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From the Editor's Desk
Mindful Standards Development

Eight years ago, ASTM International’s new Headquarters in West Conshohocken, Pa., was one of the first buildings constructed in what would become an explosion of new office-space development in this immediate vicinity. Since our move in 1995 from Philadelphia, ASTM’s office windows have looked out over many a construction site, from as close as 20 yards from our front door to across the nearby Schuylkill River.

I often wonder if the contractors at these sites are aware that they could toss a rock and hit the home of hundreds of the standards they rely on throughout the course of their massive construction projects. As I watch the buildings go up, I see ASTM standards everywhere, from the steel pilings driven into the ground, to the cement poured story after story, to the curtain walls secured to the sides of these structures.

An overview of even a quarter of the more than 1,500 ASTM standards that impact construction would make for an awfully thick issue of SN. So this month, we offer just a few examples of standards development for construction materials, with a few more to come in part two on this subject in August.

Of course, impressive statistics like “more than 1,500 standards” have little meaning if those documents are not relevant to the marketplaces they are supposed to serve. I’d like to draw the attention of especially ASTM members to one article this month that may have particular relevance to committee work, no matter what area is being standardized. In his piece “Standards Writing with a Purpose,” author Bob Wessel of ASTM Committee C11 on Gypsum and Related Building Materials and Systems shows how one small committee has achieved great success through mindful standards development. From the active monitoring of codes to ensure that C11 standards are useful to major code developers, to balancing competitive interests across the manufacturing spectrum, Wessel says, “the broad use of standards produced by the committee is a result of a deeper conviction by the members of the committee to produce a package of documents that effectively and completely meet the needs of the industry.”

Seen through this lens, the effort behind the development of the other successful standards described in this issue takes on new meaning. Each standard or set of standards described here has a history of necessity, cooperation, and relevance — the need expressed by industry for the document, cooperation in its development, and widespread use in the marketplace. It’s this kind of mindful commitment to quality at standards developing organizations around the world that makes the construction scene out of ASTM’s office windows efficient, cost-effective and safe.

Maryann Gorman
Editor in Chief

Copyright 2003, ASTM