AIA, CSI and NIBS Publish Updated United States National CAD Standard®


NCS V6 Includes New BIM Module, Symbols, Site/Civil Language

Sep 9, 2014 -- Following a fifteen-month development process, the nation’s leading computer-aided design (CAD) standard has received an update. 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). As with Version 5, NCS Version 6 (V6) is delivered online at the NCS website.

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. More than 6,000 architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) firms have voluntarily adopted the NCS in their workplaces.

During each NCS revision cycle, participants propose, debate and ultimately vote upon additions and changes to the NCS to amend the current version of the standard. For this edition, NCS owners submitted an unprecedented 379 ballot items. The NCS Steering Committee, Project Committee and Task Teams, who are the ones responsible for vetting, reviewing and approving the submissions, play an integral role in the new edition’s development.

“It is only through the work of our committees and task teams that we are able to publish the NCS,” said CSI Executive Director and CEO Walter Marlowe, P.E., CSI, CAE. “Our organizations’ members have invested thousands of man hours to improve the standard. Their commitment and hard work shows in the finished product, which is the most detailed, yet all encompassing, edition yet.”

The new edition includes:

  • New implementation guidelines on how to successfully implement the NCS for building information modeling (BIM) use. The “BIM Implementation” guidelines address relevant sections within the NCS that can be incorporated into the BIM workflow and current contracts referencing project delivery of construction information.
  • An improved style format, which applies to the body of the standard to properly number chapter and subchapter headings.
  • An enhanced and improved Symbols Library. All 1300+ NCS symbol CAD files were replaced and renamed using a unique 3-digit extension number and abbreviated name; converted to inches; and include new insertion points (with line type and pattern file type definitions where appropriate). Each individual symbol links to a corresponding .DWG, .LIN or .PAT drawing file. The library includes 72 new and 40 revised symbols, as well as two new Symbols Chapters.
  • New “Survey/Mapping” Discipline Designators.
  • New Major and Minor Groups definitions added for “Airports and Plumbing.”
  • A revised “Module 1 – File Naming” section to better address Model Files and Sheet Files.
  • A Revised “Module 4 – Drafting Conventions, 4.2 Drawing Standards” list of common scales to add “Site/Civil” scale descriptions.
  • A Revised “Module 4 – Drafting Conventions, 4.3 Sheet Types” section, which includes a new “Floor Numbering” format.
  • New and revised “Communications” terms and abbreviations.
  • A Revised “Module 7 – Notations, 7.4 User’s Guide” text format for notes.
  • A Revised “Plotting Guidelines” introduction.

“The refinements to the NCS continue to improve and streamline the process the design team uses to communicate design data effectively,” said AIA Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA. “AIA and its partners, CSI and NIBS, are proud to present NCS Version 6. This latest edition will provide an increased benefit to the AEC community.”

The NCS coordinates the efforts of the entire design and construction team by providing a way to organize and present electronic building design information 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.

The standard is based on components from its partnering organizations: NIBS’s Foreword, Administration, Plotting Guidelines and new BIM Implementation 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 NCS-BIM coordination and plotting conventions. With this edition, the NCS also provides needed direction on how to incorporate the NCS content within the BIM workflow.

“Just as design, construction and facility management teams need to work together to develop a high-performing building, it’s important that the reference standards they use are coordinated and work together,” said NIBS President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA. “NCS Version 6 is the first step in bringing the NCS and the National BIM Standard-United States® into alignment, which will streamline the process of making electronic design data available throughout the life cycle of a building.”

Many public and private sector organizations either require or use the NCS, including the U.S. General Services Administration; U. S. Army Corps of Engineers; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Navy; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Treasury – Internal Revenue Service; U.S. Department of State; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; state, municipal and local agencies and authorities; and large U.S. and foreign multinational corporations.

NCS users who have purchased the previous version of the NCS within the past six months are eligible for a discount on NCS V6. This discount is available for six months from the release date, and expires March 9, 2015.

Learn more about the United States National CAD Standard®. Purchase the NCS Version 6 now.


About the American Institute of Architects

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 the Construction Specifications Institute

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 National Institute of Building Sciences

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.

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