Read Part 1 here.

The relationship between architects and building product manufacturers can be complicated.

Architects want to identify the best products for their projects and building product manufacturers (BPMs) want to sell those products. In an ideal situation, this mutually beneficial partnership empowers the design and construction of high-quality, high-performing, low-carbon, and low-cost buildings. But we all know that the process of delivering a building for construction is never ideal.

As designers seek appropriate materials for a project, they review countless documents (technical and otherwise) to make an informed decision. A manufacturer’s focus on sales is understandable, but when their marketing obscures critical decision-making data, architects can begin to distrust them, discouraging collaboration and setting up both parties for a frustrating experience.

To create better partnerships with architects, BPMs must invest in transparency and technology to accelerate the dissemination of valuable and trusted data. Tactically deployed, these investments can be critical to establishing trust and fostering better collaboration during design.


One of the biggest issues many architects mention about working with manufacturers is the struggle to discern “fact from fiction” in product marketing content. A sales pitch or product brochure that lacks third-party verified data is a red flag and leads many well-meaning manufacturers to fall short of architects’ expectations.

When working for an architecture firm here in Atlanta, I was reviewing product submittals for a large multi-family project. I repeatedly received communication from a subcontractor about a spray-on insulation that they claimed would save space, money, and time. This was the unicorn of insulation products, according to the materials that were being sent to me. Although I always appreciated product recommendations that could help a project, the data from this particular manufacturer was insufficient, touting non-validated “equivalencies” rather than, let’s say, valid test results compliant with my specifications. I had to reject this product repeatedly, and this process wasted time and not only reduced my trust in those who insisted on the product substitution but in the manufacturer and their product, as well.

What would have sold me on that product? Rapid feedback to my questions and providing me with validated data that aligned with my project design parameters.

A recent American Institute of Architects (AIA) survey found that 95% of architects consider independent and third-party testing crucial to establishing trust with BPMs, particularly when project performance is critical. Easily accessible product certifications, environmental product declarations (EPDs) and similar documents allow architects to quickly compare products and select the best manufacturer to meet a project’s needs. 

Additionally, when manufacturers offer this thorough and clear data, their products are more likely to be defended by the designer throughout the lifecycle of project delivery. By establishing a productive and efficient relationship and fostering product discussions that align with specified performance and cost criteria, BPMs will find that architects are more likely to reengage with them on their next project, helping to develop an ongoing and collaborative relationship. 


Today, thankfully, architects and BPMs can support this process using technology focused on making this collaboration even easier. BIM platforms allow architects to simulate their designs with greater accuracy and flexibility than ever before, and when BPMs provide high-quality data, it opens the door to experimentation, exploring different materials and their potential impact on cost, timeline, embodied carbon, operational carbon and beyond. 

This level of project data has become critical to the designer as low-carbon and high-performing buildings are incentivized, regulated, and necessary in the AEC. As architects prioritize more ecologically responsible product selections, BPMs should be cautious of any appearance of “greenwashing,” using marketing language to make their products appear eco-friendly. Architects can see right through that approach, which only diminishes trust and collaboration. 


At cove.tool, we realized that the best marketing tool for BPMs is to provide accurate and targeted data. We created a new platform, revgen.tool, which empowers manufacturers to lead their marketing efforts with validated insights linked to product selections within a project. The project simulations are verified through industry standards for simulation and integrate with BPMs workflow to help architects quickly compare product options and make the right decision for their project. 


With this direct, data-centered connection, architects can enter confident collaborations with BPMs, increasing manufacturer revenue and ensuring project success for their firm and their clients.

About the Author:

Ed Akins, II, AIA, is the enablement director for cove.tool and a registered architect. For more than two decades, he has worked with local communities, architecture firms, and higher education to encourage more responsive and environmentally sensitive design practices. His commitment to a more sustainable future has resulted in multiple awards and honors from the professional community and academia. Akins supports operations and outreach at cove.tool by applying his diverse experiences to the workplace as a strong leader and supporter of the company’s impactful work and strategic initiatives. For more, visit

Modern Contractor Solutions, November 2023
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