The ANSI-Approval Process: A Step-By-Step Guide

Well-developed standards are critical. They can empower and strengthen users with regard to marketplace position and even the global economy. They also ensure the safety of consumers and that the environment is protected.

“Knowing what is required by standardization saves both time and money,” said Tony Lundell, senior director of standards and safety for IIAR. “Standards should ensure safety, and that may be the sole purpose of a single standard. Standards should also provide protection for people and for the environment, where applicable.”

The American National Standards Institute was created to guide the development of all kinds of standards. However, ANSI does not write standards. “They establish the rules for standards development and ensure that the standards development process is fair, open, accessible, and responsive to the needs of affected stakeholders and interested parties,” Lundell said.

IIAR is an ANSI-approved standards developer, also known as a standards development organization or SDO, and the association follows set standards development procedures to ensure a safe and efficient industrial refrigeration operating environment.

“The IIAR suite of standards is intended to be a single source for the refrigeration community so that they don’t have to wade through multiple guidelines regarding the use of natural refrigerants,” Lundell said. “Often there are multiple standards covering a single topic, and this can become confusing.”

Eric Smith, technical director at IIAR, said IIAR has been able to influence the model code bodies due to the completeness of its suite of standards and the rigorous ANSI public review process used to develop them.

“We were able to get the model code bodies to directly reference our standards rather than promulgating their own requirements for ammonia refrigeration systems,” Smith said. “That allows users to have a single reference point for their recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices (RAGAGEP) rather than performing a gap analysis every time a system is designed or modified.”

One of the things that makes IIAR an ideal candidate as a standards developer is its collaborations with allied associations worldwide, including Columbia, Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, and with the Eurammon block of European organizations, Lundell said. “In addition, IIAR has strong ties to U.S.-based refrigeration and safety organizations such as the Global Cold Chain Alliance, ASHRAE, the Industrial Refrigeration Consortium, ASTI (Ammonia Safety Training Institute) and RETA, the Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association,” he explained.


Because IIAR standards are ANSI approved, they are subject to a rigorous public review process to ensure that they represent an industry consensus. The standards process starts by recruiting stakeholders for a standards development committee. That committee is then divided into working groups that will address specific topics within the scope of the proposed standard, Lundell said.

Most standards begin with either the standards committee or the board identifying a standards project, which can be either a new standard or a revision to an existing standard, Smith said. “They file a project identification notification system with ANSI. That announces to the public IIAR is working on a standards project,” he said.

Once ANSI approves the proposal, the standards development process can begin. ANSI standards start off as a board of standards review (BSR) document. When the first draft is ready, the standards committee and the IIAR board of directors vote to publish the first public review draft, Smith said. Each standard can go through multiple public reviews. “Every public review comment must be addressed in one way or another. Every comment gets discussed. That is unlike the ISO process where only the people on the committees get to comment,” Smith said, adding that the process can sometimes take years.

“Developed responses for each comment are tracked and shared with the originating commenters to work to a resolution/agreement and eventually voted on by the IIAR standard committee voting members,” Lundell said.

Hallmarks of the ANSI process are that consensus must be reached by representatives of materially affected and interested parties and that the standards undergo a public review, Lundell said. “In addition, a consensus body must be assembled to verify the standard’s content and verify that the ANSI process was met.”

Also, the consensus body is invited to comment on the standard either before, during or after the public review, Smith said. “This is a group we solicit publicly through our website,” he said. “It has been a steady group of people over the last couple of years.” At this time, IIAR has three consensus bodies and will be developing a fourth consensus body soon. The consensus body rosters can be viewed on the IIAR website.

Lundell said comments must be answered in good faith and an appeal process is required. “The consensus body is responsible not only for verifying a standard’s content as mentioned, but also for verifying that all elements of the ANSI essential requirements have been met,” he said. “The ANSI essential requirements include openness, balance, lack of dominance among stakeholder groups, consensus and due process.”

Ultimately, the consensus body has to vote on whether to approve the standard and the standards committee has to vote for publication. “The board, standards committee and the consensus body are balanced,” Smith said. Smith said anybody who is an IIAR member can join the committee or be corresponding members to get involved and then become voting members.


There are different ways to maintain standards, Smith said. “IIAR chose five-year periodic maintenance,” he explained.

IIAR has also updated several standards. IIAR 4 and 8 have been recently updated, Smith said. An update on IIAR 2 will be released in the next quarter. “IIAR 9 was published last year, and IIAR 5, 6 and 7 was published the year before,” he said.

“IIAR 1 and IIAR 3 are now open for their five-year periodic maintenance review, and two other new standards are in development for CO2 (carbon dioxide) and HC (Hydrocarbon) natural refrigerants,” Lundell said.


IIAR is audited by ANSI every five years. “We have to prove that we’ve handled negative comments in an appropriate way,” Smith said. “They audit IIAR against ANSI procedures. It is every bit as intensive as an annual financial audit.” “The ANSI audit includes project tracking for each standard shows each step taken when a standard is being developed,” Lundell said.