W. CONSHOHOCKEN, PA. — A proposed new ASTM International standard may foster greater use of agricultural raw materials (ARMs). ARMs are a source of ligno-cellulosic fibers, which are similar to wood fibers and particles. ARMs are set to become an important source of fibers for the construction industry. The proposed new standard, ASTM WK30419, Guide for the Use of Agricultural Fiber in Construction, is being developed by Subcommittee E60.01 on Buildings and Construction, part of ASTM International Committee E60 on Sustainability.

According to Dmitry Ozeryansky, a structural engineer contracting with the Ecological Building Network, and an E60 member, interest in agricultural raw materials is growing within the construction realm because of the move toward sustainable materials.

“Enormous quantities of these ARM fibers are residues of food production and are often burned or landfilled because of a lack of demand for their use,” Ozeryansky said. “ARMs are rapidly renewable resources that can positively impact the sustainability attributes of a product.”

ASTM WK30419 will be useful in the following ways:

  • companies that want to bring agricultural fiber products to market will have a way of documenting performance and reliability;
  • alternative building industries will use the proposed standard, once it has been approved, to improve quality and distribution; and
  • regulators will be able to use it to help with approvals and safety of alternative materials.

In 2011, the Biobased Product Labeling Program will be implemented for consumer products; it will display the certified percentage of farm-based materials (ARM and “farm-based materials” are synonymous). This program was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to a mandate in the 2008 Farm Bill to create new markets for commodity crops and agricultural waste. ASTM International has been selected to provide certification for the U.S. Department of Agriculture biobased labeling program.

Ozeryansky said that all interested parties, particularly those involved with technologies related to agricultural raw materials, are welcome to join in the ongoing development of ASTM WK30419. For information on becoming an ASTM member, visit www.astm.org/join.