ASTM and the BEAC

Standardization News

ASTM and the BEAC

Cicely Enright

The Built Environment Advisory Committee Constructs a New Approach


To further coordination among the numerous technical committees working on building and construction and related areas, ASTM International has organized the Built Environment Advisory Committee.

ASTM develops standards for buildings. From the floor to the ceiling and the walls to the windows, ASTM International standards are at work with ways to test loads, specify piping, classify wood, sample shingles and more.

"We don't put up a building anywhere in America - and most of the world, for that matter - without it being fundamentally rooted in standards," says Christopher Mathis, MC Squared, Asheville, N.C. Case in point: more than 550 ASTM International standards help satisfy International Code Council requirements and can be found in ASTM Standards in Building Codes.

Yet, more can be accomplished. "Will our past standards development techniques meet our future built environment and building performance needs?" asks Mathis. And, with the marketplace's heightened interest in durability and whole building performance, as well as sustainability, how should ASTM International respond?

One way ASTM is responding is with the Built Environment Advisory Committee, which began work in March 2013. BEAC serves as a focal point for new standards opportunities. It's a group of stakeholders charged with discussing the bigger picture - where standards might best address the issues and challenges of today's buildings. And it's a group that will serve as a doorway for new standards and projects related to the built environment to enter the ASTM process.


The Situation and the BEAC

Building construction today is rapidly evolving, with a greater emphasis on ensuring that the building is a better building, one that performs and one that people will want to live and work in for a long time, according to Michael Schmeida, corporate manager – stewardship, for Oatey Company, Cleveland, Ohio, and chairman of Committee E60 on Sustainability. He says, "It's important that the way standards are put together and written or complement each other is reflective of the real world."

Buildings, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, account for 41 percent of energy use in the United States; they consume more energy than transportation (31 percent) or industry (28 percent).1 In the United States, as in much of the world, fuel consumption and the demand for energy continue to grow, and fuel production puts additional demand on water supplies to produce that energy.

Along with these demands, rising concern for the environment and a need for building durability call for improved energy efficiency, water savings, better indoor environmental quality, waste reduction and more effective materials. Sustainability - being greener while making economic sense and being functional - is increasingly prevalent and significant in many arenas. Buildings are a part of this shift as seen in such initiatives as the International Green Construction Code from the International Code Council; LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the U.S. Green Building Council; Standard 189.1, Standard for the Design of High Performance, Green Buildings, Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings, from ASHRAE, USGBC and the Illuminating Engineering Society; and more.

Daniel Lemieux, principal and unit manager for Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates in Washington, D.C., and chairman of Subcommittee E06.55 on Performance of Building Enclosures, part of Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, sees a shift in the market toward integrated building performance and an associated need to address the change. "As the marketplace around us continues to move toward fully integrated whole-building performance, we need to find ways at ASTM to move past the ‘silos' of knowledge that have served us so well for so many years and look creatively at ways that we can facilitate and promote cross-pollination among and between our committees and our membership. BEAC is a way for us to begin to do that," he says.

Lemieux's subcommittee has developed, among others, a standard - E2813, Practice for Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) - that establishes quantifiable and enforceable baselines and benchmarks for building enclosure performance that are evaluated continuously throughout the project delivery process, from pre-design through design, construction, occupancy and operation. He says that BEAC is a natural extension of the effort that led to the development of E2813 and ongoing development of an ASTM BECx Personnel Certification Program. Even more important, he adds, BEAC is an opportunity for ASTM to create a "gateway" of sorts for stakeholders from across the real estate design, development, construction, insurance and legal professions to more effectively engage the expertise that exists across the entire spectrum of committees and subcommittees at ASTM.

Mathis agrees. He says that Committee E60 for him is one of the first ASTM places where professionals focused on different parts of buildings have come together. Now, through BEAC, he adds, "We are assembling diverse interests, creating an opportunity for shared conversations." BEAC can look at, for example, why some buildings are more water tolerant or mold resistant than others, and how that knowledge can be applied to all buildings.


Initial BEAC Projects

Representatives of the approximately 22 ASTM technical committees that work in the built environment comprise the BEAC membership. Some of the members' technical committees have existed for more than 100 years. Other committees, of more recent origin, target newer materials. Collectively, these groups have responsibility for hundreds of standards and have dozens more under way.

In 2013, following its initial organization, BEAC held virtual meetings and made presentations at committee weeks to raise awareness of opportunities for BEAC and to target specific endeavors where its expertise is relevant.

BEAC has identified several projects and outreach efforts for its members, highlighted by the following.



A current BEAC project focuses on providing input to the Energy Efficiency Standardization Coordination Collaborative, an initiative of the American National Standards Institute. EESCC is developing a roadmap that will identify existing and proposed standards for energy efficiency and the built environment as well as needed ones. Lemieux, who is acting on behalf of BEAC for the roadmap, says, "Functionally, what ANSI is doing is a bit of a gap analysis, about energy use in buildings and where those gaps are in terms of design and construction."

Lemieux gives an example of an energy efficiency consideration: air leakage in the building envelope, particularly in the interface between the façade and roof system. "That interface is a frequent source of failure," he says. "The need for effective detailing at that interface to ensure air and thermal barrier continuity and improved energy efficiency is not always fully understood or addressed during the design phase." A possible result of the EESCC could be a guide for interface detailing that will offer guidance in this area to the design community.


NIBS and the Performance-Based Design Guide for Buildings

BEAC currently is considering the possibility of a standard or other ASTM product based on the proposed National Performance-Based Design Guide for Buildings now under way in the National Institute of Building Sciences, which made the request. According to Lemieux, "BEAC is a great place to think about and consider" what sort of ASTM tool would best suit the needs of the marketplace. The proposed NIBS guide responds to a growing demand for performance-based goals for the design, construction and operation of buildings and will incorporate levels of performance. NIBS and ASTM International are already collaborating on a building enclosure commissioning process document through a 2012 memorandum of agreement with a goal of publishing complementary BECx guidelines.


ASHRAE 189.1

ASHRAE 189.1, a collaboration of ASHRAE, the U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society, is required by numerous municipalities and is a compliance pathway for the International Green Construction Code from the International Code Council. Standard 189.1 provides a "total building sustainability package" for professionals who design, construct and operate buildings; the standard addresses site sustainability, water use, energy use, indoor environment, and impact on the atmosphere, materials and resources.

"The interface between ASTM and ASHRAE 189.1 has been a really good one," says Schmeida, with professionals participating on both groups. That's helpful, according to Schmeida, as 189.1 is on a continual maintenance cycle, and the responsible project committee meets once a month. The liaison work involves communicating to BEAC about any changes to 189.1 and to the ASHRAE group about possibly referencing additional ASTM standards to the document. Currently, 15 ASTM International standards on such subjects as air leakage, sound transmission and solar reflectance are referenced in 189.1.


BEAC Direction

For 2014, BEAC is considering programs on topics that cut across multiple ASTM technical committees, such as weathering and durability, where committees in addition to G03 on Weathering and Durability could present and exchange information, and discuss collaboration and coordination. Another effort could be to connect ASTM subcommittees working on ceilings, roofs and walls to further new standards work and enrich current standards. BEAC will also continue to raise awareness and foster discussions about standards work needed for the built environment. As Schmeida says, "The BEAC ideally can be the glue, bringing together committees that work on standards relative to buildings and construction."

BEAC will also continue to look at its potential and its mission. As he has expressed in his BEAC presentations, Mathis asks, "Are all the right people in the room? Are all the right committees represented? Are we asking the right questions? Do we know the critical topics where greater collaboration is needed?" He answers that BEAC can connect leaders in the built environment on shared standards development activities as well as identify areas needing collaboration. "The built environment of the future will be designed and constructed on a solid foundation of standards, the ones that we will envision, develop and employ collaboratively," he says.

Lemieux and Schmeida agree that BEAC is still evolving. Its initial meetings have been focused on projects where BEAC can make an immediate impact but also on brainstorming, says Lemieux. He feels that the potential impact of the group could be seen as early as next year with the ongoing work between ASTM and the National Institute of Building Sciences. "I think the broader design and construction community will find the partnerships that form - both internally and externally - through the work of the BEAC to be refreshing," says Lemieux. "It's exciting that ASTM is nimble enough to recognize and respond to changing demands for its services and expertise and that it has the technical depth to continue to contribute meaningfully to standards development."

An upcoming BEAC web portal will include information about ASTM International committees that develop standards for building construction and the built environment as well as key documents from those committees. In addition, the resource will highlight upcoming meetings and symposia.

To learn more about BEAC, contact Stephen Mawn, ASTM International (phone: 610-832-9726).




1. U.S. Energy Information Administration, "How We Use Energy," accessed Dec. 4, 2013.


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