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 March 2007
Global Notebook

NAHB and ICC to Collaborate on New American National Standard for Residential Green Building

The National Association of Home Builders and the International Code Council are collaborating to develop a new American National Standard for residential green building based on the NAHB Model Green Home Building Guidelines (2004). With this effort, NAHB is responding to the calls from its members to offer a national reference for green homebuilding. ICC has promoted green building requirements through its family of International Codes and also recognized the need for a national set of standards for home builders and others wishing to voluntarily adopt “above-code” practices. The new standard is intended to provide a common benchmark for recognizing and rewarding green residential design, development, and construction practices in a manner that is transparent, verifiable, and meaningful to builders, product manufacturers, and consumers. The NAHB Research Center will serve as secretariat of the standards development committee. The initial meeting of the committee is tentatively scheduled to take place in late April. The entire process is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

U.S. Stakeholders Prioritize Standards-Related Policy Activities in China

The American National Standards Institute has issued a summary report of its recent survey on key U.S. policy priorities related to standards, conformity assessment and technical regulations in China. Launched under the auspices of the ANSI China Program, the outreach evaluated U.S. stakeholder concerns vis-à-vis several overarching policy issues. Issues related to China’s burdensome certification and testing requirements, followed by its lack of transparency and difficulty obtaining data about new or proposed standards and technical regulations topped the list of U.S. stakeholder concerns. Unease regarding converging intellectual property and standardization policies and interest in increasing Chinese engagement in global standardization activities rounded out the list of topics needing attention in the coming year. The results of the survey will help to shape ANSI activities and initiatives in China.

U.S. Measurement System: A Report from NIST

A new report from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, “An Assessment of the United States Measurement System: Addressing Measurement Barriers to Accelerate Innovation,” details results of the agency’s first-ever assessment of the capacity of the nation’s measurement infrastructure — a large, diverse collection of private- and public-sector organizations — to sustain U.S. innovation at a world-leading pace. In all, more than 1,000 people from industry, academia and government contributed to the wide-ranging NIST assessment of the state of the nation’s measurement system and its impact on innovation. These ranged from materials to software and from building and construction to nanotechnology. Altogether, more than 700 measurement-related barriers to innovation were identified and evaluated. Examples include the need for versatile, high-accuracy methods to measure the three-dimensional geometry of manufactured products and the need for tools for measuring the properties of nanodevices and materials. “An Assessment of the United States Measurement System: Addressing Measurement Barriers to Accelerate Innovation” is available on the NIST Web site.

Aircraft Cabin Air Quality

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has announced the launch of a research study that will examine the link between aircraft cabin air quality and health. Passengers and flight crew aboard 160 flights of varying duration will be surveyed on their experience with air quality and related factors. The research gathered from this study will be used to inform future revisions of the ASHRAE standard, 161 P, Air Quality Within Commercial Aircraft, which is slated for publication later this year. The standard will define air quality requirements for commercial passenger aircraft and address methods of measuring and monitoring chemical, physical, and biological contaminants. Requirements for comfort factors, such as rate of change of cabin pressure, air temperatures, and minimum and maximum air velocities will also be included in the standard. Set to begin early this year, the study will be carried out on several international and domestic airline routes. The flights that have been determined to show the greatest level of statistical variation will then be monitored for carbon monoxide and dioxide levels, respirable particles and volatile organic compounds.

Indoor Air Pollution: More Ubiquitous than You Think

Air pollution sources are everywhere in the home, from the bacon and eggs frying in the kitchen, to the woodburning stove in the family room, the newly painted hallway, and even the carpet in the living room. To help estimate the seriousness of these and other indoor pollutant sources as well as to devise ways to reduce possible health impacts, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has developed searchable databases of relevant product emission studies. NIST researchers have also created a software tool called ContamLink that can transfer selected information from the databases into CONTAM, an indoor air quality modeling software program that predicts airflows and contaminant concentrations in multizone building systems. Together — the electronic databases, ContamLink, and the CONTAM program — should significantly accelerate understanding of indoor air pollution. The new databases allow investigators to access immediately information that previously was available in scientific literature, but required significant time to locate. The databases include emission rates for consumer products, cooking and combustion appliances (such as gas stoves); and data on contaminant transport mechanisms, including particle deposition, contaminant sorption and different ventilation systems filters. Go to the CONTAM Web site. //

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