The American Institute of Architects' contract documents are used for most building projects, and you should be especially familiar with AIA A201 - General Conditions of the Contract for Construction.
ConsensusDOCS system of contracts is being used. These documents have been endorsed by a coalition of 32 construction industry associations, and many find them to allocate risks and responsibilities more efficiently and fairly. Written in plain English and not legalese, they have also been developed to recognize new industry trends such as BIM, green construction, and integrated project delivery. Click here for sample documents.
The SPie property sets and templates will be used in BIM models to facilitate the life-cycle information needs of the project. The templates would be similar to outline specifications and could be used as facility management tools. To date, more than 450 templates have been started.
The effort is being coordinated by CSI, National Institute of Building Science's buildingSMART alliance, SCIP, and USACE Engineer Research and Development Center.
The CSI Technical Committee is seeking members to participate in developing property sets for particular building products. If you have expertise with a specific building product, are interested in growing the profession's integration of products and specifications, have been looking for ways to push the profession forward on BIM, or have questions and would like to receive more information on SPie, contact Matthew Fochs at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief summary of the product group you have experience with along with a brief statement of your professional background.
If you aren't part of this effort, your competitors will be.
- 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?
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.
How is this possible? What changed so much that these once indispensable tools are becoming so peripheral to my life?
According to Lifehacker editor Adam Pash, Your Smartphone Is a Better PC than Your PC Ever Was or Will Be. His premise is controversial and debatable, but has an undeniable nugget of truth to it. And it has huge ramifications for our industry.
Pash is not the first to make this argument. The core of his argument is that regardless of how good it is as a computer, the smartphone is far better at the "personal" part of "Personal Computer":
And from a computing perspective, what's more personal than a gadget that:
And he's right; that is a highly personal relationship to have with a computer. It beats out my laptop by being easier to bring with and access on the go, and being more specialized for the "personal" tasks. Much of the debate missed this point, though, saying things like:
If my iPhone is so much better, why does it need my PC in order to do something as simple as delete a song?This commenter is confusing function with message, in a McLuhan sense, however. He wants something that can be achieved with a simple software tweak. What's more important is that of the over 15GB music library on my computer, less than 2% makes it onto the "personal" playlist that goes in my pocket.
Another commenter makes the case for the laptop as a "BC" - business computer - instead of PC; I like that distinction, with the BC being the high-powered, high-performance machine I use for specific tasks, and the PC being the maybe not-as-powerful but more personal smartphone that is always within reach. Of course, as the same commenter pointed out, "...the line between business and personal is becoming blurred for a lot of people these days - my business is my business, and that is personal to me." (My favorite part of this comment is that we often "forget that most people use their PCs for exactly the things that smartphones do well. Most people don't photoshop -- they just shop.")
The Problem - and Opportunity - For Marketers
The opportunity this presents us is what this commenter hinted at; there is not a clear distinction between "personal" and "business". Social media is blending them even further, because most people use a single Facebook account both for catching up with friends and making professional connections, but the key to selling to architects has always involved developing a personal connection; become their Go-To Guy and you're much more likely to get specced.
If both these points are true - that it takes personal connections to get specified, and the smartphone is more personal - then it stands to reason that reaching specifiers through their smartphones will help you get specified.
There are many ways to make these mobile connections, but how do you take advantage of this smartphone/PC issue?
- Optimize your website. There's a reason this goes first: it's the most basic and obvious way to start reaching mobile clients and prospects. If you have a smartphone-friendly website, or at least a useful landing page, they will go to your site. If not, they will go to whichever one of your competitors does.
- Live in the cloud. Lack of processing power is one of the biggest obstacles to smartphone use. Typing a short email is fine, but large-scale graphic design or data manipulation will overtax the smartphone's capabilities (or the user's patience). Cloud computing presents a way around this limit by moving the heavy lifting to a more robust server. What cloud-based utility can you offer your clients that they can access from their smartphone? There is a lot of fertile ground not just in developing new services, but making existing services more mobile.
- Know what belongs on the PC. One thing many of the commenters - and the author - agreed on is there are certain tasks that are still better on the full-sized keyboard-mouse-and-monitor machines (KMMM?). If the task involves heavy data entry, large graphics, frequent searches, or intense reading, it should still be on the KMMM. The mobile site should make it easy to transfer the experience to a PC, along with essential data. Don't make them fill out the same form twice.
- Be reachable via mobile. One advantage of smartphones is the ease with which they switch between communication media. A single interaction could start on Twitter before moving to a phone call, sent photos, streaming live video, file transfer, and back to Twitter. Know what communication tools your clients use, download the mobile versions, and become familiar with their capabilities.
Because it breaks a facility into the systems that perform distinct functions – shell, foundation, interiors, etc. -- without naming the specific solutions used to achieve them, it provides a consistent method for tracking and estimating costs and evaluating options even before the design team has finished developing drawings and specifications.What This Means for Manufacturers?
UniFormat classifies building products and systems, but in different groupings from MasterFormat. UniFormat groupings are more useful early in the design process and in situations where design flexibility is key, such as in design-build and integrated project delivery (IPD) It is already used in building information modeling (BIM) for classifying elements of the model.
If the updated standard, the rise of BIM and various forms of IPD, and the easily-integrated electronic documents all point to UniFormat's being used more often and more effectively, this means that manufacturers will need to understand and use it, too. In theory, if your product literature speaks UniFormat, your product is speaking the right language for the early part of the project design process, and the right language for design-build and IPD.
Consider, at a minimum, imbedding the UniFormat code for your products in your BIM objects. Place it on your product literature along with your MasterFormat number and title. Include it in your keywords for web-based literature. Include it in your next sales training. (If you have a multi-use product, like mortar or sealant, your reps may need to know several UniFormat codes where your product might be used.) Classify articles, technical bulletins, and other publications according to the UniFormat element they discuss, and you may start to find your systems rubbing elbows with systems to which it isn't normally compared. For instance, terra cotta, phenolic panels, and aluminum composite panels all occupy different Divisions of MasterFormat, but they are all part of exterior walls, UniFormat element B2010. Consider all of these ideas, and brainstorm your own: if UniFormat increases in usage among design professionals and contractors, you'll want to be ready to use it, too.
What Else has Changed?
Possibly more exciting than the update itself is the electronic formats in which UniFormat is now made available. The UniFormat 2010 edition includes the following documents:
- A searchable pdf of the full UniFormat document, including added descriptive information for titles and an index.
- A full listing of the UniFormat numbers and titles as an Excel spreadsheet for import into databases and other applications
- A transition matrix between CSI/CSC UniFormat 2010 edition, CSI/CSC UniFormat 1998 edition, ASTM UNIFORMAT II, GSA UNIFORMAT, and NAVFAC UNIFORMAT.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether the new version will cause an increase in the use of UniFormat. We'll be keeping our ear to the ground, though, and it may behoove manufacturers to do the same.
I had a conversation today with an architect developing what he calls the next-generation computerized system for researching products, preparing guide specs, and coordinating construction documentation. When I asked him why he started work on the database-driven system, he said that, "young architects today don't seem to understand specs or want to write them." He went on to describe how the new system will help them "write specs more quickly." But when I asked him if the new system would help them write "better specifications," he paused and said, "probably not."
A leading specification authority and author, John Regener, AIA, CCS, CCCA, MAI, CSI, SCIP, recently expressed a similar concern about other new specification software:
Our Architect-clients don't understand specifications. They're being dazzled with marketing claims from computer-assisted spec programs that will supposedly link with the Revit 3D CAD program they so dearly love. The spec programs are being sold as the solution to all their problems, such as weak knowledge of building products and construction contract documents. Also, these programs are supposed to be lots cheaper than hiring a spec writer. With these spec-writing programs, somehow the BIM objects of Revit, with their preset or laboriously edited properties, will automagically link the drawings to the specs. Zip-zot, the computer selects the right products and out comes a beautiful looking speci-fiction with lots of ASTMs and clear concise-(compete?)-(correct?) text. No need for knowledge by the user as to building products, regional construction practices, Codes and appropriate levels of detail. That's my observation of 3 or 4 firms who are "Reviting" up spec-wise and asking for help. Maybe I should stop spitting into the wind and seize this opportunity to go back into the lucrative business of forensic architecture.Based on these observations, I offer the following recommendations for your building product marketing programs:
1. Learn about new design and construction software, and use it where appropriate.
2. But don't get so caught-up in the glitz of the spiffy new technology that you ignore the fundamental value of your products or the clarity of your technical and marketing materials.
3. Design professionals of all skill levels need your technical competence and help to use your products correctly.
4. Continue to offer educational opportunities to design professionals. Whether you can award continuing education units or not, focus on helping the design professional acquire the knowledge and insight needed to use your product wisely.
The quote from John is edited from remarks in the August 2010 edition of Scipping Along, the newsletter of Specification Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP).
Chief among the driving forces that make complex tessellations practical are BIM-driven CNC-controlled fabrication systems that make it possible to mass-customize components. As the article states, "The machines don't care what shapes they make."
Here is a recent example of a tessellated facade:
Be wary, however: Architectural fashions lose favor as quickly as they rise.
Experience Music Project building, designed by Frank Gehry.
Photo by Rebecca Kennison under Creative Commons.
Iluma, designed by WOHA
Photo © Patrick Bingham-Hall
|Apple's iPad has a large, bright, colorful screen that is likely to be very useful to design professionals.|
A thoughtfully designed app that is both useful and free will always be popular. We believe that developing such apps, to give away from promotional purposes, is a great opportunity for building products marketers, and we are working with our clients to take advantage of it.
Take three minutes to see the future of computing. What will this mean to the way architects, engineers, builders, and the public select, purchase, and use your building products?
What will it mean to the future of your company and how you do business.
This is not something over the horizon; this moves the horizon.
Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potential of SixthSense technology | Video on TED.com
- Data for an API
- Display on someone else's website
- Quotation, with or without attribution
You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed).Within a single paragraph, ownership is granted to the user-creator while usage is granted to Twitter. WebProNews quotes one user as saying, "If Twitter can do what they want with ‘our’ tweets, including reproduction for their own (financial) gain, what do we actually 'own'?"
The issue has come up from the other side as well, notably the recent "Facebook Murder" case and various cyber-bullying trials. Here the question is what responsibility does Facebook bear for the content posted by users? Combined, these questions of ownership and responsibility mean that most social networks and other online services gain the benefit but not the liability for all user-generated content.
This mirrors the debate about liability in BIM (read the comments from this BD+C post about mandatory BIM in Texas); everyone wants credit for their work on the project, but no one wants liability for bad information, faulty design, or whatever other problems might occur. Furthermore, once a model is designed, who owns the information?
In light of these issues, how can building product manufacturers protect themselves and their information?
The first key step is to be sure that any information posted online is technically accurate: guide specs, BIM models, CAD details, technical literature, MSDS, etc. should be reviewed carefully, preferably by a third-party architect, engineer, or other technical specialist. This may require a material testing program to get independent confirmation of the qualities claimed, especially for life-safety issues such as surface burning characteristics.
Secondly, refer people to the company website wherever possible. Twitter makes this easy; it's hard to fit extensive product detail into 140 characters or less, so tweets usually redirect users to the full article elsewhere. On blogs and networks like LinkedIn, however, there can be a temptation to post full-text of data sheets. Avoid this impulse; link to the appropriate page on the website instead. That way users will always find the most current information, and the issue of content-ownership is diminished. If Twitter or another network claims usage rights, all they have to use is a tweet saying "For more information, visit....".
The issue of content ownership is going to evolve rapidly over the next few years. Lawsuits are already testing the issue. Until a clear path emerges, the best way for manufacturers to protect themselves is focusing on these fundamentals.
The "bimWITS" series is produced in cooperation with the BuildingSMART Alliance and discusses best practices with building information models. This particular episode is about one year old, but it's a nine-minute introduction to BIM from the perspective of the product manufacturer. In this episode, BIM expert Robert Weygant is interviewed by CSI's Aaron Titus.
Listen for answers to these questions:
- What information should be in a BIM object?
- What motivates a manufacturer to offer BIM objects?
- What can designers do with BIM data?
From BD&C, Wisconsin becomes the first state to require BIM on large, public projects:
As of July 1 the Wisconsin Division of State Facilities will require all projects with a total budget of $5 million or more and all new construction with a budget of $2.5 million or more to have their designs begin with a Building Information Model.BIM models are becoming the new essential piece of your marketing literature. It used to be the product binder, then the website; now, if you don't provide useful, accurate models of your products, architects will go to a competitor that does.
2. Good Ads Cost Less: Digg is charging less per click for ads users like, and conversely will charge more for unpopular ads. Increased potential for a successful ad to become very successful, and for bad ads to disappear more quickly. More than that, it shows a continuing change of paradigm; users are now participating not only in content creation but also in advertising. The old one-way model of “We design it, you see it” is fading. Jay Adelson, Digg’s chief executive, notes that “users like advertising that is different and more relevant and more directly targeted better than distracting, boring, traditional ads.” How can you bring your clients into your advertising process?
3. Kindle Ads: Showtime is using Kindle, Amazon’s e-book reader, to advertise new shows. Beyond the details of the new show and the strategy they used, this represents the opening of a new medium for marketing. We have helped clients write and publish books to establish them as the leading expert in their product category; the largest expense and difficulty has always been publishing. This drastically simplifies the process. Sponsorships, give-aways, and
author credits are just the beginning.
And a fun video to round out the list: The Year The Media Died http://tinyurl.com/q465kv (a long but funny parody of print media’s recent troubles).
With thanks to PSFK.
A. Let's be realistic here. Most architects ARE NOT looking for BIM details -- at least not yet. Even the relatively few firms already using BIM for overall building design are still doing details in CAD.
Suggestion -- Your website is a great opportunity for market research. Below the "Download CAD" buttons on your website, put a "Request BIM" button that takes people to a place where they can tell you what they want. If the opportunity is big enough, you can respond in an ad hoc basis. After a few months of requests, you will know what you need to do.
If you have a broad product line, some products may be more appropriate for BIM than others.
Even if architects aren't really using the BIM of your products, it does help the image of your firm as an up-to-date market leader, and can be used to attract attention.
More, you probably have 3d drawings (dare I say models?) of many of your products for in-house engineering, fabrication, and shop drawings. In this case, the cost of putting them online is fairly small, so why not do it?