I write concise greener architectural building specifications based on common standards for organizing information. Here is more information these strategies, systems, and greener philosophy:
Strategies for Writing Concise Specifications: A major problem with building specifications is that the most crucial and important information for an individual project gets lost in the more mundane and typical boilerplate verbiage. I use the following strategies to make specifications useful and accessible tools:
• Relocate Boilerplate Language: Redundant information is moved to the Division 01 General Requirements where it is available if required to enforce good construction practices but does not clutter up individual specification sections. This purpose for Division 01 General Requirements, as described by the Construction Specifications Institute, is fully implemented the specifications I produce. This leaves the individual specification sections with the most crucial information for a particular project.
• Use Streamlined Language: Be concise. Enough said. But if you need more: Of the four ‘C’s of effective communication, I prioritize being concise. Eliminate unnecessary words, but not at the expense of clarity, correctness, or completeness (the other three ‘C’s).
• Use Nomenclature Lists: Even in outline specifications, I always list the names of building components in the Section Includes Article at the start of each section. This informs the reader of which components are covered by the Section and allows a method to accurately tie the specification nomenclature to that on the drawings.
• Prepare Outline Specifications: The outline specification is an even more concise version of the specification stripped of superfluous information. It is a valuable tool for owner’s cost estimators, and construction managers to quickly understand the specification’s design intent during design development.
Guide Specification Systems: Many people ask what guide master I use to write specifications:
• Tom Good architect: In over twenty years of preparing specifications, I have developed my own guide specification which incorporates the best practices from many lessoned learned. This is my primary source for specifications language. It draws on my own experience and the following sources, none of which are used in isolation:
• Construction Specifications Institute: When trying to communicate, its best to have a common language. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) provides the framework for that language in the form of MasterFormat™, SectionFormat™, and the Project Resource Manual: CSI Manual of Practice. This gives writers and readers of construction specifications a common understanding of how information is to be organized. The specifications I produce comply with these standards.
• SpecLink-E®: As published by Building Systems Design, Inc., is specification writing software which I use primarily for its great productivity benefits.
• MasterSpec®: As published by ARCOM®, is a guide specification which I use primarily for its solid product research.
• Unified Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS): As published by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others, is essential when working on many federally owned projects.
Greener Specifications: Green building is a relative concept, not an absolute fact. Green building (being in a fully symbiotic relationship with the natural environment) is an ultimate goal which no real world building can achieve. It is relative and therefore I write greener specifications. Any green rating system may be incorporated into specifications at no extra charge. I have experience developing and using all the following:
• Green Common Sense: All the specifications I write incorporate basic green building practices. Rating systems and checklists are fine, but greener building should be built in, not an add-on.
• LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)
• Green Globes
• Vermont Builds Greener
• North Carolina Healthy Homes
• Enterprise Green Communities
• National Green Building Standard
• Passive House