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METRIC GUIDE FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION

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METRIC GUIDE. FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION. FIRST EDITION. THE CONSTRUCTION SUBCOMMITTEE. OF THE METRICATION OPERATING COMMITTEE. OF THE. INTERAGENCY ON ...

    METRIC GUIDE

    FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION

    First Edition

    The Construction Subcommittee of the Metrication Operating Committee

    of the

    Interagency on Metric Policy

    Published by the

    NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF BUILDING SCIENCES

    1201 L Street N.W.

    Washington, D.C. 20005

    Call 202-289-7800 for ordering information.

    Copyright ? 1991, 1992, 1993, National Institute of Building Sciences.

    First printing, December 1991

    Second printing, March 1992

    Third printing, August 1992

    Fourth printing, April 1993

    METRIC GUIDE

    FOR FEDERAL CONSTRUCTION

    First Edition

    The Construction Subcommittee of the Metrication Operating Committee

    of the

    Interagency Council on Metric Policy

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    The Construction Subcommittee of the Interagency Council on Metric Policy's Metrication Operating Committee has prepared this guide to aid the federal agencies in implementing the metric system of measurement in the federal construction process.

    I would like to express my appreciation to Arnold Prima of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, who first voiced a need for the guide and initiated its development; to William Brenner of the National Institute of Building Sciences, who wrote it; to Claret Heider, its editor; and to reviewers William Aird of the State Department, Valerie Antoine and Louis Sokol of the U.S. Metric Association, Bruce Barrow of the Defense Information Systems Agency, Maria Grazi Bruschi of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Ronald Clevenger of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Amitabha Datta of the General Services Administration, Troy Estes of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Luther Flouton of the Public Health Service, James Gross of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Leslie Hegyi, Stan Jakuba of S.I. Jakub Associates, H. Leslie Simmons, Lee Schmidt of the U.S. Air Force, Clark Tufts and Gerald Underwood of the American National Metric Council, and Anthony Welch of the Federal Highway Administration.

    I also would like to thank the many, many people who have given their time and energies over the years to developing the metric information on which the guide is based.

    Finally, I would like to thank the Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration, which provided the majority of funding for the guide's preparation.

Thomas R. Rutherford, PE

    Chairman, Construction Subcommittee

     CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION TO METRIC

     Metric is the Law ........................................................................

     Why Metric? ..............................................................................

     Metric in Construction ...................................................................

METRIC USAGE

     Basic Metric .............................................................................

     Length, Area, and Volume .................................................................

     Civil and Structural Engineering .........................................................

     Mechanical Engineering ...................................................................

     Electrical Engineering ...................................................................

     Construction Trades ......................................................................

METRIC DOCUMENTS

     Drawings .................................................................................

     Specifications and Publications ..........................................................

    MANAGEMENT AND TRAINING .....................................................................

    METRIC REFERENCES ...........................................................................

     METRIC IS THE LAW

     The Metric Conversion Act

The Metric Conversion Act of 1975, as amended by the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act

    , establishes the modern metric system (System International or SI) as the preferred of 1988

    system of measurement in the United States. It requires that, to the extent feasible, the metric system be used in all federal procurement, grants, and business-related activities by September 30, 1992.

     The Executive Order on Metric Usage

Executive Order 12770 (July 25, 1991), Metric Usage in Federal Government Programs, mandates

    that each federal agency:

     Make a transition to the use of metric units in government publications as they are -

    revised on normal schedules or as new publications are developed.

    - Work with other governmental, trade, professional, and private sector metric organizations on metric implementation.

    - Formulate, approve, and implement a Metric Transition Plan by November 30, 1991, and provide it to the Secretary of Commerce.

The Metric Transition Plan is required to include:

    The scope of the metric transition task and firm dates for all metric accomplishment milestones for 1991 and 1992,

    Initiatives to enhance cooperation with industry as it voluntarily converts to the metric system, and

    A schedule of activities to increase the understanding of the metric system through educational information and in publications.

    - Designate a Metric Executive who is responsible for carrying out the Metric Transition Plan and preparing annual agency progress reports.

     The Interagency Council on Metric Policy

To coordinate implementation of the Metric Conversion Act among the federal agencies, the

    Interagency Council on Metric Policy (ICMP) has been established under the Department of Commerce. The ICMP's working arm is the Metrication Operating Committee, which has 10 subcommittees, including one on construction.

     The Construction Subcommittee

    The task of the Construction Subcommittee is to facilitate the metrication of all federal construction, a $40 billion annual expenditure. During the summer of 1991, the Construction Subcommittee established a goal of instituting the use of metric in the design of all new

    . federal facilities by January 1994

To meet the requirements of the Metric Conversion Act and Executive Order 12770 and to help

    achieve this goal, the Construction Subcommittee has prepared this guide.

     WHY METRIC?

     Metric Is the International Standard

    Developed at the time of the French Revolution, the metric system rapidly spread throughout Europe during the Napoleonic wars. It was promoted in the United States first by Thomas Jefferson and later by John Quincy Adams, but the federal government took no formal action on metric until 1866 when its use as a measurement system was legalized. In 1893, all standard U.S. measures were defined in terms of metric units. In 1902, Congressional legislation requiring the federal government to use metric exclusively was defeated by a single vote. Today, the United States is the last industrialized country to commit to metric.

    The modern metric system was established by international agreement in 1960. It now is the standard international language of measurement and the system mandated by the Metric

     for use in the United States. Conversion Act

     Metric Is Coherent

    The modern metric system is coherent in that only one unit is used for each physical quantity and there are no conversion factors or constants to remember. The meter (and its decimal multiples), for example, is the single metric measure for length while its inch-pound system equivalents include the mil, the inch, the foot, the yard, the fathom, the rod, the chain, the furlong, and the mile, among others.

    Metric's coherency, its simple base units, and its use of decimal arithmetic make it an especially logical and useful measurement system.

     METRIC IN CONSTRUCTION

     The Experience of Other Countries

    There has been much speculation about the difficulty of converting to metric in the U.S. construction industry. The experience of the British, Australians, South Africans, and Canadians -- all of whom converted from the inch-pound system to metric in the past 20 years -- indicates otherwise:

    - Metric conversion proved much less difficult than anticipated since most work is built in place.

    - There was no appreciable increase in either design or construction costs, and conversion costs for most construction industry sectors were minimal or offset by later savings.

    - The architecture/engineering community liked metric dimensioning since it was less prone to error and easier to use than feet and inches and since engineering calculations were faster and more accurate because there were no unit conversions and no fractions.

    - Metric offered a one-time chance to reduce the many product sizes and shapes that have accumulated over the years but are no longer useful, thus saving production, inventory, and procurement costs.

    - Architecture/engineering firms in these countries found that it took a week or less for staff members to learn to think and produce in metric, and most tradespeople took only a few hours to adapt.

     Recent Developments in the United States

    Several developments should make metric conversion in the United States construction industry easier:

    - The use of computer-aided design and drafting systems continues to increase and almost all engineering and cost calculations now are performed on computers. Virtually all HVAC system controls are digitized. Computer-controlled manufacturing operations are now common. In each of these areas, the use of metric is greatly simplified.

    - The codes and construction standards of two of the country's three model building code organizations (BOCA and SBCCI) and of NFPA and ASTM contain dual units (both inch-pound and metric) where measurements are specified. Many other standards-writing organizations have added metric measurements to their documents or are preparing to do so.

    - The preliminary results of several recent General Services Administration metric pilot projects in the Philadelphia area indicate no increase in design or construction costs.

    - American design and construction firms use metric routinely in foreign work with no reported problems.

    - The costs of metric conversion in other U.S. industries have been far lower than expected, and the benefits greater. Total conversion costs were less than 1 percent of original esti-mates at General Motors, which now is fully metric. Rationalization of fastener sizes at IBM during metric conversion reduced fastener part numbers from 38,000 to 4,000. The liquor industry reduced its container sizes from 53 to 7 after converting to metric.

    Thus, Americans are increasingly exposed to metric in daily life and now take for granted many metric products. Without fanfare, the United States is moving toward a metric society.

     International Competitiveness

    For those sectors of the U.S. construction industry that export goods or services, metrication is vital:

    - In 1990, U.S. non-lumber construction product exports totaled about $2.8 billion and imports totaled about $4.2 billion.

- Foreign billings for American architecture/engineering/ *contracting firms amounted to $3.2 billion in 1989 with about a third of this from Europe.

    - The European Community, now the world's largest market, has specified that products with nonmetric labels will not be permitted for sale after 1992.

    - The largest U.S. trading partners, Canada and Mexico, are now predominately metric countries.

    - During the ongoing U.S.-Japanese Structural Impediments Initiative negotiations, the Japanese have identified nonmetric U.S. products as a specific barrier to the importation of U.S. goods.

    Given this situation, some American manufacturers, such as Otis Elevator, are switching to metric to increase their international competitiveness and reduce their parts inventories. Others, such as the wood industry, have shipped exports in metric for many years.

    Clearly, it is in the American construction industry's long-term interest to "go metric."

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