As one of the 11,000+ CSI volunteer members (and also one of almost 20,000 CDTs), my involvement with the Construction Specifications Institute is because I truly do believe in its Mission: to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance. I just celebrated my 5 year anniversary of joining CSI last week and in that time, I’ve gained countless valuable friends and had innumerable experiences and memories that will last me a lifetime.
Proper involvement within CSI should go well beyond joining and adding CSI to your business card and email signature. Chapter meetings are a great place to start, with most meeting one day a month. Joining a Chapter committee is another way to get involved, as is passing your Certified Document Technologist (CDT) exam or attaining one of the 3 advanced CSI certifications – the CCPR, CCS or CCCA. The CSI Annual Convention and trade show, CONSTRUCT, may be the grandest experience of them all. A convergence of over a thousand members from all walks of life who congregate to hug, shake hands, learn, share and laugh, happens to take place this year in Baltimore from September 9th to the 12th, 2014. The grand finale of CONSTRUCT is the induction of the new CSI Fellows. Since CSI Fellowship was introduced in 1959, only a few hundred members have been elevated to Fellow. Fellowship is one of the highest honors bestowed by CSI and one of many awards that the Institute bestows on their members. The various CSI Regions and Chapters also give out awards and as CSI members are volunteers and not paid positions, these awards are a true thank you to the work that is put in by the recipient member.
I have been extremely fortunate to be active in the Allentown Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute over the last 5 years. A Chapter that now has 2 active member Fellows in Sal Verrastro and Mitch Miller, that is hosting it’s 36th year running a very successful product expo & educational seminars on April 16, and one that has now received five Outstanding Chapter Commendations from the Institute. I believe we have been most fortunate to have an incredible Immediate Past President who also is our Program Chair and Awards Chair in David Wrigley, the Director of Specifications for Spillman Farmer Architects. I consider myself lucky to call Dave a friend and can only fathom the hours he has spent over the last few years alone submitting the Allentown awards into the Region, as well as the Institute so that the hard work of our Chapter members can be duly recognized. Just last week he shared the news that our Chapter received FIVE Mid-Atlantic Region awards, including:
Lee Ann Slattery – Winner of the Robert P. Brosseau Memorial Award, Dave Fenstermacher – Winner of the George C. Neuhausel Memorial Award, Jon Lattin – Winner of the Communications Award, Barry Isett And Associates – Winner of the Organizational Certificate of Merit and Mitch Miller – Winner of the Education Award.
Being fortunate enough to know Lee Ann, Dave, Jon and Mitch, I know the work that they put in during the day that pays the bills and then the additional time they put in before and after work for the Allentown Chapter of CSI. These awards are a true way for them to receive thanks for all that they do and the time that they spend to contribute to the same Mission of CSI that I live by.
I have been extremely blessed to have received an Award from the Allentown Chapter and further, one that could rightfully be given to any active member. As then President of our Chapter, David Wrigley led the awards announcements on June 20, 2012. These words alone are ones that will stick with me for a long while:
“This next Award is a very Special Award, because it is given to the person whom the President feels has shown amazing devotion and selfless personal commitment to the Chapter in the administration of the Chapter’s affairs over the past year. Whenever I have asked the gentleman for something, no matter what it was, he got it to me as quick as he could, as correct as it could be, and with his own opinion on what he thought was best and why……I respect that. I said earlier that I thought a sizable portion of the Expo’s success could be attributed to his e-mail blasts and the constant contacts lists he has, not to mention the tweeting and blogging he does on behalf of the chapter. But it is also his unbridled devotion to CSI that has gotten him to where we are tonight.
On a more serious note: Last September, we were both at the National Convention, in Chicago. After the convention, we ended up driving home together. He quizzed me and asked me questions about spec-writing and all kinds of other construction related topics, like he was actually interested. We talked almost the whole ride home. I don’t know about you, but spending 11 hours in a sealed vehicle……..talking with a spec-writer…………..is more than most individuals can stand in a lifetime, let alone in one day!! Now if that isn’t amazing devotion and selfless personal commitment to the Chapter, I don’t know what is!!
So, in lieu of combat pay…………….. I am very pleased, and happy to present the 2011 – 2012 President’s Award to Mr. Eric Lussier”
The plaque above is only a reminder of how great it felt to be recognized for all of my work and effort that I was more than happy to do. The President’s Award was the icing on the cake and the ultimate recognition that we all really do like to hear. Who doesn’t like to hear ‘You look nice today’, ‘You did great work on that proposal’, ‘Congratulations on getting that project’ or ‘I am very pleased, and happy to present……’?!?
Take the time and help recognize those CSI members that continue to go above and beyond. The deadline to submit nominations for the FY14 CSI Honors & Awards program (including the Outstanding Chapter Commendation for FY2013 covering data from July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013) is 5 PM Eastern, May 2, 2014. Recipients will be recognized at CONSTRUCT & The CSI Annual Convention in 2014. Submit your nomination at www.csinet.org/awards.
Special honors, including Fellowship, have unique and specific requirements. Download the 2014 Honors and Award Guide (PDF) at www.csinet.org/HAGuide.
Working within any industry that has tried and true roots, the need for a change of ways only seems to be pushed by the atmosphere around you. In our ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality, we seem to remain firmly implanted in the footsteps of those before us and content to not waiver off course. Nowhere has this been more true than in my experience in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry. Policies, SOP’s, methods and more have led many companies to many years of success. And why bother to change and adapt to the world around you? The mantra ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’ has worked for so long, many principals and presidents have seen no reason to adapt.
That was then, this is now.
The scary thing is ‘then’ was barely ten years ago, if that. Our world is changing around us daily, if not hourly. It is impossible to keep up with the start-up and technology driven age we are living in. What once could take years of concept, research, design and delivery has been compressed into what seems like mere days. Think tanks and crowdsourcing is the new norm and the power of one has now become the power of many. No longer is the need for change inevitable, it is mandatory.
This all hit home harder than ever last week in Nashville, while attending #CONSTRUCT, the Construction Specifications Institute’s (CSI) annual convention and affiliated Trade Show from Hanley Wood. After Institute President Casey Robb impressed the need to ‘Step up your game with CSI’, the keynote address was delivered by Ira Blumenthal and entitled ‘Change is Inevitable: Building Your Brand for the Future’. In a well researched and passionately delivered address to the general assembly of CSI members, Ira’s presentation really hit home on the absolute need for change. Starting off with asking ‘How many people flew here today?…….on Eastern Airlines?’, many thought-provoking messages were hammered home on not just how the AEC industry has changed, but on how the world has changed and how FAST it is changing. Remember when McDonald’s rolled out the McCafe to keep up with the coffee industry? They are now selling the 2nd most coffee in the industry – all because of the need to adapt to their industry around them.
The change in the world may have hit home hardest when the following ‘critical mass’ slide was shown (as seen above)
‘Critical mass’ for the sake of this presentation was the adoption of new technology by 50 million Americans. What once took 25 years to reach 50 million users in television has adapted through just one year for my social media medium of choice, Twitter. Facebook may have taken 2 years to reach ‘critical mass’, but now there are 1.15 BILLION users as of June 2013 – over 15 percent of the WORLD population. While Twitter and Facebook may not be at the backbone of your organization, or even used by your marketing team, it is a great indication on how things are indeed changing around us.
Change isn’t easy, whether it is personal changes that you need to make within or to your company as a whole. However, change is not only inevitable and mandatory. As Ira said, ‘most people and organizations change because they are forced to change. Why wait for a fire to install smoke detectors?’ His answer: ‘we become paralyzed by our paradigms.’ The mentality of ‘This is the way we have always done it’ is the mindset of extinct organizations, like Eastern Airlines. Simply put by Ira, ‘Ignore change, and you will die.’ The message sent was widely received by all: 500 plus members of the Construction Specifications Institute; an organization 65 years in the making in perhaps one of the most changing industries out there: AEC. Don’t be afraid to break some rules, alter the guidelines and invent something new. ‘But this is how we’ve always done it’ is not how your organization is going to bring itself into 2014 and beyond. Whether to build a better building or deliver your product, you can’t be afraid to ask questions, form allegiances and raise the bar.
I came home from Nashville with one of Ira’s messages flowing through me: ‘Your history means nothing. Today and tomorrow, you must do it again and do it better.’ Think big and raise the bar – it is how you change and grow that matters today.
(Note: I would be remiss if I didn’t give a hat tip to @KaitlinSolomon3 of CSI who put together a great Storify summary of September 25, 2013, which you can see here and to my fellow Tweeps for their Tweets of a great keynote: @DStutzman, @TheGainesGroup, @LizOSullivanAIA, @cheriseschacter, @m2architek, @rietta_mccain, @matt_porta, @speclawyer and @vivianvolz)
Receiving an email recently from CSI mentioning their ‘Spring Membership Drive’, I immediately thought of NPR. How could you not? Frequent NPR listeners know there are multiple times a year where your favorite program (mine are ‘Car Talk’ and ‘Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me’) is preempted for the push to collect money. Without public funding, NPR runs wholly on it’s listeners and relies on contributions to keep things going.
I began to think about this more and how NPR and CSI correlate more than just two acronyms that I’m familiar with. My fiance, Annika, is an avid NPR listener. NPR is always on in the background when she works from home and we joke that almost all of her conversations start with ‘I was listening to NPR and….” NPR is her source of information and news and her go-to source for such.
On the flip side of the coin, a majority of my conversations do start with “I was at a CSI meeting and” or “I was reading a post from CSI member on Twitter and”….CSI has turned into my source of news information for what I care most about. Whether it is the latest construction industry standard or one of the more popular products to be used in the industry, my source revolves around the Construction Specifications Institute. I’m not sure if Mitch Miller is my Carl Kasell or if Joy Davis is my Terry Gross, but I can tell you that they are both two resources that I rely on in CSI and I hold in very high regard.
Indeed, both CSI and NPR rely heavily on their members for ‘funding’. CSI is a national association of volunteers and their 140+ Chapters are much akin to NPR’s local community stations, like Vermont’s Public Radio (VPR).
Well, just like the time of year where NPR reaches out for help and funding, CSI is doing much the same. After years of telling herself she was going to become a member of VPR,. Annika did just that last year. Perhaps you’ve been doing the same thinking in regards to CSI. ”I’ll do it next year” or “Maybe when they offer a ‘special’. You may not get a mug or a nice Euro bumper sticker, but if you do take advantage of the special CSI Spring Membership Drive between now and March 31, 2013, you will save 20%. Head over to www.csinet.org/join by Sunday, March 31 and pay only $192 for national dues. You don’t have to join a local Chapter, but I would heavily encourage you look into your “VPR”. To save your 20%:
I’m quickly approaching seven years working in and around indoor sports flooring with Advantage Sport USA. Seven years of projects of all shapes and sizes ranging from 250 square foot residential basements to 30,000 square foot college field houses. Seven years of existing conditions, renovations, rehabilitations and new construction and the one constant that rears its ugly head on almost each job are the environmental conditions,including concrete moisture vapor emissions.
There are more than a few instances that can lead to high moisture in a concrete slab. Whether it is lack of a quality vapor barrier (or lack of one entirely), a fast track installation with insufficient time for the concrete to dry, an inoperable HVAC system (or again the lack of one altogether) or a plethora of other events. No matter the occurrence, it all equates to the same headaches after the fact. Normally fingers are pointed, voices are raised, materials are ripped out and unnecessary time and money is spent to potentially replace flooring that perhaps should have never been installed to begin with. Industry-speak may call it “flooring failure” but most of the time the flooring is performing exactly as it is supposed to. The adhesive on the other hand, may be completely failing.
As the built environment strives to become “greener”, VOCs have been lowered in flooring adhesives in order to make them compatible with indoor regulations. As the adhesive industry has moved towards water based and acrylic based solutions, they have become much more susceptible to concrete moisture vapor emissions. Even though the norm in the industry has raised from 3 lbs of moisture to 5 lbs, as per ASTM F1869-11 (Standard Test Method for Measuring Moisture Vapor Emission Rate of Concrete Subfloor Using Anhydrous Calcium Chloride), that limit can take substantial time to achieve.
Speaking of norms in the industry, growing acceptance has moved away from calcium chloride testing (a snapshot of what is happening on the slab) to relative humidity (RH) testing (what is going on inside the slab). Testing as per ASTM F2170-11 Standard Test Method for Determining Relative Humidity in Concrete Floor Slabs Using in situ Probes has become easier and easier with recently developed equipment, including testing probes that can be left in the slab. Even the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) has gone from not accepting RH testing to ONLY accepting RH testing previous to the installation of wood gym floor. Visit the MFMA website for more information.
There are multiple solutions on the market. The cheapest is normally waiting for the concrete to dry. Abrading the top layer of the slab can help speed us this process, however most floor coverings require a smooth, steel trowel finish for installation, so the abrading would have to be covered with a Portland-based cement. Costlier solutions can include topical moisture mitigation systems and depending on the city you are working out of can be extremely pricey. Some flooring manufacturers offer solutions such as on slab moisture barriers or are moving to adhesive free installations or adhesives that allow a very high rate of MVER.
The one true method to ensure a proper floor installation is information. You need to know your flooring, know your adhesive, know your thresholds of moisture vapor emissions, know your moisture testing, testing companies and protocols, know your installer, know your time constraints, know your materials. There is no tried and true answer or solution when it comes to concrete moisture. Moisture is always present in concrete slabs and by accepting it is there and how you can live with it could be your best bet.
Take an hour of your time and join the CSI Specifying Practice Group Meeting this Thursday (December 6) from 3-4pm ET as David Stutzman, CSI, CCS, AIA, SCIP, LEED AP and Louis Medcalf, FCSI, CCS lead a CSI discussion on “Slab Floor Moisture.”
To join the webinar, please use this link.
For more information on CSI and five different practice groups, please visit the CSI website.
Should you not be able to attend the webinar, you can join in on a tweetchat by using the hashtag #CSISPG, which is where you’ll find me @EricDLussier
It wouldn’t be like me if I didn’t wait until almost the last second. Despite the fact that I had my airfare booked from PHL > PHX for September, I finally pulled the string and booked my attendance and hotel for CONSTRUCT. Having never been to Arizona (and really only west of Chicago once – to Seattle), I am looking forward to Phoenix for more reasons than one.
The CONSTRUCT Show, now produced by Hanley Wood is formerly the CSI Show. This will be my 3rd year attending the Exhibit Hall and 2nd straight year attending for the seminars and education.
Attendees of CONSTRUCT are Architects, Engineers, Specifiers, General Contractors, Project Managers, Building Owners and professionals such as myself in the building team. Under one roof and in one City you can meet more people in one day that a year’s worth of meetings and work can get you.
CONSTRUCT is a registered AIA/CES provider and each class is 90-minutes. Focusing on subjects such as sustainability, specification intent, contracts, building envelope, moisture, modern technology and more, the chances are strong that you will find numerous sessions that interest you.
Flight is booked, attendance is booked and hotel is booked. Looks like I’m as good as there. I hope we have the chance to meet at #CONSTRUCT if you make it. Drop me a line in some social medium at @EricDLussier I’m planning on seeing the Diamondbacks host the Dodgers on Tuesday night if anyone is interested.
Don’t wait too much longer! Wednesday, August 15th is the last day to save over $100 on your attendance. Take advantage now at http://www.constructshow.com/index.aspx
As a relative ‘newbie’ to the Construction field – I started in January of 2006 and to the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) – I only joined February 12, 2009 – I can already look back and recollect and say “look at what CSI has brought me” in such short time.
First and foremost, CSI has educated me. As a product rep for a finish (we supply and install athletic flooring of all types), CSI has completely opened my eyes to the Project, but further to the Project team. The project is full of Divisions and Requirements that do not necessarily directly relate to my trade, however, I can better understand how all of the parties on the Project Team come together because of the education I have received. Whether it has been through a monthly program, through conversation with a fellow member, or through my CDT certification, I feel much more knowledgeable about the many facets of the Project.
CSI has expanded my network. Speaking of being a ‘newbie’, I have only lived in Pennsylvania since April of 2008. I deem myself shy and a wallflower in public places (and some people that know me well will question that) and unfortunately, I don’t make friends easily. After spending a few CSI meetings in my local Allentown chapter off to the side, I slowly started recognizing faces and names and vice versa. After a realization that most of the people around were much like me, I opened up a little more and more as the months went on. Fast forward through CSI meetings in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Williamsport, State College and Camp Hill (home of my 2nd ‘home’ chapter – Central Pennsylvania), I can now say that most of my closest friends in PA are fellow CSI members. People that I can depend on to answer a question, lend a hand, grab a drink and share a laugh. I truly feel part of the CSI family.
CSI has brought me places. Whether it was Chicago (home of CONSTRUCT in 2011 and a place I’d never been) or into an office that warmly welcomed me because of the CSI brotherhood, in a short period of time I feel that I have had to chance to bring myself places in more ways than one. CONSTRUCT 2011 was an incredible experience, filled with fantastic educational classes, a great exhibit hall and the best of speakers and people. I will never forget my time in the Windy City (which you can read about here: http://ericdlussier.wordpress.com/2011/10/03/construct-2011-in-chicago-through-my-eyes/ ) and am already very looking forward to Phoenix for CONSTRUCT 2012 and I hope, San Diego for the CSI Academies in March.
I could go on about CSI, but these 3 points above I feel strongest about. But I am going to try and wrap up by saying what CSI is not. If you are a product rep, CSI is not a guaranteed spec. It is not guaranteed work. To have CSI work for you, you have to work at CSI. My personal CSI mantra has become “CSI pays back what you put into it. Join, commit, be active and network."
Become a member of this amazing team. What it all comes down to is the mission of CSI, which is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.
Effective immediately until Monday, October 31st, you have a great opportunity to join CSI. Please don't miss this special offer! Join CSI by October 31 and pay only $192 for national dues -- a 20% savings.
1. Visit www.csinet.org/joincsi
2. Select "Join Now", and then click "Sign Up as a New Member"
3. Enter Promotion Code 1220ARCH when prompted
4. Click the "Add Discount" button
And if you do, please use my CSI member number 1014285. Then, please drop me a line and tell me you joined. I can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @EricDLussier, on Facebook at Facebook.com/EricDLussier or on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/ericdlussier
Hope to see you at a meeting!
The miscellaneous ramblings of Eric D. Lussier, CSI, CDT