The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers recently hosted a meeting to help the Iraq Ministry of Construction and Housing.

WASHINGTON - The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers is particpating in the rebuilding of Iraq by providing engineers with current technical information and standards.

ASHRAE recently hosted a meeting between four senior officials with 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 purpose of the meeting was to educate about American standards and for the participating organizations to learn how they might assist the ministry 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 electrical and plumbing standards," said Larry Spielvogel, chair of ASHRAE's Presidential Ad Hoc Committee on Homeland Security. "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."

Most of the participating organizations offered to provide access to their publications and information, and to invite Iraqi involvement 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," said Spielvogel.