Archives FY2014

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 Chapter President's Letters FY2014

 Larry Nordin, CSI, CCS, AIA, LEED AP

May, 2014

With the spring finally arriving, change is in the air.  We have a new president for our chapter taking the lead.  Kurt Moehlmann will be guiding us for the upcoming year.  Each president of the chapter brings a new perspective.  Kurt has been involved with the chapter for over 30 years.  He has seen how our chapter has changed as well as how the industry has changed.  This will bring a great understanding to his presidency in the combination with his sense of humor.  I look forward to his leadership in the coming year. 

It has been an honor serving the chapter over the last year.  The Chicago Chapter is one of the largest chapters in CSI which allows us to have spectacular events.  The comradery and willingness to engage in discussions between peers is unparalleled.  We should all be proud of our chapter.  We also have a responsibility to support the chapter by engaging others and assist is creating and supporting our events.  The sharing of knowledge is crucial in our industry and we can improve the industry by our continued education.  My responsibilities have not ended as I will continue with Past-President work, as well as assisting on other activities in the Chapter as a member of the Chicago Chapter of CSI. 

Have a great summer.  Don’t forget to sign up for the CSI Golf Outing which will be at Gleneagles Country Club on June 3.   Also look for the Chicago White Sox outing on July 18. 

If I do not see you at the Annual Chapter Dinner and Recognition Night on May 15, then I hope to see you at our regularly schedule CSI events in the fall.

April, 2014

The Chapter events last month were very successful.  The Building Envelope Event went smoothly with only a small bump with the audio system in the morning session.  The response back from the attendees indicated that the speakers provided valuable information and were well received. 

 The inaugural CSi2eye event was also well received.  Both the design professionals and the industry members indicated that they came away from the event with additional knowledge and information.  The recipients of the $500 gift certificate to Radisson Blu Hotel at the Aqua were Gail Goldstead in the afternoon session and Larry Nordin in the morning session.  I swear, it was not rigged! 

Thank you to all of our members who have volunteered their time to create these events and to support them.  Your time is needed and appreciated.  We could not provide these industry events without your help.

With spring finally coming, our Chapter meeting in April will be “off-site”, not at the Union League.  We will be travelling to Testa Produce headquarters and distribution facility.  We will have a tour of LEED Platinum facility located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood.  There are a variety of sustainable technologies that will be showcased, see the website for more information.  Car pools are available, if you need a ride, indicate so when you sign up.

March, 2014

I want to thank all of our members that have put in their time and effort in the 11th Annual Building Enclosure Event and the inaugural CSi2eye event which is coming up.  These events could not happen without your support. 

CSI is a grassroots organization that flourishes under the support of their members.  Our chapter is the largest chapter in the CSI organization and we are lucky to have such an active and interactive group. 

There were people from all sectors of the construction industry at the Building Enclosure Event, many who are not members. Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Consultants, Manufacturers were all represented. Encourage your colleagues to take a look at CSI and consider what we have to offer.

 Enjoy our upcoming special events!  See you there.

February, 2014


I am excited about this year’s Building Enclosure Event.  With energy and sustainability remaining the focus of the industry, the panel will have some great insights.  This group was brought together based upon the industry need in addition to the implementation of the Chicago Energy Benchmarking Ordinance.  As many of us have experienced, existing building operating systems can be optimised to conserve resources, and, at higher level, the built environment in the buildings can be altered to conserve natural resources. 

Maria Spinu, PhD, CSI, LEED AP, is an expert in the industry on building science.  She has presented at national and international conferences.  Her article in the November, 2012 edition of the Construction Specifier, “Design without Compromise; Balancing durable and energy-efficient buildings” is an in-depth discussion on the building envelop that uses Chicago as an example.  If you have not read this article, it is a great primer for her presentation.

Richard Renaud, AIA, Quinn Evans Architects, will be presenting his architectural experiences with exterior envelope revitalization, and building adaptive reuse with case-studies.  Technical analysis of existing buildings and investigation helps inform us on future renovations in addition to informing us on our new work.

Benny Skelton, president of Cyclone Energy Group, is also the President of the Illinois Chapter of ASHRAE.  He has extensive experience in designing new mechanical systems for buildings in addition to his current emphasis on energy use, retro-commissioning and the involvement of the industry.  He will be discussing his experiences with energy analysis, mechanical systems, retro-commissioning, and utility company incentives.

The three presenters will have a well-rounded look at the industry.  I hope to see you either at Maggiano’s in Chicago or at Medinah Banquets in Addison.

January, 2014


It is that time of year again, when we look at the past year and see what we have accomplished and we look ahead to see what we want to accomplish.  I do not call these “New Year Resolutions” anymore since there are too many negative associates to that phase (i.e. lasting only a month or so).  It use to drive my wife crazy when I bring this up every year, but now she expects it and just laughs at my habit.  All of us grow and change a little bit each year as does the world that we live it and we should reflect on what we have done, and what we want to accomplish in the coming years.

Chicago CSI has seen a few changes and new opportunities in the last year. 

  • Chicago CSI is teaming with Northern Illinois CSI to host the 2015 NCR/GLR regional conference.    
  • The first year of the Chicago CSI Student Competition with a selection of a scholarship recipient in January.
  • CSI2eye is a new event that brings manufacturer’s and design professionals together to talk about the industry at a high level and discuss future opportunities.
  • Holiday Fundraiser switched our donation recipient to the Northern Illinois Food Bank in response to the tornados that devastated communities in Illinois earlier in the year.  The fundraiser donated over $900.

Chicago CSI continues to support various programs such as:

  • Chapter Meeting Presentations
  • Three different monthly roundtable topics with discussions on the Industry, Technical, and Specifications.
  • CDT Preparation Classes starting in January.
  • Building Enclosure Event in February.
  • Future City Competition – the projects by high school students will be reviewed in January.

Your continued support and involvement has allowed the Chicago CSI Chapter to provide this support and service.  Look back and see what you have done over the last year, then consider what you are going to do in the upcoming year.  Consider further involvement in CSI.

There are many ways to be active in the CSI community.  You can attend meetings to learn and socialize, you can discuss your CSI experiences with others who are not involved, join a committee to help the chapter/region/national organization, or just use the knowledge that you have gained to help other colleagues.   I encourage you to consider how your current involvement and your future involvement will influence your life and the lives of others.  I receive personal gratification through my involvement in CSI and I hope that you do as well.

Happy holidays everyone and “make no little plans”!

December, 2013


 Did you know that CSI is developing a Building Technology Education Program (BTEP)?  CSI is developing this program to enhance the capabilities of the design professionals as building enclosures become more complicated, as code requirements increase and change, and due to the expanding list of building products available in the industry.  The program will also fill the educational gap in the industry which lacks a formalized program that educates design professionals in construction building technology, specifically in the exterior enclosure. 

The CSI Board recognized the need for such a program and at the CSI National Convention this year, accepted the recommendation to develop the program based upon the findings of the BTEP Feasibility Task Team.  The development team will explore working with other industry organizations (AIA BEC, BIA, NCARB, etc.) to create the program with certification as the end product.  This program will be a holistic approach that will draw components from each of the other organizations as well as filling in the gaps between the various other industry programs.  The complexities of the exterior envelop, to understand and develop details as a result of the evaluation of the issues is significant.  A program to further develop individuals in the development and construction of the exterior envelop will be a great resource for the industry. 

As we all know, CSI has successfully developed an accreditation program to education, test, and accredit individuals with CDT, CCS, CCCA and CCPR which are known and well regarded through-out the industry.  I am enthusiastic with the potential in the development of this new program and I am confident that CSI will deliver it. 

The program will also promote the CSI Mission statement to "advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance."  If you have been considering involvement at the national level, this is an opportunity to become involved at the beginning of a new segment of CSI.

November 2014


Construct 2013 was an inspiring convention this year.

  The Chicago CSI Chapter commends the Nashville CSI Chapter for producing this well organized event in the newly constructed Music City Center convention center.  The entertainment was also great, from the yodeling performance of an America’s Got Talent” contestant and subsequent attempts by CSI’s President Casey Robb and others to attempt to learn to yodel, to the local talented musicians, to the singing of happy birthday to Casey Robb in Marilyn Monroe form in the Member’s Forum.

One of the key points being conveyed at the conference is the changing role of the specifier.  While writing specifications may be the major task of the specifier, they provide many other services.  For example, one presenter is a self-described story teller.  The project manual provides the written story and the complementary drawings provide the illustration.   The main point is to embrace change, and rebrand ourselves to convey the real value of the services being provided. 

One presentation focused on the potential of providing services directly to the Owner and possibly the contractor.

  The Owner typically does not have the knowledge or resources to understand the propositions from the designer and the contractor in order to control their rises, thus a third party providing insight and managing the follow of information would be of value.  Many contractors have become managers of sub-contractors and may be ill suited to manage, control and maintain communication and quality control of the information between subcontractors. They would therefore value an information manager.  The advantage with working directly with the Owner or contractor is that with their higher risk involvement, they have a higher reward, thus being able to compensate the Building Information Manager appropriately for their services.  However, this could also further erode the role of the Architect.

This message is also for the contractors and manufacturer representatives. Most of the product representatives provide more than specific product information.

Most have knowledge of the overall building systemsand technologies.  They provide valuable information on the current technologies in addition to dovetailing their specific manufacture products into these systems.  Many of these individuals also can have part of a technical advisor role.

Many new job description titles were conveyed including: building information manager, building technologist, and story teller.

Who are you?  While we know our capabilities, others may not.  In the opening session, Ira Blumenthal conveyed the need for each of us to market ourselves.  We need to rebrand ourselves to stay with our changing roles and value.  I would also add that emerging professionals should consider how they would title themselves, as Technical Architect, Building Information Manager, Technical Advisor, Specifier or some combination of titles.

Understand your capabilities, and advertise it.  How your abilities viewed is your “branding”; if you do not like it, change it.

October, 2014


For the past few weeks, I have been tying up loose ends at work to allow time to be at Construct 2013 this year.  I am looking forward to the national CSI Convention, meeting with other industry professionals and exchanging new ideas.  I will also be attending educational seminars to learn about items that I did not know that I needed to learn about, seeing new products and learning more about current products. 

I am also looking forward to the sights in Nashville.  This will be my first time visiting the city at the center of country music.  I am a country music fan, and look forward to hearing some of the upcoming stars in the local entertainment establishments.

More to come next month when I am back from Construct to report on the state of the industry and with my enthusiasm of the profession refreshed!

September, 2013


While driving with my wife to drop off our son at college, the check engine light came on.  We all get a sinking feeling in our stomachs when this happens, but I am here to tell you that it is a good thing.  The intelligence that is currently being installed in our cars to monitor and warn us is starting to impress me.  In the last thirty years, our cars have become smarter than our homes. 

Have you been in a new car recently?  The driver can set their own temperature, and each of the passengers can do the same.  If you want to freeze the kids in the back seat, you can also do this.  You can charge your phone, you can use your phone through the speaker system, and you can watch a movie (but not the driver).  The headlights turn on automatically, and they shut off automatically. These are just the comfort features.

Safety features are also becoming standard.  Your car warns you to fasten your seatbelt.  If the engine combustion chamber needs more air, more air is automatically directed to the engine.  Airbags are deployed if the car is in an accident.  The onboard computer monitors, records and reports various functions in the car.  Diagnostics are easily completed by your mechanic due to the information stored. 

Yes, cars are smarter than our homes, but the buildings are catching up.  Commercial buildings have been incorporating monitoring features for years.  With LEED, stricter energy codes, and public energy-use reporting, we should anticipate the desire for monitoring systems to increase.  If a building can be alerted that more water is being used than historically recorded, we can look for problems or leaks.  If the fans on an air handler are using more energy, and the airflow has decreased, an alert can be sent.  The HVAC system will decide if it can use the exterior air to temper the building or if it needs heat from the boiler.  If our buildings can operate incrementally more efficiently, and we can detect problems quicker, then we can reduce operating costs and improve sustainability by operating at optimum levels. 

We look for gas efficiency when we purchase our automobiles, we maintain the automobiles to maintain efficiency and safety.  The automobile computes and optimizes the gas efficiency by increasing air intake and shutting down 2 of the 6 cylinders.  The computer can warn us if there is a problem with the air bags, brakes, or other systems in the car.  Shouldn’t we be expecting/doing this with our homes as well?

Coming soon, “Check Furnace” light in a home near you.

August, 2013


The last few years has seen a slow return of a strong economy.  CSI has taken this time to revitalize our organization.  CSI’s core values include the tag line “Building Knowledge/Improving Project Delivery” and CSI’s mission, “The mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance” which are key as we refocus our effects as the economy continues to grow stronger.  Last year at Construct, we were introduced to the new logo.  I refer to it as CSI in motion (the horizontal stripes showing movement).  We can build on the momentum of fresh ideas to help us re-engage the industry with the CSI values.  

CSI is a unique organization within the building industry, engaging all participants during all phases of the life a building, from design and construction through usage and ultimately end of life.  We value building knowledge in the industry, not advocating just one group or component.  But we can’t “Build Knowledge” unless industry knows about us.

CSI is not just about specifications, it is about the whole construction industry and how each segment has responsibilities and important components that add value to the industry.  But unless they understand their responsibilities and the responsibilities of others, they cannot perform their function effectively.
It is my goal for the coming year to spread the awareness of the value that CSI provides to the industry.  CSI provides avenues for Communication, Education, Certification, Accreditation, and Standards creation.  When I encounter an individual in the construction industry that has a CSI accreditation (CDT, CCPR, CCCA, CCS), I know that they have knowledge of how the industry operates, that they are committed to advancement of knowledge in the industry, and that they know the roles of the individuals in it.  What a selling point to those who are not involved in CSI, to become involved.

I want to challenge those that have not gone through accreditation to see the value and to pursue it.  I want to also challenge each of you to talk to one of your peers or contacts, and express your experiences with CSI.  I want to challenge each of you to become more involved.  This does not require much effort; it is just talking to the person next to you about the industry and how to improve it.  Discuss issues in the industry, ask for advice, and give advice.  Start to exchange ideas and to increase the potential for increased knowledge.  If you want to become involved at the chapter, regional or national levels, talk to one of the board members to see what you can do.

CSI has a positive impact on the industry.  We need to engage our members, and others in the industry to explore ways to improve project delivery and to expand our building knowledge – revitalize our commitment to the industry. 

Learn more!