New Divisions, New Resources

Jan. 18, 2006

By Chuck Wilson, Executive Director, National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA)

Certainly the transition to the new CSI MasterFormat™ 04 will cause some headaches, expense, and confusion at first. However, in time, this document will be one of the best resources an architectural firm has ever been given. And the best part is long-term profits for your firm. Your investment can be recovered and them some. Here’s why.

Consider this: What often gets overlooked in new building specifications is the lost revenue from “furnished by owner” work. Many times the design firm looks at technology in the respect of “We don’t understand it, so we can’t specify it. It’s not worth the risk.” But let’s say that it will cost your firm $500,000 to transition to the new format in 2006. Let’s also assume that your firm hasn’t done much in the past with special systems. The opportunity is in what has been left up to others. Why not expand your scope of services to embrace the future of building design, rather than avoid it? That’s what the new divisions are all about: the future.

Clearly, technology is the fastest growing portion of new construction costs. It’s become an integral part of a building’s functionality. Some buildings are designed with technical applications driving the design of the building. That’s a relatively new concept for all of us. The reality of all of this is a new emphasis toward the importance of technology. Do the research yourself and estimate how large this portion of the total building cost is. Once the project is completely built out, the total cost of technology is an impressive figure. Technology in hospitals may be upwards of 13 percent of the total construction costs. New schools are being equipped with advanced media and security applications that can cost in the hundreds of thousands. It’s not uncommon to see religious venues where just the audio, video, and lighting exceed $1 million. That’s where the recovery in your transition to the new format will be found - what’s being left on the table.

NSCA makes it a top priority to provide you with the resources you need to make technology an integral part of your firm’s expertise. We have a roster of independent design consultants that can help you design and specify the most advanced technology for any application. We have highly trained and certified professional system contractors and integrators who can work alongside your construction team to implement this technology.

We have an online resource, the A/E Toolkit™, which will provide reference materials for every step of the journey. And, we offer training for CEU and LU requirements that will allow you to develop new skills, learn new ideas, and maintain credentials all at the same time.

The A/E Toolkit was designed by architects and is intended to provide you with in-depth information on the electronic systems industry. Likewise, it is a tool that allows systems integrators to learn more about you and your key issues with technology so that we can work better together.

What we found in meeting with building owners and facilities managers is that they want the design firms they work with to know more about technology. This community, your clients, has become much savvier and is quite interested in leveraging technology to improve their own processes. This might be a new way to deliver services, improve safety, gain efficiencies, reduce expenses, and facilitate learning. Whatever the application is, they want you to design this up-front. We can help.

Register on and become a regular visitor. Join the discussion groups, meet the members of our organization, and attend our events. And come visit us in Las Vegas at the NSCA Expo. We have programs designed just for you, the architect, which will bring you closer to the people, knowledge, and new ideas you need to build your business.

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