Gimme Just One Good Region
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) has ten distinct regions across the United States. About seven years ago, J.W. Mollohan eloquently penned a piece that I shared on my personal blog called 'The Core Missions of a CSI Region' where his region identified the services provided to their constituent chapters and members.
I had always thought that CSI regions were held and attended for Chapter leaders and were led by former chapter leaders who felt the continued need to give back to the members. It took J.W.'s post to realize I was only half right. CSI regions provide events at a more local for anyone that wants to attend and especially those that are not able to attend the CSI annual meeting and affiliated tradeshow, CONSTRUCT.
I've been fortunate to be a member within two well-respected and active regions over my eleven years with CSI. While I'm now in the Northeast Region, I started my CSI tenure as a member of the Mid-Atlantic Region when I was active in the former-Allentown CSI chapter, now Greater Lehigh Valley. The Mid-Atlantic Region comprises of 13 chapters across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
With many good friends across those Chapters, I have continued to follow their work from afar, and when Cherise and I were asked by our friend, Charles Hendricks, of The Gaines Group Architects, well over a year ago to visit Harrisonburg, VA and attend and present at MARC2020, we know we couldn't say no.
Billed as "Vision for the Future", we're excited to join the ranks of 18 Learning Unit sessions from the O.G. Young Architect himself, Michael Riscica (who is presenting 'How to Pass the ARE' and 'Entrepreneurship for Architecture Students'), Phil Kabza AKA SpecGuy (presenting 'Specifications 2020: Hindsight, Foresight, and Insight'), Paul Bertram, FCSI (presenting 'Off-Site Modular Constructions Trends and Specification Pathways'), Brent Williams (presenting '– Personal Branding as a Designer in the Connected Economy' and more across 3 days in early April, including Golf, Sporting Clays, Ice Cream, our very own Let's Fix Construction workshop along with a Young Professionals Day and a CSI Night Out.
If you act fast (as in today or tomorrow!), CSI members can attend for as little as $199 with discounts for Young Professional members and students.
Don't find out too late in your AEC career about the benefits that a CSI region can offer. J.W. spelled it out to me seven years ago, and I wish it had been written four years before that.
EDITOR'S NOTE 2/17/20: From Central VA CSI: Early bird registration is being extended to Midnight EST on Monday, February 24th.
Contributed by Eric D. Lussier
Today the exhibit hall opens for the 45th edition of the World of Concrete in Las Vegas. If you've never been to WOC, let me try and put it into context for you, as I had the chance to host a Let’s Fix Construction workshop for Prosoco in 2018.
So, with an annual knowledge share of this magnitude, one would expect that the literal world of concrete would be cutting-edge that contains less flaws than in years past, and is an exact science, right? Well, sometimes it’s nice to assume, but you know what they say about that.
Anyone who has followed my social media posts or Let's Fix Construction posts from over the years knows that as a flooring contractor, our daily fights with concrete are aplenty. And they don't seem to be getting any better.
From the constant battles with concrete moisture to the surface planarity to unpredictable curling after placement, the fight goes on into the 12th round and I'd hate to say that concrete might just be winning by TKO.
But don't get me wrong, the future with concrete is looking up. Polishing technologies have flooring finishes on its heels and the longevity of concrete as a building material will never be second guessed. Floor preparation equipment is becoming more productive and more affordable. And its use as a building product is certainly not going anywhere anytime soon.
But it starts at the placement and that is where the industry may need the most help. Proper specifications need to be in place to set a better slab, but more importantly, the concrete contractor needs to read them and recognize that there are always better ways to build a mousetrap.
When Cherise Lakeside spoke at World of Concrete in 2016 to 50 concrete contractors, she asked a few pointed questions (and blogged about it). Their answers offer insight into their world of concrete:
The future of the World of Concrete show (book it! January 18-22, 2021) will always be bright as the mousetraps look beautiful and there are plenty to see, touch and feel. But the industry will continue to be challenged with the same 11th hour issues if the specifications aren't challenged, changed, and enforced and especially if the contractors refuse to admit that there are always better ways to do things.
Specs + Data = ?
Contributed by Jeffrey Potter
The AEC industry is finally recognizing their treasure chest of data. It’s like the explosion of analytics with baseball (aka sabermetrics), it took over 100 years for baseball to realize what data chest they had and how to implement it. The same event is happening within the AEC industry and you better hop on the train now because it’s moving fast. Everything from the design of the building to the construction of the building is using data now in some capacity, but what about the specs, how can data assist or improve the role of specifications? The answer is probably not what you think…
When I realized the treasure chest of spec data I was sitting on, I work with a software where everything is stored on a server, my mind literally had one of those light bulb moments. Initially, from our project history in the server, I was able to figure the most commonly used sections and do two things. First, I cut down our 100-page specifications checklist to 40-pages, and finally to what is now 10-pages, of all the common sections for selections. Second, I created a historical archive where we keep those sections that have only been used once or twice in the past 4 years to be stored. My mind was blown, the possibilities where endless. I got amazing reviews for the two items above, and had so many other ideas on how to extract specification data and analyze it, but was going in the wrong direction until…
A few months later, I had another light bulb moment. There is such a thing as good data and bad/useless data. I was moving into the bad/useless data realm. For one example I wanted to figure or set up a template project with the top X amount of sections. Because every good size project has the same basic sections, it would be easy to set up and save time, but this conflicted with the Revit Model and how we bring specifications into our software. Which essentially does the same thing as a template project, although much quicker and smarter. Then, what would I do on small projects or much larger projects? This wasn’t the solution I was looking for on my data set.
My next train of thought took me down some exciting new avenues on how we can leverage data with specifications: product use and production. Product use is extremely important and I simply define it as “a product specified on a project that was installed”, pretty simple. Why is this important? Because if I am specifying Product A on 85% of my projects, yet on 75% of those projects, the Contractor is substituting for Product B… Why am I specifying this product? Why is the Contractor substituting? Is it because Product A cost more, harder on labor? Is it a regional item where Contractors in a specific region want Product B? Is my firm specifying old technology? Is one office favoring Product A over Product B? As you can see many questions arise, but the big ones are …
Sell Solutions, NOT Products
Contributed by Michael Chambers
As an architectural marketer, educator, and trainer, I have tried to identify and present the most effective ways of reaching architects, establishing relationships, getting products listed in specifications, developing great educational programs, improving presentation skills, minimizing substitutions, networking, and a host of other strategies and tactics to effectively market architectural design professionals.
Marketing not Sales
I have long pounded home the notion that you don’t sell design professionals; you market them. The critical strategy is how to overcome the “peddler” image of the product rep and become a key resource and industry expert. Time and time again, I have made the point that architects don’t buy products; they specify them. I have offered the notion that marketing is really education; so, don’t sell, educate.
While marketing is a key aspect of the effective construction product representative, it still is not the whole package. Issues on specifying and specifications are integral to success. Developing and presenting outstanding continuing education programs are incredibly effective in opening doors into design professional offices are crucial. Learning to be marketer-educator instead of a salesperson is the hallmark of a successful construction product representative.
What is Missing?
What then is the missing element in highly effective construction product representative? I have found myself coming full circle in the process and am convinced that in the end, the bottom line is selling. Not selling products, no, never that, but selling solutions. Design professionals operate on the basis of identifying problems and developing solutions for those problems.
Products Rarely Solve Problems
Products are merely elements in a solution, and it is critical to being effective with design professionals to make this key differentiation.
Solutions solve problems; products are a part of a solution, but not the solution itself.
Don’t misunderstand, products are critical to good solutions but are rarely the sum total of an actual solution to a problem. Solutions are made up of a series of issues, elements, constraints, and opportunities that can be simple or complex and require a range of responses to solve. A product is merely on element of a solution.
Contributed by Truwin Windows, Doors, & Siding
Insulation is a vital aspect of any home. It maintains the indoor heat during winter, while allowing less cool air to escape during the summer. Heat energy leaving your house or finding its way through raises utility costs and causes discomfort all year round.
Ranging from cellulose, fiberglass to plastic spray foam, insulation ensures that your furnace or air conditioner sustains the right indoor temperature.
As with any other energy efficiency topic, insulation is likewise clouded with myths and misconceptions. Listed below are the most common myths.
Attic and Internal Wall Condensation Result from the Absence of Ventilation
This is not entirely accurate. The right ventilation in a building may allow condensed water to escape the walls or the attics, but the lack of it is not entirely to blame for condensation. The major cause is air leakage during periods of the year where the air outside the building happens to be colder than the indoor air.
The capacity of air to hold moisture together is proportional to the temperature. It means that when the air is too warm, a higher amount of moisture is held. Should warm indoor air find its way into the cavities of the wall or the attic spaces, it cools slowly and penetrates deeper into the building.
Because the air is warm and moist, it leaks into the cavity of the wall and may encounter a sharp temperature gradient. With time, the air ends up losing its ability to hold the moisture leading to condensation and leaking. Condensation at this point occurs in the form of tiny droplets.
The state where temperatures experience a drop leading to condensation is known as the dew point. Any amount of water in the wall cavities can lead to the development of mold. Ventilation in a building is vital, not only to deal with moisture, but also to prevent air leakage and condensation.
R Values Reflect Real World Energy Performance Accurately
R-value remains the most crucial metric in the evaluation of the thermal protection given by insulation. It is the only acceptable standard for measuring the effectiveness of insulation to retard heat transfer in Canada and the US. In fully metric countries, the other similar system used is RSI.
Building inspectors, professional builders, and homeowners all depend on R values, given that there is no other number that can be used to measure the performance of insulation. The problem is this metric often changes depending on what is being measured.
As determined in the labs, there is often a major difference between R values and the real-world energy performance delivered by different insulations. The lab analysis of R values presents significant issues considering that air movement is eliminated from the results.
Any professional builder knows that air movement lowers the performance of insulation, and air currents and drafts occur within the attics and wall cavities. Any insulation product that hinders the flow of air within it gives higher insulation values than those that do allow.
Let's Fix Construction is an avenue to offer creative solutions, separate myths from facts and erase misconceptions about the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry.
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