A standard can mean different things to different people. However, in general terms a standard can be defined as a (technical) document that contains precise criteria that can be used as guidelines to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose. (Wettig, J. (2002), 'New developments in standardisation in the past 15 years - product versus process related standards', Safety Science, Vol. 40, Issues 1-4, February - June, 51-56)
The process of developing standards is called standardisation and this may be through either a formal (for example the BSI) or informal (for example an industry consortium) body.
One example of an established standard that is particularly relevant to the outdoor environment is BS3969: 1998 'Recommendations for Turf for general purposes'. This superseded earlier ones for turf dating back to 1965.
Another example, but this time of an International standard, is ISO 9000 which is a series of quality assurance standards which provide for a consistent approach to quality.
This standard has been shown to improve documentation and consequent knowledge of operational functions because of the work put into writing appropriate documentation. In addition, cost reductions and improved customer satisfaction are other benefits that can accrue from the introduction of this quality assurance standard.(Ragothaman, S. & Korte, L., (1999), 'The ISO International Quality Registration: An Empirical Analysis of Implications for Business Firms', International Journal of Applied Quality Management, Vol.2, No.1, 59-73)
However, there is a fundamental problem with ISO 9000 in that it does not define the quality of the product, it is a process standard that focuses on describing what elements quality systems should encompass. (BS EN ISO 9000-1: 1994, 'Quality management and quality assurance standards - Part 1: Guidelines for selection and use', British Standards Institution, 3)
Standards will often be a component of an overall quality system. For example, organisations may implement the ISO 9000 series for quality assurance purposes and the product quality can be defined by the use of Performance Quality Standards, which within themselves contain a number of British Standards as methods of test for measuring defined parameters.
Within the context of the PQS framework, a performance standard is a criterion, or function, of a product that has a defined parameter of measurement and is measured using a stated method of test.