The ISO Committee on consumer policy (ISO/COPOLCO) organized its annual workshop on the theme, Homes for tomorrow – Building through standards, raising the question: how can standards help our homes best reflect trends and daily realities in an evolving world?

The 33rd ISO/COPOLCO workshop was held on 24 May in London, hosted by the ISO member for the United Kingdom, the British Standards Institution (BSI). It included presentations by speakers from Australia, North America and Europe representing consumer organizations and companies from the building sector.

About 130 participants from 46 countries representing consumer associations, business, industry, public authorities and national standardization bodies attended the workshop and discussed possible ways in which standards could address issues in two major areas: ”Greening our homes” and “Rebuilding after disasters”.

There is a growing demand worldwide for more sustainable consumption of goods and services. In addition, recent disasters around the world have highlighted a number of pressing consumer needs: these include viable and effective housing options for stricken populations, and designing housing to help mitigate the effects of disasters when they occur.

Mike Low, Director of Standards, BSI, warmly welcomed the participants and highlighted the 60 years of involvement of British Standards in consumer issues. He encouraged participants to exchange ideas as much as they could during the workshop and the related ISO/COPOLCO plenary on 25-26 May because the challenge is how to involve consumers in developing standards.

Mike Low, Director of Standards, BSI
(Photo: John Deehan)

Norma McCormick, Chair of ISO/COPOLCO and Chair of the workshop, thanked BSI for hosting the workshop and COPOLCO’s annual plenary meeting. In her speech, she highlighted areas such as sustainable housing, modeling for the future, rebuilding after disasters, resilient communities and social responsibility. She declared: “What comes out of this workshop by way of recommendations for further exploration by ISO/COPOLCO or action by ISO will be better if it reflects the experience and expertise that we all bring to the discussion”.

Norma McCormick, Chair of ISO/COPOLCO.
(Photo: John Deehan)

Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General, and panel moderator for the panel discussion on “Smart meters in the home: asset or liability?” raised the question: we have smart meters, but does the consumer really understand them? This is a huge challenge for industry because consumer awareness is low.

The panelists gave examples of national experience with smart meters in Europe and raising awareness on some issues. They defined smart meters and smart grids, explored consumer privacy and data protection issues and how consumers can benefit from smart meters.

Rob Steele underlined that, thanks to COPOLCO, ISO had taken new directions with topics such as services, needs of the elderly and persons with disabilities, and social responsibility. All originated from ISO/COPOLCO workshops open to participants coming from a wide variety of backgrounds where the needs are for International Standards and general policy directions are identified.

Discussion sessions on rebuilding after disasters and greening homes took place, defining issues and discussing examples of initiatives in various countries and the role of International Standards in these areas.

Discussion groups debated these issues in depth and conclusions coming out of the workshop were programmed for the ISO/COPOLCO plenary meeting on the following two days.

The plenary was also to review current consumer priorities in standardization and agree on a road map for future progress targeting the benefit of all consumers, whether in developed or developing countries, when building homes for the future.