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So You Think City Council is Slow

One of the things I do in my spare time is participate in writing standards through ASTM, where I chair two task groups in the Performance of Buildings Committee E06. One task group is in charge of standards for vapor retarders installed under concrete slabs on grade, and the other deals with water resistive barriers, more commonly known by terms such as “building paper” and “house wrap.” Last week, I attended the biannual meeting in Atlanta.




ASTM is more political than the Richmond City Council. It is a consensus organization, meaning it is very difficult to adopt a standard as long as there is any objection. Sometimes, this results in the lowest common denominator, but more often than not results in durable and highly peer reviewed documents.


Many ASTM standards find their way into government specifications and specifications for (in the case of E06) construction specifications and building codes. Almost everything you buy has an ASTM standard.




My Task Group E06.55.07 started working on a specification for Water Resistive Barriers in 1997. Because it is a very controversial subject with many competing commercial interests, we finally adopted a document (click to take a look), Standard Specification for Vapor Permeable Flexible Sheet Water-Resistive Barriers Intended for Mechanical Attachment, twelve years later in September of 2009.


That makes the City Council look like it’s on speed.