Thursday, October 9, 2014

ARCOM and GreenWizard Form New Partnership

ARCOM has partnered with GreenWizard to create a software platform interfacing their unique tools to help architects and specifiers better identify building products and materials that fulfill the green and budgetary goals of their projects.

ARCOM and GreenWizard will jointly build an interface that integrates GreenWizard's robust software platform with ARCOM's SpecBuilder+Expert, which features tools that assist specifiers in editing manufacturer product specification sections. ARCOM will provide GreenWizard with the ability to populate existing SpecBuilder+Expert manufacturer sections, allowing GreenWizard users to quickly create specifications through this interface. GreenWizard, the market leader in materials data and documentation for the construction industry, will work directly with ARCOM to simplify the specification process for users.

This partnership will simplify building product selection and lead to faster integration of green products, which benefits architects, engineers, and the building product manufacturers that rely on MasterSpec for accurate specifications.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Specifying Lighting Control

Part 1 - Common Types of Lighting Control

Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT
MasterSpec Engineering Specification Writer

Lighting control is an effective way to save energy beyond using energy efficient lighting sources and manual or sensor operated switches. A lighting control system controls multiple luminaires at one central point or it may be modular. This type of system allows local control or communicates with building automation systems, and employs energy conservation measures such as daylight harvesting and occupancy sensing. With modern digital communications, the possibilities are essentially limitless, and the integration, operation, and coordination of these systems can become quite complex.

An engineer can use MasterSpec to specify one of four lighting control methods in a commercial or industrial project:
  1. Lighting control panelboards
  2. Central or modular dimming controls
  3. Addressable luminaire controls
  4. Relay controlled circuits
Note that these four don't cover every single type of lighting control, but they are the most common types of lighting control specified in the United States.

The following is a breakdown of how each of the four types of lighting control works.

The following are some advantages and disadvantages for each lighting control system.
It should be noted that these four methods all can use similar time, light sensing, or computer control to control lighting. These systems can generate control signals internally by using occupancy schedules or responding to alarms. They can also accept external inputs from manual overrides, daylight harvesting sensors, or the building automation system that can trigger action on part of the lighting control system and send information to related control systems, such as power demand control, tenant billing, or the building automation system.
Choosing the proper lighting control system will depend on many different factors, some of which include the owner's desire for flexibility, energy savings, individual or group control, sensor or building automation system integration, reporting, ease of use, and maintenance. The pros and cons of each type of system should be discussed between the engineer and the design team during programming or design development. The results of that discussion can help the engineer make the appropriate choice of lighting control system and coordinate the information on the drawings and in the specifications.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Demystifying Open and Closed Specifications

Michael Heinsdorf, P.E., LEED AP, CDT
MasterSpec Engineering Specification Writer

Of the four types of specifications—descriptive, performance, reference standard, and proprietary—you'll note that there are two different ways to specify a product in a proprietary specification: open or closed. What do these mean?

An open proprietary specification describes a single product or system but allows the bidder to suggest an alternate or substitute product.

A closed proprietary specification names, describes, and lists a single product or system. The specification may list only one manufacturer or a product by one manufacturer, or it could list the single manufacturer or product and provide a list of other manufacturers or products that are options, which differ from substitutions.

It's important to correctly use alternate, option, and substitution when writing proprietary specifications because each term means something different.
  • Alternate – a product acceptable to the engineer or specification writer for which the bidder submits alternative pricing.
  • Option – one of several, typically at least three, listed products in the specification.
  • Substitution – a request to substitute one product for another product described in a specification.
    • Proposed substitution – the specification does not name alternate products or manufacturers but does allow submittal of substitute products.
    • Controlled substitution – the desired products or systems are described and named, but substitute products with equal functionality may be submitted for review and approval.
Closed proprietary specifications name one product or several products that are allowed as options, but do not use substitutions. This provides the engineer and owner with complete control over the products. Here are some other advantages:
  • The time spent researching and reviewing products and manufacturers can significantly decrease.
  • Product or system drawings can be developed in greater detail.
  • It streamlines specification development if all that is required to complete Part 2 of the specification is simply naming a product using the manufacturer's ordering code, or naming the product and describing the desired options.
  • It simplifies the bid process since there is only one manufacturer or several manufacturers to contact for pricing, and the manufacturer typically well understands the client's needs.
You should also note that closed proprietary specifications:
  • Limit competition, which may result in increased cost or long lead times.
  • May limit the number of bidders with the required experience or certification to install the system.
  • Require the engineer to specify the exact product that the owner wants, and any mistakes made when specifying the product are typically directly attributed to the engineer.
An open specification that allows alternate products is similar to a closed specification in that it describes a very specific product and may name only a single product or manufacturer. However, open specifications include provisions that encourage the bidder to submit alternate or substitute products.
If alternate products are requested, you:
  • Must include a list of the approved alternate products in the specification.
  • Must submit pricing for the named product.
  • Can submit alternate products from the list included in the specification, along with pricing information for the alternate products.
Open proprietary specifications that allow substitutions name only a single product, but include provisions within the product specification that allow the bidder to submit substitute products, in which case:
  • The bidder chooses to submit pricing for either the named or base bid products or any products that the bidder feels would meet the requirements of the named product.
  • A product that is submitted as a substitute product must have the same functionality and the bidder must include pricing information.
Occasionally, you may come across an open specification that allows controlled substitutions, which differs from a specification that allows substitutions in that it includes a requirement to coordinate the substitution request with the requirements for product substitution in Division 01, typically in a section called "Product Substitution Procedures." This means that substitutions are not directly addressed in the product specification, but instead may be submitted, reviewed, and used as long as the bidder complies with the requirements for substitutions in Division 01. This means less work addressing the substitution procedures, but the engineer must write a strong specification that adequately details the desired characteristics or operation of the product.
All open and closed specifications, except for an open specification that allows controlled substitutions, require that the engineer work with the owner or contracting officer to ensure that provisions for the alternate or substitute products are included within the bidding forms, since submission of these products typically includes a difference in bid price. However, no special requirements are needed for an open specification that allows controlled substitutions since the requirements for submittal of a substitute product are addressed in Division 01.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A First Look at ARCOM's New Sustainable Design Tool

ARCOM will soon debut its new sustainable design resource for specifiers to use with MasterSpec. This new tool will allow specifiers to easily address sustainability requirements as they edit each MasterSpec section.
In the MasterSpec specification section, there will be green links that, when double clicked, launch the editing tool, an example of which you see below. Using this editing tool, specifiers can globally select the appropriate sustainability system for the section or by topic.
Sample screen of the editing tool for the sustainable design resource for MasterSpec.

This new sustainability tool will also allow specifiers to view the text associated with each sustainability system before it is pasted into the document, as seen in the screen capture below. This feature will provide quick and easy access to the pertinent sustainable design information specifiers need when creating specifications.

An example of the sustainability tool's text for LEED 2009. This cloud-based resource
also contains information for LEED v4, IgCC, ASHRAE, and Green Globes.

For more information on this exciting new tool, please see the previous SpecTalk blog post.