Use Your Words
So many terms, so little time.

Regardless of our age, it’s always a little amusing to come across parenting tactics that did not exist when we were children. I think I was raised just ahead of the “time out” really catching on as a concept. There was sent to your room, and there possibly was grounded, depending on the situation, but the only time outs were the ones my coaches called.

Likewise, some hardworking parent at some point came up with “use your words” to encourage a frustrated child to choose vocabulary over a tantrum or who knows what else. Tantrums aren’t so much a part of life in this industry (uh, right?), but on the other hand, we do see the business’ vocabulary continue to expand in multiple directions at a sometimes alarming rate. Whether your part of the process is simply getting more complicated or you’re expected to learn more about other areas of the construction industry, it is not hard for a professional to run across a term or acronym for the first time.

(That reminds me of the reader feedback we got a few years ago, complaining about the volume of acronyms we use in our pages. We still consider it an environmental service - we’d be chewing up a lot more trees if we wrote out every “variable air volume” or “gallons per minute.” But we do try to use our best judgment about what you’ll be familiar with in shortened form, and you can always find our glossary toward the back of the issue for quick reference.)


In the not-too-distant past, a couple of new (or improved) resources have arisen to keep track of basic terms and other potentially useful jargon.

The first one is the fruit of collaboration between the Building Owners and Managers Institute (BOMI) and the International Facility Management Association (IFMA). IFMA had already built a resource called FMPedia©, which began in 2008 as a glossary of industry terms. Likewise, BOMI already had its 343-pageDictionary Of The Built Environment.

Late last year, the two organizations agreed to put those hands together, so to speak, and join forces. The result is an expanded FMPedia, quadrupled in size to over 6,000 terms. It does require a simple registration, but the site is free and non-commercial. While the primary audience is facility professionals, those in related fields can also get something out of it.

Users can select specific categories of terms via a dropdown menu. A small sample of the categories: Acronyms, Construction Management, Environmental Health, Federal Agencies, Sustainability, and Operations & Management.


That title makes it sound like we’re discussing buildings that can talk. Which I guess isn’t nearly so farfetched anymore (and happens already with regard to life safety in some places), but it’s not quite the case here.

As you’ve noticed, the area of building automation in general and intelligent buildings in particular has exploded over the past few years. That’s where theIntelligent Building Dictionary comes in.

Produced by our partners at Building Intelligence Group, this covers more than 2,500 organized and cross-referenced terms specific to this part of the business. I knew the book existed when I saw the BOMI/IFMA project and decided to address it here this month, but I did not know that the Intelligent Building Dictionary is also available online. You can search or browse the entries and also view a number of associated figures, all for free From digital signage to HVAC controls to intelligent bathrooms, readers can keep up with terminology for smart building design.

(I might get in trouble if I don’t mention that you can also grab a hard copy at, if actual physical books aren’t too old-fangled for you by now.)

So next time you run up against a term you’re not familiar with, don’t get annoyed - just open a browser tab and look it up. With these resources online, you can even suggest additions, to keep future puzzled inquirers from feeling like they may need a time out.ES