About Us

CSI was founded in March 1948 by the specification writers of government agencies who came together to improve the quality of construction specifications. The Institute's efforts were essential in improving construction specification quality so that it could meet the demands of the post-war construction boom. Development of specifications best practices, promulgating standards/formats, professional education, and certification were cornerstones of the Institute.

The Institute grew quickly to include specification writers in the private sector, design professionals concerned about communicating their vision in construction documents, constructors interested in delivering high-quality facilities, and material suppliers with unique solutions to construction challenges. These construction professionals continue to work together today as CSI members to effectively communicate the designers' vision, the material producers' solutions, and the constructors' techniques to create outstanding facilities that meet facility owners' objectives.

Our Mission

The mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance.

How We Do It

CSI is a national association of more than 9,500 volunteers, including specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, product representatives, manufacturers, owners and others who are experts in building construction and the materials used therein. They are dedicated to improving the communication of construction information through:

  • A diversified membership base of allied professionals involved in the creation and management of the built environment. Join us!
  • Continuous development and transformation of standards and formats.
  • Education and certification of professionals to improve project delivery processes.
  • Creation of practice tools to assist users throughout the facility life-cycle.

Our Key Programs

  • Local Chapters: CSI chapters across the country do more than provide networking – expect high-quality education programs and events that help members share real-world solutions and better understand the roles and responsibilities of each member of the construction team.
  • Certification: CSI is renown in the industry for its rigorous certification programs, which include:
    • Construction Documents Technology (CDT) Certificate -- A comprehensive overview for anyone who writes, interprets, enforces, or manages construction documents.
    • Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) -- Demonstrates excellence in specifications and contract document preparation.
    • Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) -- Truly understand all facets of the construction process and contractual relationships.
    • Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR) -- An in-depth understanding of the construction process and superior ability in effective representation.
  • Education: CSI education focuses on teaching the roles and responsibilities of each member of the team, and how products and materials interact on the job site.
  • Standards: CSI works with organizations around the globe to create and maintain the standards that guide the construction industry's communication and documentation including:
    • MasterFormat: The industry standard for specifications, estimates and product data.
    • UniFormat: This format organizes Preliminary Project Descriptions, cost estimates, BIM objects, and early project information.
    • GreenFormat: A format that organizes detailed information about products with sustainable attributes so that designers and manufacturers can make informed decisions on utilizing the products that best address project needs and communicate those choices clearly to the construction team.
  • CONSTRUCT & The CSI Annual Convention: Accredited education, unparalleled networking and a full exhibit hall floor with the latest products, services and solutions.

How do I write a spec?

CSI produces Standards and Formats that help users to write quality specifications. CSI's MasterFormat and SectionFormat/PageFormat documents are the two main documents to adhere to when organizing specifications and their content. Stylistic and content guidance is provided by CSI's Construction Specifications Practice Guide. None of these are template solutions, instead, they simply provide guidance to the user in how the documents should be identified, organized, and formatted. CSI recommends that those unfamiliar with specification-writing consult an expert in the field prior to beginning specification writing on their own.

How do I get my product into a specification?

There are many different construction product listing resources on the market, most use CSI MasterFormat to organize product listings, which helps designers and specifiers find solutions that apply to the technical solution they are trying to achieve. A common method of marketing one's product is to provide a "guide specification" that generically specifies the proper use of the product to accomplish an outcome, these specifications should be authored following CSI standards and best practice. Building Systems Design provides services in the product guide specification area.

How do I connect with other commercial construction professionals?

CSI-Connect, CSI's online community, is a great place to find and network with construction professionals. Please note, you must be logged in and a CSI Member to view discussion threads in CSI-Connect. Not a member? Don't miss out on the discussions, join now!

What credentials are available for construction professionals?

CSI is the construction community's authority on communication and construction documentation. Through CSI's Certification Program and preparing for certification examinations, you can develop a conceptual understanding of the entire construction process, and concrete skills in construction documentation development, contract administration, specification writing, product research and sourcing, and communication with the design and contracting teams.

CSI's Construction Documents Technologist (CDT) certificate is a prerequisite to CSI's Certifications: Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), Certified Construction Specifier (CCS), and Certified Construction Product Representative (CCPR).

What education/CE is available for construction professionals?

CSI offers a wide variety of education, both in-person and via the internet. These are often available in both live and recorded formats.

What is MasterFormat vs. MasterSpec?

CSI's MasterFormat is the North American standard for classifying construction project information and is used in many countries around the world. MasterFormat consists of 50 Divisions that provide the top level breakdown of construction results with over 8000 more specific sub-divisions beneath them, known as "sections." 

MasterSpec, produced jointly by the AIA and ARCOM, is a proprietary specification software solution. MasterSpec follows the MasterFormat standard. 


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