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May/June 2011
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Agricultural Fiber in Construction

A proposed new ASTM International standard may foster greater use of agricultural raw materials, also known as ARM. ARM are a source of ligno-cellulosic fibers, similar to wood fibers and particles. ARM are set to become an important source of fibers for the construction industry.

WK30419, Guide for the Use of Agricultural Fiber in Construction, is being developed by Subcommittee E60.01 on Buildings and Construction, part of ASTM International Committee E60 on Sustainability.

Dmitry Ozeryansky, a structural engineer contracting with the Ecological Building Network, and an E60 member, says that interest in agricultural raw materials is growing within the construction realm because of the move toward sustainable materials.

“Enormous quantities of these ARM fibers are residues of food production and are often burned or landfilled because of a lack of demand for their use,” says Ozeryansky. “ARMs are rapidly renewable resources that can positively impact the sustainability attributes of a product.”

WK30419 will be used in the following ways:

  • Companies that want to bring agricultural fiber products to market will have a way of documenting performance and reliability;
  • Alternative building industries will use the proposed standard, once it has been approved, to improve quality and distribution; and
  • Regulators will be able to use it to help with approvals and safety of alternative materials.

This year, the biobased product labeling program has been implemented for consumer products; it will display the certified percentage of farm-based materials. This program was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to a mandate in the 2002 Farm Bill to create new markets for commodity crops and agricultural waste. ASTM International has been selected to provide certification for the U.S. Department of Agriculture biobased labeling program.

CONTACT

Technical Information: Bruce King, Ecological Building Network, San Rafael, Calif.

Phone: 415-987-7271

Dmitry Ozeryansky, Ozeryansky Engineering, Memphis, Tenn.

Phone: 510-287-6115

ASTM Staff: Stephen Mawn

Phone: 610-832-9726