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June 2008

Standards Development Organizations

ANSI: American National Standards Institute

ANSI is a non profit organization that facilitates the development of standards but does not itself develop standards. ANSI accredits standards developers like NSF International. Two articles last month highlighted NSF's participation in developing carpet and textile standards as well as their work with BIFMA on the SAS: Sustainability Assessment Standard for Office Furniture. NSF International is an example of an ANSI accredited standards developer.

ANSI standards are noted with the Developers name along with ANSI, the category number of the standard, and then the date that the standard was created or was last revised. The Sustainable Carpet assessment standard that NSF International developed along with the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) is therefore named: NSF/ANSI 140-2007. Another example of an ANSI standard that is commonly used by interior designers is ICC/ANSI A117.1. ICC is the International Code Council which is an ANSI accredited standards developer and A117.1 is the Accessible Buildings and Facilities standard. This standard provides the foundation for manuals and codes around the country that ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Along with accrediting standards developers, ANSI also accredits product certification bodies, personnel certification bodies, management systems, and testing and calibration laboratories. Sustainable design related product certification programs that are ANSI accredited include:

As with most organizations, ANSI works to educate its members and the public regarding their mission and standardization issues in particular. Core principles within ANSI include openness in the creation of standards and in the governance of the organization, a variety of stakeholders, governmental and citizen involvement, as well as a consensus basis for decision making. ANSI is also the sole U.S. representative and dues-paying member of ISO. As the representative, ANSI has many responsibilities including accrediting U.S. Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) that represent the U.S. in the process of ISO standards development. (ISO is described in more detail below.)
Available on ANSI website: a good basic overview page And a 180 page document with all ANSI standards developers listed in alphabetical order with contact information and a brief summary of the types of standards the organization develops. These are easy to find on the ANSI page in the navigation in the left column.

ASHRAE: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers

ASHRAE is an international professional association working to advance technology and the engineering profession. It is an ANSI accredited standards developer and includes education and research as core parts of its mission. In terms of sustainability and the built environment, it has influence over two main categories: CFC refrigerants and CO2 emissions created when buildings use energy. Environmental health is another area ASHRAE influences with standards directed toward improved Indoor Environmental Quality, especially air quality and thermal comfort. The standards ASHRAE develops are used as a resource for code-writing, used by the government for federal buildings, are the basis for mandated energy efficiencies for buildings, and are referenced in voluntary programs like the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® rating systems.

Environmental control standards include Energy Efficiency 90.1 and 90.2, Indoor Air Quality 62.1 and 62.2, and Thermal Comfort 55. The ASHRAE standards are numbered by category and then followed by a date which indicates the date the standard was created or revised. Energy Efficiency code 90.1-2004 is the latest version of that standard. ASHRAE also publishes a Handbook, Advanced Energy Design Guide, and GreenGuide which all support engineering professionals in sustainable practices. All ASHRAE standards are available for purchase and my be available in some public or University libraries for reference.

ASHRAE position papers reveal the organizations strong ties to indoor environmental quality and environmental issues. The position papers include Ammonia as a Refrigerant, Climate Change, Energy Position Document, Environmental Tobacco Smoke, Indoor Air Quality, Legionellosis, Minimizing Indoor Mold Problems through Management of Moisture in Building Systems, and Ozone-Depleting Substances. The Energy Position Document includes this quote: "ASHRAE promotes increased energy efficiency, environmental preservation, and responsible energy resource use and development as an integral part of the ethics of ASHRAE members."

An interview with Dr. Andrew Persily, an ASHRAE VIce President, helped clarify ASHRAE's focus on sustainability. One of their long range goals is to help support the transition of the built environment so that all buildings are net zero energy users. A net zero energy building produces on site renewable energy to meet all of its energy needs. The building may use non renewable energy for peak periods and then sell some renewable energy to offset the use of non renewable energy; this is the net part of net zero. According to Dr. Persily the technology for net zero buildings is available today and the implementation depends largely on up front costs and people's willingness/ability to make the investment.
Sustainability Page
The sustainability page is the home page for an ASHRAE sustainability website. You can find the energy position paper here and all information specific to sustainability and ASHRAE. (I couldn't find a way to navigate back to the AHSRAE site though)

ASTM International

originally know as the American Society for Testing and Materials

ASTM is a non profit international standards development organization. Standards are created using an open participation consensus based process with representatives from diverse groups: users, consumers, government, and academia. ASTM standards are referenced in laws and regulations as well as in voluntary programs like the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED® rating systems. ASTM meets all the basic criteria for an international standards developing organization as outlined in Annex 4 of the Triennial Review of the World Trade Organizationís Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement (WTO/TBT). ASTM standards relate to test methods and guides but, ASTM does not perform testing and verify that products meet their standards. Manufacturers often provide testing data to show their products meet ASTM standards. Standards a noted with an identifying number followed my a dash and the date the standard was created or revised such as: ASTM D2369 - 07 Standard Test Method for Volatile Content of Coatings. Standards can be purchased and may be available for reference at public or university libraries.

ASTM has compiled a spreadsheet of standards that relate to sustainability. The spreadsheet has three columns under the heading Sustainability Aspects referencing each of the three triple bottom line principles: environmental, social, and economic. Additionally, the spreadsheet has columns to indicate if the standard includes specific sustainable attributes such as water stewardship, biodiversity, recycled content, acoustics, and many more. Of the 14 standards that include a social element, most relate to Indoor Air Quality such as: arsenic, lead, mercury, chromium, and VOC contents of paint, formaldehyde off gassed from wood products, mold, and Indoor Air Quality guide for residential dwellings. Two of the standards listed on the spreadsheet incorporate all three aspects of the triple bottom line: ASTM E2114: Standard Terminology for Sustainability Relative to the Performance of Buildings and ASTM E0917: Practice for Measuring Life-Cycle Costs of Buildings and Building Systems.

Along with developing standards, ASTM also offers educational opportunities via publications, symposiums, and workshops. Their website offers listings of equipment manufacturers who sell equipment used in testing, laboratories that do ASTM testing, and consultants who work in technically related fields. Laboratories can also find support with proficiency testing programs to ensure the lab's procedural competence.
Sustainability Overview
Access Sustainability Spreadsheet
The Sustainability Overview page is a good basic overview of ASTM and sustainability. The Access Sustainability Spreadsheet link takes you to a page with a link to the Sustainability Spreadsheet, click it and then view or download the spreadsheet. It is referenced in the article above and is a good excel spreadsheet with ASTM's sustainable standards listed with aspects and attributes noted as well as the Staff Manager assigned to the standard.

ISO: International Organization for Standardization

ISO is not truly an acronym. It was chosen as the name for the organization because it means equal in Greek. No one acronym would be the same in every language world wide. Currently, ISO has 16,500 standards in a wide range of categories including agriculture, construction, mechanical, engineering, manufacturing and distribution, transportation, medical devices, information communication technologies, good management practices and services. The standards are created with a consensus based process in which each member country has one vote, giving each member equal power. The types of standards created are largely market driven by a current need. Following ISO standards is voluntary and all standards are reviewed periodically at least every five years to keep up with changing technologies and market innovations.

ISO designates its standards with numbers. Usually the number refers to a specific standard but sometimes the number refers to a family of standards. ISO 14000 refers to a family of standards in the environmental management category. ISO 14001:2004 is part of the environmental management family. The date indicates when the standard was created or last updated.

The ISO 14000 family is a commonly noted standards family regarding sustainability. It sets out guidelines for a company or organization to create an Environmental Management System (EMS) to help the organization reduce pollution, save natural resources and in general minimize their negative impact on the natural world. ISO 14001:2004 provides the framework for a holistic, strategic approach to the organization's environmental policy, plans, and actions. It gives generic requirements but does not prescribe how the goals are to be met and does not require specific levels of environmental performance. It does require objective evidence which can be audited to verify continual improvement.

Within the ISO 14000 family there are individual standards that target specific environmental concerns. ISO 14064 addresses Green House Gas (GHG) emissions with three parts: GHG quantification, monitoring and reporting, and validation and verification of claims. ISO 14065 sets requirements for bodies that validate or verify the GHG declarations addressed in ISO 14064. Additional specific environmental concerns that are addressed in the 14000 family include environmental aspects of products, environmental labeling, environmental performance evaluation, life cycle analysis, and environmental communication.

Here are a few examples of published ISO Standards relating to sustainable design:
ISO Cafe
This page provides a link to a good overview of ISO. And links to other areas of interest based on categories like social responsibility, climate change, and sustainable development.
Media Kit
Links to html and pdf documents intended for the media, but they give good summary information about ISO. A link to the ISO cafe (the same one listed above) is here too. And a link to the management standards including the 14000 Environmental management family.

Other standards are relatively easy to search under the products tab. The ISO catalog can be browsed by ICS: International Classification for Standards or by TC: Technical Committee. Either way, a title is also provided which will help guide your selection. After finding a particular standard, a brief overview and status will be provided. Complete standards must be purchased.

by: Sue Norman