February 2013 Newsletter Print

    The Front Page


    The Newslette of The Minneapolis-St. Paul Chapter CSI       February 2013


      Monday, February 11, 2013




     Jax Café, Minneapolis, MN

    This year, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry intends to update the state’s overall energy code by adopting the newest version of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC 2012) for both residential and commercial buildings, and with Minnesota-specific amendments.

    Continuing this CSI Chapter's yearly theme of building envelope and energy, and in conjunction with Engineer's Month, the February Chapter meeting will have a presentation combining the upcoming Minnesota Energy Code, the building envelope and environmental control systems.

    The presentation will address the differences between the current Minnesota Energy Code (ASHRAE 90.1 – 2004) and the forth-coming 2010 Edition; show how the code changes will impact building envelope design; show how the code may influence HVAC and electrical systems designs; and show how different building types are impacted by the energy code changes.


    Mark Brengman, PE, LEED AP, President and Principal of Steen Engineering

    Adam Niederloh, PE, BEMP, BEAP, LEED AP BD+C, The Weidt Group


    11:00 am – 11:45 am     Registration

    11:45 am – 12:15 pm     Lunch & Chapter Business

    12:15 pm – 2:15 pm       Presentation / Q&A


    Jax Café

    1928 University Ave. NE

    Minneapolis, MN 55418

    Chapter Meeting and Program Cost:

    Chapter Members:   Free

    Non-Chapter Members and Guests: $45

    Education Credits:

    Chapter Meeting and Program: 2 HSW-SD AIA LUs


    March 11, 2013



    TOURS - Orfield Laboratories and

    Minnesota AIA Honor Award Nelson Cultural Center

     American Swedish Institute

    2600 Park Avenue South

    Minneapolis, MN 55406


    David Berg, Acoustician, Orfield Laboratories


    10:30 am - 11:15 am        Tour of Nelson Cultural Center, American Swedish Institute

    11:15 – 11:45 am             Registration 

    11:45 am – 12:15 pm       Lunch & Chapter Business

    12:15 – 1:30 pm               Presentation / Q&A 

    2:00 pm - 3:00 pm            Tour and Sound Testing Demonstrations at Orfield Laboratories

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    President's Message

        From The President...........

    More than a new CSI LOGO and TAGLINE

    CSI embarked on a BRAND revitalization process in 2012 and in 2013 it is being launched! The visual change is the new logo and tagline, and although they are important components, the goal of the process is to help CSI members and Chapters deliver consistently good experiences to members and potential members through the Chapter and Region activities and events.

    My CSI experience is mostly formed from our Chapter activity experience. What is your CSI experience?

    As a refresher, the mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of projects teams to improve facility performance. This mission is accomplished by these core values:

    1. The diversified membership base of allied professionals.
    2. Continuous development and transformation of standards and formats.
    3. Education and certification to improve project delivery processes.
    4. Creation of practice tools to assist users throughout the facility life cycle.

    Our Chapter works hard and does a fine job to provide a medium for meeting the objectives of the Institute through Chapter meetings, educational events, and through the communication and support of our members.

    So here is the new logo and tagline! You will be seeing it often over the next few months.

    The key components include:

    • The shield remains in CSI’s traditional terra cotta.
    • The blue communicates the organization’s professional focus.
    • The italicized letters and white stripes (or “contrails”) convey that CSI is moving forward.
    • The “S” is now the same size as the “C” and “I” because specifications are only a part of what CSI does.
    • The tagline describes CSI’s new role in the construction community today.


    Pins and medals will retain the existing shield shape. Keep your old pins and medals as they are as important as the new ones that you will be seeing. If you want a new pin, you will be able to purchase one through the Institute’s website in a few months.

    Learn more about the BRAND revitalization process when you attend the North Central Region Conference May 16 –18, 2013, hosted by our Chapter. Conference registration will be open on the Chapter’s website by mid-February.

    Gary Patrick, CSI, AIA, RRC

    Chapter President FY 2013

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    Last Chapter Program

    Insulation: A Hot Topic

    Reported by Terry Olsen
    On an appropriately frigid January day, Joel Baresh and Terry Thone of RSI presented the values of insulation to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul chapter of CSI to start the 2013 New Year.
    Foam Plastic and Energy Codes – R U is not just for Texting
    The purpose of thermal insulating material is to reduce heat transfer.  Current codes in Minnesota regulating foam thermal insulation materials include the 2006 International Building Code (IBC) Chapter 13 and 2004 American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 90.1.  A new 2012 IBC is anticipated to be adopted by the State of Minnesota this year and the 2010 version of the ASHRAE 90.1 is also anticipated to take effect.  The code splits the state into two: Zone 6 in the southern half and Zone 7 in the north, requiring more insulation in the colder, northern half of the state.  Thermal resistivity is measured in terms of R-values, where the higher the R-value, the better the insulating value.  The U-value is the inverse of the R-value, and a lower U-value demonstrates less heat loss.  So, R U cold?
    The Trial and Error and Error and Error History of Insulation in Roofing
    Presented by self-proclaimed, “resident old guy”, Terry Thone, ran through a brief history of insulation in roofing.  In the Olden Days, roofs were comprised of two layers of perlite and asphaltic roofing, which unintentionally may have held a total of an R-8.  When the 1970’s energy crisis brought the cost of fuel to the forefront, perlite was replaced with new foam insulation to reduce heat loss through the roof.  However, this new material was in its infancy and the construction industry did not know how to appropriately apply and secure it.
    So, here begins the trial and error method of roof insulation.  Expanded polystyrene (EPS), the white bead board, was initially used in the hot asphalt built-up roof.  But it had an unintentional side effect – it melts.  Next, cold tar roofing systems were used with EPS, but then it did not always adhere.  Side effects of EPS in built-up roofing included ridge formations, where the thermal flexing of the insulation and roof material reaches the point of elasticity of the roofing, and it splits (and then leaks, which doesn’t make anyone happy).
    In the 1980’s, urethanes came about.  But a challenge arose: the Freon in the cells of the insulation expands, blisters and outgases from hot asphalt.  So, single ply membrane roofing was developed. 
    Then, a great insulation was invented: phenolic, with a R-value of 8 per inch.  Wow.  Great!  However, this had a sneaky side effect.  With moisture, phenolic creates an acid that then eats metal deck.  Oops.   Not the desired result.
    So, polyisocyanurate was developed. With mechanical fasteners dimensional instability is not as much of a problem.  But after finding something that works, we still had to develop problems with how we layered the roof.  The conventional way of placing the hot asphalt, or newer membrane, on top of the insulation over the decking became boring. To spice things up a bit, the industry turned the system upside down.  The protected membrane roof (PMR) / inverted roof membrane assembly (IRMA) was intended to protect the roofing material from UV degradation by placing the insulation on top of the roofing, which was directly attached to the deck.  But insulation floats and water sits on the roofing, and asphalt was found to deteriorate in constant contact with moisture.  System modifications were needed.
    Occasionally, grass and weed seeds find their way up on the roofs, and trees and other vegetation sprout forth with the roots in the asphalt.  These are unintentional “green roof” systems, but unfortunately pulling the weeds also takes the asphalt up with it.  Not as sustainable as current, intended, green roof technologies.  (Remember your root barrier!)
    With the invention of white roofing to reduce cooling loads, energy studies find this change in color to be highly effective in reducing air conditioning loads in climates and building types dominated by cooling.  When the building and location are dominated by heating degree days, white roofing does not provide the same advantage, which has proven to be another roofing learning opportunity.
    So now, we use layers of built-up insulation, tapered at a 1/8-inch per foot or 1/4-inch per foot. This requires wood blocking and a taller sheet metal perimeter edge.  Comparing materials used today to the original cross-section, the cost increase over the original design is $6 to $8 per square foot for insulation, $3.50 per square foot for roofing membrane, and a whopping $18 per lineal foot for the edging material required by this thicker section.  But now, we get it right (maybe?).
    Materials Moment
    In a throwback to Pete Norum’s “Materials Moment,” actual samples of 10 different types of insulating materials made their way through the audience.  In addition to commonly used and more familiar extruded polystyrene (XPS), EPS, and two forms of polyisocyanurate (polyiso), the samples also included spray polyurethane foam (SPF), perlite insulation cover board, and phenolic (historic sample).  In addition, lightweight insulting concrete and cellular glass insulation (do not crush it or it smells) materials were passed around.  And we felt a newer technology, Vacuum Insulation Panel (VIP), which holds an R-39 (unless punctured, in which it goes down to less than half the stated R-value). Hands down, hands-on learning is a great opportunity to identify the materials we specify and see on-site.
    Characteristic Comparisons
    Each insulation varies in its thermal properties, as well as other characteristics that affect the total wall or roof performance.  Characteristics of five popular insulations were compared and contrasted to help identify the best places to locate each type of insulation in our designs.

    Flinging Wide the Windows at 75 degrees – Wait – That’s the Tested Temperature (What?)
    R-values vary with temperature, even within a specific insulation product.  The insulations are tested at temperatures of 25, 40, 75 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  However, the stated R-values are listed for 75º F (To this writer, it seems counter intuitive. At 75º F, I would not need insulation and would fling the windows wide open!)  How a particular insulation performs at, say, -20º F, may not be the same as this listed R-value. (I would argue, on this January day, performance at -20 is more important!)  The same is true for hot humid climates where insulation is used primarily to keep the air conditioning costs down, and where 110º F and high humidity may be the bigger factor.  (I supposed someone will tell me that insulation performance also varies over time, from the initial manufacturing to when it ages installed in place.  Sheesh, confusing!) This change in an insulation’s performance based on temperature and time is called “drift."
    Thermal Bridging and Effective R-Value
    When insulation is placed between the studs or roof/ceiling joists, the framing members cause a gap in the insulation. The effective insulation value is diminished by the thermal value of the framing members (which in the case of metal studs, are thermal conductors rather than insulators). Small anchors and ties are not considered significant, but studs, concrete slab edges, shelf angles and door and window frames all compromise the thermal performance of a wall assembly.  Thermal modeling provides a startling visual image of this heat loss.
    Thermal bridging, where an item bridges the exterior and interior materials causing a gap between the insulation, can significantly reduce the wall or roof performance.  When designing a wall assembly and expecting a 12.1 R-value, if insulation is placed between wood studs, the effective R-value is 10.8, and if the insulation is between metal studs, the effective R-value is only 6.6.  Increasing the wall insulation value to 19.8, using steel studs drops that effective R-value to 10.9.  Wow.
    Continuous Insulation (CI) is the solution to thermal bridging.  Running insulation continuous outboard of the framing members eliminates the effect of their non-insulating value.  This may include z-furring attached to the exterior sheathing. Realistically, fasteners still affect the full assembly performance, even though they are not considered significant.  So, if I C U through the wall, you do not have CI.
    NFPA 285
    NFPA 285 has been a hot topic lately, with the rule starting to be understood and enforced by building code officials.  It requires the use of a fire-tested assembly for exterior walls that are fire rated (such as for Type I or Type II buildings or those with neighboring buildings closer than the distance in the chart in IBC Chapter 6).  But wait – if my thermal insulation in this assembly is a plastic, which is a petroleum product, my wall now may not pass the fire test.  Or even if my wall assembly does pass, if I add spray foam in exterior joints, it may no longer comply with the fire test. Even through-wall flashing mastics can add flammability, as well as gaskets in some metal or aluminum panel systems.  What about continuous air barriers?  Or, if I specify an approved assembly, if the contractor substitutes a product in that system, it no longer complies with the tested assembly.  It can cost a manufacturer $75,000 to test an assembly, which is cost prohibitive to demonstrate compliance (or non-compliance) on the multitude of potential exterior building solutions. So to demonstrate compliance, the mix of materials must match what has been tested. Some Building Code Officials have accepted equivalents, but they take on the liability of the untested assembly in the performance of the building, which is not a risk most want. So to comply with NFPA 285, use the exact configuration, manufacturer and product of the approved assembly, or use the approved actual flame tests on individual materials.  IBC Chapter 2603 provides specific exceptions for compliance with NFPA, including height limitations, minimum thickness of metal, masonry or concrete and automatic sprinkler systems.
    IBC 2603 lists requirements for thermal barriers for plastics, meaning a separation of the plastic from the interior of the building, to limit the temperature from rising more than 250º F after 15 minutes of fire exposure.  Half-inch of gypsum wallboard provides this separation on the interior.  But for those who have exposed rigid insulation in your basements, this is not in compliance.  
    Conclusion – Sending you Forth with Warm Thoughts…
    As you head out and about the next month or two, be sure to add an extra layer of clothing as insulation to stay comfortable.  And think about covering up your buildings, too.  Continuously. 

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    Student Chapter News

    Updates from the CSI-Student Membership Committee by Darla Westberg, CSI, Student Member Commmittee Chairman and Brian Boie, CSI, Student Member Committee Co-Chairman.

    • Dunwoody has its annual Construction Career Expo next Tues., Feb. 5, in the Decker Auditorium from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. Click here to dowload the expo flyer.
    • In an effort to appeal more to the interest of the students, the Student Membership Committee is providing presentations on various topics to the students throughout the school year.  This month we are providing a presentation on "Topical Moisture Vapor Mitigation in Concrete" to Dunwoody students on Feb 19. If you have a presentation that you think would be of interest to the students, please contact either Darla Westberg at,  763.360.8724 or Brian Boie at, 612.805.6293.
    • Dunwoody would like to invite anyone interested in being a Guest Speaker or Mentor to students to “speak up” and contact Heather Stafford Gay at, direct phone at 612.381.3382 or mobile phone at 612.803.6311.  Specifically, the ARCH students have also founded the AIA-S chapter on campus in preparation for the Bachelor of Architecture program to be launched in the next couple years, and the students have entered their first competition.  It’s a senior housing design competition. The students would very much appreciate any guidance or expertise from the A/E/C and supplier world with feedback.
    • Additionally, Dunwoody invites anyone interested to participate in some resume review and mock interviews – to be set up at the convenience of those interested. Just contact either Darla Westberg or Brian Boie.
    • Dunwoody is looking for construction industry-related sites to visit and tour for their May "Industry Days."  They are interested in labs, construction sites, testing facilities, concrete or manufacturing, heavy equipment, etc. If you would like to provide a site visit or tour opportunity, please contat Heather Stafford Gay.
    • Dunwoody is putting together a new Materials Lab and will be looking for samples and info on various materials for inclusion in the lab.  More details on that will be available next month. Contact Heather Stafford Gay.
    • And last but not least, the NAHB students at Dunwoody placed 4th in the competition at the International Builder’s Show in Las Vegas last week!

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    Chapter Partner Feature Article


    By David Campbell, AIA, RWC, GRP

    Inspec, Inc. 

    When a person is unfamiliar with something, it's human nature to relate it to something similar, which he or she is more familiar with. Unfortunately, this can result in minimizing or even ignoring subtle, but important, distinctions between the two. Such is the tendency with many architects and other design professionals today with respect to waterproofing and roofing. Though this tendency is less common than in years past, there are still an alarming number of design professionals who assume that roofing and waterproofing are similar. The truth is, even though they both have the common goal of keeping water out of the building, this is where their similarities end.

    As one who has been employed by a roof design firm for over 19 years, I have a deep appreciation for the level of expertise necessary to design a roof system for long-term performance. However, imagine what would happen if a well designed, 20-year, conventional roof were to be placed below ground. All of a sudden, issues such as hydrostatic pressure, leak localization, high static loading, subdrainage, sheet metal corrosion and repair accessibility (to name a few) are all introduced, turning your 20-year roof into something far less.

    Diagram A: Waterproofing and roofing have far less in common than many people may think. In fact, only 10 out of 29 major design considerations are common to both.

    As Diagram A illustrates, waterproofing and roofing have far less in common than many people may think. In fact, only 10 out of 29 major design considerations are common to both.

    Why Waterproofing Should Perform for the Life of the Building

    A below-grade waterproofing system that is either poorly designed, poorly installed, or both, can be a financial time bomb to an unsuspecting building owner if the system fails within the lifetime of the building. This is usually not due to the cost of repairing or replacing the waterproofing membrane itself, but rather of the disproportionately high costs related to re-accessing and exposing the membrane.

    When a roof develops a leak, locating and repairing the failure can be relatively straightforward. The materials are accessible and any standing water can be easily swept or drained away. Or, when a masonry wall has to be tuck-pointed, scaffolding can be erected and the accessible brick veneer can be repaired. However, it is far more time-consuming and expensive to re-access and expose a failed waterproofing membrane for the following reasons:

    Photo #1: If the foundation of this building were to be re-waterproofed, the excavation would affect existing retaining walls, mature trees, wearing pavement with granite feature strips and other site features, which are not directly related to the waterproofing work itself.

    • Removal and replacement of unrelated site features.
      This can include such things as, plant materials, wearing slabs and pavements, lighting, retaining walls, stairways and amps, bollards, signage, etc. If the waterproofing that needs repair or replacement is on a foundation wall, then depending on the foundation depth, the excavation angle can affect a very large surface area and thereby a great many existing site features. If the foundation of the building in Photo #1 were to be re-waterproofed, the excavation would affect existing retaining walls, mature plantings, wearing pavement with granite feature strips and other site features, which are not directly related to the waterproofing work itself.
    • Excavation and re-compaction of backfill.
      In addition to the obvious additional cost of excavating and backfilling, there are the related costs of compaction testing and the inconvenience of stockpiling.
    • Existing hydrostatic conditions.
      Such existing conditions cannot only add the additional cost of temporary site dewatering, but can also delay the construction schedule by making it necessary to allow the substrates to properly dry before installing the new waterproofing.
    • Warranty exclusions for damage of interior finish and contents.
      Depending on the use of the interior space, the damage to finishes, furniture and other contents caused by the water infiltration can sometimes match and, even exceed, the entire cost of the project--especially if computer equipment is affected. These costs would be assumed by the Owner since this author currently knows of no waterproofing manufacturer or installer who has ever included such consequential damages in their warranty.
    • Structural capacity limitations.
      In the case of a waterproofed plaza, the removal of the overburden can be more time-consuming and expensive if the structural capacity of the existing deck cannot support the dynamic loading of large construction equipment, thereby compelling the contractor to use smaller more time-consuming equipment.
    • Disruption of building access/egress.
      During foundation excavation, required building access and egress must by maintained by means of temporary code-compliant bridges, stairs, handicap ramps, walkways, etc. Obviously, the design, construction and removal of these temporary items can add considerable cost to the project.

    Diagram B: Cost Breakdowns on six completed waterproofing projects that we have designed.

    To further reveal how disproportionate the waterproofing repair/replacement costs can be to the overall project cost, we have provided those cost breakdowns on six completed waterproofing projects that we have designed (Diagram B). Note that the remedial waterproofing cost averages 17% of the total cost of the entire project. This means that 83% of the project cost was related to things that have nothing directly to do with the waterproofing repair/replacement itself.

    Dynamic and High Static Loading

    Generally speaking, whenever large static loads, such as mechanical equipment, are superimposed on a roof the load is transferred directly down to the structure by means of curbs, pipes or other methods of support rather than simply resting the load directly on the roofing membrane. Typically, the membrane is then flashed around these penetrating supports. However, it is not unusual for a waterproofing system to have to bear the high static loads of such overburden as thick concrete wearing slabs, large quantities of earth, free standing planter boxes, retaining walls and other permanent structures. Under these static load conditions, the designer has to make sure that all of the waterproofing-related materials will not be initially damaged or damaged over a long period of time as the result of what’s referred to as compression “creep."

    Dynamic loading is another design consideration that differentiates roofing from waterproofing. Obviously, a roof does not have to be designed to withstand a moving vehicule or other similar loads. However, it is not at all uncommon for a plaza or tunnel waterproofing system to be subjected to the types of dynamic loading associated with roadways, parking areas, delivery/loading areas and even airport runways. The long-term deleterious affects of a static load is far less than that same load applied dynamically over time and this has to be provided for by selecting materials with appropriate densities and by distributing the concentrated dynamic loads over larger areas. When designing the waterproofing system for an underground pedestrian tunnel that has Boeing 747s taxiing overhead many times every day, unique challenges are encountered that have to be properly addressed if the system is to continue to perform over long periods of time.

    Leak Localization

    Leak localization is achieved when the system assembly maintains a relationship between the location of the membrane failure and the location of the water entry into the interior space below. This relationship allows a localized repair of the membrane directly above the point of water entry through the structure, thereby avoiding having to replace the entire system.

    Diagram C: Without being able to identify the exact location of the membrane failure, an owner would have no recourse but to replace the entire waterproofing assembly.

    Photo #2: One waterproofing failure can result in multiple leaks through otherwise innocent shrinkage cracks when water is allowed to migrate below the membrane.

    Since a roofing membrane is rarely subjected to the type of hydrostatic pressure that would “drive” water through a failure and, since roofing membranes are easily assessable allowing relatively inexpensive repairs, such leak localization is not a critical characteristic of roofing assemblies. However, this is not the case with waterproofing. If a waterproofing membrane should develop a failure and the substrate is such that water is allowed to laterally migrate below the membrane, water could travel a considerable distance before it shows up in the interior space below, due to hydrostatic pressure. Without being able to identify the exact location of the membrane failure, the owner would have no recourse but to replace the entire waterproofing assembly. Diagram C illustrates this concept and Photo #2 shows how one waterproofing failure can result in multiple leaks through otherwise innocent shrinkage cracks when water is allowed to migrate below the membrane.

    Subdrainage Provisions

    Unlike roofing, which drains only at the surface, waterproofing assemblies should include “subdrainage provisions.” This lowers or removes the hydrostatic pressure, which the waterproofing membrane would otherwise be subjected to. Not only can subdrainage extend the performance life of the membrane, but in the event of a membrane failure, it can also greatly reduce the amount of water that enters the building, since the water is not under pressure.

    Subdrainage, in a horizontal application, allows moisture, which has penetrated the wearing surface to percolate down to the membrane level where it is “encouraged” to migrate laterally through either a composite drainage sheet or an aggregate layer. Since the membrane is sloped, the migrating water is then discharged by means of either bi-level interior drains or at the perimeter edge condition. In a vertical application, such as a foundation wall, water either drops down within the cores of the composite drainage sheet or percolates down through a free-draining aggregate backfill. At the base of the foundation, this water is then carried away and discharged by means of a perforated drainage system or “drain tile."

    Photo #3: By preventing water from accumulating under the wearing surface the movement caused by repeated freeze-thaw cycles is minimized, thereby greatly reducing the heaving, spalling and cracking of the wearing surface.

    In addition to extending the performance life of the membrane, subdrainage, in a horizontal or plaza application, can also extend the life of concrete, brick pavers or other hardwearing surface materials in freezing climates. By preventing water from accumulating under the wearing surface the movement caused by repeated freeze-thaw cycles is minimized, thereby greatly reducing the heaving, spalling and cracking of the wearing surface (Photo #3).

    Diagram D: Permanent and/or temporary subdrainage de-watering.

    Sometimes, waterproofing design must take existing conditions into account such as geology, groundwater and even groundwater contaminants, which are obviously not a concern in roofing design. Diagram D illustrates the elaborate measures that sometimes must be taken in order to properly manage existing groundwater in a particular geological condition, both during and after waterproofing installation. The volume of groundwater that was expected to enter the excavation through cracks and fissures in the bedrock at this airport site was such that full-time site dewatering, as shown in the diagram, had to be maintained. In addition, tests revealed that the groundwater was contaminated with hydrocarbons and ethylene glycol, which are capable of chemically “melting” most waterproofing-related products over time. Consequently, special care was taken in specifying products that were compatible with this “witches brew” of contaminants.

    Substrate Testing

    In roof design, typically the materials, which serve as the substrate directly in contact with roofing membranes, are usually not of the type that require testing prior to the membrane application (i.e. ballasted EPDM membrane on expanded polystyrene). However, this is not the case with waterproofing.

    As previously discussed, the waterproofing membrane must be completely and permanently bonded to the substrate in order to achieve good leak localization characteristics. Most waterproofing substrates are some form of concrete (CMU, CIP or precast), which can vary in moisture content, surface texture and applied surface coatings, and thereby affect the membrane bond. This is why rigorous on-site substrate testing for adhesion and moisture content is recommended in order to achieve a permanent bond between membrane and substrate.








    Photo #4: This one method of testing the adhesion of a hot fluid-applied rubberized asphalt membrane. The adhesion test reveals adequate bond virtue of the fact that the rubberized asphalt separated from itself rather than separating from the substrate.

    Photo #5: This shows the same type of waterproofing membrane as in Photo #4 completely debonding from the substrate due to a combination of excessive primer and an extremely smooth substrate surface.







         Photo #6: This shows the type of debonding that can occur when a cold fluid-applied membrane is incompatible with the liquid curing agent, which was applied to the substrate.

    Photo #4 shows one method of testing the adhesion of a hot fluid-applied rubberized asphalt membrane. The adhesion test reveals adequate bond by virtue of the fact that the rubberized asphalt separated from itself rather than separating from the substrate. Photo #5 shows the same type of waterproofing membrane completely debonding from the substrate due to a combination of excessive primer and an extremely smooth substrate surface. Photo # 6 shows the type of debonding that can occur when a cold fluid-applied membrane is incompatible with the liquid curing agent, which was applied to the substrate.

    Photo #7: This shows what can happen when hot rubberized asphalt waterproofing is applied to a concrete substrate, which has too high of a moisture content. The moisture in the concrete vaporizes when the hot 375º F material hits it creating water filled blisters, which can break open and cause membrane failure.

    Testing the substrate for moisture content is also critical. Photo #7 shows what can happen when hot rubberized asphalt is applied to a concrete substrate which has too high of a moisture content. The moisture in the concrete vaporizes when the hot 375º F material hits it creating water filled blisters, which can break open and cause membrane failure.

    Leak Testing

    Since leak localization characteristics are not typically built into roofing assemblies for reasons earlier discussed, it is not typical to conduct leak testing on a newly installed roof for fear of inadvertently introducing moisture into the insulation and other absorptive materials located between the membrane and the structural system. However, since it is so expensive to “dig up” and re-access a failing waterproofing membrane, for reasons earlier discussed, it is prudent to conduct such testing on newly installed waterproofing membranes prior to the installation of subsequent overburden materials. In fact, many membrane manufacturers require it for certain warranties. Such leak testing can include flooding and seam pressurization.

    Photo #8: This shows how flood testing at the Minnesota State Capitol was accomplished by simply exposing an installed waterproofing membrane to standing water (usually two to four inches) for a specified period of time (usually 24 to 48 hours) prior to the installation of any protection course or other overburden materials.

    As shown in Photo #8, flood testing is accomplished by simply exposing an installed waterproofing membrane to standing water (usually two to four inches) for a specified period of time (usually 24 to 48 hours) prior to the installation of any protection course or other overburden materials. One exception to this would be hot rubberized asphalt, which requires that the protection course be installed and bonded to the membrane prior to the flooding. At the end of the specified period of time, the interior is inspected for moisture infiltration, the water is drained away and any membrane failures that were discovered are repaired.

    Our firm has developed a variation on the flood test described above. When the overburden materials provide adequate containment weight, we will design the assembly with a 3/8-inch layer of inexpensive granular bentonite directly beneath the primary sheet membrane. Not only does the bentonite component act as a back-up waterproofing system and prevent moisture migration under the primary membrane, it also enables us to locate leaks during flood testing by free swelling or “hydrating” directly underneath any failures in the primary membrane. At these bulging locations, the primary membrane is opened up, the hydrated bentonite is replaced with dry product and the membrane is repaired.

    One leak testing method that is being used more and more in vegetated roof applications, as well as plaza waterproofing, is electronics field vector mapping (EFVM). EFVM technology is a non-destructive, low-voltage, testing method that creates an electrical potential difference between a non-conductive membrane surface and a conductive structural deck or substrate. An electric field is created by applying water to the membrane surface, which then acts as a conductive medium. A breach in the membrane creates a ground fault connection, or vector, which can then be measured and plotted by a technician.

    Photo #9: Since vertical waterproofing installations cannot be flood tested, at least one manufacturer has developed a way of “pocket seaming” their thermoplastic membrane, which enables them to test the seams by pressurizing them with air and then watching for a pressure drop on a gauge attached to one end of the seam.

    Since vertical waterproofing installations cannot be flood tested, at least one manufacturer has developed a way of “pocket seaming” their PVC membrane, which enables them to test the seams by pressurizing them with air and then watching for a pressure drop on a gauge attached to one end of the seam. (Photo #9) This method does not test the entire vertical field membrane, but it does at least test the seam, which is the most susceptible to failure.


    Because of their many dissimilarities, roofing design and waterproofing design represent different areas of expertise altogether, as recognized by the RCI developed credentials of RRC (Registered Roof Consultant) and RWC (Registered Waterproofing Consultant). With the ever-increasing demands society continues to place on the performance of our buildings, resulting in an increased complexity of all building components, it is becoming increasingly necessary to select qualified people who have the expertise and experience necessary to design these components for long-term performance.

    As wise man once said, “There is never enough money to do it right the first time, but there always seems to be enough money to do it over again.”

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    Chapter Partnerships and Sponsorships


    The Board and Membership of the Minneapolis - St. Paul Chapter CSI wish to express our gratitude to our Chapter Partners and Sponsors whose financial support make many of our activities possible. For more information click here for Chapter Marketing Program flyer or contact Luann Bartley at or 952-564-3044.

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    2013 National Engineers Week

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    The Minneapolis – St. Paul CSI Chapter “TEACH IN”

    Robbinsdale Middle School

    3730 Toledo Avenue North, Robbinsdale, MN 55422

    The Minneapolis –St. Paul Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute is participating in National Engineer’s Week by hosting a “Teach In” at Robbinsdale Middle School.

    On February 20, CSI members will enter the 6th grade classroom of Robbinsdale Middle School teacher Todd Norholm to give interactive presentations on basic engineering principles and how they apply to construction.  Students will receive instruction and build small structures using gumdrops and toothpicks. When completed, the students will have constructed their own geodesic spheres.

    Our goal in supporting National Engineers Week is to introduce children to possible careers in engineering and construction.  Our hope is that these efforts to bring “teach in” experiences to the classrooms will help to stimulate interest in the construction industry as potential career choices for young students.

    Are you willing to help us in the classroom? We need CSI member-helpers to work with the students to build the geo-balls. NO EXPERIENCE IS NECESSARY. We will provide simple instruction so you can feel confident as a classroom helper. You can work one hour, two hours, five hours, or whatever your schedule allows.  For more information, contact Nancy Gulliford at (612) 386-5636.

    Annually celebrated in February, National Engineers Week was founded in 1951 and has hundreds of engineering societies, professional organizations, corporations, businesses, government agencies and universities that participate. 

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    Constructive Thoughts


    Faith-based specifications


    One of the most difficult things specifiers do is try to decide if one product is equivalent to another. Fortunately, it's not so bad for many products, especially those that are based on industry standards.

    For example, many hollow metal door manufacturers produce doors and frames that comply with either Steel Door Institute (SDI) or Hollow Metal Manufacturers Association (HMMA) standards. In fact, many manufacturers' products comply with both industry standards, and standards produced by the two organizations are similar. There are differences, but at least the standards are available and one can quickly tell if a hollow metal door complies with one or the other.

    Other products use reference standards to some extent, but determine their own properties and installation methods. For this example, I compared the manufacturers' specifications for three floor coatings; the reps for these coatings consider them competitive products.

    • Compressive strength ranges from 10,000 to 15,000 PSI. One manufacturer says that is achieved after seven days, the others don't indicate how long it takes.


    • Tensile strength by one ASTM ranges from 1,640 to 1,750 PSI. Two of the manufacturers give a second tensile strength by a different ASTM, at 4,000 and 6,000 PSI.


    • Flexural strength varies from 3,700 to 4,300 PSI.


    • One manufacturer states impact resistance as depth of indentation, another states it in foot-pounds by the same reference standard, and the third states it as in. /lb., using a different ASTM.


    • For abrasion resistance, using the same ASTM, one claims 0.04 gr, another claims 0.1 gm, and the third claims 70-90 mg.


    • Two indicate flammability as self-extinguishing by one ASTM. By another ASTM, one indicates less than 1.07 watt/sq. cm. One of the others says Class I.


    • Water absorption is listed by one as 0.2%; by another as 0.3% by a different ASTM.


    • Surface hardness ranges from 65 to 95.


    • Only one addresses linear expansion.


    • One gives VOC content in grams per liter, one by compliance with EPA standards, and one says nothing about it.


    • Adhesion to concrete is expressed as concrete failure for two of the products.


    • Application rates are given for two of the products; they are similar but not identical.


    • The values are sometimes expressed differently for the same product in different sources.


    Given these inconsistent properties, how can one be sure these three products are equivalent? How can properties be compared when different reference standards are used? What does a specification that allows these three products say? Should specified properties be the lowest given by the manufacturers? What about those properties that are ignored by one of the manufacturers?

    The problem is exacerbated by a lack of rational standards - standards that are based on meaningful properties. Most standards are based on what's available, as are most specifications. Only rarely do I see an analysis done to determine what a property or a material thickness should be. Hollow metal door faces are 16 gauge not because a test indicates metal of that thickness performs in a certain way, but because that's the way they're made. When accumulated empirical evidence demonstrates they work in specific applications, we can be confident that they will continue to work in those same applications.

    In the coating example, the lowest compressive strength is 10,000 PSI. But is that necessary? Would a coating with a compressive strength of 8,000 PSI, or even 5,000 PSI, work as well? Is the specified abrasion resistance a good value, or should it be higher? If the specification requires 10,000 PSI and a proposed product reaches only 9,999, is that good enough? Without a rational standard - one that states that a certain PSI is needed - we can only guess.

    Standards also exist for many installation procedures. The Tile Council of North America explains how ceramic tile is to be installed, and the Gypsum Association publishes "GA216 - Application and Finishing of Gypsum Panel Products," which explains how gypsum board partitions are to be installed. These standards make it relatively easy to know if an installation complies with the standards.

    Installation standards are based on experience. I'm sure the coating manufacturers tested various application rates, but what about drywall installation? Must drywall screws be installed at six inches on center, or will seven inches work as well? And how often do we verify what we get? I suspect very few firms will test installed coatings to verify compliance with anything other than thickness.

    Dimensions are another problem. If a minimum thickness is specified, that material has to be at least that thick. Many manufacturers, however, use nominal dimensions, and sometimes state the nominal thickness as a minimum thickness.

    Well, you may say, that's just the way it is. How then, do you evaluate a prior approval request or a request for substitution? If the products in the specification vary as much as the example given for coatings, how do you know if another product with different properties will or won't work?

    We often ask for coating samples, and get the typical stick showing each layer of the assembly. But what does that tell us? Don't they all look pretty much the same? Can you tell what's on the stick? When you visit a building where the coating is installed, do you know what's there? Can you see the layers? And, by the way, you can bet you won't be seeing an installation that didn't work.

    We do our best to specify characteristics that are meaningful, and to specify products that, even if not identical, are similar enough to be considered equivalent. Successful installations give us confidence, but many times, experience teaches us the hard way that some things don’t work. For most things, though, we must trust our product reps, especially our go-to guys ( We must have faith.

    © 2012, Sheldon Wolfe, RA, FCSI, CCS, CCCA, CSC

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    Technical Article

    Vehicle Barriers, Cable Barriers, and Bumper Walls

    By Mark Duncan, P.E. and Keith Pashina, P.E.

    An often overlooked building component, particularly on parking garages, are the restraints intended to keep vehicles safely inside the structure and from striking other building components.  Typically referred to as bumper walls, the vehicle barriers provide an important safety function.


    What are Vehicle Barriers?

    According to the International Building Code, vehicle barriers provide a method to resist the lateral forces created by the impact of passenger vehicles in parking garages.  Simply put, vehicle barriers are to stop a vehicle from crashing through the garage and dropping to the ground below.

    Current building code requires that vehicle barriers have the ability to resist an impact force of 6,000 lbs. located at an elevation of 18” inches above the parking garage floor.  Barriers are required on all walls that have a height differential of 5 feet or greater. 

    History of Barriers:

    Vehicle barriers have been around in various configurations ever since parking garages were first constructed, but they have technically only been required since the 1994 Uniform Building Code.  Previous versions of the building code did not have specific vehicle barrier requirements, and vehicle barriers were left to the engineer of record to determine the appropriate design.  Previous versions had guardrail and handrail requirements, but these were for pedestrians and would not be able to resist an impact force from a vehicle.

    Typical Barrier Construction:

    Barriers typically come in a limited number of styles and many of these systems are used together in tandem to provide barrier for both vehicles and pedestrians, which have different height requirements, minimum spacing requirements and impact force requirements. 

    Post-Tensioned Cables: 
    Cables are usually tied together at the bumper height (18 inches above floor height) by 2x-by-12-inch wood members, or by steel clips.  Cables are either exposed and galvanized, or completely coated in plastic sheathing. 

    Barrier cables have significant flexibility if struck and will easily rebound to their original shape.  This system is one of the most used and is ideal for perimeter of garages and at internal slab edges (edges between flat parking levels and sloped speed ramps).  Cables can be installed in pre-set conduits that run through the middle of concrete columns or they can be mounted to the outside of the columns.

    Precast Concrete Spandrel Panels: In your typical concrete parking garage, the outside edge is usually a precast concrete spandrel panel.  The spandrel panels are usually supported directly by the columns with internal brace points tied to the deck.  The outside face of the spandrel panel is usually decorative, with either a stamped pattern in the concrete, embedded colored aggregates, stained concrete or a brick veneer. 

     Spandrel panels rely on their connections to the main structure being intact, and if not installed correctly or if the connections are allowed to deteriorate, these panels can fail catastrophically. 

    For example, in 2012, the Golden Nugget casino in Vegas had a fatality when a vehicle crashed through a vehicle barrier.  Closer to home, the Mall of America also had a fatality in 2012 when a vehicle impacted the perimeter spandrel panel, the connection failed and the panel crushed the vehicle. 

     Structural Steel Pipe/Tube Bollards: Steel pipe or tube bollards are sometimes provided to resist impact forces.  Bollards are usually bolted into the concrete deck and spaced over the area that it needs to resist the forces.  Bollards are sometimes provided to protect fragile mechanical, electrical or security equipment from being damaged by vehicle impacts.


    Steel Beams: Occasionally, structures are retrofitted with structural steel beams fit between concrete columns to provide impact resistance forces. 


    Concrete Walls:  Continuous concrete walls are sometimes placed along the perimeter to provide impact resistance.  Concrete walls are usually provided at stair towers, either internal or at the corners of the garage.  Concrete walls can be retrofitted into a number of garages if the edge beams have adequate capacity to support the weight of the wall system.

     Masonry Block Walls:  Masonry block walls are similar to the concrete walls above.  Masonry generally is a cheaper building material, but will require more reinforcing steel to provide adequate stiffness to resist impact forces. 


    Concrete Curb:  While technically not being compliant with Code requirements, concrete curb is typically placed around the perimeter of parking garages.  This curb provides an area for pedestrians to safely walk and also keeps vehicles away from the edges.  Concrete curb is usually combined with another method.


    Modifications to existing garages

    If the parking garage was designed prior to 1994, it likely does not have vehicle barriers that are completely compliant with modern day design code requirements.  This does not mean that the garage is not safe nor any of the vehicle barriers described above would be appropriate for the structure.  Structures are allowed to be “grandfathered-in” and most city inspectors commonly only require upgrading the barriers when significant repairs are performed. 

    Annual inspection reports, required by a number of local municipalities, should occasionally review the barrier systems and make recommendations for long-term maintenance of the systems.  Generally, these items require minimal maintenance, but occasionally, the cables need to be re-stressed or the connection between the spandrels and the columns need to be cleaned, removing surface rusting and coated with a rust inhibitor. 

    We have found that a number of masonry and concrete wall systems were not adequately designed for the impact forces per the modern day building code.  Some of these walls need to be reinforced to maintain safety requirements.  There are a number of alternates to reinforcing existing wall sections, including increasing the thickness of the walls, adding/doweling in additional reinforcing steel bars or by providing steel bollards in front of the wall systems. 



    Vehicle barriers in parking garages need to be occasionally reviewed.  Chances are the barriers are in good condition with minimal deterioration.  The connections and design of modern day barriers require minimal maintenance and are not too susceptible to failure.  However, if neglected, vehicle barriers can fail and the failures can be sudden and catastrophic.

    Occasional review by a qualified inspector or structural engineer is recommended to provide a condition assessment of the barrier systems, to recommend repairs and to provide budgeting for repair recommendations. 

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    BuchNotes #43, April 2, 2012

    More than a biography of an American icon, Genius of Place, The Life of Fredrick Law Olmsted, Abolitionist, Conservationist, and Designer of Central Park, by Justin Martin, is a window on life in 19th Century America. The early years and education of Olmsted, along with details of 19th Century commerce, agriculture, the publishing industry, and the Civil War are described in addition to Olmsted’s more well know accomplishments as a landscape architect.

    Before Olmsted began work on New York’s Central Park in 1857, at the age of 35, he had worked as a seaman on a ship to China, owned farms in Connecticut and New York, taken an extended walking tour in England, written magazine articles, and was a part owner of Putnam’s Monthly magazine. Inspired by Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Olmsted traveled throughout the South in the 1850s as a reporter for the New York Daily Times. His articles described the beauty, people, and the food in the pre-Civil War South and noted the tremendous economic inefficiency of agriculture based on slavery.

    Olmsted and architect Calvert Vaux won the design competition for Central Park, a project that would cover 778 acres, cost $8 Million to build, and take 3,600 men working seven days a week, two years to complete. This was Olmsted’s first project; likely his most famous and successful project, and would establish the firm of Olmsted and Vaux as the first landscape architecture firm in America and Olmstead as the first professional landscape architect. But, before they could capitalize on the success of Central Park, the Civil War intervened.

    Olmsted volunteered to lead the U.S. Sanitary Commission, (USSC), the forerunner of the Red Cross. The mission of the USSC was to improve the battlefield healthcare, food, shelter and clothing for the Union troops. This section of the book describes the horrendous conditions endured by the Union army: the lack of doctors, edible food, and clothing. Olmsted’s considerable administrative abilities enabled him to organize volunteer resources to improve the conditions for the troops.

    Following the Civil War Olmsted an Vaux designed Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., and parks in San Francisco, Chicago, and Buffalo, N.Y., and the campus of what is now UC Berkeley. In 1868, they designed the planned community of Riverside, Ill. This was laid out with gently curving streets and carefully designed open spaces over 1,560 acres. In 1874, Olmsted designed the landscaping at the U.S. Capitol building. In 1879, he designed the Boston Arboretum and the restoration of a saltwater marsh at a park in Boston’s Back Bay. He also designed a park to restore the beauty surrounding Niagara Falls, N.Y. and in 1886, he was invited by Leland Stanford to design the campus for Stanford University.

    Olmsted’s last two major commissions were the Vanderbilt estate in Ashville, N.C. starting in 1889 and the landscape design for the Columbian World Exposition in Chicago in 1891. The Vanderbilt mansion was designed by Richard Morris Hunt on the estate that initially covered 2,000 acres. By the time the project was completed in 1895, the estate had grown to 100,000 acres . Olmsted’s two sons were involved in the project and continued the firm successfully into the 20th Century following Olmsted’s death in 1903 at the age of 81.

    Fredrick Law Olmsted is the father of landscape architecture as a profession. His influence on landscape design principles and on 20th Century landscape architects can’t be overstated. In addition to his professional accomplishments, the book also provides the narrative of his somewhat tragic personal life. The book was published in 2011, by Da Capo Press, it has 460 pages and includes several pages of photographs.

    Ed Buch, CSI, CCS, AIA

    Los Angeles, CA

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    Educational Opportunities



    The Construction Specifications Institute


    CSI On-Demand CDT Prep Course

    The CDT Prep Course is a series of On-Demand Webinars that provide an overview of the fundamentals and formats of construction documents as promulgated by CSI and the general conditions of the contract for construction. The CDT Prep Course lays the groundwork for understanding the development of facilities and the ins and outs of the process and, most importantly, prepare students for taking the CDT exam. The syllabus and structure of this program follow and expand upon concepts identified in the Subject Matter Areas of the CDT Study Guide. Total instructional time: 10 Hours (11 Sessions) Member Price: $160; Nonmember Price: $215. Learn more, or register now.


    CSI On-Demand CCCA Prep Course

    The CCCA Prep Course is a series of On-Demand Webinars that are designed to help candidates prepare for the Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) Examination. The CCCA Prep Course provides an in-depth review and discussion of the construction process, contractual relationships and construction contract administration procedures. The structure of the CCCA Prep Course will follow and expand upon concepts identified in the Subject Matter Areas of the CCCA Study Guide with an emphasis on the exam content summary. Total instructional time: Approximately 13 Hours (14 Sessions). Member price: $235; Non-Member price: $295. Learn more, or register now.


    CSI On-Demand CCS Prep Course

    The CCS Prep Course is a series of On-Demand Webinars that are designed to help candidates prepare for the Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) Examination. The CCS Prep Course provides an in-depth review and discussion of the construction specification preparation, procurement requirements, and construction agreements and contracts. The structure of the CCS Prep Course follows and expands upon concepts identified in the Subject Matter Areas of the Project Delivery Practice Guide, the Construction Specifications Practice Guide and the CCS Study Guide with an emphasis on the exam content summary. Total instructional time: 7.5 Hours (5 Sessions) Member Price: $235 Nonmember Price: $295. Learn more or register now.



    CSI Webinars are 90-minute interactive telephone/internet education sessions that provide convenient, quality learning at an affordable price – you will be able to see materials, hear an instructor and earn continuing education credit. Courses qualify for Professional Development Hours (PDHs) and AIA Continuing Education Hours (CEHs). Check the course description for details.

    The cost per webcast is $80 for CSI members, or $100 for non-members, prices may vary see Webinar event for more information.

    Train your entire team with one registration fee—participants are charged per site/telephone connection—not per person. Space is limited and is on a first-come-first-serve basis.

    All Registrations must be received 48 hours prior to the Webinar. Telephone dial-in and web log-in instructions will be forwarded to you 24 hours before event. Please add "" to your list of safe senders to ensure delivery of webinar details. Cancellations received less than 72 hours prior to the event are subject to a $25 cancellation fee.

    Upcoming CSI Webinars!


    CSI WEBINAR – Abrasion and Impact Floors
    Thursday, March 15, 2013 from 2:00PM to 3:00PM EST
    Speaker: Dave Flax, Euclid Chemical Company

    There are many obvious projects where increasing the abrasion resistance of the slab is important such as distribution centers/warehouses, maintenance facilities and retail with heavy traffic. There are many other projects that require increased impact resistance as well such as manufacturing, loading docks, tracked vehicle maintenance bays, mining and solid waste transfer stations. It is easy to achieve between 2 and 8 times the abrasion resistance of plain concrete using dry shake surface hardeners. In the same time it takes to wear away just 1/16-inch of concrete with eight times the abrasion resistance, 1/2-inch of regular concrete would have worn away. And the regular concrete would probably have required repair at least once. Dry shake surface hardeners come in a variety of colors including white/light reflective making them a functional and aesthetic choice. For instance, many airplane hangers use light reflective dry shakes to both increase the abrasion resistance and to provide more reflected light under the planes where they will be performing maintenance. Dry shake surface hardeners increase impact resistance a bit, but if there will be a lot of high impact the proper choice will be a topping system. These systems contain iron aggregate to make them extremely durable. This presentation will cover how to select and how to specify the proper dry shake surface hardener or topping system to achieve all of these benefits. 
    Learning Objectives:

    1. Learn where abrasion and impact resistant floors are required.
    2. Understand how do achieve abrasion and impact resistant floors. 
    3. Explore how these systems can be green and save on energy costs.
    4. Learn how these systems can be aesthetic.
    5. Understand how to select and specify the proper dry shake surface hardener system that can provide up to 8 times the abrasion resistance of plain concrete.
    6. Explain how to select and specify the proper topping system that can dramatically improve the impact and point load resistance of plain concrete.

    Credit: 1.0 AIA CEHs, 1.0 PDHs


    CSI WEBINAR – Specifications: Quality Control & Coordination
    Wednesday, March 7, 2013 from 3:00PM to 4:00PM EST 
    Speaker: Michael D. Chambers, FCSI, CCS, FAIA, SCIP

    Quality control and coordination of specifications is key to preparing a truly comprehensive and conflict-free set of contract documents. Specifications control quality, process, methods and materials which are the critical quality elements of construction documents. Coordination is one of the primary quality control failures in the industry today. Specifications must be coordinated like any other discipline. Specifications are the primary quality control tool for construction administration and must be coordinated at the same level and intensity of any discipline. This seminar reviews specification procedures and techniques with the goal of ensuring that quality control and coordination are accomplished as effectively as possible. Quality control tools will be reviewed in terms of effective application to documents and construction. Specifications must be coordinated and checked for quality control, but more importantly, deployed effectively in the field.

    Learning Objectives:

    1. Examine the critical quality control elements of specifications.
    2. Review primary coordination issues for specifications.
    3. Identify techniques and tools for effective quality control and coordination.
    4. Explain specification quality control procedures and construction administration.

    Credit: 1.0 AIA CEHs, 1.0 PDHs



    CSI On-Demand Webinars are educations sessions that provide convenient, quality learning at an affordable price – you will be able to see materials, hear an instructor and earn continuing education credit. Courses qualify for CSI Continuing Education Units (CEUs) and AIA Learning Units (LUs). Check the course description for details.

    The cost per webcast is $55 for CSI members or $75 for non-members -- join CSI now and save when you register for an on-demand webinar!


    In addition to CSI Webinars, CSI has additional educational opportunities for members of the construction industry.

    For more information go to:

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    NO. 206


    by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT, Cincinnati, OH

    What, in your opinion, is an “informational submittal?" What is the definition of them in specifications? What, in your attorney’s opinion, is your risk/liability inherent and hence expanded with information submittals?

    Now, we’re not about to attempt to practice law, but it seems that some discussion of this topic is appropriate and perhaps could lead to clarification for us all. Some may be valid documents; some may be good not to use it?

    Let’s look first at some reference resources we have today:

    These submittals are not formally defined in any single document of substance or authority, but do appear in the 1997 edition of AIA Document A201, as follows:

    3.12.4 “..............Informational submittals upon which the Architect is not expected to take responsive action may be so identified in the Contract Documents.” [emphasis added]

    In MasterSpec Section 013300, we find this definition and an extensive list of documents that are part [??] of the array of information submittals the issue of liability has not been investigated by ARCOM, and no definitive legal conclusion made;

    B. Informational Submittals: Written information that does not require Architect's (and Construction Manager's) responsive action. Submittals may be rejected for not complying with requirements. (emphasis added)

    Now, these excerpts are from highly regarded documents, widely used and thoroughly discussed with many factions of the construction industry, including legal counsels. But the fact remains that they remain virtually unsubstantiated-- i.e., how valid are they and for what use are they intended?

    Now, A-201 is clearer in that it says less. It does leave open, though the issue that while responsive action in “not expected”, it is not entirely ruled out, nor prohibited, So one “COULD take responsive action”-- the issue then is, what new responsibility is assumed?

    On the other hand, are the submittals merely “gathered” left un-reviewed (perhaps thereby missing non-compliant information or work), and stored in the project files? What liability arises here in this “paper collection only” exercise, especially if some error is overlooked (as in never subjected to review)? Is it enough to just blindly accept the submittals? Does acceptance render us liability free?

    Now MasterSpec (with its affiliation with the AIA) takes a different and more expansive tact. The provision notes that responsive action “is not required." The residual innuendo being it “may” and “could” be done. Then the provision moves on to open the door, fairly widely, for review of the information submittal (what liability arises here?; does review convert it to an Action Submittal, by default and definition?)

    And then goes on to note that such submittal “may be rejected”.

    Does this not constitute “responsive action?" Does this just by effect make this now an Action Submittal? Again what’s the new liability; and how does it expand if one reviews, notes an error and takes no action?

    There can be a strong argument made that such submittals are truly informational only when they are correct and compliant, and no review or action is necessary. Can this be brought to the point of saying; “anything submitted that COULD CONCEIVEABLY REQUIRE REVIEW AND ACTION” IS NEVER STRICTLY INFORMATIONAL?

    For your information, this dilemma is unresolved! Review that if you wish, but it is true!

    PerSPECtives is a weekly publication written and distributed by Ralph Liebing, RA, CSI, CDT, a member of the CSI Cincinnati Chapter. Ralph Liebing is currently a Specifications Specialist with Hixson, in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is a registered architect of some 40 years standing, and practiced with several Cincinnati firms, including Jacobs, Lockwood Greene, Fluor-Daniel, and Glaser & Myers. He served for 15 years as a Code Official in a major Ohio jurisdiction, and holds certifications as a Chief Building Official [from CABO], and as a Professional Code Administrator (from NACA).

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