In the design and construction of buildings, structures, and infrastructure, civil and structural engineers — whether they are the lead design professionals or supporting architect-led projects — provide a project’s “bones” onto which professionals in other design disciplines add their talents. One simple yet effective way to improve efficiency and interdisciplinary coordination of an engineer’s work product is by using the most up-to-date resource for organizing project information and specifications.

The leading format for organizing project documents is MasterFormat, a comprehensive listing of numbers and titles that classifies construction work results, developed and maintained by CSI (formerly known as the Construction Specifications Institute) and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC). Since 1963, MasterFormat has been the industry’s leading standard for organizing project manuals (including specifications), construction project filing systems, product information (such as catalog files), and construction cost estimates.

Since 2004, MasterFormat has included 50 divisions, allowing for proper, consistent organization of information in the modern design and construction arena, as well as room for expansion as industry needs continue to evolve. The 50-division format is vastly superior to MasterFormat’s former 16-division format, which was changed by CSI and CSC more than 10 years ago.

MasterFormat is continually maintained and updated by CSI and CSC, but anyone can submit proposals via for incorporation into MasterFormat’s next update. The MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team considers all such proposals and provides written responses to each submittal. This ensures that MasterFormat is responsive to the needs of its users, as well as the design and construction industry.

Updates in MasterFormat 2014

In 2011, in response to industry needs for document organization, CSI and CSC instituted a two-year revision cycle for MasterFormat. The current version was released in April 2014 and contains hundreds of updates to the previous (2012) edition. Many of the changes in the current edition are of interest to structural and civil engineers in particular.

All of MasterFormat’s divisions are now aligned with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s construction requirements. In particular, Divisions 31 through 35, the “Site and Infrastructure Subgroup,” now includes complete work results for airport-specific construction, including runway construction materials, airport signage, aviation navigation lights, communications infrastructure, and specialized airport building materials.

MasterFormat 2014 also features improvements in Division 00, “Procurement and Contracting Requirements,” relative to agreements under section “00 52 00.” Numbers and titles were revised to better align with standard agreement forms widely used in the construction industry, such as those by the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee, the American Institute of Architects, and others. These changes include assignments for prime contracts and subcontracts for all forms of project delivery: design-bid-build, design-build, two forms of construction management, equipment or materials purchase contracts, public-private partnerships, and integrated project delivery.

Many other user-driven updates were included in MasterFormat 2014:

• Conservation treatment and preservation (for historic structures) was added to many divisions.

• Numbers and titles for selective demolition were added to most divisions. These additions facilitate the inclusion of sustainable building practices and better coordinate with commercially available systems of master guide specifications.

• Scores of new and revised numbers and titles were added to Divisions 02 through 14, the “Facility Construction Subgroup.” In general, these revisions include new architectural work results based on comments submitted by users. Of interest to civil and structural engineers is the new assignment in Division 02, “Existing Conditions,” for geotechnical baseline reports.

• Certain content in Division 11, “Equipment,” was improved by changing several higher-level titles. Now users are provided with a more consistent organization of work results for facility equipment.

• Selected, parallel content in Division 12, “Furnishings,” and Division 32, “Exterior Improvements,” was improved to clarify the locations for specifying furnishings and exterior equipment such as play field equipment.

Improvements in the Process Equipment Subgroup

Perhaps the most significant revisions in MasterFormat 2014 are those in Divisions 40 and 43. These are the result of more than seven years of effort by a working group called the Environmental Engineers Coalition, comprised of representatives of approximately 10 large engineering firms, each having significant practice in the civil, environmental, and process industries. This coalition also includes two major manufacturers of pumps and one major manufacturer of instrumentation and controls.

Division 40 is where work results that “tie processes together” are specified, including process piping systems and process instrumentation and controls. To better convey this intent, Division 40 was retitled from “Process Integration” to the more accurate “Process Interconnections.” Division 40 was also significantly reorganized with numerous new and revised numbers and titles. The revisions better reflect how the industry specifies process pipe and valves. It also includes a complete reorganization of process instrumentation and controls.

The Coalition also completed a thorough revision and reorganization of work results for process liquid pumps in Division 43, “Process Gas and Liquid Handling, Purification, and Storage Equipment,” which is the principal division where most industrial pumps are specified. Pumps for conveying process liquids are arguably the most common form of equipment in most process industries. The new, comprehensive organization of this vital area covers all types of pumps in the marketplace and better aligns with the standard pump organizational classifications of the Hydraulic Institute and the American Petroleum Institute.

During the next two years, the Coalition plans to evaluate and recommend improvements to Division 33, “Utilities,” for adoption by the MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team and publication in a future edition of MasterFormat.

MasterFormat and you

During the last several years, MasterFormat has gained unprecedented industry-wide acceptance. It is applied by professionals across all types of construction projects because it helps with everything from project delivery to organization of project information as well as the assembly of project manuals and preparation of detailed cost estimates. For those on the cutting-edge of construction planning, it even plays a role in drawing notations and Building Information Modeling. In short, by helping all members of the project team ensure consistency throughout a project’s various phases, MasterFormat improves efficiency and exchange of information among project participants and stakeholders.

For more information on MasterFormat 2014, visit or

Kevin O’Beirne, P.E., CSI, CCS, CCCA, is the manager of standard construction documents at ARCADIS U.S., Inc. He is the FY2014-2015 chair of the Engineers Joint Contract Documents Committee and is a member of CSI’s MasterFormat Maintenance Task Team. He can be reached at 716-667-6667 or