How The Search for Gridd® Low-Profile Raised Floor Created A New MasterSpec Category

September 7, 2021 | Raised Access Flooring

Until 2009, FreeAxez was confronted with a unique situation. Architects looking to obtain and install its flagship products—Gridd40 and Gridd70—often discovered they had received the wrong product. Time and time again, clients and architects would specify Gridd access flooring systems, and found themselves receiving other access flooring systems based on a completely different assembly—post and panel.

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) MasterFormat number originally used to classify Gridd® was not specific enough. Careful scrutiny of bid specifications revealed they had called for something other than the low-profile cable distribution system (manufactured by FreeAxez) that the project teams had designed to, and therefore resulted in delivering the wrong product to the projects. This caused a good deal of frustration.

After an involved process, CSI reclassified Gridd® type access flooring systems after FreeAxez submitted a formal request to create a new MasterFormat section number and name. The new MasterFormat section highlights the unique characteristics and differentiation between post and panel systems and a low-profile fixed height system designed specifically for cable and wire management.

The lesson to take from this experience is—it is crucial for property owners, property managers, and project leaders to fully understand how vital experienced specifiers are to the commercial building process. To achieve that understanding, this report intends to walk the reader through the design distinctions between Gridd and other access flooring.

What Is MasterSpec?

MasterSpec was first developed in 1969 by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1983 AIA’s MasterSpec was computerized in collaboration with ARCOM (since rebranded shortly as Avitru and later acquired and rebranded by Deltek), MasterSpec is a master specification library of sections used by AIA’s professional members and others in the building and construction industry—a master guide for those responsible for project planning, design, and construction.

Deltek develops project-based enterprise software and information solutions for various industries. At present, it is the exclusive developer and distributor of AIA’s MasterSpec content and software. It is primarily used in the United States by interior designers, architects, landscape architects, and engineers to specify their design quality expectations for construction projects.

The AIA developed the MasterSpec guide specification sections as a means by which architects and engineers can quickly and efficiently create technical specifications for bidding and contracting. Before its development, architects regularly spent a great deal of time scrutinizing products and updating technical specifications from scratch. Using AIA’s MasterSpec guide specification sections provides the research and recommendations for the different applications for tens of thousands of different product types, which saves the professional spec editor much needed time. Though Deltek is presently the sole developer and distributor of MasterSpec, the content is regularly vetted by experienced professionals independent of Deltek by longstanding AIA MasterSpec review committees like the MasterSpec Architectural Review Committee (MARC) and mechanical MasterSpec Engineering Review Committee (mMERC).

Presently, the MasterSpec “library” consists of nearly 1,000 product-specific section documents used by different construction industry disciplines as follows:

  • Architectural
  • Interiors
  • Mechanical
  • Structural
  • Building Architecture + Engineering
  • Electrical + Communication
  • Commissioning
  • Historic Preservation
  • Landscape
  • Site/Civil

Each section follows CSI’s SectionFormat and PageFormat standards. Each MasterSpec section is comprised of seven documents. The four supporting documents are:

  • Summary: A summary of the section such as scope covered and content
  • Evaluations: A qualitative research summary of product types and their descriptions, tested characteristics, sustainability characteristics, referenced standards, applicable codes, and application limitations.
  • Drawing Coordination Checklist: Checklist of items to coordinate section with the drawings.
  • Specification Coordination Checklist: Checklist of items to coordinate this section with other sections.

MasterSpec’s technical specifications are available in three distinct formats or types.

  • Full Length: For modest- to large-scale, multiplex projects. These specifications often include multifarious bidding and contracting circumstances.
  • Short Form: These are abridged versions of specifications featuring the most commonly used products.
  • Outline: Relative outlines of specifications intended to be used throughout design development and schematic stages.

What Are Traditional Raised Floor Specification Numbers?

Traditional raised floors were used for underfloor air distribution to keep mainframe computers from overheating. The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) and Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) have designated the following MasterFormat numbers and titles for this standard type of raised flooring:

  • 09 69 00 — Raised Access Flooring
  • 09 69 13 — Rigid Grid Access Flooring

The traditional post-and-panel raised access flooring system was introduced in the 1960s with the primary purpose of providing cooling and airflow to the large computer mainframes of that era, as they ran exceptionally hot. A traditional access floor creates sealed airspace (called a plenum) between the raised access floor and the sub-floor. The plenum is there to accommodate and contain underfloor air distribution (UFAD). These floors can be installed at a variety of heights, from 6 inches (152 mm) to 4 feet (1.3 m), or higher.

The height of the posts is dictated by the volume of cables and other services to be stored beneath the raised floor; the typical height is somewhere between 24 inches (610 mm) and 48 inches (1219 mm).

To meet the industrial demands of low profile systems, traditional post and panel manufacturers have attempted to bring their raised floor heights, in some cases, down to four inches. However, at that height, post and panel flooring still doesn’t offer the usable space or flexibility that low profile systems have as a standard.

What Is the Gridd MasterFormat Number?

Gridd revolutionized the approach to cable distribution. It is based on an entirely different technology that is built to last for the life cycle of a building. To see the difference, you only need to see it in a side-by-side comparison with post and panel technology floors. Gridd was intended for flexible cabling distribution and redistribution, an entirely different approach, ensuring businesses could redesign and change as they evolved.

Gridd is so unique that in 2009, the CSI and CSA designated the following MasterFormat number and title for this new paradigm of raised flooring systems.

  • 09 69 33 — Low Profile Fixed Height Access Flooring

A Few Key Things to Know About Gridd

While FreeAxez often refers to Gridd as “raised flooring,” it is much more than that. Gridd is an Adaptive Cabling Distribution® system designed specifically for cable management. Gridd is all about allowing the smooth integration of technology through a superior raised floor system. Unlike other raised floors, Gridd is quick and simple to assemble. Adaptive cabling distribution eliminates the need to pull wires through ceilings, down power poles, and eliminates core drilling.

Gridd enhances raised floor quality and performance with a low profile design. The Gridd access flooring system maximizes flexibility for the challenge of evolving technology. Investing in adaptive cable distribution and cable management systems is a significant part of value engineering (VE) in today’s fast-paced digital world.

Learn more about how Gridd can simplify commercial raised flooring projects. Speak with an advisor today.

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