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Building and Fire Research Laboratory



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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 7 Building and Fire Research Laboratory

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 PANEL MEMBERS Janet S. Baum, Health, Education & Research Associates, Inc., Chair Robert A. Altenkirch, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Vice Chair Craig L. Beyler, Hughes Associates, Inc. Donald B. Bivens, DuPont Fluorochemicals Randy R. Bruegman, Clackamas County Fire District #1, Oregon Tsu-Wei Chou, University of Delaware Joseph P. Colaco, CBM Engineers, Inc. Martin Fischer, Stanford University Eric R. Hansen, Eric Hansen Group Kristin H. Heinemeier, Brooks Energy and Sustainability Laboratory Robert J. Hitchcock, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Susan D. Landry, Albemarle Corporation Elaine S. Oran, Naval Research Laboratory Richard E. Schuler, Cornell University Jim W. Sealy, Architect/Building Code Consultant, Dallas, Texas Frieder Seible, University of California, San Diego Michael Winter, United Technologies Research Center Elaine M. Yorkgitis, Automotive Division/3M Submitted for the panel by its Chair, Janet S. Baum, and its Vice Chair, Robert A. Altenkirch, this assessment of the fiscal year 2002 activities of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory is based on site visits by individual panel members, a formal meeting of the panel on February 28-March 1, 2002, in Gaithersburg, Md., and materials provided by the laboratory.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 LABORATORY-LEVEL REVIEW Technical Merit The mission of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) is to meet the measurement and standards needs of the building and fire safety communities. Strategic Planning As recommended by the panel in the 2001 assessment report, BFRL has started work on a strategic plan, which was in an early stage when the panel visited the laboratory in February 2002. The panel is supportive of this effort, which should lead to a coherent, long-term strategy for the laboratory.1 Such a strategy will assist the laboratory in seizing the opportunities and meeting the challenges related to BFRL’s role in the area of homeland security, as discussed below. The next steps for the laboratory in developing a strategic plan are as outlined in the panel’s previous report. BFRL management should seek assistance and input from a variety of sources, including professional outside facilitators with experience in the process. It should solicit technical input from current and potential customers to help determine their priorities and what types of results are most likely to be implemented by industry. Finally, BFRL should tap the expertise of its junior and senior technical staff; they are familiar with cutting-edge technologies and are attuned to the activities of the external communities and the reactions of these communities to NIST efforts. As of February 2002, the NIST-level strategic plan is scheduled to be completed in June 2002; the panel notes that BFRL’s plan to coordinate the NIST-level vision and goals with the laboratory-level plan is appropriate. As BFRL moves forward, the panel offers several comments on strategic planning. First is the value of a sharp, clearly defined vision for the future of BFRL; this vision would not be a description of the current activities of the laboratory or a statement reflecting the laboratory’s reaction to past events. Second is the need for the plan to be developed from two perspectives: the top-down vision and goals that are the ultimate responsibility of management and the bottom-up goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics that make up the implementation element of the plan and must reflect the input and support of divisional management and staff. Third is the importance of quantitative metrics, both short- and long-term. Such metrics have two primary benefits: they support an environment of accountability and they, if relevant to the laboratory’s customers, can be used to demonstrate the value, impact, and progress of BFRL’s activities. Fourth is the need to define a unique niche for BFRL. The panel observes that many, although not all, of the laboratory’s programs already clearly recognize and take advantage of BFRL’s singular attributes, such as its role as an unbiased evaluator of technologies and developer of tests. Fifth, and perhaps most important, is the need to engage the laboratory staff in the strategic planning process and to obtain their agreement on and buy-in to the vision, goals, objectives, strategies, and tactics that BFRL intends to embrace going forward. 1   “The key benefits would be having a coherent and stable definition of goals and programs through which the laboratory could effectively establish an organizational culture internally and present a consistent face externally. The plan, and the process of determining the plan, could also help resolve internal uncertainties about the laboratory’s future and the direction of individual projects and programs.” National Research Council, An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories, Fiscal Year 2001, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., September 2001, p. 195.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 Homeland Security As the federal government responds to the national tragedy of September 11 and moves forward with nationwide efforts to protect the United States, BFRL has an important and unique role. The panel heard about a wide array of planned laboratory activities in support of homeland security. Some work is already under way, or even completed, such as a code comparison study for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a study of Pentagon repair and rebuilding plans, modeling and simulation of the ventilation system of the Hart Senate Office Building, and simulations of the fires in the World Trade Center. Most of the work, however, is still to be done. The laboratory’s plans through FY 2005 and beyond fall into three categories. The first is the national building and fire safety investigation of the events at the World Trade Center. The second category encompasses three programs: structural fire protection; human behavior, emergency response, and mobility; and building vulnerability reduction. All three programs are expected to include research, testing and verification, demonstrations, development of improved tools, guidelines for industry, and finally revisions to standards and codes. (In the upcoming “Program Relevance and Effectiveness” section, the panel discusses the importance of this last step.) The third category is an effort to develop a national forum through which industry can lead the dissemination of information about research and encourage the adoption of new practices in construction. In all of these categories, the laboratory plans to partner with a wide variety of external organizations, including federal, state, and local governments, professional societies, industry consortiums, and universities. The panel is very supportive of BFRL’s efforts in homeland security, and encourages the laboratory to take full advantage of this opportunity to make an impact in a critical area and to demonstrate the relevance and importance of the areas and expertise already existing in the laboratory. The BFRL program described briefly in the preceding paragraph is appropriate and ambitious, and BFRL must be vigilant in balancing the short-term focus of the investigation work with the long-term development of research and applications that are broadly relevant. As the laboratory moves forward in the area of homeland security, it must not lose sight of BFRL’s core mission and customers. The activities outlined above can be consistent with long-term goals and directions of the laboratory, especially if the projects are structured to build on existing expertise and work and if the benefits and dissemination of the new efforts to existing customers are carefully considered as the homeland security efforts are being defined. For example, work on the structural behavior of buildings in fires, on the dispersion of biological agents through building ventilation systems, and on the integration of building information technology systems all can build on existing laboratory expertise, are relevant to a wide range of BFRL customers, and could use the expansion from homeland security work to seed continuing programs consistent with long-term laboratory goals. BFRL has worked hard to build relationships with a broad variety of industries, federal agencies, associations, and other communities. It should not be forced by a homeland security agenda to abandon these interactions, because this existing web of connections is at the heart of the laboratory’s ability to meet the measurement and standards needs of the building and fire safety communities, as stated in its mission. An important element in the laboratory’s maintaining focus on its broad mission is its access to the expertise needed to tackle the challenges associated with the ambitious homeland security agenda. While key core technical expertise certainly exists in the laboratory, a wide range of other skills will be needed, particularly to complete the World Trade Center investigation phase of the project. The laboratory clearly stated to the panel that the plans require BFRL to tap into engineering and social science expertise outside NIST and that it expects to work with an array of government agencies, professional societies, and other organizations. The panel applauds the laboratory’s recognition of the

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 need to utilize external groups. However, it is important to recognize that an undertaking of this magnitude and diversity also requires specialized contract, personnel, and project management skills, as well as significant public relations work. NIST should not dilute the scientific efforts that BFRL is uniquely qualified to carry out by burdening technical staff with large-scale project or contract management tasks. Laboratory and division management also should be allowed to maintain their focus on BFRL’s core activities and on how the homeland security efforts link with long-term laboratory goals. Therefore, the laboratory needs to develop a workforce management plan outlining all of the people and skills that will be needed, indicating how NIST will access those people and skills, and identifying how the people and the projects will be managed. Technical Highlights The Building and Fire Research Laboratory is organized in four divisions: Structures, Building Materials, Building Environment, and Fire Research (see Figure 7.1). Each of these divisions is responsible for one of BFRL’s four main technical thrusts: Advanced Construction Technology, High-Performance Construction Materials, Enhanced Building Performance, and Fire Loss Reduction. Technical work is also under way in the laboratory office on a variety of activities, mainly in the Office of Applied Economics (OAE). These units and activities are discussed in detail in the divisional reports in the remainder of this chapter. FIGURE 7.1 Organizational structure of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory. Listed under each division are the division’s groups.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 The panel continues to be impressed by the high quality of scientific and technical work produced in BFRL. Many projects exemplify the ways in which laboratory staff utilize the expertise, instrumentation, and simulation and modeling tools that are often unique to BFRL to take advantage of NIST’s singular role as an unbiased voice focused on measurement and testing to improve the quality of building technologies and materials. In the technology areas, often NIST’s role is that of developing metrics for performance or standards that will allow interoperability. In the Structures Division, the panel was impressed by the work on metrics for nondestructive evaluation using infrared thermography and on metrics for construction range imaging and registration using laser detection and ranging (LADAR) systems. These activities lay the groundwork needed to help industry develop efficient, standardized technologies for tracking and monitoring components during the construction process. In the Building Environment Division, a robust program in cybernetic building systems exists. Highlights of these efforts include long-term work on the Building Automation and Control network (BACnet) and on fault detection and diagnostics, as well as new efforts in building commissioning. In these areas, staff aim, through technical work and participation on standards committees, to support the development of building systems that will interoperate seamlessly and enable more efficient operation of buildings throughout their life cycles. BFRL enables industry’s efficient investigation of new and better materials in several ways. In the Fire Research Division, staff have developed a system to allow polymers to be extruded so as to produce a sample with a continuous gradient in composition. This sample allows researchers to determine flame spread continuously as a function of composition and flux level. In the Building Materials Division, the staff’s world-class expertise in the computational materials science of concrete has resulted in the development of the Virtual Cement and Concrete Testing Laboratory (VCCTL), which is available on the Internet. This program helps concrete manufacturers eliminate the formulations less likely to have the desired material characteristics and thus saves time and money for the producers by allowing them to focus physical testing activities on only the most promising formulations. Organizational Changes Organizationally, BFRL is going through a series of changes. In late 2000, the Fire Research Division was formed from the combination of two divisions. In last year’s assessment, the panel noted that the potential positive impact of this merger was high. At that time, the delicate process of blending the two groups was just beginning. The panel is pleased to report this year that the transition is going very well. Increased collaboration and good communications within the division were observed. The division is embracing stakeholder perspectives, broadening its outreach, clarifying its goals and objectives, and stabilizing its financial situation. While the process of merging is not complete and the goals of the new division continue to evolve, the panel applauds the work done so far, including the positive impact of divisional and laboratory management’s emphasis on communications during the merging process. This year, the panel was informed of a plan to merge two more divisions: Structures and Building Materials. These divisions focus on somewhat different areas, but combining their expertise will give the laboratory an opportunity to lay the groundwork for a future in which materials are engineered to meet specific structural performance requirements. This is an ambitious and long-range goal, and making clear exactly what the connections and synergies between the diverse groups in these two divisions are and then utilizing them to greatest advantage will be challenging, but the potential payoff is significant. Plans for how the merger will go forward are being drafted. The laboratory wisely intends to move slowly on this complicated task, which is scheduled to be completed sometime in the

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 next year or so. The key challenge will be bringing together the different cultures in the divisions, each of which has a distinct set of customers, dissemination models, and technical approaches. Leadership and communications are vital. Both divisions are small and the chief of the Building Materials Division recently retired, so laboratory management must be clear on the strategic benefits of the merger lest it be viewed merely as a reactive personnel move. Program Relevance and Effectiveness As mentioned above, laboratory staff have made a significant effort to build relationships with their customers in a wide variety of industries and communities. The approaches to outreach include publication in technical peer-reviewed journals as well as the more popular press, industry consortia focused on common research agendas and measurement technology development, workshops attended and hosted by NIST staff, road-mapping activities by professional organizations and consortia, collaborations with and visits to and by individual companies, research projects with and for other government agencies, and active participation on standards committees. These activities serve a dual purpose—they provide BFRL staff with a chance to gather input from their stakeholders, and they afford an opportunity to disseminate information about laboratory results and ongoing projects. The panel commends the focus placed by the laboratory on outreach activities; the examples below illustrate the diversity of approaches. In the Fire Research Division, the work on residential smoke alarms not only has provided key data and test methods to the manufacturers of the alarms, but the press release and media coverage of the work have also allowed the laboratory to reach ultimate users of the alarms: the public. In the Building Materials Division, the first year of the VCCTL Consortium went particularly well; several of the world’s largest cement and admixture manufacturers, a number of major trade organizations, and the International Center for Aggregate Research are involved. In the Structures Division, the staff’s many committee activities help maintain their relationship with other researchers. The September 2002 International Symposium on Automation and Robotics in Construction organized by the division is an important event for the professional and academic communities, and the involvement of NIST in FIATECH’s Capital Projects Technology Roadmap2 is an excellent part of this much-needed effort to synchronize the work of industrial, academic, and government laboratories. The staff of the Building Environment Division are using their existing tools and expertise in the area of modeling the distribution over time of contaminants (such as pollution or smoke) through building ventilation systems to contribute to homeland security efforts. Not only did they help with the analysis of the Hart Senate Office Building after its anthrax contamination in the fall of 2001, they are also working with the Architect of the Capitol and with the State Department to preemptively develop models of ventilation systems of critical buildings before any attack or contamination occurs. The many efforts at outreach described above demonstrate that the laboratory works very hard to ensure that relevant communities are aware of BFRL results. This is certainly true in the codes and standards arena. Throughout the laboratory, staff appear to take NIST’s core measurements and standards mission to heart. Research on tests methods, on materials and technology characterization, and on standards is occurring in all divisions. Staff have good individual relationships with standards commit- 2   FIATECH was organized by NIST and the Construction Industry Institute in 1999. It is an industry-led, collaborative, notfor-profit research consortium serving the construction industry. FIATECH stands for Fully Integrated and Automated Technology.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 tees, such as those organized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). A vital step in ensuring that BFRL results have an impact on advancing technology and on improving the quality of life is ensuring that laboratory results are broadly used and adopted into standard practice. In the construction industry, this is accomplished by having BFRL’s technical knowledge and results reflected in codes. Influencing codes is a complicated process that requires political skills and careful timing. For the laboratory to be successful in this arena requires top-level support for and central coordination of codes and standards activities across BFRL. This coordination is necessary both for communicating to staff within the laboratory about opportunities to influence codes and for monitoring the activities of codes and standards agencies and providing outreach to these groups. Potential areas of intralaboratory synergy should be recognized and collaborations facilitated. The expertise in the Office of Applied Economics can also be tapped to help the laboratory demonstrate the economic value and impact of new standards or technologies. Two years ago, the informal leader of the laboratory’s codes and standards work retired, and this past year, the BFRL liaison to the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Construction and Building also retired. Recently, the laboratory management embraced a plan to support half of one staff member’s time to be dedicated specifically to codes and standards activities. This is an important first step, and the panel applauds the recognition of the importance of work in this area. However, one-half of one person’s time is not sufficient to accomplish the coordination and outreach necessary for BFRL to impact the wide array of codes and standards that the laboratory has the expertise to affect and improve. In addition, the plan for that staff member’s goals and activities was written in the summer of 2001 and needs to be revised and expanded. The events of September 11, 2001, have forced the codes and standards community to reconsider many existing regulations and to be open to new ideas. This is an opportunity for BFRL to demonstrate technical leadership and to have significant impact. However, regulatory changes will occur on a very tight, already-determined schedule, which means that the laboratory has a limited window of opportunity—that is, BFRL’s work must be completed before the end of 2005 to be included in the codes revision processes. While time is short and meeting this schedule is an ambitious goal, the panel believes that the laboratory can accomplish it, in large part because of previous work and existing expertise in the relevant areas. Examples of these areas include structural fire safety, communications and data for first responders, and evaluation of exiting technologies. In addition to enabling the regulatory community to utilize NIST’s technical expertise and results effectively, the laboratory also can help the community focus on the areas with the broadest potential impact. While the tragedies of September 11 resulted from specific (and hopefully very rare) terrorist attacks, the lessons learned about structures under stress can be applied to make all buildings safer. Laboratory Resources Funding sources for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory are shown in Table 7.1. It has not yet been determined how much new, congressionally allocated funding BFRL will receive to be specifically targeted toward homeland security activities, but a significant amount of money (perhaps $15 million in FY 2002 and $6 million per year after that) will flow to laboratory programs. The panel was pleased to see that BFRL has the support of NIST management and Department of Commerce management as it goes through the budget process and prepares to begin this program. Laboratory management indicated the level of its commitment to work in this area by quickly reprogramming roughly $2 million of its own funds

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 TABLE 7.1 Sources of Funding for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (in millions of dollars), FY 1999 to FY 2002 Source of Funding Fiscal Year 1999 (actual) Fiscal Year 2000 (actual) Fiscal Year 2001 (actual) Fiscal Year 2002 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 16.4 16.6 18.8 20.5 Competence 0.4 0.2 0.2 0.0 STRS, nonbase 1.8 1.5 1.9 1.7 ATP 0.6 0.7 1.1 0.3 MEP 0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0 OA/NFG/CRADA 9.2 11.2 9.1 11.3 Other Reimbursable 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.2 Total 28.7 30.5 31.2 34.0 Full-time permanent staff (total)a 157 157 150 152 NOTE: Funding for the NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories comes from a variety of sources. The laboratories receive appropriations from Congress, known as Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) funding. Competence funding also comes from NIST’s congressional appropriations but is allocated by the NIST director’s office in multiyear grants for projects that advance NIST’s capabilities in new and emerging areas of measurement science. Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funding reflects support from NIST’s ATP for work done at the NIST laboratories in collaboration with or in support of ATP projects. Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) funding reflects support from NIST’s MEP for work related to NIST’s support of the MEP centers throughout the United States. NIST laboratories also receive funding through grants or contracts from other [government] agencies (OA), from nonfederal government (NFG) agencies, and from industry in the form of cooperative research and development agreements (CRADAs). All other laboratory funding, including that for Calibration Services, is grouped under “Other Reimbursable.” aThe number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year. to tackle key questions, such as the work done on modeling the ventilation systems of the Hart Senate Office Building, as they arose last fall. While this was a good and appropriate step, the laboratory must be cautious going forward to make careful decisions about such reprogramming—that is, about whether a temporary or a permanent shift in focus is occurring—and to clearly communicate the rationale and final outcome to staff. This is one element of the broader question of how BFRL will determine and maintain a balance between new homeland security work and existing projects. Another question about how this perhaps temporary, specifically targeted funding will affect BFRL relates to the laboratory’s attitude toward and treatment of external funding sources (i.e., contracts with other government agencies). The assessment reports of the past several years have discussed the importance of having clear criteria for seeking and accepting external money. While the panel does not see evidence that such criteria are in place or are shaping staff’s decisions about outside funding yet, it does note that development of a strategic plan may help define and implement these criteria. Indeed, a strategic plan will need a core commitment of internal money or stable external funds to support a long-term vision, and such a commitment may be needed if management is to convince the staff to embrace laboratorywide goals. One source of stable outside money could be a long-term formal relationship with FEMA in which NIST would officially be responsible (and funded) for providing research elements to support FEMA’s

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 activities. On April 1, 2002, NIST and FEMA announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that designates NIST as a research and technical resource for FEMA. Under this agreement, BFRL and FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA) will work jointly to carry out these goals:3 Further the reduction of loss of life and property and protect the nation’s buildings and infrastructure from all types of hazards; Aid the development of technology and methods to evaluate equipment for use by the nation’s fire, rescue, civil defense services, and other first responders; and Assist FEMA with scientific and technological services in disaster investigations, recovery planning, and support technologies. The MOU also states that NIST and FEMA have agreed to develop and implement a coordinated annual process to plan, prioritize, select, and fund projects of mutual interest in fire, disaster prevention, and homeland security—as well as projects to evaluate equipment for fire, rescue, and civil defense services, and other first responders. BFRL has worked hard for the past several years on establishing the commitments needed to put a formal relationship in place, but the process had been delayed by changes in the administration and the events of last fall. The panel believes that having this formal agreement is appropriate and important and applauds the laboratory’s efforts and success. Next year, the panel hopes to hear about what benefits this MOU has brought to both parties. As of January 2002, staffing for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory included 152 full-time permanent positions, of which 129 were for technical professionals. There were also 35 nonpermanent or supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and temporary or part-time workers. The number of permanent staff in BFRL declined in the late 1990s but now appears to have stabilized. This stability has had a positive effect on morale and should facilitate long-term planning on program direction and acceptance of external funds. In particular, an understanding of the expectations for long-term staffing levels should allow the laboratory to focus on talent replacement and smooth programmatic transitions when staff retire or depart. The massive planned homeland security effort should result in a large number of new people coming, probably temporarily, to work at NIST, and this may be an opportunity for BFRL to consider what type of new personnel it wishes to recruit when permanent slots open up and to see many potential candidates in action. Another potential opportunity in the homeland security effort is the development of a large-scale, state-of-the-art structural fire test facility. The laboratory’s plans for homeland security activities do include work on the fire testing of structures under load, but the panel believes that the plan for this activity can be significantly expanded. Owing to the laboratory’s strong expertise in both structural and fire research and to its existing Large Fire Research Facility, BFRL is in a unique position to build a robust, long-term program in this area and to utilize this kind of facility effectively. Homeland security funding could be used to initiate work on a state-of-the-art facility, but the laboratory must make a commitment to sustaining the facility and the program over the long term. In order to secure the funding for such a facility and to lay the groundwork for a vigorous and effective program in this area, the panel recommends that BFRL develop a vision of what a state-of-the-art facility for large-scale structural fire testing should be and of what the test objectives should be, and that it map 3   From the MOU between FEMA and NIST, available online at <http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/nistfemamou.htm>.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 out a development and implementation strategy to secure funding and build the program. Proposals for such a facility do exist at BFRL, but they were developed some time ago (certainly before September 2001), and they should be revisited to ensure that the proposal made is sufficient to build and support a facility that will be at the center of a long-range program. This effort would also be a good opportunity for the Structures and Fire Research Divisions to build closer working relationships in this area. The value of cross-divisional collaborations is clearly recognized in BFRL, and the panel saw progress in the quality of staff interactions across organizational lines over the past year. In certain areas, informal relationships are very effective in ensuring that laboratory projects take advantage of the cross-disciplinary synergies available in BFRL. In other, larger-scale programs, formal coordination at the laboratory level may be necessary. Work on information technology systems is occurring throughout the laboratory—the Structures Division has projects on construction automation, the Building Environment Division has projects on the integration and management of building systems, and the Fire Research Division has models, simulations, and detector projects—and coordination of these activities could help ensure that appropriate collaborations continue to occur and that full advantage is taken of the opportunities to leverage complementary skills. The panel commends the laboratory on its continued progress in internal communications. The formation of a junior advisory board, the evolution of the merged Fire Research Division, and the general healing observed after the stressful events of FY 2000 (including some potential and actual reductions in force) all indicate that BFRL has recognized the importance of improving communications within the laboratory and has made a significant and successful effort in this area. Plans for formal mentoring were mentioned to panel members, who suggest that such relationships should not be formed solely among technical staff but should also include managerial mentoring. Laboratory Responsiveness The panel found the laboratory on the whole to be responsive to recommendations made in past assessment reports. In several areas, the panel was particularly impressed. The Thermal Machinery Group is to be commended for acting on the panel’s recommendation for removal of methylene chloride from the truck environmental chamber cooling system and for cooperating with the NIST Physical Plant unit to obtain adequate funds to completely revamp the cooling system valves and controls. Both the Building Materials and the Building Environment Divisions appear to have responded with positive action (hiring) to the panel’s discussion of how using technicians to run and maintain equipment can increase the productivity of research staff and potentially improve the condition of the instruments. As discussed above, the laboratory as a whole continues to improve internal communications, and the formation of the junior advisory board, as suggested in last year’s report, is a good element of this effort. The panel is also particularly appreciative of the laboratory’s willingness to share with the panel the wide array of information needed for the assessment, such as project plans and milestones. In certain areas, BFRL has indeed been responsive to panel recommendations, but more work is needed. As mentioned above, one example of such an area is laboratorywide strategic planning, where the first step has been taken. Other areas, such as internal communications and management of external funding decisions, are long-term issues that the panel expects to revisit regularly. In communications, the panel is certainly pleased with the progress made by the laboratory, but upcoming events such as the refocusing on homeland security activities, the planned merger of the Structures and the Building Materials Divisions, and development of a strategic plan will require constant and continuing effort.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 new guidance on the appropriate use of external funding. The panel continues to recommend that laboratory and division management devote some attention to this issue. In the past year, the most significant development affecting the resource situation throughout BFRL was the World Trade Center attacks and the anthrax mailings and the resulting new laboratory focus on homeland security. In the Building Environment Division, some resources have been reprogrammed to support new or expanded activities related to homeland security, such as the work on contaminant transport patterns in buildings. While NIST can play an important role in governmental efforts to improve homeland security, funding for such work in BFRL is not yet in place, and whether such funding will be stable is still unclear. Wisely, the laboratory has chosen to outsource some of the activities at this time, but if NIST management and Congress make a commitment to sustaining long-term programs in homeland security in BFRL, the division and laboratory would be well advised to develop more in-house resources to support these activities. (The Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Group, in particular, would have to grow significantly.) One consequence of the recent reprogramming to support homeland security programs was a cut in the internal funding supporting the Thermal Machinery Group’s work on the evaluation of low global warming refrigerants such as carbon dioxide. This project provides the high-quality, unbiased technology evaluations necessary for the refrigeration and air conditioning industry to make good decisions about technologies to increase energy efficiency. The panel is concerned that, with the recent cut in internal funding, the Thermal Machinery Group as a whole now is highly dependent on external funding. Human Resources. As of January 2002, staffing for the Building Environment Division included 37 full-time permanent positions, of which 33 were for technical professionals. There were also 8 nonpermanent or supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and temporary or part-time workers. The division is making effective use of guest researchers, students, and contract labor. The Thermal Machinery Group, in particular, seems to utilize visitors and graduate students well. This leveraging of permanent staff with temporary employees is important, as it allows the division to respond flexibly to fluctuations in total laboratory funding. The panel is also pleased to see that the division is making an effort to hire technicians to run the instruments, allowing researchers to use their time more efficiently. Morale in the division appears to be relatively high, although the panel did note concerns about frequent reorganizations within the laboratory and a lack of clarity in the prioritization process. Most of the groups appear to have an adequate number of permanent staff, but in two groups the number of personnel is a little low. The Mechanical Systems and Controls group has recently lost several staff members, but a search for at least one new individual is under way. The panel encourages the group leader to utilize personal networks as well as advertisements to find qualified candidates. The Computer Integrated Construction Group is definitely spread too thin at this time. Current staff do not have enough time to devote their undivided attention to the technical work necessary to meet the identified milestones of each project. While the group is currently interviewing people in a search for a new permanent employee, finding qualified candidates is very difficult in this area. Instruments. The Thermal Machinery Group is to be commended for acting on the panel recommendation for removal of methylene chloride from the truck environmental chamber cooling system. The group worked cooperatively with the NIST Plant Maintenance Division to obtain adequate funds and has completely revamped the cooling system valves and controls and replaced the methylene chloride with a more benign heat transfer fluid. In the past year, a number of new facilities have been completed in the Building Environmental

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 Division. In the Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Group, a manufactured house test facility was installed to provide unique and important capabilities to support the study of testing methods for filtration and air cleaners. In the Heat Transfer and Alternative Energy Systems Group, a new leading-edge apparatus for high-temperature measurements of thermal conductivity reference materials will soon be completed (funding is in place), and the panel applauds the group for recognizing the need for this test system and for obtaining the support necessary to finish construction of the apparatus. Unfortunately, funds (~$200,000) are not yet available for an associated vacuum system. The Heat Transfer and Alternative Energy Systems Group has also decided that in the future, laboratory facilities for evaluating residential fuel cell system performance will be needed. A proposal for this type of facility has been prepared, and the group is seeking funding from industry and governmental agencies. The panel supports this effort to establish a fuel cell test laboratory. Fire Research Division Technical Merit The mission of the Fire Research Division is to develop, verify, and utilize measurements and predictive methods to quantify the behavior of fire and the means to reduce the impact of fire on people, property, and the environment. The work in the Fire Research Division is mainly in support of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory’s goal of fire loss reduction. This BFRL goal is focused on four key objectives: reducing residential fire deaths, injuries, and property losses; reducing firefighter line-of-service deaths and burn injuries; enabling engineered fire safety for people, products, facilities, and first responders; and reducing firefighter and occupant vulnerability in extreme fire events that threaten homeland security. Currently, these objectives are supported by four technical programs in the Fire Research Division: Advanced Fire Service Technologies, Reduced Risk of Flashover, Advanced Measurement and Predictive Methods, and Homeland Security. The first three programs are continuing efforts. The panel was presented with information about the goals and objectives of the first three programs and was pleased to note that these goals and objectives were much more clearly defined and specified than last year. The metrics for what the division wishes to accomplish (such as helping to achieve a 25 percent reduction in line-of-duty fatalities and burn injuries in the United States by 2007) have become more quantifiable. However, the panel notes that many of the goals are still listed on the time scale of many years, so it is difficult to use them to measure the progress of the division’s ongoing activities from year to year. The division was formed in 2000 through the merger of two divisions. The panel was very pleased to see how effectively the merger has progressed. The division is currently organized in five groups— Fire Fighting Technology, Fire Metrology, Analysis and Prediction, Integrated Performance Assessment, and Materials and Products—and the reorganization has allowed these groups to work together rather than competitively and to share a common focus. An environment of synergy exists between the five groups; scientific relationships between groups are very good, and personnel interact almost seamlessly across group lines. The panel noted that collaboration and communication with other divisions has also increased. More could still be happening, and the Homeland Security Program will offer a good opportunity for the Fire Research Division and the Structural Division to develop a productive working relationship on joint projects. While it believes that the merger has been successful, the panel does have one concern about the current organizational structure. The approach of having five groups (corresponding to the division’s core areas) and four technical programs (that support the laboratory’s fire loss reduction goal) is causing

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 confusion. Group leaders appear to have all the authority, while program leaders have the technical mandates. For instance, a deliverable in a given program is not reviewed by the investigator’s program manager, but rather by his or her group leader. Performance reviews are similarly the domain of the group leaders. Thus, program managers have little ability to control and direct the work for which they are responsible. In general, the division devotes serious attention to project and program planning. While this is an important activity, it can also be time-consuming and has the potential to distract staff from their technical responsibilities. The focus on planning is understandable, as the division is completing the merger and the new focus on homeland security is being defined; however, care needs to be taken going forward to include staff in planning without extensive disruption of their technical work. In the review of the Fire Research Division’s activities, the panel saw a number of impressive projects. One example is the work on high-throughput flame retardancy measures. The division staff have developed a system in which polymers are extruded to produce a long sample that has a continuous gradient in composition. Samples can then be exposed to a horizontal ignition and flammability test. This approach allows researchers to determine the flame speed continuously as a function of composition and flux level. This new high-throughput experimentation technique will support more efficient work on the discovery and characterization of new fire-resistant materials. Another example is the work on experimental characterization of flame spread and fire growth rate. Data will be collected in tests containing materials and geometries representative of real-world situations. The ultimate goal is information to support the development of an engineering model and to increase the understanding of the fire growth and spread leading up to the point of transition to flashover. Such a model would be useful for understanding how the flammability characteristics of furnishings and contents could be improved and for providing a basis for the design and development of detection and suppression technologies. A third example of a noteworthy project is the work on early, fault-free detection of smoke and fires. A key component of this program is the development of a fire-emulator/detector-evaluator. This system has been designed to measure the performance of fire detection systems in a variety of situations (including not only the system’s ability to detect smoke from a real fire, but also the system’s reaction to nuisance sources such as cigarette smoke, steam, and the cooking of foods). A quantifiable, repeatable test of how well a particular design can discriminate a flaming or smoldering fire from a nonfire event should enable the development of effective new systems, which, it is hoped, will lead to an overall reduction in false alarm rates. The final example of particularly impressive division products is the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), the result of a continuing, long-term effort by BFRL. The FDS uses zone and field approaches to model fires, and division staff are continually developing new algorithms and modeling approaches and improving the capabilities of this important NIST product. The FDS is an excellent scientific and engineering tool, and the panel believes that the division and laboratory should consider building a major programmatic thrust around the FDS. Work would focus on Large Fire Research Facility experiments aligned with FDS’s predictive capabilities and on continuing to improve the components of the model. Homeland Security. An important new development in the division this year is the emerging program in Homeland Security. In this program, the division will apply measurement and predictive methods to identify the role of fire in the World Trade Center collapse, to improve methods of structural fire protection and emergency response, and to reduce firefighter and occupant vulnerability. The division has already begun the work on the first part of this program. Here, the staff are using the FDS to model

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 the fires in the World Trade Center on September 11. This work is an ongoing effort, but already comparisons between the modeling results and data from the event have allowed staff to deduce information about critical factors in the fire, such as the amount of airplane fuel expended in the fire ball at the time of collision and the importance of the internal geometry of the building and wind effects in the progression of the fire. This analysis is a significant investigative approach, and the panel does not believe that it is being done anywhere else. The division’s ability to estimate important parameters and to make these deductions about the fire is based on years of work at BFRL on constructing and validating NIST’s critical fire modeling capabilities. For example, the submodels used as inputs to the FDS are a major strength of the simulations, as these submodels can predict the smoke produced and therefore computationally predict the plume formed. The division’s work on modeling the fires in the World Trade Center is one piece of the BFRL-wide study of the collapse. The Fire Research Division will have a significant role in this FEMA-requested investigation, as well as in the laboratory’s more general work in the area of homeland security. For example, the division’s expertise will be essential in projects on determining the impact of temperature and heat on structural failure and assessing and predicting fire and explosion damage, and NIST’s work will support the design community’s efforts to design more blast-resistant structures. The homeland security program is a great opportunity for BFRL to make a difference in an important area, and the panel encourages the division and laboratory to actively pursue this work. However, to be successful, the mission of the NIST program needs to be clearly articulated, and strong interactions between the Fire Research and Structures Divisions are essential. The division’s and laboratory’s homeland security plans appear to be very ambitious, and a great deal of work will need to be done. The panel recognizes that the division may not be in a position to do all of the work in-house but does believe that it is important to maintain at NIST the expertise necessary to fulfill a leadership role, that is, to oversee and act as advisers to related projects outside NIST, and perhaps even to guide the work done elsewhere. For example, the panel believes that the federal government should have access to a simulation tool that couples a fluid dynamics model (to simulate blasts and subsequent fires) and a structural dynamics model (to describe the effects of blasts on buildings and possible subsequent collapses). While such coupled models do exist already and are probably being adapted to study problems related to homeland security, the panel believes that the expertise and tools should also be available at NIST. This is one example of an area in which close collaboration between the Fire Research and Structures Divisions would be necessary. Contacting groups at other institutions, particularly the Department of Defense, may also be a way to access models that division staff can combine and adapt to build this capability. Program Relevance and Effectiveness The Fire Research Division has a good vision of how its objectives match up with the needs of its stakeholders and of how its results will be used by these stakeholders. Division products can be directly implemented in many cases to reduce direct and indirect fire-related costs, improve life safety in fire situations, improve U.S. economic competitiveness internationally, and facilitate regulatory improvements and reform. Programs under way that will have such an impact include those in protective clothing research, research on smart zone fire alarm systems that incorporate informational displays for firefighters responding to fires in large buildings, simulations to improve understanding of various fire situations (including college dormitory fires and fire spread in urban wildlands), techniques for predicting structural collapse due to fire, study of the effects of positive pressure ventilation and various types of hose streams, and experimental and modeling projects relevant to defining fire codes and standards.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 In addition, a number of projects are focused on pragmatic approaches to enhancing residential fire safety, such as assessing hazard reduction for bed fires, and mattress screening tests. While these efforts are modest individually, collectively they represent significant opportunities to reduce the number of lives lost in fires. The Fire Research Division’s objective of improving firefighter safety is appropriate and commendable. Currently, a primary focus of the division’s efforts is on reducing the risk of flashover. This is an important area, and the division can make a difference here. However, the panel suggests that the division consider expanding its approach to areas beyond flashover and determine what factors other than flashover contribute to fire-related fatalities, injuries, and property loss. A more comprehensive understanding of the various factors will help the division determine the most effective ways to impact the economics of the public and personal costs of fire. The division continues to expand efforts to disseminate NIST products and findings to an array of diverse customers. Examples of recent outreach efforts include the organization and hosting of the 12th International Conference on Automatic Fire Detection in March 2001, the distribution of more than 6,000 copies of the flashover video and 8,000 compact disks of the Cherry Road simulation for use in firefighter training and public safety awareness programs, the public release of Version 2 of the FDS in December 2001 (FDS is available on the Web11 and has been downloaded more than 1,000 times), and impressive and productive interactions with the U.S. Fire Administration. The Fire Research Division is well respected by members of its stakeholder communities nationally and internationally. However, the panel notes that a systematic approach to communicating with stakeholders and the public is not in place in the division or in BFRL as a whole. Perhaps a strategy should be developed at the division or laboratory level to facilitate the transfer of information produced at BFRL to the laboratory’s customer base. Possible approaches might include the development of a central laboratory communications office or other methods to allow utilization of appropriate links to the media. Currently, the general public is not aware of the value of the division’s work. The panel applauds the recent smoke alarm demonstration staged for the media in the Large Fire Research Facility as a step in the right direction. The organization of additional workshops with representatives from industry, government, and academia, firefighters, and other relevant groups would also help publicize the benefits produced by the work of the Fire Research Division. The ultimate goal is timely communication to the stakeholders of BFRL. Division Resources Funding sources for the Fire Research Division are shown in Table 7.5. The balance between internal and external funding has improved. In FY 2000, the last year in which two separate fire divisions existed, outside funds accounted for 41 percent of the divisions’ budgets. In FY 2002, external money is estimated to be 35 percent of the funding for the unified division. This decreased percentage reflects an increased congressional allocation (STRS). The panel supports this trend, as it allows the division to maintain a reasonable balance between time spent conducting research and time spent seeking outside funding. A key issue for the Fire Research Division going forward is its role in BFRL’s (and NIST’s) new strategic focus on homeland security. The division is already making important contributions in this 11   The Fire Dynamics Simulator is available online at <http://fire.nist.gov/fds/>.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 TABLE 7.5 Sources of Funding for the Fire Research Division (in millions of dollars), FY 1999 to FY 2002 Source of Funding Fiscal Year 1999a (actual) Fiscal Year 2000a (actual) Fiscal Year 2001 (actual) Fiscal Year 2002 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 5.2 4.7 5.9 7.3 Competence 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 STRS, nonbase 0.6 0.5 0.5 0.5 ATP 0.1 0.2 0.5 0.3 OA/NFG/CRADA 3.6 3.9 4.0 4.3 Other Reimbursable 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0 Total 9.7 9.4 10.9 12.4 Full-time permanent staff (total)b 56 57 52 52 NOTE: Sources of funding are as described in the note accompanying Table 7.1. aThe funding and staff totals for fiscal year 1999 and fiscal year 2000 are the sums of the numbers from the Fire Safety Engineering Division and the Fire Science Division, which were combined at the end of fiscal year 2000 to form the new Fire Research Division. bThe number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year. area, as discussed above, and the time and effort that the division devotes to this area are expected to expand. The division staff are entirely supportive of this programmatic emphasis and are eager to help in the defense and protection of the nation. However, the impact of the homeland security work on the rest of the division’s projects is unclear, and the uncertainties associated with this change in direction are affecting morale. The morale of the entire laboratory was also hurt by the delays in determining the role of NIST in the governmentwide investigation of the events of September 11. While BFRL staff began to apply their expertise immediately where they could, such as in modeling of the fires in the World Trade Center, the lack of clarity within the federal government about what NIST would do and about whether funds would be provided for their efforts has been unsettling for all BFRL staff. The Large Fire Research Facility will be a key component of the homeland security effort. After several years of renovation, this extremely impressive facility is now essentially complete, and it will be used to support ongoing research in the division as well as to meet the fire testing needs of BFRL’s customers in industry, government, and academia. The panel is somewhat concerned that development and utilization of the refurbished facility are proceeding slowly. It seems that each individual item of instrumentation has to be implemented at the highest level before staff move on to installing the next instrument. While excellence is an appropriate goal, the panel believes that this very measured pace of installation has interfered with the active and productive use of the facility. Given the cost of the improvements, ensuring that the facility is used and that full advantage is taken of the relatively rare large-scale testing options that it provides should be a priority. Improvements in measurement capabilities should be viewed as an ongoing and evolutionary process. The panel is pleased to see the Large Fire Research Facility operational, and it believes that the

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 laboratory should immediately begin planning for future improvements. How, and how often, the facility is used for measurements that utilize its unique capabilities should be tracked so that the need and case for future expansion can be documented. The division should focus on determining what improvements are required to make this a world-class facility and on facilitating its use in support of NIST’s homeland security work. As of January 2002, staffing for the Fire Research Division included 52 full-time permanent positions, of which 46 were for technical professionals. There were also 13 nonpermanent or supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and temporary or part-time workers. One senior scientist retired from the Fire Research Division this past year. Over the next few years, several more retirements are expected. The panel is concerned that the division’s planning for this transition is insufficient. Major gaps in expertise will result from these retirements, and recruitment of new staff to fill these holes will be needed. Codes and Standards In the aftermath of the events of September 11, 2001, the world is looking to the United States to develop and explain ways of bringing an acceptable safety and comfort level to the design and construction of the built environment. This is the time for BFRL to make an impact on the building codes and construction standards used in the United States and around the world. In the past, BFRL has been slow in formulating an approach to codes and standards efforts, but now the laboratory must continue its work on developing the metrics and techniques that will support the use of modern and effective codes and standards and must move quickly and surely to ensure the adoption of such codes and standards by national and international regulators. A wide range of questions has been raised in response to the fires and collapses at the World Trade Center. BFRL is well positioned to draw on past results and existing expertise to contribute to work in relevant areas. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the destruction in New York City, legitimate proposals for new approaches are mixed in with flawed plans proposed and widely advocated by opportunists and misguided individuals. Laboratory staff will have to both provide support for sound ideas and work to negate proposed standards that would be ineffective, inappropriate, or even dangerous. In the Structures and the Fire Research Divisions, staff are qualified to contribute to the debates on many questions related to the structural and fire safety of tall buildings. Areas that BFRL will be expected to study include these: The protection of structural frameworks from the effects of fire. A particular focus will be the level of protection provided by sprayed-on fireproofing systems. The protection of the structural framework from the effects of impact loading. This topic is an example of one in which NIST’s focus should be on the dissemination of past results, which affirm that the issues are well understood and that additional study is not needed. The adequacy of the in-place fire protection systems (to protect human occupants and structural frameworks). Again, dissemination of past results in this area is all that is needed. The protection of structural systems from impacts such as from large airplanes. In this area, proactive work by NIST is necessary to explain how the structural engineering formulas that are currently in place are adequate to resist the effects of fire and other hazards such as wind, earthquake, and flood. The focus on airplane impacts, while understandable, has the potential to distract the community from considering more important questions.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 Other critical questions facing the building design community at this time relate to building access and egress. For example, some comments have been made about whether the exiting system of the World Trade Center was adequate to handle a full evacuation of the building. It is likely that past work done at NIST and elsewhere will confirm that the system was sufficient, but the design of systems to allow efficient and safe egress from buildings and facilities is an important component of building design, and the best methods must be affirmed and explained. One element of any discussions about exiting systems will be the role of elevators and other mechanical conveyance systems as means of egress in emergency situations. In the past, legal issues have prevented elevator manufacturers from supporting the use of their products in those situations, but the time appears to be right to revisit this issue. NIST has completed many studies in this area and now can provide key information for educating the public about the safe use of elevators and other mechanical systems in emergency evacuations. BFRL can also play a critical role in support of homeland security by facilitating first responders’ access to better information and tools. The best ways to gain access to buildings and facilities during emergency situations are still poorly understood. Also, improvements could be made in communication and warning systems to ensure that the first responders have the information they need and are not unnecessarily placed in risky environments. The audience for BFRL’s work in all of these areas includes the manufacturers of relevant products and regulators in the United States and in other countries. However, for BFRL’s work to influence codes and standards, staff must take into account regulators’ need for timely information. Regulators will be open to efforts that scrutinize existing codes and work to bring them up to date, but they will not be receptive to lengthy, time-consuming projects. The building codes that are currently adopted and enforced in the United States are updated yearly but are formally reprinted on a 3-year cycle. The changes that will be incorporated in the 2003 publication of the codes are currently undergoing approval now. Thus, BFRL must focus on producing results that can be used to make changes in the codes that appear in the 2006 edition. For regulators to accept and adopt the laboratory’s results, work at NIST must be completed before the end of 2005. This schedule is ambitious, but it can be met, as BFRL has already produced important work in relevant areas that it can build on in its new projects. The biggest potential barrier to BFRL’s completing the work needed to impact codes and standards in the United States and abroad is a shortage of resources, particularly human resources, that NIST can devote to this task. In early 2001, the leader (and sole staff member) of BFRL’s small existing program in codes and standards retired. While laboratory management has agreed that half of the time of a senior researcher in the Fire Research Division may be allocated to work in this area, the panel believes that this is insufficient. In addition to this person, who brings appropriate technical capabilities and experience with national and international codes and on standards committees, people are also needed who are familiar with the workings of the codes and standards agencies and who can monitor regulatory processes in a number of fields to ensure that BFRL is up to date on relevant deadlines and opportunities. New funding is expected from FEMA that could be used to support the assignment or hiring of additional staff. Much work will still need to be outsourced to other laboratories and agencies, but BFRL must be in a position to track and coordinate all of these activities. Coordination of the technical work occurring within BFRL is also essential. While participation on codes and standards committees is important, and while the current leader of the laboratory’s efforts should continue with his work on these committees, committee work is not the only activity required to support a comprehensive strategy to influence the codes and standards adopted by regulators and used by the design and construction industries. Staff throughout BFRL should take codes and standards needs into account in planning their projects, and BFRL management should support efforts to integrate technical results into national and international codes and standards processes.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 Office of Applied Economics Technical Merit The mission of the Office of Applied Economics (OAE) is to provide economic products and services through research and consulting to industry and government agencies in support of productivity enhancement, economic growth, and international competitiveness, with a focus on improving the life-cycle quality and economy of constructed facilities. This mission is accomplished exceedingly well by OAE. Staff employ state-of-the-art methodologies to perform first-class analyses of the economic impact of various technologies, and the office’s success is due not only to the quality of the evaluations it produces but also to the staff’s recognition of the importance of getting results into the hands of the ultimate users by transforming OAE methodologies into useful tools for practitioners. The panel’s judgment that OAE’s work is of high technical merit reflects the personnel’s credentials and the quality of their published reports, and it also hinges on their communications skills, primarily their ability to design effective, interactive, user-friendly computer tools. OAE is not focused on theoretical economics or operations research. Conceptual advances made by OAE staff are made in the context of solving problems, analyzing data, performing simulations, and gaining insights into the human response to and interaction with evolving technologies. OAE staff are superb at sorting through and applying the very latest theoretical insights in a practical way to behavioral problems associated with technological advances pioneered at NIST. Because OAE always focuses on the ultimate users and on how they will distill and incorporate new information into their decision-making processes, the products delivered by OAE are widely and effectively used by their customers. Life-cycle costing—one example of an area in which OAE has produced important tools—has been elevated to a usable art because of formats and methodologies developed at OAE, and both the Department of Energy and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have contracted with OAE to provide tools for their constituents. The user-friendly interactive design tools include the Bridge-LCC computer program,12 which allows the designer to explore the cost-effectiveness of employing new materials. Another area in which OAE excels is in the development of analytic tools to facilitate wise choice among criteria, including criteria that are not easily quantifiable. In one example, the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) program allows designers to evaluate trade-offs between economic and environmental consequences of building material choices. In another example, an analytic hierarchy method is applied to the evaluation of strategic choices, including project choices within NIST. This technique has also been incorporated into recent work on developing industry-specific indicators to evaluate the likelihood that particular new technologies will be adopted. If this approach is successful, BFRL and NIST might be able to better predict the potential impact of their work and thus make better decisions about whether to fund research and development efforts in a given area or on a particular technology. As NIST’s only substantial group of social scientists with expertise in economics and decision making, OAE staff are regularly relied upon to explore potential effects of human interaction with technical innovations in terms of the overall likely consequences on the desired outcome. For example, one of the staff’s more-complicated tasks might be evaluating the trade-offs in emergency situations such as fires, where an improvement in the physical security of exit pathways could reduce the rapidity of human exit, thereby increasing the chances of catastrophic injury. 12   LCC, life-cycle costs. Bridge-LCC is available online at <http://www.bfrl.nist.gov/bridgelcc/welcome.html>.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 In support of the new focus of NIST and BFRL on homeland security activities, OAE’s technical competence in modeling behavioral response can be an essential component of activities assessing risk management strategies for response to possible terrorist threats. Many possible methods exist for improving the security of citizens, and these methods go well beyond developing, designing, constructing, and maintaining more secure, resilient facilities. Cost-effective human security results from the complex interactions between human behavior, both in perpetrating threatening activity and in responding to it, and the physical, transportation, life-support, and IT/communications infrastructure. There are four ways of reducing the undesirable consequences of an assault, whether the cause of the assault is natural or human: avoid it, withstand it, escape from it, and recover from it. Enhanced ability to predict the onset of an assault can improve people’s ability to perform effectively in all of these areas, and understanding the likelihood of being able to make such predictions should be taken into account in all BFRL activities on homeland security. OAE staff can help estimate predictive possibilities and can also provide assessments of how human behavior will impact the effectiveness of technologies for reducing the impact of terrorist events. Systematic inclusion of OAE perspectives, methods, and analyses in BFRL work on counterterrorism will enhance the likelihood that the laboratory will make cost-effective, competent contributions to the homeland security effort. In the past, the codes and standards activities have been organizationally affiliated with OAE in the laboratory office. Due to the retirement of the leader of those activities, the responsibility for the BFRL codes and standards work has been shifted to staff in the Fire Research Division. One of the goals of this work is that of moving codes toward using performance-based measures for building and construction standards rather than merely listing specifications about particular materials; thus, OAE expertise on likely human responses to new standards will continue to contribute to the laboratory’s work in this area. Program Relevance and Effectiveness Since an appreciable part of OAE’s work is customer assessment for other NIST activities, office personnel are certainly well aware of who their own customers are. OAE monitors the hits on its Web site and found that for the 8-month period between March and the end of October 2001, there were 182,496 visits to the OAE directory and another 8,366 to the information on life-cycle-costs for bridges (developed in conjunction with the Building Materials Division). More than 50,000 of those Web inquiries were for full reports, with the UNIFORMAT II system of cost assembly, the ERATES Manual, and BEES receiving the largest number of hits. Furthermore, the widely used RS Means series of publications on cost estimation now includes in its publicity the boast that these publications use the OAE-developed UNIFORMAT II and that it is “easy to use” and the “industry standard.” This is a good indication of how OAE is successful at influencing industry behavior. The Office of Applied Economics provides a wide variety of services and products for BFRL, other NIST laboratories, and many NIST customers. OAE regularly estimates the value to society of alternative technologies; this work benefits NIST by demonstrating the worth of its products, and it benefits customers by helping them choose and implement innovative new approaches. BFRL and NIST also are well served by OAE’s assistance in internal project selection and budgetary procedures. Office Resources Estimated FY 2002 funding for the OAE totals $1.9 million, of which 62 percent is from external sources. As of January 2002, staffing included 11 full-time permanent positions, of which 9 were for technical professionals.

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An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Measurement and Standards Laboratories: Fiscal Year 2002 OAE staff have a diverse blend of complementary knowledge and skills, from economics, to operations-research-based analytic decision-making tools, to statistical and computer-science methodologies. Morale is high, and staff seem to get along well together. Collaborations within the office occur easily. However, the current number of staff is not sufficient to support the wide range of activities at NIST that might benefit from OAE’s help. This shortage is particularly emphasized by NIST’s expanding responsibilities in homeland security, where understanding human behavior will be an essential part of forging effective outcomes. OAE would certainly be better positioned to undertake the required comprehensive analyses if it could add two or more senior economists or applied operations-research specialists in each of the next several years. However, finding and hiring staff with the right skills to complement existing OAE personnel would not be easy. Most new economics Ph.D.’s from first-rate universities are immersed in arcane equilibrium theory, driven by available mathematical tools, and do not have the background for understanding the dynamics of short-term human responses to technological innovation. Thus, OAE would have to search a variety of interdisciplinary graduate programs (those that provide training in engineering, management, applied economics, and business) and would have to look for candidates with practical work experience at other national laboratories, at research institutes, or in business (former centers for emerging high-tech companies might be good places to look). Individuals with consulting experience and those knowledgeable about working with agent-based models might also be positive additions to the OAE staff. OAE is very successful at attracting external funding. While this outside support provides verification that the products of the office are of value to its customers, it also seems to indicate to laboratory management that internal funds for this office are not necessary. The panel notes that to support the expansion in personnel suggested above, reliable internal support will be needed.