•  Carrier


NCS Version 6: More Efficient and More Comprehensive

A number of new updates to the National CAD Standard will help further coordinate the efforts of design and construction teams by providing a way to organize and present electronic building design information consistently.


By Jason Sturniolo, ACI 



Version 6 of the United States National CAD Standard (NCS)  contains important changes that will help reduce the costs of developing and maintaining individual office standards, and of transferring building data from design applications to facility management application. 

NCS includes three platforms: the Construction Specifications Institute's Uniform Drawing System, the American Institute of Architect's CAD Layer Guidelines, and the National Institute of Building Sciences BIM Implementation and Plotting Guidelines. It comprises interrelated standards, guidelines and tools for uniformly organizing and presenting facility drawing information. NCS is the only comprehensive standard for facility planning, design, construction and operation drawings. Simply stated, NCS Version 6, which was released in September 2014 following a 15-month development process, offers greater efficiency in the design and construction process.

While adoption of NCS by the building design and construction industry is voluntary, many public and private sector organizations either require or have implemented NCS, including the General Services Administration; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Air Force, Department of Veterans Affairs, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Treasury – Internal Revenue Service, Department of State; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, as well as many state, municipal and local agencies and authorities and large U.S. and foreign multinational corporations.


CHANGE 1:  New "BIM Implementation" guidelines on successful implementation of NCS for BIM use and addressing relevant topics within the NCS that can be incorporated within BIM workflow.

We are excited about the new BIM Implementation Module. This was a long awaited addition to the NCS. In development of this module, we wanted to help adopters of the NCS that use BIM find and use areas that could be plugged right into their BIM workflows.

We went through each section of the NCS and gave input on how to use them in the BIM workflow environment. Examples would be the Drawing Set Organization and Sheet Organization; these can be implemented as-is into any BIM workflow.

3D view conveying design construction intent. IMAGES COURTESY NIBS 


We now can include 3D views within any numbered series of the drawing set. Adding the ability to have 3D views in the set will help convey the design and construction information in ways that previously were not available. 

During the creation of this new module we added some BIM guidelines for authoring content and model coordination and delivery practices. These sections will give anyone new to the NCS and BIM some items to reference as they implement the NCS.For example, model content should be associated with a level, plane or ceiling depending its use. 

Model component showing correct and incorrect offset.   


CHANGE 2: Enhanced and improved symbols library.  

  • All 1,300-plus NCS Symbol CAD files replaced and renamed.
  • 72 new and revised symbols
  • Two new symbol chapters

The task team needed to update the symbols—and that took some work. The symbols were described using the metric system. They had unrealistic origin points and file naming, as well as layers that were hard to read. To correct these problems, the task team first created a new template that would allow each team member to update their sections. We also wanted the symbols to be optimized for use with any library management function in the adopters’ CAD programs. To accomplish these goals we had to revisit each symbol, line type and hatch pattern in the NCS.  Each item was converted to inches, renamed with a more meaningful name, and was adjusted to include insertion points to 0,0,0. We also made sure the scales were correct at 1:1. 

After all the symbols were converted, we came up with two different ways to download and use the updated symbols. The first is a zip file in MasterFormat where each symbol is broken up into the MasterFormat Divisions. The second is a zip file with each symbol in a separate drawing. A great “How-To / Introduction” was created for the download, to aid in the use and installation of the symbols. 



We now can include 3D views within any numbered series of the drawing set. Adding the ability to have 3D views in the set will help convey the design and construction information in ways that previously were not available. 


We found it important to have a font style that would not get assigned different parameter settings when the symbols are used in production work. Each symbol has new font styles to allow consistency from drawing to drawing. All of these symbol updates are available to download in the latest version of NSC.

In the Symbols Module, two new chapters were created. A template for New Symbols is one. This chapter walks through the many aspects of creating a new symbol for use in future NCS versions or to adapt existing symbols in your own company library. One of the module sections show how and where insertion points should be placed (see first image below). Another section shows how to size the symbols to NCS specifications (second image below).   



The next new chapter in the Symbols Module is, “Using Color In Symbols.” This chapter was created because color is becoming more prominent in design because of the use of color digital plots and plotters.

This chapter explains how to take advantage of color in your symbols in areas for clarity, but also not make color overpower the content and distract the reader from other areas of importance.


CHANGE 3: New "Survey/Mapping" Discipline Designators.

For everyone using the NCS, having the right discipline designators will allow everyone to find what they are looking for in a timely manner in the drawing set. 

The surveying and mapping areas, for instance, were lacking some important designators in previous releases that would allow ground profiles, and they were also lacking cross sections for sanitary, utilities and roadways to have their own areas in a set of drawings. This was addressed by adding new discipline designators for these areas. 


CHANGE 4: New Major and Minor Groups definitions added for "Airports and Plumbing."

We added a lot of new layer major and minor group definitions to make up for gaps that were pointed out during our task team meetings. Having these new groups would give users in airport and plumbing design a place to put their data and keep it organized.

Airport Airspace-related features (AIRS), Heliport / pad (HELI), and Beacons (BCNS) are just a couple examples of the new major definitions. For the minor definitions, some of the examples are Aircraft parking (ACPK), Airport runway protection zone (RPZ~), Deicing (DEIC), and Metering devices (METR).


These are just a few of the new features of the latest NCS. Version 6 incorporates numerous updates that will benefit the design and construction industry. There is more consistency in drawing look and feel, as well as easy exchange of data with those already using NCS. 

For more information on NCS Version 6, visit www.nationalcadstandard.org.



Jason Sturniolo, ACI, is CAD Manager, RRMM Architects, and a member of the National CAD Standard Steering, BIM Ad Hoc and Symbols Committees; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..