The OSDM is a comprehensive set of standard guidelines for the design of school facilities. The manual was developed by Commission staff, in cooperation with architects and nationally recognized educational planners. The design manual is updated annually and sets necessary minimum standards of quality for the state’s educational facilities and provides a flexible set of guidelines to serve the diverse needs of local school communities and the children they serve.
The OSDM includes specifications for systems and materials, which are mentioned, with purpose, in a generic manner. The Commission does not endorse products by trade name or source. Specifying methods include both: performance - a statement of required results with criteria for verifying compliance, but without unnecessary limitations on the methods for achieving required results; and reference standards - requirements set by authority, custom, or general consensus and are established as accepted criteria.
There was no attempt in the OSDM to establish these specifications based on propriety specifications that identify the desired products by manufacturer’s name, brand name, model numbers, type designation, or other unique characteristics. Materials and systems not mentioned in the OSDM, which meet or exceed the characteristics or performance of those stated, will be considered provided adequate information is submitted for approval to the Design Professional and the Commission.
Materials and systems not categorically mentioned in the Manual but which have the potential to be of good value to Ohio’s schools can be incorporated into designs through the OSDM Variance Process. A Variance Request is prepared by the design professional using an online Variance web tool. Training is available to design professionals not familiar with this process. Variances are granted for specific projects and apply only to that specific building. When repetitive variances are approved for a product or system, consideration is given by the Design Manual Update Committee to make a revision to the language of the OSDM to incorporate that system or material.