Website Review: Paidon Atlas of recent architecture

To succeed in building product marketing, it is helpful to stay in touch with trends in the industry. If your product is specified by architects, that requires you to read or scan architectural websites or blogs. A new website,, may be helpful in this regards. It claims a database of over 130,000 images of more than 3000 buildings from 115 countries and more than 1500+ architects.  All the projects were completed in the 21st Century, and the numbers above suggest the complexity of the contemporary global market for architecture.
Southern California? Nope, Angola.
Any database or collection reflects the interests of its editor or curator, and the editor of this website is clearly looking at a very narrow range of buildings. The website says it presents "architecture for architects". This means, apparently, that it is about buildings designed so that other architects will look at them as say, "My, isn't that interesting. I wonder how he gets away with doing something outlandish like that? Maybe I should copy this and I will be considered a great architect as well."

The database comes with filters to help you search the site; interestingly, there are not filters for "style" - so don't look for "traditional" designs - nor for "cost per square foot or square meter" criteria. There is almost no discussion of building performance, and discussion of building materials and performance are given short shrift. In other words, the database is for architecture as still life.
Tessellated Facade.
The editor also fails in accuracy and consistency. The filters allow you to search for "concrete" and "cement", apparently unaware that cement is a component of concrete.  And while a photo featured on the home page has a tessellated facade, it is not listed under the "tessellation" filter.

Building Product Marketing
Still, the site may be helpful to some building product companies or reps. If, for example, you are preparing to call on an architect to discuss the use of your material on their new airport terminal project, you can look at other recent examples of airport terminals or bring up an example or two of the firm's work. If the project happens to be in Kazakhstan, you can see photos of two recent projects in that country. By studying these and other projects, you may be able to ferret design trends that can influence your product development targets or marketing messages. This will help you keep up with the buzz, at least with the buzz of the designers on the team.
Of course, you can probably do all of this just as quickly and perhaps more thoroughly with Google, if you are willing to forgo the editor's taste making sensibilities. The website is published by Phaidon, a major publisher of high-quality books about art and architecture, and costs $240 per annum. Maybe your local university library has a subscription, or Phaidon's 30 day free trial will meet your needs.. Then you can save enough money to purchase one of Phaidon's coffee table book so you can put it in your office, browse the pictures at your ease, and impress your boss, coworkers, and visitors.

BuildSite - Marketing to Contractors

Architects, engineers, and other specifiers are powerful gatekeepers for building product sales, but contractors make the actual purchase. The contractor's power to select products is particularly strong with commodity and generic types of products, putting them and the distributors serving them in the driver’s seat when it is time to choose product brands for the job. This role as the “last designer” means that contractors and distributors are crucial players in purchasing decisions.

BuildSite, is an online (and mobile) tool that helps get product information in front of distributors and contractors when buying decisions are being made. Through BuildSite, manufacturers can target buyers with messaging that is tied to "un-proprietary specs"—the kind that most contractors face.

While BuildSite can be used for product selection and for email messaging, I see its main application as a way to simplify the assembly and distribution of submittals -- the process by which a contractor sends product data sheets, sample warranty forms, material safety data sheets, and other product information to the designer.

At the present time, the system is strongest for products in Divisions 03, 07, and 09.

For additional information and a demonstration, contact:

  Melanie Loftus, Buildsite Product Manager

Is your product in MasterFormat?

A marketing maxim says sales depend on three things: 1. Location, 2. Location, and 3. Location.

In construction, the location of your product information is determined by MasterFormat. MasterFormat is the industry standard for organizing construction information according to the type of work being performed. It is used to organize construction specifications, cost data, schedules of values, and other project data. Building product manufacturers need to know the MasterFormat sections where their products should be specified.

What happens, however, if your product doesn't fit into an existing MasterFormat section? This can occur whenever a new type of product is brought to market, or when new demands on buildings requires the creation of new building solutions.

Fortunately, there the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and its partners in MasterFormat have created a means for proposing revisions. Revisions can be proposed online at, and the MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team meets each summer to consider revisions.

Here are some examples of recent revisions:

Section 03 35 33 - Polished Concrete Finishing: Polished concrete has gained popularity in the decade since the technique was developed. We proposed this section on behalf of Lythic Solutions, a firm that provides materials for polishing. 

Section 03 48 63 - Precast Pre-Framed Concrete Panels: MasterFormat had a section for precast concrete panels, and a place for metal stud-framed panels, but no place for panels with a precast face and metal stud framing. We proposed this section on behalf of Ecolite Concrete, one of several firms pioneering this new technology. 

Section 09 24 00 - Cement Plaster: This section used to be called, "Portland Cement Plaster. However, our client, CTS Cement Manufacturing Corp, made a product that is used the same way, but contains a different type of cement. The solution was to drop "Portland" from the section name.

Having an assigned section in MasterFormat gives your product category increased credibility, signaling that it has become an established product option. And having a section name and number makes it easier for specifiers and contractors to search for and find products in that category. And it is part of your brand's positioning.

Taking the initiative to propose a change demonstrates your firm's leadership in the industry. It also gives you bragging rights, and a reason to issue a press release.

Of course, not all proposed revisions are accepted. For example, my suggestion for a new section for "Fly Ash Brick" was rejected. The committee felt this new product could be specified under the existing section for "Clay Unit Masonry." I suspect this decision will be revisited in a few years after Fly Ash Brick becomes more accepted in the marketplace.

GreenWizard - Free Directory Listing

"GreenWizard is the only data-driven marketing solution that brings green building products and green building materials face to face with decision makers in the design and construction community actively engaged in projects."
The basic functionality of GreenWizard is to allow a designer or builder to search for a product by potential LEED credits associated with the product. As an online marketing channel, it provides FREE listings for building product manufacturers. The price is right, and I recommend you take advantage of the offer.
They also have a Pro version that offers more features that may appeal to some manufacturers. For example, once a contractor finds a product that meets the LEED requirements, the contractor can place an order for the material from within GreenWizard. The fee for this service is two percent of the sales price. This makes the website a cost effective "sales rep" for products that can be purchased off-the-shelf.

Like most new products, GreenWizard is still trying to work out kinks in its system. My associate, Vivian Volz, RA CCS LEED-AP reports that the firm was responsive when she called to report a concern.

Contact Michael Chusid if you would like help discussing how to use GreenWizard in your business. Call 818-774-0003 or email

Beyond Wikipedia: Archiplanet

Some research this morning took me to Archiplanet, a wiki dedicated to "the facts, photos, and drawings here on your favorite structures of all kinds, anywhere, from your own cottage to the latest skyscraper to your nation's capitol." It served as a good reminder that there are many other wikis beyond Wikipedia, and your marketing campaigns will be more successful if you use the correct ones.

Wikipedia is very firm about what Wikipedia is and what it is not. The content criteria are strictly enforced by the members/editors. Ignoring these rules can get your pages deleted, and accounts banned.

According to their homepage, "Archiplanet is a community-constructed collection for all the buildings, building users, and building creators on planet Earth." It is sponsored by, one of the leading online architectural magazines. For many building product manufacturers, this will make it a better tool than Wikipedia.

High Hopes For The Green Button

Try this: Look up a product category on (Make it a big one, like Steel Doors and Frames.) Now, scroll to the bottom of the page. There’s a green button there that says “Show these listings in Zip Code Order.” Click it.

Now, scroll to the part of the page nearest your zip code. See how the companies whose headquarters are closest to you are clumped near your zip code? If you looked up your own product category, does your headquarters location appear in the right place?

How might this function help you? Perhaps it will help design professionals in your area find you. Perhaps it will help you find fabricators who are interested in working with your raw material, or a company you can co-market your product with.

There’s an important thing to know about this button: what it wishes it could do. It can’t find manufacturers who can fulfill the LEED credit for products sourced and manufactured within 500 miles of the job site. Publisher Colin Gilboy’s disclaimer at the top of the page warns that it’s only a first step in a complex discovery process.

The bottom line lesson goes beyond the green button, though. It’s about transparency of information, and it’s about finding companies to form lasting relationships with. Design professionals are looking for companies that share information, like where their raw materials come from and where they manufacture their products. They also are looking for companies who speak their language, answer the phone in their time zones, and who can send someone to their job sites if problems arise.

These are high hopes for one little green button, but there are people out there pushing it. Do you show up?

Product Portals and Online Directories

There are more online product directories than anyone can keep track of, and new ones come online all the time. This is a small first step towards building a list of the more important directories.

AEC Daily



BPM Select

This is a free building product search engine, designed for the AEC Community. BPM Select enables users to search, spec and source building products within a highly targeted database of national and regional manufacturer websites.

Like most major search engines, users can enter a keyword and BPM Select returns results. Unlike most major search engines, BPM Select returns only results specific to manufacturers of that particular product so there is less "noise" and fewer irrelevant results to sort through.

BPM Select also offers direct access to The Blue Book database, making it easy to locate the suppliers and installers of the specific products needed.


From Reed Construction Data, focus on Canadian market.

For Specs
The product search engine of choice by many construction specifiers since it so comprehensive and is organized by CSI MasterFormat section numbers. Basic listings are free to manufacturers and expanded listings are affordable and produce measurable results.

Intended to provide a source for verifiable product information about a product's sustainability. A product of CSI.

Green Thinker is a networking company for the Green Building Industry and the consumers. We provide easy access to sustainable building products and service providers as well as industry news and articles. We promote building green.

Trade Only Design Library
Interior design products. Requires registration to use.

Rate it Green

Reed Smart Building Index


Remember that many organizations that certify products also maintain online directories. For example

Energy Star

Dont SCIP These Specifiers

Here are over one hundred of the most important prospects a building product manufacturer can know. Specifications Consultants in Independent Practice (SCIP) is a nationwide organization of professional specification writers who practice as consultants rather than on the payroll of an architectural or engineering firm. They are, by and large, fiercely devoted to their craft and passionate about understanding building products.

Because they typically consult to several design firms, each independent specifier can have a broad reach within their community; their opinions and recommendations count. Make sure your local reps know the SCIP members in their territories and provide them with service. A directory of members is on their website at

ProductFormat for Building Product Data

Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) has endorsed a new format for organizing building product information. The format, called ProductFormat 2008 will improve the organization of technical data and product presentations for building products.

The construction industry has many well established formats for organizing information. Standardized formats increase efficiency on the part of someone looking for usable data and decrease risks that critical information might be overlooked. Specification organization benefits from CSI formats, drawings are increasingly organized according to the National CAD Standard, and a host of new formats are being developed to accommodate increasing computerization of construction information. Unfortunately, the US construction industry does not have an agreed upon format for building product data.

In the past, CSI's popular Spec-Data Format provided a widely used format for technical data sheet; it has all but dissappeard since CSI sold the program to Reed Construction Data. McGraw Hill had a cumbersome format for Sweets catalog files, but now Sweets has all but dissappeared. The applicabilty of both these programs was limited by the need to pay to be in either Spec-Data or Sweets, making them less than universally available as a industry standard.

A ProductFormat presentation is organized around three headings that generally parallel the three parts of the industry standard SectionFormat:

ProductFormat SectionFormat
Product Features Part 1 - General
Product Properties Part 2 - Products
Product Placement Part 3 - Execution

This will make it familiar to architects, engineers, and builders, and simplify the transition from product selection to product specification.

Feel free to call me at 818-774-0003 to discuss whether SectionFormat can be useful to your product presentation.

Society of American Military Engineers (SAME)

SAME provides networking opportunities for building product manufacturers wanting to do business with the US uniformed services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Public Health Service). In addition to construction on military bases, SAME members are responsible for billions of dollars of civil construction through the infrastructure projects of the Corps of Engineers.
Its mission statement is, “To promote and facilitate engineering support for national security by developing and enhancing relationships and competencies among uniformed services, public and private sector engineers, and related professionals.” (Emphasis added.) As a long-time member explained it to me, "Military officers, including those charged with construction, are regularly transferred for post to post. SAME gives them a networking group so they can quickly get to know the local expertise and resources available at each posting." In addition to meeting the brass, participation in SAME allows you to meet the design firms and contractors vying for work in the area.

In addition to participation in local Post (chapter) activities, SAME offers plenty of opportunities for sponsorship. Its magazine, The Military Engineer accepts contributed non-proprietary articles, and its Directory is a great prospecting tool. Individual membership is surprisingly affordable.

New Green Product Registries

Two new online construction product registries address the sustainability benefits of products and buildings. Participating in these registries provides several marketing benefits to building product manufacturers:
  1. Increased visibility of your products.
  2. Enhance perception that your company is active in the greening of the industry.
  3. Enhance your green branding by using the registries' logos on your website and literature.
  4. Answering the questions on the registry forms may help you uncover new ways to green your product.
CSI has introduced GreenFormat to allow manufacturers to report the environmental properties of their products in a searchable database. To be listed on GreenFormat, construction product manufacturers must complete an online questionnaire that collects information about their product. Data from the questionnaire is then displayed in a standardized fashion designed to ease sustainable design decision-making. “GreenFormat is an excellent place for building product manufacturers to list the green attributes of their products,” says Brenda Little, JD, an environmental consultant at Chusid Associates, “This resource will reach architects, designers, specifiers, and other professionals in the construction industry.”

GreenPLUS has now been launched to rate a home’s Health, Safety, and Welfare (HSW) attributes related to environmental stewardship and disaster-preparedness. The registry contains a growing database of manufacturers providing green products for home consumption, construction, and upgrade. Homeowners and contractors consult this registry when selecting building products to qualify their home projects for GreenPLUS certificates.

Chusid Associates is available to help file your product’s information with the two registries. According to Ms. Little, "Environmental concerns can pose questions that manufacturers have not asked themselves in the past. Even if a manufacturer can not answer all the environmental question about their product, it is important to be part of the green conversation. If a customer cannot find you listed in the green directories, they may assume you do not have any environmental benefits."