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5.3 Appendix C: Reference Specifications

Notes on Reference Standards

Specifications often use reference standards. In doing so they rely on work undertaken by other agencies to test materials, design and installation practices. The advantage for the designer and specification writer is that they “inherit” the knowledge developed by other agencies for use in the specification. This should be done with caution however.

There are few good reasons for this caution:

  1. Specification writers should ensure that the standards they reference are consistent with their objectives for the project and with the elements of the design and specifications.
  2. Specification writers should not place an unnecessary burden on the bidding contractors by using multiple reference standards that are either redundant, or inconsistent; this will add costs for the contractor. Specifiers should read the contents of standards to make sure that they are consistent with their objectives for the specifications.
  3. Specifications should try to use the most commonly used standards. Listing obscure reference standards may actually drive up the cost of the project without adding any significant benefits.

The use of reference standards in specifications has always been slightly problematic because the agencies that publish these standards do not necessarily coordinate their efforts. This leads to problems of overlap and redundancy.

At the time of writing, it is understood that the Thermal Insulation Association of Canada is working on a research project on this issue.

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