One way to gauge a new technology’s staying power is to note the amount of effort going into standards development to support its emergence and widespread use. The history of many revolutionary technologies can be found in a timeline of ASTM International standards activities over the last 110 years. The same is true for standards development in general. It’s not too great a leap to say that you can track aspects of a culture’s social and commercial priorities by tracking its standards development priorities.
A more obvious way to track social and commercial concerns is through a culture’s media. I’ve noticed, and I’m sure you have too, that there has been a “green” explosion in the media and in public consciousness. I believe I have seen more ads, more editorial space, more sound bites and programming given over to environmental concerns and products in the last two years than I had in the entire previous decade.
This issue of SN adds a little to that green explosion. But before you put it in the media hype receptacle, consider my comment above. Because the amount of time and resources being spent on developing standards that encourage sustainable practices stands as one proof, if you still need it, that measuring and decreasing humanity’s impact on the environment is more than a media concept or buzzword for image-conscious corporations. It is a pressing worldwide priority.
In a special feature section we cover just some of the many standards development activities in ASTM International that have or will have a direct impact on how businesses and individuals play their parts in healing the environment. From event planners who want to minimize their industry’s impact on the environment to civil engineers investigating sustainable infrastructure design, the standards development community has become populated by professionals who are finding greener ways to do their jobs.
As has happened since standardization as we know it was first conceived in the 19th century, the next chapter in technology development is being written into our standards. In this chapter, sustainable practices will form the foundation of many of these documents. We will all be the beneficiaries.