APEC Conference emphasizes cooperation on standards.March 9, 2011 -
Minimizing barriers to trade for green building products, materials, and services in the Asia Pacific Region though cooperation on standards and conformity assessment took significant steps forward at the Green Buildings and Green Growth, which focused on the enabling role of standards and trade. Key topics of conference included discussion of APEC survey of its members' policies on green buildings and both voluntary and mandatory requirements for market entry.
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference on Green Buildings and Green Growth Emphasizes Cooperation on Standards to Reduce Trade Barriers
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Press release date: March 8, 2011
Washington, D.C., - Minimizing barriers to trade for green building products, materials and services in the Asia Pacific Region though cooperation on standards and conformity assessment took significant steps forward at the March 3-4 Conference on Green Buildings and Green Growth, which focused on the enabling role of standards and trade.
The U.S. government partnered with ASTM International and approximately 20 other trade associations, standards development organizations and conformity assessment bodies to plan and host the conference, which attracted 150 participants from all of the 21 APEC member economies. The two-day conference was one event in a series leading up to the first APEC Senior Officials Meetings in 2011 hosted in Washington, D.C. The conference featured keynote addresses by Ronald Sims, undersecretary for housing and urban development, and Frank O'Brien-Bernini, vice president chief sustainability officer of Owens Corning.
The building products sector is one of the highest performing manufacturing export sectors for the United States, with exports of $30 billion (2009), supporting an estimated 153,000 jobs. Key topics of the conference included a discussion of a recently completed APEC survey of its members' policies on green buildings and both voluntary and mandatory requirements for market entry. Businesses discussed their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges of trading green building products in the Asia Pacific market.
APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, is a 21-member intergovernmental forum that works through private sector input to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers across the Asia-Pacific region. APEC represents 60% of global production, 47% of world trade, and one-third of the earth's population.
Increasing economic engagement in the Asia-Pacific region reflects President Obama's priorities for the United States as the APEC host for 2011, which included strengthening regional economic integration and expanding trade, promoting green growth and advancing regulatory cooperation and convergence.
The Conference Program
Six conference sessions covered a broad range of sustainable building topics from the manufacture to the export of green products and materials. Ten economies sent speakers: Australia, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. In his opening remarks, James A. Thomas, president of ASTM International, paved the way for meaningful dialogue during the two-day program. "As in the standards development work taking place in ASTM and in the standardization system in the United States, this conference is a demonstration of the benefits and value of the public-private partnership," said Thomas. "From the development of the proposal to the delivery of this conference, the collaboration of public and private stakeholders has been a fundamental component of the effort and keystone to its success." ASTM International is a private sector standards developing organization which helped organize the workshop.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, in his remarks on the second day of the conference, said, "At Commerce, we are working closely with the U.S. Trade Representative and our counterparts in Asia to ensure the Trans-Pacific Partnership makes important headway in standards development. As always, APEC will be central to this effort, and I want to thank the several APEC economies and private sector organizations that are co-sponsoring this green growth conference."
U.S. government agencies presenting at the program were: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and the Department of Commerce.
Private sector representation included associations representing the building industry and codes and standards developing organizations such as ASTM International, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), American Wood Council, Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), International Code Council (ICC), National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), and UL Environment.
The conference was part of the project "Sustainability in Building Construction (Commercial Buildings) - Efficiency and Conservation" overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce and ASTM International to build awareness and promote participation in developing the technical requirements that will facilitate trade in the sustainable construction of commercial buildings. A further aspect of the project concerns uniformity in measuring claims regarding sustainable products and systems. Other outputs of the project include case studies and a second conference planned for later in the year.
Survey on Sustainability in Building Construction
The project began with a survey of the APEC member economies to establish a baseline of information on the regulation, standards and trade of sustainable commercial construction today. The survey was co-sponsored by AHRI, the Aluminum Association, ICC and IAPMO. In addition, support from NFRC helped to realize the event. Results of the survey were presented at the workshop and will be posted online.
Future Green Growth in the Asia-Pacific Region
The Green Buildings and Growth workshop provided a practical landscape for all stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region to be in communication. Creating an early dialogue on standards under development before governments proceed in adopting codes and regulations reduces the potential for technical barriers to trade in the green building construction arena.
Outcomes of the project on Sustainability in Building Construction will serve to encourage investment in environmental goods and services, foster good regulatory practices, and maximizes the region's economic and social well-being.
For more information on the APEC 2011, visit www.apec2011.gov.