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  July 7, 2010
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SFA Efforts Lead To New ASTM Standard Sub-Committee Focused on Formosan Termites

It is a known fact that termites cause millions of dollars worth of damage annually to properties and homes in North America. For the past several years, SFA has been engaged with various codes and standards organizations to gain recognition for the termite resistant properties of steel framing.  These efforts are beginning to pay off with the formation of a subcommittee within ASTM to develop a standard to resist Formosan Termites.

TermitesThe mitigation costs related to Formosan termites are a multi-billion dollar business in the United States with at least 14 states showing signs of infestation and damage.  Unlike native subterranean termites, the Formosan termite has been extremely difficult to eradicate, challenging the durability and sustainability of structures. 

In Hawaii the problem was so severe, that the building code was modified to require any wood in a structure to be treated.  The market responded by adopting alternative and less costly framing materials, including a significant shift to steel framing in home construction in the state of Hawaii.

In mid-2009, with the aim to standardize practices and provide guidance for builders and framers, SFA petitioned the ASTM committee E 60 on sustainability to develop a standard to address Formosan termites.  After months of negotiations and presentations to various ASTM decision-makers, the process is finally moving forward.

During the ASTM meetings held in St. Louis this past spring, the E60.01 subcommittee approved the acceptance of a new work item to develop an ASTM standard practice for protection from Formosan Termites.  Known as WK29376, the goal is to provide a roadmap for areas to employ in protecting buildings and stopping the spread of this problem. 

A standard from ASTM has many benefits. This includes -

  • Offering guidance for designers
  • It can be used in bid specifications
  • And it can be adopted as a reference standard in building codes

According to Mark Nowak, president of SFA, “An ASTM standard will complement the code language that SFA has successfully integrated into the International Residential Code. These codes recognize cold formed steel as a termite resistant material in areas infested by native subterranean termites.  Formation of the ASTM sub-committee is a vital step forward and we will continue to work closely with them to develop this new standard which will help our effort in supporting the widespread adoption of steel framing especially in areas prone to Formosan termites.”

As of this writing, a collaboration site has been established on the ASTM web site for interested parties to lend their expertise in the standards development process.  Maribeth Rizzuto of SFA is serving as the chairperson of this task group.  For more information or to be involved in this process, please contact Maribeth at mrizzuto@steelframing.org or Steve Mawn of ASTM at smawn@astm.org

Editor, Framework Online

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Brought to you by the Steel Framing Alliance (SFA) on the first Wednesday of each month, February through December. Framework Online arms you with important news and commentary on the cold-formed steel (CFS) framing and construction industries.