, held in conjunction with Ecobuild America in Washington, D.C.
“Establishing a consistent definition and use of materials, products, equipment and assemblies is vital to the exchange of building information,” said Nicholas Nisbet, director of AEC3 UK Ltd., who is assisting the Institute and industry trade associations to implement the SPie standard. “We’re working with trade associations to define the minimum properties for their members’ products so that designers and specifiers can compare product information directly against their requirements.”
The demonstrations in December will show how adopting the SPie standard can improve the specification/selection process as well as other downstream processes, such as:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC), the Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP), and the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) are spearheading the SPie project. Manufacturers and manufacturing associations, including the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industries (AWCI), the Woodwork Institute (WI), the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) and the Architectural Woodwork Manufacturers Association of Canada (AWMAC) are active participants. During the December 6 demonstration, several industry associations will show how they are implementing the SPie standards and illustrate how SPie can extend into electronic purchasing, O&M, QTO and submittals.
- Lighting fixture specification and selection using standard specification software, allowing for the option of electronic purchasing,
- Electrical elements, including operation and maintenance (O&M) methods,
- Wall products and the impact of standard naming on quantity take-off (QTO) and estimating, and
- Cabinetry specification and the processing of submittals.
“The focus of NEMA and its partner IDEA is to facilitate matching specific needs of building owners and designers to specific products in the marketplace. First, for the electrical industry. But, given the flexibility of the NEMA/IDEA solution, to those in other industries as well,” said Jim Lewis, NEMA’s manager for high performance buildings. “Working in conjunction with the National Institute of Building Sciences and other organizations on the SPie initiative, we are looking forward to presenting our joint contribution to the next-generation of building information modeling (BIM) solutions on December 6th.”
SPie extends and cross references the OmniClass™ product and properties tables. It applies the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) standard, which is already widely used for data sharing in building information modeling (BIM), to product specifications data.
To register for the free SPie demonstration, visit www.aececobuild.com/register, select the “Exhibits and Keynotes Pass,” and enter promotion code NIBSIE to waive the fee.
"At the "Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) Annual Meeting being held in Orlando Florida on October 6-8, 2010, a group of government, industry, and corporate leaders as well as a variety of Subject Matter Experts will finalize ongoing work to define the features and performance standards for the Durable and Green house of the future."
This work is expected to eventually result in a Durability index, a result that could have major marketing implications if the index gains wide acceptance.
Read the whole post here.
FLASH is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property loss mitigation.
Antitrust laws prohibit firms in the same industry from conspiring to restrain trade. There are potential civil and criminal penalties for violations under United States antitrust laws. Potential consequences of violating or appearing to violate antitrust laws can be severe for trade associations, member companies, and their employees.
When attending trade association meetings and other activities, you must follow general guidelines in order to avoid violations of antitrust laws.
Topics that must be avoided include:
- Pricing: This includes current or future prices or costs; what is a fair profit level; increases or decreases in price; standardizing or stabilizing prices; and pricing procedures.
- Sales Territories: Dividing customers or allocating sales territories or markets.
- Limiting Supply: Agreements encouraging or discouraging members from purchasing equipment, supplies, or raw materials from any supplier or from dealing with any supplier or restricting the volume of goods produced or made available for sale.
- Boycotts: Restricting the purchasing or dealing with particular outsiders.
- Discussions concerning specific agreements or disputes, past or present, between members.
Meetings must have an agenda that should be strictly followed. Minutes of each meeting should be prepared. The minutes should accurately reflect the subjects discussed and actions taken at the meetings.
Members should not hold informal gatherings. No substantive discussions should take place outside official meetings.
Association membership should not be arbitrarily awarded. It is assumed that members derive an economic benefit from being association members; therefore denial of membership to an otherwise qualified applicant can be seen as restraint on trade since it might limit the ability of the applicant to compete.
Specifications or standards developed shall not be based on any anticompetitive purpose. Adherence to specifications or standards shall be voluntary.
Please note that these guidelines are recommendations and are not comprehensive. Legal counsel should be contacted when potential antitrust issues arise.
Chusid Associates has worked with many building industry trade associations to develop promotional, technical, standards writing, educational, and marketing programs. We also serve on industry committees to serve our clients' interests. Contact Michael Chusid if we can be of assistance to you.
The Kneeland “Ned” Godfrey Award is presented for a body of work published in construction industry magazines and journals. It recognizes superior journalistic and writing skills over the course of a year.
The winning articles from Chusid Associates include:
- “The Building Brick of Sustainability” appeared in The Construction Specifier on behalf of our client Calstar Products.
- “Waterproofing Without Membrane” appeared in Post Tensioning Institute Journal on behalf of our client CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp.
- “Lightening Up on Concrete Cladding" appeared in Concrete Technology Today on behalf of our client Easi-Set Industries.
- "Conveys technical material with a clear and approachable style."
- "Dispels construction myths. These three articles are all excellent educational tools."
- "Presents new and vital tools of the trade."
- "Makes ideal use of sidebars and illustrations to highlight significant details."
- "Provides great case studies; provides but doesn't overly depend on statistics."
- "Tailors details and style for three different publications. That's impressive! Such an approach respects the intelligence and professionalism of each audience."
This year's award will be presented this fall at CWA's annual convention in Chicago.
Welcome to the organizing site for a Green Building Products Coalition
- Has your company committed to achieving a sustainability leadership position?
- Are you struggling to understand what “green” really means for building products?
- Do you think innovation and transparency are getting lost in the green marketing frenzy?
- Are you frustrated by the proliferating number of product certification systems?
- Do you need help deciding which industry standards directly apply to your business?
- Are you confused about which product directory offers the best venue for your products?
- Do you lay awake at night thinking about PCRs, LCAs and EPDs? (We hope not!)
- Does your company have in-house expertise that could inform these discussions?
A Green Building Products Coalition would seek alignment through collaboration and leadership from withing the building products industry and its supply chain to address the industry's sustainability challenges and opportunities - head on!
Many organization are active in the area of building products and sustainability, and the Coalition invites collaboration. We seek to encourage constructive relationships that align our members' and other's activities to achieve hamonization of information and approach in support of long-term sustainability.
The GBPC would give building product manufacturers the opportunity to leverage their collective expertise and develop a common framework for innovation and implementation. Its goal is to create a credible forum for the building products supply chain in which to discuss, define, reach consensus, take action on, and communicate about how product-level attribute improvements can support system-level sustainability.
The GBPC would connect the building products industry and its supply chains with environmental and health experts, government agencies, standards and certification bodies and other key stakeholders to provide education and create the resources and tools required to help the industry make better informed decisions; innovate product design, manufacturing, and communications; and integrate with the building team.
GPBC members would determine what the Coalition works on, but potential projects might include:
- Conducting research to identify and prioritize areas of environmental concern
- Developing responsible building product design and disclosure guidelines
- Creating/delivering workshops on relevant product assessment methodologies
- Researching and writing building product materials environmental technical briefs
- Developing product and enterprise level sustainability metrics and reporting formats
The Construction Specifications Institute, Environmental Protection and GreenBlue (founders of the successful Sustainable Packaging Coalition which would serve as a model of the GBPC) invite you to join us to explore the launch of a Green Building Products Coalition and determine its focus and direction.
MAY 11, 2010, 1:00-6:00PM
Philadelphia Convention Center
March 12 - 14 2010
Sign up and register here.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, contact Chusid Associates to represent your interests there.