Three leading construction industry organizations have signed an Agreement for Publication and Distribution of the U.S. National CAD Standard (NCS) that will lead to the release of Version 3.0 in early 2004 and the continued development and publication of the product. The NCS is a standard for organizing and classifying computer-aided drawings and other design (CAD) data intended to streamline communication among building owners, designers, constructors, and facility managers.

Signing the agreement were Karl Borgstrom, PhD, executive director, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI); David Harris, FAIA, president, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS); and James Dinegar, chief operating officer, the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The three organizations have jointly published the NCS since 1999, developed through a consensus process open to participants from all sectors of the building industry.

The agreement, a successor of previous agreements, broadens and deepens the partnership among the three organizations. It also will lead to enhancements for the NCS, including an electronic edition accessible to users on their computers via single user, workgroup and enterprise (company-wide) licenses.

The agreement also authorizes NIBS to license building industry software developers to include the content of the NCS within software applications.

"Through this agreement the National CAD Standard will continue to contribute to the industry in a major way, providing a common language for CAD data in the same way that MasterFormat does for specifications. Consistency in the use and exchange of design and construction information saves time and reduces the potential for errors and omissions, which are often the cause of cost overruns, delays, and disputes," said CSI Executive Director Karl F. Borgstrom, PhD.

The NCS defines standards for many aspects of electronic building design data. They include: CAD layers; organization of drawing sets, drawing sheets, and schedules; drafting conventions; terms and abbreviations; graphical symbols; notations; code conventions; and plotting. Through the consensus process, future NCS versions will keep pace with evolving technology by defining standards for such things as object data, graphical display of information, and printed output.

AIA Chief Operating Officer James Dinegar noted that “the NCS enables architects, engineers, constructors, facility managers, and building owners to eliminate the time-consuming and unproductive task of developing and maintaining proprietary standards for organizing their building data, and instead focus on their core mission, which is to create value for their clients.”

As publication of NCS Version 3 moves forward, the NCS Project Committee is revising its rules of governance to better accommodate the large number of participants in the consensus process and better manage the development of the NCS’s large body of knowledge. Approval of the new rules of governance is expected in September 2003.

NIBS President David A. Harris, FAIA, said that, “over the past quarter century, some of the most significant projects in which NIBS has been involved have made use of the Institute’s finely tuned consensus process. None have been more important or have had greater far reaching impact than this work on the development of a National CAD Standard. The devoted efforts of over 200 volunteers on 22 separate task teams have produced an American standard that raises the bar globally."