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Ekstrom Library


Standards & Specifications: A How-To Guide

Standard Producing Organizations

These organizations play essential roles in various industries by developing and maintaining standards that promote safety, efficiency, and innovation, ensuring that products, systems, and processes meet the highest quality and performance criteria:

American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) - Formed in 1914, AASHTO creates standards for transportation-related materials, design, and construction, promoting efficient and safe transportation systems in the United States.

American Concrete Institute (ACI) - Founded in 1904, ACI develops standards for concrete design, construction, and materials, ensuring durability and safety in building and infrastructure projects.

American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) - Established in 1963, AIAA produces standards for aerospace engineering, fostering innovation and safety in aviation and space exploration.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) - Established in 1918, ANSI became an essential organization for developing and coordinating voluntary consensus standards in the U.S. It helped unify standards across different industries and ensured safety and quality in engineering practices. Access for free standards that have been incorporated into the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations through the ANSI Incorporated by Reference Portal.

American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) - Established in 1899, AREMA developed engineering standards and guidelines for the railroad industry. Their publications cover everything from track design to bridge construction and maintenance.

American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) - Founded in 1898, ASTM produces standards for materials, products, systems, and services, promoting quality, safety, and reliability across diverse industries worldwide. Access UofL Subscription to ASTM Compass which includes standards, technical papers, and journal articles.

American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) - Founded in 1907, ASABE creates standards for engineering practices in agriculture, food, and biological systems, advancing sustainable technologies in these sectors. Public and Open Access is available for some standards in the ASABE Library.  

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) - Founded in 1852, the ASCE played a significant role in the development and promotion of engineering standards. The organization helped standardize engineering practices, codes, and specifications for various civil engineering projects. University Libraries has a subscription to the Journal of Structural Engineering which contains some ASCE Standards.  

American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) - Established in 1880, ASME is responsible for creating and maintaining standards related to mechanical engineering practices, including codes for pressure vessels, piping systems, and energy production equipment.

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) - Established in 1884, IEEE sets standards for electrical and electronic technologies, from communication systems and computer hardware to power generation and distribution. University Libraries has a subscription to access IEEE Xplore Digital Library which contains standards, journal articles, and conference proceedings.

International Code Council (ICC) - Founded in 1994, ICC develops and publishes building codes and standards that promote safe and sustainable construction practices worldwide, aiming to protect public health and safety in the built environment.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO) - Established in 1947, ISO is a global body that develops international standards covering almost every sector, fostering international trade, cooperation, and technological advancement.

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) - Founded in 1865, ITU is a specialized United Nations agency that sets international standards for telecommunications and information and communication technologies (ICT), promoting global interoperability and connectivity. ITU recommendations and standards under development are available free of charge in ITUSearch.

National Bureau of Standards (NBS) - now known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - Established in 1901, NIST develops and maintains a wide range of standards covering measurement, technology, and cybersecurity, supporting innovation and competitiveness in the United States. All publications are freely available in their publications database

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) - Founded in 1896, the NFPA played a crucial role in developing fire safety standards. Their codes and standards addressed fire prevention, protection, and response, ensuring safer buildings and communities. NFPA codes and standards can be accessed for free here:

National Information Standards Organization (NISO) - Formed in 1939, NISO develops and maintains standards for information and documentation practices, facilitating seamless exchange and management of knowledge and data. NISO Standards are available in the NISO Standards and Publication Catalog

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) - Established in 1970, OSHA sets and enforces workplace safety and health standards in the United States, ensuring employees' well-being across various industries. All OSHA Standards are freely available on their Standards, Resources, and Rulemaking Website.  

Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) - Founded in 1905, SAE develops standards for the automotive, aerospace, and commercial vehicle industries, ensuring safety, performance, and environmental considerations in vehicle design and manufacturing.

Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) - Established in 1969, SCTE produces standards for the cable telecommunications industry, including broadband networks, digital video, and telecommunications technology, to enhance service delivery and customer experience. Electronic SCTE standards are freely available:

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) - Founded in 1894, UL creates safety standards for products, systems, and materials, assuring consumers of their safety, sustainability, and performance.

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) - Responsible for the defense of the United States, creates military standards (MIL-STD) and specifications (MIL-SPEC) to ensure interoperability, reliability, and safety of equipment and systems used by the armed forces. ASSIST Public Website may be accessed by anyone, without any credentials, and is limited to providing Defense Standardization Program (DSP) documents that have been cleared for public release.

U.S. Department of Transportation - Standard Specifications for Construction of Roads and Bridges on Federal Highway Projects (TE180 U65, General Collection) and additional technical resources are published by the Federal Highway Administration. 

Equivalent Standards

Equivalent standards refer to different sets of technical specifications or requirements that are considered equal or interchangeable. These standards are developed independently by various national or international organizations, yet they serve the same purpose and ensure the same level of quality and performance for a particular product, process, or service.

Equivalent standards are developed and approved by national and international standardization organizations, industry-specific bodies, and committees of experts. These organizations, such as ISO, IEC, ANSI, BSI, DIN, JIS, SAE, and others, collaborate to define technical specifications and requirements for products, processes, or services. National standardization bodies create standards specific to their respective countries, while international organizations focus on global standards. Industry-specific bodies tailor standards to meet unique industry needs.


Here are three examples of equivalent standards:

ISO 9001:2015 (International Organization for Standardization) and AS9100D (Aerospace Standard): ISO 9001 is a widely recognized international standard for quality management systems applicable to various industries. It ensures that organizations consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements. AS9100D is the aerospace industry-specific standard, which incorporates the requirements of ISO 9001 along with additional criteria specifically tailored to aerospace manufacturers and suppliers.

EN 60950-1:2006 (European Standard) and IEC 60950-1:2005 (International Electrotechnical Commission Standard): EN 60950-1 and IEC 60950-1 are equivalent safety standards for information technology equipment. EN 60950-1 is the harmonized European standard, while IEC 60950-1 is the international version of the same standard. Both standards outline safety requirements for various types of IT equipment.

ASTM A36 (American Society for Testing and Materials) and JIS SS400 (Japanese Industrial Standards): ASTM A36 is a widely used standard specification for carbon structural steel in the United States. It defines the chemical composition, mechanical properties, and other requirements for this type of steel. JIS SS400 is the equivalent standard used in Japan for carbon structural steel. While the specifications might not be identical, both standards serve the same purpose and are interchangeable in many applications.


Remember that standards are updated periodically, so it's essential to check the latest revisions and ensure compliance with the most current versions. To find equivalent standards, you can visit the websites of the respective standardization organizations or access databases that provide comparison information for different standards.