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ASTM International and National Institute of Building Sciences Sign Memorandum of Agreement

Memorandum Puts Focus on Building Enclosures

To further improve building enclosure design and commissioning, and to facilitate a broader understanding of building enclosures, ASTM International and the National Institute of Building Sciences have entered into a memorandum of agreement.

Signed by ASTM President James A. Thomas and NIBS President Henry L. Green, Hon. AIA, in March, the MOA will establish collaboration between the institute and ASTM in publishing a building enclosure commissioning process that will follow ASHRAE Guideline 0: The Commissioning Process. The agreement aims to incorporate all building commissioning activities into a whole building commissioning process. Building enclosure commissioning endeavors to ensure that exterior enclosures meet or exceed the expectations of owners’ project requirements.

“Commissioning a building enclosure is a unique activity,” says ASTM member Rob Kistler, AIA, who is principal at The Façade Group LLC, Portland, Ore. Kistler chairs the NIBS Guideline 3 Development Committee, and he is vice chairman of the Institute’s Building Enclosure Technology and Environment Council. Kistler explains further, “The systems are specifically designed for an individual building constructed on site from multiple products by different companies using numerous people, piece by piece, in all weather conditions.”

Building enclosures differ from manufactured systems in that enclosures cannot be fine-tuned after completion. “The enclosure is not complete and verifiable until the last component is installed and critical interfaces are concealed,” says Kistler. “If the building does not meet the specified performance requirements when verification testing is performed, it is expensive to resolve.”

Under the terms of the MOA, ASTM will develop standards and a personnel certification program on building enclosure commissioning, while the institute will focus on the development of a commissioning training program. Both organizations will:

  • Support the development of standards, guidelines and certifications, as well as education and training programs;
  • Promote information exchange;
  • Initiate cross-disciplinary dialogue among building community sectors;
  • Facilitate improvements in the building process; and
  • Improve the building enclosure knowledge of their respective memberships.

The Institute developed NIBS Guideline 3: Exterior Enclosure Technical Requirements for the Building Commissioning Process for use by commissioning professionals. Guideline 3 is used in conjunction with ASHRAE Guideline 0.

“Establishing a fully aligned family of standards to support building enclosure commissioning has always been our goal at ASTM,” says Dan Lemieux, chairman of ASTM Subcommittee E06.55 on Exterior Building Wall Systems and the task group responsible for the development of ASTM E2813, Practice for Building Enclosure Commissioning. “Development and publication of E2813 with the input and support of our liaisons with both ASHRAE and NIBS was the first step in that process. The MOA is a natural extension of that effort and will allow us to work together to help deliver higher performing buildings.”

As part of the MOA, NIBS Guideline 3 will be developed and published as an ASTM standard guide by ASTM Subcommittee E06.55, which is part of ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings. “Publishing NIBS Guideline 3 as an ASTM standard guide will lead to wider industry usage of that document and, as a companion to E2813, will for the first time bring clarity and purpose to the concept of building enclosure commissioning in a marketplace where none currently exists,” explains Lemieux.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.