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AIA, CSI and NIBS Release Updated United States National CAD Standard

Thursday, May 12, 2011  
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NCS Version 5 goes virtual, improving user experience

Washington, D.C. (May 12, 2011) – The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) today announced the release of the newest edition of the United States National CAD Standard (NCS). NCS Version 5 is now available online.

The NCS helps architects, constructors and operators coordinate efforts by classifying electronic design data consistently and making information retrieval easier. It 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.

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. The NCS website received an update as well, making it easy to log in to the new NCS online product.

"CSI and its partners, AIA and NIBS, are pleased to introduce NCS Version 5,” said CSI Executive Director and CEO Walter Marlowe, P.E., CSI, CAE. "The refinements to the NCS, including round-the-clock online access, reflect the changing needs of the industry and how they work with design data.”

Among a number of changes, the NCS:

  • Added new "Distributed Energy” Discipline Designators
  • Added a new Level 2 resource Discipline Designator for "Real Estate”
  • Expanded 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, it offers several new benefits:

  • 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

"The release of the National CAD Standard Version 5 contains many changes and improvements that NCS users want,” said NIBS President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. "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.”

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, the NCS prescribes CAD layer names, drawing set organization, and drafting, notation and plotting conventions. It includes an extensive symbols library and thousands of terms and abbreviations.

The NCS coordinates the efforts of the entire design and construction team by providing a way to classify electronic building design data consistently. 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 (AEC) firms have voluntarily adopted the 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 a number of large multinational corporations.

To learn more about the United States National CAD Standard or to order NCS Version 5, visit

About AIA

For over 150 years, members of The American Institute of Architects have worked with each other and their communities to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings and cityscapes. AIA members have access to the right people, knowledge, and tools to create better design, and through such resources and access, they help clients and communities make their visions real. For more information, visit

About CSI

CSI (Construction Specifications Institute) is a national association dedicated to improving the documentation, management and communication of building information as used by the construction community. CSI accomplishes its mission through the development of construction standards and formats such as MasterFormat and UniFormat; the promulgation of those formats through master guide specifications and building information management (BIM) software; training and certification programs, including the Construction Documents Technology (CDT) and Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA) exams; publication of The Construction Specifier magazine; and an ever-expanding membership of decision-makers who identify and specify building product solutions. CSI members include a cross-section of specifiers, architects, contractors, suppliers and other construction project professionals who are touched by construction documentation. For more information, visit, or call (800) 689-2900.

About the Institute

The National Institute of Building Sciences, authorized by public law 93-383 in 1974, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together representatives of government, the professions, industry, labor and consumer interests to identify and resolve building process and facility performance problems. The Institute serves as an authoritative source of advice for both the private and public sectors with respect to the use of building science and technology. For more information, please visit.

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