Home Innovation Insights

Thomas Kenney, PE
January 24, 2013

Under the Hood: ANSI Standards Development Process

With this month’s approval of the 2012 National Green Building Standard (NGBS) by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Home Innovation Labs’s role as Secretariat in that development process, I wanted to provide a glimpse into the practice of “due process” – a hallmark of a formal consensus process used by ANSI. The essential requirements for due process are:

  • openness
  • lack of dominance
  • balance
  • coordination and harmonization
  • notification of standards development
  • consideration of views and objections
  • consensus vote
  • appeals 

ANSI accredits institutions and their standards development procedures (see ours) to be in compliance with this practice of due process, and verifies compliance through periodic audits. ANSI uses a formal review panel that is comprised of independent, third parties to accredit standards as being developed in conformance with their due process. ANSI-approved standards earn the designation of an American National Standard (ANS).

Due Process in Action

On January 10, 2013, ANSI approved the ICC 700-2012 National Green Building Standard after an intense two-year development process. The Home Innovation Research Labs is the secretariat for the NGBS under our accreditation with ANSI. The 41-member NGBS Consensus Committee authored the 2012 edition through due process by considering requests from public comments and NGBS working groups. The public record of the NGBS update process documents more than 800 requests that were considered and responded to by the Consensus Committee.

Not only was due process applied universally throughout the NGBS development process, but if we dive a bit deeper we can see how it was applied and showed its value in specific situations that arose during the process. In one example, a Consensus Committee recommendation on the topic of green point numeric values for skylights was disapproved by Consensus Committee ballot. Having achieved consensus in the recommendation process and then loosing consensus through balloting, the skylight item was sent back to its Working Group to develop a resolution that took all of the objections into consideration. The resultant revised green practice was then balloted again and also underwent a period of public comment and review. Ultimately the revised green practice for skylights achieved consensus. This required step of checks and balances helped avert some unintended consequences that would have been detrimental to the overall balance of the NGBS.

The due process principle is effective owing to the many check points along a standard’s development path. However, the most direct and effective method to influence a standard is by being engaged on the front end of the process by submitting formal comments and recommendations. Testifying at public hearings on those proposed changes also bolsters the likelihood of success for a proponent. Entering late in the development process is an uphill, but not insurmountable, battle as demonstrated by the previous example.

More questions about the standards development process or the Home Innovation’s experience in that arena? Interested in having a standard developed relative to your niche in the home building industry? I’d love to hear from you.

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