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New Facility Opens as Part of 65-Year-Old Partnership to Improve Quality of Construction Materials

Government and construction industry officials today dedicated a new facility at the National Institute of Standards and Technology to help improve the quality of construction materials testing.

The new facility is part of the Construction Materials Reference Laboratories, sponsored jointly by NIST, the American Society for Testing and Materials, and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. It was constructed to keep up with the growing demand for samples of building materials, such as concrete, cement, soil and asphalt. The CMRL supplies the samples to construction materials testing laboratories to help evaluate testing equipment and procedures.

Currently, NIST distributes over 8,000 samples annually to more than 1,000 laboratories in the United States, Canada, Mexico and 14 other countries. The CMRL also provides an on-site inspection program to construction materials testing laboratories for evaluating test equipment and procedures.

"Quality of construction materials is vital to the well- being of both people and the economy," says James Pielert, manager of the CMRL. "Inadequate testing can lead to good materials being rejected, poor materials being accepted, construction delays and even structural failures. Reliable measurements can help assure that building materials are up to standards and can help reduce the costs associated with poor quality materials."

NIST and ASTM initially established the Cement and Concrete Reference Laboratory in 1929 to help cement-testing laboratories improve and standardize both their equipment and methods. Over the years, the CCRL program has expanded to include laboratories that test other building materials. In 1965, AASHTO established the AASHTO Materials Reference Laboratory and joined ASTM as a co-sponsor of the CMRL program. Fees from laboratories participating in the CCRL and AMRL programs were used to provide funding for the new facility.

"It's been a great relationship," says Pielert. "Everybody benefits. Through reliable testing, both users and manufacturers of building materials have greater assurance that a product meets certain standards. Also, standards developers, such as ASTM and AASHTO, get feedback from industry and lots of data to help them evaluate their test methods."

For information on the new facility or the CMRL, contact Pielert at (301) 975-6704.

A non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department's Technology Administration, NIST promotes economic growth by working with industry to develop and apply technology, measurement and standards.

Released May 18, 1994, Updated November 27, 2017