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 November 2007
From the Editor's Desk

Email Maryann Gorman

The ASTM International Advantage

The name of the paper competition we instituted this year, the ASTM International Advantage Award, reflects the fact that using ASTM standards provides designers, manufacturers, testing labs, government agencies and others around the world with a distinct advantage in their pursuit of cost-effective R&D and manufacture, quality and market access. By extension, this advantage accrues to society as a whole in the form of lower costs, greater safety and environmental benefit.

Teasing out the details of this advantage can be difficult. The benefits of standards are sometimes obvious and tangible, as when new industry sectors such as light sport aircraft are launched thanks to standardization. But standards are so hard-wired into business and regulation that businesses and agencies themselves often cannot even attempt to calculate their benefit, on a financial or social basis.

The purpose of the Advantage Award is to give voice to the people in the trenches who develop and use ASTM standards every day. These individuals know ASTM standards confer advantages both tangible and intangible because they work with them daily and watch their benefits extend outward to the global village. In this issue, we are pleased to present the first-, second- and third-place papers of the 2007 ASTM International Advantage Award, papers that show the value of standardization in no uncertain terms. In addition to their papers’ publication in SN, winners have received plaques and significant cash prizes.

The three winning papers, authored by Muthiah Kasi of Alfred Benesch and Co. (first place); Jamie Schaefer-Wilson and Joan Muratore of Consumers Union (second place); and Dru Meadows of theGreenTeam, Inc. (third place), together show how wide is the impact of ASTM standards.

Kasi describes how standards originally developed by Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings to help estimate the stakeholder and financial requirements of a building project are also relevant to transportation projects. His firm’s use of these standards to spec out multimillion-dollar infrastructure projects have gained the respect of clients and kept taxpayer costs down. Schaefer-Wilson and Muratore show how ASTM Committee F15 on Consumer Products worked with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to revise and toughen the standard for infant walkers, a move that resulted in a drastic decrease in the number of injuries and deaths associated with those products. And finally, Meadows explains how a standard developed by Committee E06, which provides a guide for the general principles of building sustainability, has had quite an impact on decision-making when developers aim to create “green” construction.

ASTM International is grateful to everyone who participated in this competition — those who took time to write and submit papers and those who volunteered to judge the papers. We look forward to sponsoring the ASTM International Advantage Award again in 2008 and encourage you to think about the advantage conferred by the ASTM standards you work with, and consider participating next year.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief