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Standards Boost Holiday Cheer at the 2013 Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Thousands of people are expected to gather today in New York City's Rockefeller Center to watch the lighting of what may be the world's most famous Christmas tree. Millions more will watch the ceremony on TV from the comfort of their homes. And throughout the event, voluntary consensus standards will be doing their part to support this beloved annual tradition, which has taken place every year since 1933.

The tree chosen for this year's ceremony is a 76-foot-tall Norway spruce that was cut down in Connecticut after growing for an estimated 75 years. A standard developed by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), provides guidance to consumers, government bodies, and private authorities in connection with the drafting of tree risk assessment specifications, covering risk analysis and reporting, owner determination, target identification, among other topics. ANSI A300 (Part 9) - 2011, Tree Risk Assessment, is part of the ANSI A300 series of standards, which provide essential guidance on planting, pruning, root management, and other topics.

In support of safe, effective use of chain-saws in connection with trees, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has developed ISO 11681-2:2011, Machinery for forestry - Portable chain-saw safety requirements and testing - Part 2: Chain-saws for tree service. The standard provides safety requirements and verification measures for the design and construction of portable chain-saws that are no heavier than 4.3 kilograms and that are used for the pruning and dismantling of stand tree crowns by trained chain-saw operators. The standard was developed by ISO Technical Committee (TC) 23, Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry, Subcommittee (SC) 17, Manually portable forest machinery. ANSI-accredited standards developer and organizational member the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator to ISO TC 23, while the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), an ANSI-accredited standards developer and organizational member, serves as the ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG Administrator to SC 17.

Prior to the ceremony, holiday decorations are hung both on the tree itself and around the surrounding plaza, which plays host to thousands of office workers and visiting tourists each day. CSA C22.2 No. 37-M1989 (R2013), Christmas Tree and Other Decorative Lighting Outfits, covers Christmas tree lighting like what is strung on the famous tree and throughout Rockefeller Plaza, not to mention throughout North American homes. The standard was developed by CSA Group, an ANSI organizational member and accredited standards developer. Another standard, UL 588 (Ed. 18), Standard for Seasonal and Holiday Decorative Products, provides guidance for a range of other popular seasonal decorations, including motorized decorative displays, blow-molded figures, and certain lighting products. This standard was developed by ANSI member and audited designator UL (Underwriters Laboratories).

While colored lights have been a part of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony since the beginning, in recent years the switch was made to light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, which use up to 90% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. To provide information about LED technology and lighting systems, the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, had released IESNA TM-16-05, Technical Memorandum on Light Emitting Diode (LED) Sources and Systems. This technical document covers the history of the development of LEDs, and provides additional information on LED technologies, as well as relevant thermal management issues and product design.

Each year, live music is performed as part of the tree lighting ceremony; previous performers include Aretha Franklin and Mariah Carey. To ensure the musical greats can be heard, event organizers rely on powerful loudspeakers. An international standard developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), IEC 60268-5 Ed. 3.1 b:2007, Sound system equipment - Part 5: Loudspeakers, provides characteristics and other information to sound system loudspeakers, excluding loudspeakers with built-in amplifiers. IEC 60268-5 Ed. 3.1 b:2007 was developed by IEC Technical Committee (TC) 100, Audio, video and multimedia systems and equipment. The U.S.'s David Carlton Felland serves as the chair of IEC TC 100, and ANSI accredited standards developer and organizational member the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) serves as the U.S. National Committee (USNC)-approved U.S. TAG Administrator to IEC TC 100.

Whether you're watching the ceremony from down the block or in your living room, voluntary consensus standards will be at work supporting this spectacular tradition.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


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Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


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