Construction Standards and Information Resources

The tasks of the architect and the engineer would be impossible to carr y out without the support of dozens of , trade associations, professional organizations, and other groups that produce and disseminate information on materials and methods of construction, some of the most important of which are discussed in the sections that follow.


Standards-Setting Agencies


ASTM International (formerly the American Society for Testing and Materials)  is a private organization that establishes specifications for materials  and methods of construction accepted as standards throughout the United States. Numerical references to ASTM standards—for example, ASTM C150 for portland cement, used in making concrete—are found throughout building codes and construction specifications, where  they are used as a precise shorthand for describing the quality of materials or the requirements of their installation. Throughout this book, references to ASTM standards are provided for the major building materials  presented. Should you wish to examine the contents  of the  standards themselves, they can be found in the ASTM references listed at the end of this chapter. In Canada, corresponding standards are set by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA).

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is another private organization that develops and certifies North American standards for a broad range of products, such as exterior windows,  mechanical  components of buildings, and even the accessibility requirements referenced within the IBC itself (ICC/ANSI A117.1). Government agencies, most notably the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and the National Research Council Canada’s Institute for (NRC-IRC), also sponsor research and establish standards for building products and systems.


Construction Trade and Professional Associations


Design professionals, building materials manufacturers, and construction  trade  groups  have  formed  a large number of organizations that work to develop  technical standards and disseminate information related to their respective fields of interest. The Construction Specifications Institute, whose MasterFormat™ standard is described in the following section, is one example. This organization is composed both of independent building professionals, such as architects and engineers, and of industr y members. The Western Wood Products Association, to choose  an example from among hundreds of trade associations, is made up of producers of lumber and wood products. It carries out research programs on wood products, establishes  uniform standards of product quality, certifies mills and products that conform to its standards, and publishes authoritative technical literature concerning the use of lumber and related products. Associations with a similar range of activities exist for virtually ever y material and product used in building. All of them  publish  technical data relating to their fields of interest, and many of these publications are indispensable references for the architect or engineer. A considerable number of the standards published by these organizations are incorporated by reference into the building codes. Selected publications from professional and trade associations are identified in the references listed at the end of each chapter in this book. The reader is encouraged to obtain and explore these publications and others available from these various organizations.

National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST) and the National Research Council Canada’s Institute for Research in Construction (NRC-IRC), also sponsor research and establish standards for building products and systems.



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