ConstructionPro Week, Volume: Construction Advisor Today - Issue: 108 - 05/20/2011

Groups Release Version 5 of National CAD Standard

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) and two other groups have released a new edition of the United States National CAD Standard (NCS). NCS Version 5, which is available online, is designed to help architects, constructors, and operators coordinate efforts by classifying electronic design data consistently and making information retrieval easier.


Version 5 improves communication among owners and project teams, cuts or eliminates costs of developing and maintaining company-specific standards, and reduces the expense of transferring building data from design applications to facility management applications, according to AIA, which unveiled the new NCS in partnership with the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).



NCS Version 5 is the first update to the standard in three years. Unlike previous versions, Version 5 is web-based, making it available at any time for purchase and use, AIA stated. “The NCS website received an update as well, making it easy to log in to the new NCS online product.”


The new NCS did the following:


  • Added new “distributed energy” discipline designators.
  • Added a new Level 2 resource discipline designator for “real estate.”
  • Expanded the discipline designator for “survey/mapping.”
  • Changed group definitions in “civil, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, resource, structural, survey/mapping, and telecommunications layer lists” to allow broader use.
  • Expanded file extensions (up to four characters allowed now) to respond to changes in software application file extensions.


Because NCS Version 5 is web-based, Version 5 offers the following new benefits, according to AIA:


  • NCS Version 5 is available at any time online.
  • References within the text are cross-linked.
  • Spreadsheets are available for tabular data.
  • Users can print each section separately, avoiding the need for a hardcopy of the entire document for reference.


“This NCS update gives the industry the latest guidelines for classifying electronic design data without imposing additional fees over the cost of the previous edition,” NIBS President Henry Green said.  

NCS users who have purchased the previous version of the NCS within the past six months are eligible for a discount on NCS Version 5. This discount will be available for the next six months.


The NCS is based on three components from its partnering organizations: NIBS’s foreword, administration and plotting guidelines modules; AIA’s CAD layer guidelines module; and CSI’s uniform drawing system modules. By combining these resources, NCS prescribes CAD layer names, drawing set organization, and drafting, notation, and plotting conventions. It includes a symbols library and thousands of terms and abbreviations.


“NCS coordinates the efforts of the entire design and construction team by providing a way to classify electronic building design data consistently,” AIA stated.” It streamlines communication across disciplines during project development and throughout the life of a facility. Use of the NCS can help reduce costs and produce greater efficiency in the design and construction process.”


More than 5,000 architectural, engineering, and construction firms have voluntarily adopted NCS in their workplaces. Many public and private sector organizations either require or use the NCS, including the U.S. General Services Administration, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and several multinational corporations.




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