Standardsand Organizations

Codes cite standards developed by government agencies, trade associations, and standard-writing organizations as references. A standard may consist of a definition, recommended practice, test method, classification, or required specification.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) was formed in 1896 to develop standards for the early use of sprinklers to put out fires. The NFPA develops and publishes about 250 standards in booklet form. The Life Safety Code and the National Electric Code (NEC) are both NFPA publications that provide guidelines for fire safety. The NFPA establishes testing requirements covering everything from textiles to fire fighting equipment to the design of means of egress.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) originated in 1918 to coordinate the development of voluntary standards and approve standards developed by other organizations, with an eye to avoiding duplications and establishing priorities. The standards developed by ANSI were the first to focus on achieving independence for people with disabilities by focusing on accessible features in building design, and provided a basis for the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) dates to 1898, and its standards are used to specify materials and assure quality. The ASTM methods integrate production processes, promote trade, and enhance safety. While ASTM's 69 volumes of standards include all types of products, a separate two-volume set of about 600 standards covers the building construction industry.

In 1959, the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) was formed to sponsor research projects and to develop performance level standards for heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) and refrigeration systems. Mechanical engineers and refrigeration specialists and installers use ASHRAE standards. As an interior designer, you will typically not need to refer to ASHRAE standards. However, Provision 90A: Energy Conservation in New Building Design, is the basis of most building code energy provisions in the United States, and will affect the total amount of energy use permitted for lighting, heating, and cooling, and other functions in the projects you design.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) is a testing agency that tests products, systems, and materials, and determines their relationship to life, fire, casualty hazards, and crime prevention. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. lists all the products it tests and approves in product directories. You will find UL tags on many household appliances, as well as on lighting and other electrical fixtures. Interior designers will find the Building Materials, Fire Protection Equipment, and Fire Resistance directories the most useful. Codes will require UL testing and approval for certain products, and you should specify tested products when they are required.

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