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 July 2006 Global Notebook

New Guidelines Bring Engineers One Step Closer to Performance-Based Seismic Design

In May, the Los Angeles Tall Building Structural Design Council released new seismic design guidelines acknowledging a performance-based rather than prescriptive approach to high-rise buildings. “The Alternative Procedure for Seismic Analysis and Design of Tall Buildings Located in the Los Angeles Region” is the first version of a consensus document developed by prominent seismic engineers to address issues associated with the current prescriptive structural design incorporated in the building codes. At previous meetings of the council, many engineers raised concerns that the existing code provisions are too conservative and present roadblocks for some high-rise buildings in high seismic zones. Several premier consulting firms have submitted designs based on alternative approaches at various jurisdictions, but building departments had been very reluctant to accept them without specific guidelines. The first version of this document is a step toward providing those guidelines. In Los Angeles there are now several projects on the drawing board based on the new guidelines.

July Summit Aims for U.S. Success in Global Standards

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will host a national Options for Action Summit on July 18-19 in Gaithersburg, Md., to devise ways to strengthen U.S. efforts that help developing nations build their economies and, in tandem, foster their adoption of standards that ensure fair market access for U.S. exports. Co-sponsored by NIST and the American National Standards Institute, the conference is open to representatives of industry, standards organizations, and government. First-day sessions will include trading partners’ assessments of U.S. standards-setting activities, provided by government or industry representatives from China, Egypt, the European Union, Japan, and Mexico. Panelists will give their views on how the United States has performed in efforts to advance a global standards agenda. The opening session will review the U.S. Standards Strategy, the National Export Strategy, and the Commerce Department’s “Standards and Competitiveness” initiative. In addition to NIST and ANSI, other organizations invited to participate in conference sessions include the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Trade Representative’s Office, International Trade Administration, and World Bank. Breakout sessions will concentrate on current U.S. outreach and capacity-building initiatives in specific regions. Discussions will focus on identifying best practices, “do’s and don’ts,” and activities that deserve more attention. These sessions will yield recommendations for steps intended to coordinate and improve standards harmonization, ensure market access for U.S. goods and services, and increase the effectiveness of capacity building and technical assistance efforts. The objective is to achieve consensus on a consolidated set of “options for action.” The registration deadline is July 7. To register, or for more information on the Options for Action Summit program, click here.

ANSI Vice President on Temporary Assignment in Iraq

David Karmol, American National Standards Institute vice president of public policy and government affairs, has accepted a one-year temporary assignment in Baghdad to assist various Iraqi government ministries in the establishment of a coherent system of standards and conformity assessment. Iraq’s current standardization system reflects a mix of elements of various standards and standards systems from a variety of countries. As a short-term employee of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, Karmol will work with U.S. embassy officials in the central Green Zone to increase technical capabilities and build a functioning and coherent infrastructure for standards and conformity assessment. His efforts will support the Iraqi Central Organization for Standardization and Quality Control (the national standards body), the Ministry of Housing and Construction, the Ministry of Civil Defense and other standards setting or “consuming” ministries. Karmol, who joined ANSI in July 2001, started his assignment with NIST on May 30 and is to leave for Iraq in July.

ICC, IAPMO to Jointly Develop Plumbing, Mechanical Codes

The International Code Council and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials have reached tentative agreement on certain key elements of a venture to jointly develop one plumbing code and one mechanical code for use by the entire nation. Both organizations emphasized that this is a tentative agreement, and that any final agreement will require resolution of a number of important implementation issues. If the remaining issues are resolved, both organizations intend to hold meetings throughout the country educating their members about the benefits of the new relationship. Visit www.iccsafe.org and www.iapmo.org.

NEMA Chosen to Conduct USTDA Standards Programs in China

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association has announced that it will organize a series of U.S.-led training and cooperation seminars for Chinese industry and government officials. NEMA will set up the workshops and provide on-site organization for the three-year, multi-sector series of programs. The initiative, known as the U.S.-China Standards and Conformity Assessment Cooperation Program, is being sponsored by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, which will provide matching funding for approximately 25 events over the next three years. NEMA opened its Beijing office in 2004 as a fully registered Chinese representative office. Since then, the association has sponsored a number of electrical equipment industry events in China on such issues as energy efficiency, protection of intellectual property rights, hazardous substance regulation, and technical product standards.

Sample Baldrige Application Available for Nonprofits

Non-profit organizations considering applying for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2007 or using the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence may be interested in an application for the award from a fictitious government organization, the “Flagstaff District of the U.S. Water Resource Agency.” Starting in 2007, non-profit organizations — including charities, trade and professional associations, and government agencies — will be eligible to apply for the Baldrige Award. The application was developed to help non-profit organizations better understand the Baldrige criteria for performance excellence and how it applies to them and to illustrate what an application for the award might look like. It also will be used to help train members of the private-sector board of examiners who review applications for the Baldrige Award. The application and evaluation process for the Baldrige Award is rigorous and thorough and has been called one of the most cost-effective and comprehensive performance assessments available anywhere. The application is available here. //

 
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