What Is CSI in Construction?

February 19, 2024

When construction professionals work together to use CSI standards and formats in their projects, they’re using a powerful tool for ensuring accurate and comprehensive specifications. These standards and formats allow architects, engineers, contractors and owners to create a clear and consistent framework for organizing information about the project.

CSI was founded in 1948 to develop construction specification best practices, promulgate standards/formats and provide professional education. Over the years, its membership grew to include specification writers from private industry and government agencies, design professionals concerned about communicating their vision in construction documents, constructors who needed tools for creating high-quality facilities and material producers with solutions to specific construction challenges. Today, CSI’s members continue to work together to effectively communicate the designers’ vision, the material producers’ solutions and the constructors’ techniques to produce outstanding facilities that meet the owners’ objectives.

The CSI MasterFormat is used in most industries to standardize construction documentation. The original format had 16 divisions that were updated and expanded over the decades as technologies, processes and materials changed. For example, the 2004 edition of the CSI MasterFormat included a division for life safety systems as well as a new section on telecommunications systems because of these significant advancements in technology.

CSI also offers a number of certifications for construction professionals who are interested in expanding their knowledge and improving their skills. For example, the Certified Construction Documentation Technician (CDT) is a professional certification that encompasses the entire process of conceiving, designing, building and maintaining a construction project. The CDT credential is one of the most respected in the industry and demonstrates a construction professional’s mastery of CSI’s documentation standards.


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