Let’s Celebrate Construction Standards



KATHARINE E. MORGAN

Building a house or doing a big renovation project might be one of your New Year’s resolutions. If you or a friend has ever undertaken something like that in the past, you have probably seen “ASTM” and a standard designation stamped on the pipes, drywall, or other materials. 

If you’re an ASTM International member or employee overseeing or working on such a project, you may point out that stamp or label to whoever is in the room with you, and perhaps you note that groups of experts come together twice a year to maintain technical standards that industry uses for manufacturing and construction.

Those moments are a reminder that standards are always around us, whether we know it or not. And for those of us who work in the standards community, we know that decades of knowledge and consensus-building have helped create those products, which incorporate some of the highest quality standards the world has ever seen.

In fact, of the 23 ASTM International committees that are over 100 years old, more than half of them focus on creating specifications, test methods, and other standards that support infrastructure, construction, and related materials. These groups of experts continue to be some of our largest and most active committees.

Another committee will join that 100-year club in the coming years: our copper and copper alloys committee (B05). Our 2020 board chair Andy Kireta is one of the leaders of that committee.

The role that materials like copper play in society can’t be underestimated, and you can learn more about the importance of copper standards in SN's interview with Andy.

Even though materials like copper have been around for decades, they continue to evolve and improve. Due to our process, experts are able to update specifications, test methods, and other standards alongside those advancements.

Our members respond to new technologies that make production more efficient and improve the properties of the materials, and they also respond to larger societal demands such as recyclability and sustainability. (In fact, B05 launched a recycling subcommittee just last year, as discussed in the Jan/Feb SN.)

Overall, the hard work of our members in construction and infrastructure standards too often goes unnoticed.

The innovations and breakthroughs that happen in these committees may not always find their way into the public consciousness. Regardless, we should stop and recognize that their work often has very broad, global implications for the buildings and infrastructure that billions of people depend on every day. This issue of Standardization News celebrates that fact.

My family put an addition on our home several years ago, and it was exciting to see ASTM International standards in action. If you are undertaking such a project this year in your home or business, take a moment to see if a standard designation from ASTM is used in the materials that are coming out or going in. 

After all, ASTM International’s mission and our standards may not always make big news, but the standards are hard at work ensuring the performance, quality, safety, and functionality of our built environment. 

Katharine E. Morgan
President, ASTM International

Issue Month: 
January/February
Issue Year: 
2020
Industry Sectors: 
Construction