To Be Integrated

Twenty-first century building will be an integrated set of building systems aimed at providing an optimal environment for people to live, work and play. In the past, building systems were viewed as independent systems that were optimized individually and led to the suboptimal performance of the building as a whole. Today, the view of a building as a collection of independent systems is changing with advances in building communication and control systems. “Integration” and “interoperability” are terms often heard in the building industry today.

In the future, system integration and interoperability will be important. The criteria for optimizing building performance will shift from today’s focus on the cost of building operation and maintenance, to measuring the productivity and well-being of the inhabitants remanded to the building’s care.

Integrated building systems (IBS) are the heart of the “smart” building of the future. Buildings will evolve into intelligent environments that will resemble living and learning organisms rather than the industrial age machines they now emulate.

The new 2004 edition of the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat is beginning to take hold in the building construction industry, and the old 16 divisions are giving way to an expanded 33-division format. Twelve of the new divisions deal with industrial, heavy and highway construction that are new to the 2004 edition. However, the original 16 divisions that addressed building construction are now covered in 21 divisions.

The expanded MasterFormat building divisions reveal where significant advances in building technology are happening today and expected in the future. The old Division 15 and 16 have been eliminated from the new CSI MasterFormat and replaced with the Facility Services Subgroup, which is comprised of seven divisions.

The new Facility Services Subgroup has brought together what was covered in the old Divisions 15 and 16 along with parts of Division 13. Compare this with the content of Divisions 1 through 14, which did not change appreciably in the new CSI MasterFormat, and the electrical contracting firm can readily see that it is where the action is in the building industry.

Of the seven divisions that make up the Facility Services Subgroup, the electrical contracting firm should be interested in Divisions 25 through 28, which focus on PC2 systems and provide the basis for IBS. Division 25 is the key to IBS and addresses building automation systems that include the control and integration of the building HVAC, plumbing, power, communications, fire suppression and life safety/security systems.

Power distribution including distributed generation such as building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) is covered in Division 26. Voice, data and video (VDV) systems along with the structured cabling that supports these systems are now covered in Division 27. Division 28 covers life safety and security systems that include fire detection and alarm, access control and intrusion detection, and electronic surveillance.

The expanded CSI MasterFormat provides expanded opportunities for the electrical contracting firm. Even though the MasterFormat was never intended by CSI to determine project responsibilities and work scopes for specialty contractors, it has taken on that role by default.

Owners, general contractors and construction managers have traditionally used MasterFormat to establish subcontract bid and contract scopes of work on building projects. The shuffling and reorganization of building environmental systems along functional lines in the 2004 MasterFormat provides an opportunity for the electrical contracting firm to become involved in building systems that it hasn’t been involved with before because of industry custom and practice.

However, in order to take advantage of the expanding IBS market and the opportunities offered by the new CSI MasterFormat, the electrical contracting firm must change its paradigm and prepare for new market opportunities. As building environmental systems become increasingly complex and interdependent, there will be a growing demand for an IBS contractor. Currently, building owners are struggling with the need to integrate building environmental systems to achieve needed system functionality, interoperability and efficiency.

This need will increase as more buildings incorporate intelligent materials, distributed generation and open-architecture control systems. The new CSI MasterFormat provides a blueprint for the IBS contractor to become the general contractor of the 21st century. Since all intelligent building systems will rely on PC2 systems, the electrical contractor could assume the role of IBS contractor. EC

GLAVINICH is an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at The University of Kansas and is a frequent instructor for NECA’s Management Education Institute. He can be reached at 785.864.3435 or





About the Author

Thomas E. Glavinich

Freelance Writer
Thomas E. Glavinich was an associate professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering at the University of Kansas. His tenure as one of Electrical Contractor's most trusted and reliable source of industry research end...

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