WASHINGTON - As Iraqi engineers work to rebuild their country's roads, bridges, public buildings and houses, they are dependent upon technical information from 20 years ago.

To assist Iraq in obtaining the latest in technical information, including standards, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recently hosted a meeting between four senior officials of the Iraq Ministry of Construction and Housing and representatives of major U.S. building codes and standards developing organizations and engineering societies. The meeting was arranged by the U.S. Commerce Department.

The meeting was held to provide the ministry representatives with information about U.S. standards and for the participating organizations to learn how they might assist the ministry in addressing its objectives in constructing and rehabilitating Iraq's roads, bridges, public buildings, and houses.

"While the Iraqis' major focus was on civil engineering related standards and construction issues, they also talked about mechanical, electrical, and plumbing standards," Larry Spielvogel, who chaired the meeting, said.

"Most of the standards they use are American along with some British. Due to the political situation there and the embargo for the past 15 years, the latest information they have is from the 1980s."

Spielvogel is chair of ASHRAE's Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on Homeland Security.

Most of the participating organizations offered to provide access to their publications and information and to invite Iraqi participation in their activities, including standards development.

"As you might expect, there are still many hurdles, and the U.S. State and Commerce Departments offered their assistance in improving communications and relations," Spielvogel said.

Publication date: 11/15/2004