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7 Building and Fire Research Laboratory 61

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62 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 PANEL MEMBERS Robert A. Altenkirch, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Chair Ross B. Corotis, University of Colorado at Boulder, 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 Kristin H. Heinemeier, Brooks Energy and Sustainability Laboratory Robert J. Hitchcock, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Susan D. Landry, Albemarle Corporation John Mitchell, University of Wisconsin Adel F. Sarofim, University of Utah Jim W. Scaly, Architect/Building Code Consultant, Dallas, Texas William K. Secre, Master Builders, Inc. Frieder Seible, University of California, San Diego E. Sarah Slaughter, MOCA Systems Elaine M. Yorkgitis, Automotive Division/3M Submitted for the panel by its Chair, Robert A. Altenkirch, and its Vice Chair, Ross B. Corotis, this assessment of the fiscal year 2003 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 27-28, 2003, in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and materials provided by the laboratory.

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BUILDING AND FIRE RESEARCH LABORATORY 63 LABORATORY-LEVEL REVIEW 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. The BFRL is organized in four divisions: the Materials and Construction Research Division, Building Environment Division, Fire Research Divi- sion, and Office of Applied Economics (see Figure 7.1~. The first three divisions are responsible for BFRL's main technical thrusts: advanced construction technology, high-performance construction ma- terials, enhanced building performance, and fire loss reduction. Technical work is also under way in the Office of Applied Economics (OAE). In addition, BFRL performs activities in the area of codes and standards. This chapter provides an assessment of the laboratory overall, and the units and activities are discussed in detail in the division reviews in Chapter 14. | Building and Fire Research Laboratory - ~0 _~_m _ ~ Research Division Dlvlslon Fire Fighting Technology Construction Metrology and Mechanical Systems and Fire Metrology Automation Controls Analysis and Prediction Structures Computer-Integrated Integrated Performance Inorganic Materials Building Processes Assessment Polymeric Materials Indoor Air Quality and Materials and Products Ventilation Thermal Machinery Heat Transfer and l l LO alter ati v D Energy ~ l Office of Applied Economics FIGURE 7.1 Organizational structure of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory. Listed under each division are its groups.

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64 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 Major Observations The panel presents the following major observations from its assessment of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory: The panel continues to be impressed by the high quality of scientific and technical work produced in the Building and Fire Research Laboratory. Commendable efforts are made to reach out to a broad variety of laboratory customers, ranging from large construction companies to local firefighting units, from code makers to academic researchers, and from standards committees to the public. BFRL staff take advantage of the special tools and expertise that exist in the laboratory to provide their customers with unbiased, technically excellent work focused on the measurement and testing needed to improve the quality of materials and technologies. Overall, staff morale at BFRL is good. Staff show excitement at and derive satisfaction from the opportunity to devote their talents to the challenges and opportunities associated with homeland security issues, which are many and require careful planning to achieve the effective balance of longer-term basic research and timely applications of results. The reorganizations in late 2000 and in 2002 within BFRL are proceeding well. Peaceful coexist- ence has been readily achieved, and the time is ripe for seeking and taking advantage of opportunities for synergy. Combining two formerly separate divisions into the Materials and Construction Research Divi- sion has produced an opportunity for beneficial synergistic effects; increased interactions across the groups could lead to significant future successes. The National Construction Safety Team Act presents a tremendous opportunity for BFRL. The laboratory still has to define a strategy for deploying resources to an investigation and, once completed, for disseminating the results. In addition, findings may have an impact on future research and codes and standards application; a plan needs to be developed to ensure that the results of the investigation are applied appropriately in industry. The laboratory has taken early steps toward the development of a strategic plan and of perfor- mance metrics. Next steps should include the specification of time lines, milestones, and interdependen- cies. ~ 1 BFRL's existing expertise and programs have placed it in an excellent position to make many positive contributions to the nation's homeland security efforts. The panel is very supportive of BFRL's ongoing and planned activities but cautions that it is vital for the laboratory to maintain a balance between short-term investigative work and long-term programs aimed at developing research and appli- cations that are broadly relevant. The laboratory must take care to preserve its strong relationships with existing customers, in part by demonstrating how the homeland security work will help the laboratory continue to meet those customers' needs. Also, the laboratory will face new and complex challenges in the personnel and project management areas associated with a large, multiorganization project, and new skills and people will be needed for this task. Specifically, there has to be a clear definition of the involvement of all relevant groups in the World Trade Center (WTC) investigation. The WTC investi- gation plan has been fleshed out to address specific objectives encompassing multiorganizational projects. However, organizational and work-related plans need to be defined by a detailed work break- down structure, milestones, and schedules, so that the project can be effectively managed and so that its status can be clearly communicated. Such a large effort merits a dedicated and skilled project manage- ment staff. Plans should include strategies for taking advantage of any opportunities presented to expand the laboratory's expertise and relevance.

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BUILDING AND FIRE RESEARCH LABORATORY 65 Structural fire testing is both an important element of homeland security work and an appropriate long-term programmatic growth area for BFRL and its customers. The laboratory should encourage pursuit of the construction of a state-of-the-art facility for the fire testing of structures under load as part of the homeland security effort and should make a commitment to sustaining a structural fire research program over the long term. This is an area in which BFRL is uniquely positioned to do high-quality, high-impact work. For BFRL to have an impact on the construction industry (and ultimately the public), the laboratory's technical knowledge and results must be utilized in codes and standards and adopted as the industry' s normal practices. High-quality and important test and standards work is already occurring in BFRL, but coordination across projects at the laboratory level is needed; this coordination should include monitoring the allocation of staff expertise and time to accomplish the development, adoption, and use of regulations. BFRL staff remain conflicted and confused about issues pertaining to intellectual property proce- dures and policies at NIST. Management should communicate its philosophy about when patents and copyrights should be pursued, the personal and laboratory costs and benefits associated with such pursuits, the level of support that management is willing to provide for such efforts, and clear procedures for their pursuit. Technical Merit 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 use 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. Examples of projects with high technical quality and merit are listed below. Within the Materials and Construction Research Division: The Inorganic Materials and the Polymeric Materials Groups develop test methods and predic- tive tools for next-generation construction materials such as high-performance concrete, coatings, and sealants. Each works over size scales from the nanometer level to the macroscopic level and seeks out, develops, and uses state-of-the-art analytical and measurement tools. The Inorganic Materials Group is sophisticated in its use of modeling, databases, and other computer-based tools. The Polymeric Materi- als Group is highly proactive in developing laboratory automation and accelerated durability testing. The strength of the materials groups is their work in establishing the fundamental bases of the durability of building materials. Staff have expertise in the broad range of disciplines that constitute materials science and engineering: chemistry, physics, engineering, environmental health and safety, and economics. The umbrella project of the Inorganic Materials Group, referred to as the HYPERCON program, recently completed the second year of a 3-year consortium aimed at developing and validating its Virtual Cement and Concrete Testing Laboratory (VCCTL). The program continues to make strides in measuring, understanding, and predicting the performance of high-performance concrete. The division is providing significant technical contributions to the laboratory's homeland security work, including efforts in the investigation of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers collapse, structural fire protection, and building vulnerability reduction. Within the Building Environment Division: The Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Group has conducted significant basic research on air and contaminant flow in conventional and hybrid ventilation systems and has disseminated this informa-

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66 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 tion to the technical community. Members of the group have been leaders in the development of standards and design tools for ventilation and indoor air quality. They are applying their skills to the evaluation of the effect that control strategies have on energy use and indoor air quality in both residen- tial and commercial buildings. The Heat Transfer and Alternative Energy Systems Group is conducting an alternative-energy project with the goal of developing measurement techniques, testing methods, rating methodologies, and simulation methods for photovoltaic systems. This is a solid program that is providing important baseline data on photovoltaic systems. Within the Fire Research Division: A core of the division's modeling efforts is the development, application, and distribution of the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS). The FDS software incorporates advanced turbulence models (large eddy simulation), gas radiation, and scientific visualization in an efficient computational scheme that is able to run on desktop computers. The capabilities of the model have been enhanced in the recently released Version 3.0 of FDS by the incorporation of absorption and scattering by droplet sprays, multigrid capability, a mixture fraction combustion model, and gas radiation. Work is continuing on further refinements of the model, to include parallelization, soot radiation, improved subgrid turbulence models, and improved heat and mass transfer at surface boundaries. The Materials and Products Group has performed high-quality and very relevant work on the flammability of residential mattresses. The group has worked with the mattress industry over the past 4 years to develop a flammability test method that reflects real-world bed-fire behavior. Within the Office of Applied Economics: OAK's activities identify relevant theoretical advances in applied economics and develop the means to apply them to the design and construction industry. OAK is recognized as a world leader in the application of these theories to the built environment. OAK is particularly strong in the area of enhanced building performance and the development of tools to aid in decision making for the building and fire safety communities. OAK's software-based systems have been established as the standard in such areas as life-cycle costing and energy efficiency. OAK has established the cost/time trade-offs for a number of building and fire systems, including systems to support building for environmental and economic sustainability, bridge life-cycle costing, fire safety gear selection, and a decision support system for the Department of Housing and Urban Development's program for advanced technology for housing. Organizational Changes . Organizationally, BFRL is evolving through a series of changes. In late 2000, the Fire Research Division was formed from the combination of two divisions. The panel is pleased to report this year that the transition continues to be going very well. Increased collaboration and good communications within the division were observed. The division is embracing stakeholder perspectives, broadening its out- reach, clarifying its goals and objectives, and stabilizing its financial situation. Last year, BFRL also merged two divisions, Structures and Building Materials, into the Materials and Construction Research Division. 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 long-term structural performance requirements. The panel has observed that these different cultures are coexisting peacefully but separately, and it continues to urge a focus on areas of potential synergy.

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BUILDING AND FIRE RESEARCH LABORATORY 67 Program Relevance and Effectiveness As mentioned above, laboratory staff have had increasing success building relationships with their customers in a wide variety of industries and communities. The examples below illustrate activities that are relevant and effectively planned and/or performed: Within the Materials and Construction Research Division: Both the Inorganic Materials and the Polymeric Materials Groups are well connected in indus- try and relatively well connected in academia. Both groups provide technical support for improving standards and criteria for evaluation, selection, and use of their respective materials and, additionally, support the needs of various federal agencies in addressing the construction and infrastructure needs of the nation. The HYPERCON program of the Inorganic Materials Group continues to effectively support and generate interest in the construction community, as represented by materials suppliers to that industry. Over the past year, VCCTL has been accessed via the Internet by about 9,000 users per month, from more than 80 countries. It is clearly seen as a valuable resource in the computational and experi- mental materials science of concrete and its constituents. As the VCCTL consortium completes the last of its 3 years, the panel is very interested in seeing the development of a plan to take the tools of VCCTL not only to the 4,000 ready-mix concrete producers of the United States as well as those of other nations, but also to construction companies and concrete contractors, building designers including engineers and architects, and prospective owners of concrete-intensive structures. While VCCTL has been designed to be used as one large modeling package, some individual components of VCCTL may prove to be of greater use than others to certain entities, and they should be packaged in such a way that their effective stand-alone use is possible. The plan that the panel recommends should additionally provide a clear means for application of VCCTL and its components to code and standards development. With its strong consortium support, the Polymeric Materials Group has both firm financial backing and a rich supply of industrial input on what is of most relevance to manufacturers of coatings, sealants, and other polymeric building materials. The division's work relevant to homeland security activities includes efforts in support of the investigation of the World Trade Center' s Twin Towers collapse. Within the Building Environment Division: The research projects of the Indoor Air Quality and Ventilation Group represent an important component of the effort in the area of healthy and sustainable buildings. The current projects are a natural outgrowth of the need to understand the role of airflow in buildings on energy use and on occupant health and comfort. The projects continue to evolve to meet changing national priorities. The group is recognized nationally for its expertise and is working with other government agencies on problems of national interest. One of the key areas is that of airflow and pollutant model development. The group has developed a number of analytical methods that are widely used in the research, develop- ment, and design communities. The Heat Transfer and Alternative Energy Systems Group is conducting an alternative energy project with the goal of developing measurement techniques, rating methodologies, and simulation methods for stationary fuel cells. The proposed testing methodology describes in detail the tests that will be performed and how the basic characteristics will be determined. This appears to be a solid plan that will yield results that will become increasingly important as the fuel cell industry develops. The Mechanical Systems and Controls Group has led the buildings industry in the develop-

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68 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 ment of the Building Automation and Control Network (BACnet@)) protocol, which enables the use of and communication between different types of control systems in commercial buildings. A second important building-related project of the group is that on automated commissioning and fault detection and diagnostics (FDD) of heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Within the Fire Research Division: Experimental and theoretical tools are being applied to the goals of reducing fire loss and improving firefighter protection. Progress is being made on the search for improved fire-resistant materials. The Fire Dynamics Simulator has been widely used for fire reconstruction, for providing educational tools for firefighters and the public, and for guiding the research program through the design of experiments. The Fire Research Division (FRD) has a significant role in NIST's World Trade Center follow- up and homeland security work. The staff is energized by the challenges and opportunities posed by these efforts, and they need to continue to position the laboratory to ensure their future role in this area. The division, and in particular its Fire Fighting Technology Group, have done an excellent job at outreach in providing firefighter support. One area in which FRD is currently participating, but on which it should focus more, is the area of codes and standards. This could be facilitated either by forming a subgroup that has more staff or by creating a division that concentrates on codes and standards. This group could provide the staff support for the large number of FRD personnel who now serve and often chair standards committees. One specific problem that FRD appears to have concerns the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In order for FRD to gather data with a planned fire test, NIST must go through a formal process of obtaining permits. This process is expensive and time-consuming. This NEPA permitting process appears to be a hindrance to the FRD's gathering of data by means of this avenue of fieldwork. Within the Office of Applied Economics: The projects in OAK focus specifically on meeting the requirements of the building and fire safety community, particularly through the assessment of the adequacy of economic resources to ac- complish this community's objectives within a set of available choices. Many of the projects within OAK are funded from external sources and respond directly to the needs of the community, thereby ensuring direct relevance to the community. OAK is active in all of the BFRL mission goals and in the overall NIST strategic objectives. It is particularly strong in the area of enhanced building performance. In addition, OAK develops critical tools to aid in decision making for the building and fire safety communities. Its collaboration with the other BFRL divisions (Materials and Construction Research, Building Environment, and Fire Research) further leverages the expertise and impact of the BFRL as a whole. OAK's recent contributions of Web-enabled decision support tools allow an expanding popu- lation of users throughout the United States and internationally to understand and utilize economic methods to assess different technological alternatives. OAK currently provides Internet access to most of its software programs. Within activities related to BFRL's standards and codes work: The audience for BFRL's work in standards and codes includes the manufacturers of relevant products and regulators in the United States and in other countries. However, for BFRL's work to influence standards and codes, staff must take into account regulators' need for timely information. BFRL has a key role in the follow-up after major building failures and fires. This role includes supporting the analysis of methods of exiting buildings and facilities in real or perceived emergencies.

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BUILDING AND FIRE RESEARCH LABORATORY 69 Laboratory Resources Funding sources for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory are shown in Table 7.1. The panel's concerns about funding, highlighted in the 2002 report, are somewhat lessened this year. However, the panel is concerned about staffing and hiring (there is a need, emphasized by BFRL staff during skip-level interviews (sessions in which management does not participate), for a greater number of technicians, and questions remain about how best to staff the homeland security activities). In addition, the panel observed space restrictions that may potentially inhibit the technical quality of work, and there is a need for a clear capital investment plan. As a result of congressionally allocated funding related to homeland security, BFRL has begun to receive significant funding, expected to continue in the near term. The panel remains 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 its homeland security-related program. While initial ~ ~ _ _ . _ . . ~ _ _ ~ _ steps have been good and appropriate, the laboratory must be cautious going forward to make careful decisions about such reprogramming 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 TABLE 7.1 Sources of Funding for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (in millions of dollars), FY 2000 to FY 2003 Fiscal Year Fiscal Year Fiscal Year Fiscal Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 Source of Funding (actual) (actual) (actual) (July 2003 estimate) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 16.6 18.8 26.6 27.5 Competence 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.0 STRS, nonbase 1.5 1.9 ATP 0.7 1.1 1.4 1.2 MEP 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 OA/NFG/CRADA 11.2 9.1 11.7 14.4 Other Reimbursable 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.2 STRSWTC R&D WTC Investigation Total 30.5 31.2 40.0 43.3 Full-time permanent staff (totally 157 150 156 155 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. Compe- tence funding also comes from NIST's congressional appropriations but is allocated by the NIST director's of lice in multiyear grants for projects that advance NIST's capabilities in new and emerging areas of measurement science. Advanced Technol- ogy 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). aThe number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year.

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70 AN ASSESSMENT OF THE NIST MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: FY 2003 security work and existing projects, including contracts with other government agencies. The panel continues to note that the refinement of a strategic plan may help define criteria that BFRL can apply to maintaining a proper balance of work. A strategic plan will need a core commitment of internal funds or stable external funds to support a long-term vision. In January 2003, staffing for the BFRL included 155 full-time permanent positions, of which 132 were for technical professionals. There were also 38 nonpermanent or supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and temporary or part-time workers. An understanding of the expecta- tions for long-term staffing levels should allow the laboratory to focus on replacement of talent and on 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 define its vision of what a state-of-the-art facility for large-scale structural fire testing should be and what the test objectives should be, and that it pursue a development, implementa- tion. and maintenance strategy to secure funding and build and maintain the program. Laboratory Responsiveness The panel found the laboratory to be open and responsive to recommendations made in past assess- ment reports.