Programs Funded Under the America COMPETES Act

DISASTER RESILIENT STRUCTURES AND COMMUNITIES (HURRICANES AND EARTHQUAKES)

The BFRL sees Disaster Resilient Structures and Communities (Hurricanes and Earthquakes) as a key focus area for addressing the goals of the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and the American Competitiveness Initiative. The Disaster Resilient Structures and Communities program has the following five stated research thrust areas: (1) develop validated tools that predict performance to failure under extreme loading conditions, (2) develop community-scale loss estimation tools to predict disaster resilience, (3) develop validated tools to assess and evaluate the capabilities of existing structures to withstand extreme loads, (4) develop performance-based guidelines for the cost-effective design of new buildings and the rehabilitation of existing buildings, and (5) derive lessons learned from disasters and failures involving structures. The BFRL Structures Group has mapped its existing program deliverables to these research thrust areas associated with ACI. The Structures Group received funding for a 5-year (FY 2003 to FY 2008) NIST Competence project to develop capabilities in analyzing the failure of complex systems. In FY 2008, the America COMPETES Act funding levels in the BFRL were not increased as had been anticipated. As a result, these programs have suffered from lack of adequate support. The President’s FY 2009 budget includes the funding requests that had been made as part of the FY 2008 budget.

National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program

NIST assumed leadership of the NEHRP in 2005, but the program appears to be early in its development stages within NIST. In 2006, the secretariat for the program was formally created. After that time (i.e., in FY 2006 and FY 2007), the primary activities of the program were associated with the start-up of the secretariat and with statutory compliance activities.

The NEHRP has strong leadership and good overall perspective on direction, objectives, and management. There has been limited technical progress on earthquake-related issues within NIST. Staffing and integration with other BFRL projects (multi-hazard) still need to be addressed. The NEHRP is a multi-agency partnership: the partners are the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NIST, the NSF, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Since the lead agency role was assigned to NIST, the following activities have taken place:

  • The establishment of the Interagency Coordinated Committee (ICC), which consists of the Directors of FEMA, NIST (Chair), NSF, USGS, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget;

  • The establishment of an Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR) that reports to the NIST Director;

  • Initiation of the development of an updated strategic plan (a draft of the plan is to be reviewed by ACEHR in 2008); as directed by the ICC, performance of a gap analysis of the current 2001-2005 Strategic Plan, on the basis of



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Programs Funded Under the America COMPETES Act DISASTER RESILIENT STRUCTURES AND COMMUNITIES (HURRICANES AND EARTHQUAKES) The BFRL sees Disaster Resilient Structures and Communities (Hurricanes and Earthquakes) as a key focus area for addressing the goals of the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and the American Competitiveness Initiative. The Disaster Resilient Structures and Communities program has the following five stated research thrust areas: (1) develop validated tools that predict performance to failure under extreme loading conditions, (2) develop community-scale loss estimation tools to predict disaster resilience, (3) develop validated tools to assess and evaluate the capabilities of existing structures to withstand extreme loads, (4) develop performance-based guidelines for the cost-effective design of new buildings and the rehabilitation of existing buildings, and (5) derive lessons learned from disasters and failures involving structures. The BFRL Structures Group has mapped its existing program deliverables to these research thrust areas associated with ACI. The Structures Group received funding for a 5-year (FY 2003 to FY 2008) NIST Competence project to develop capabilities in analyzing the failure of complex systems. In FY 2008, the America COMPETES Act funding levels in the BFRL were not increased as had been anticipated. As a result, these programs have suffered from lack of adequate support. The President’s FY 2009 budget includes the funding requests that had been made as part of the FY 2008 budget. National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program NIST assumed leadership of the NEHRP in 2005, but the program appears to be early in its development stages within NIST. In 2006, the secretariat for the program was formally created. After that time (i.e., in FY 2006 and FY 2007), the primary activities of the program were associated with the start-up of the secretariat and with statutory compliance activities. The NEHRP has strong leadership and good overall perspective on direction, objectives, and management. There has been limited technical progress on earthquake- related issues within NIST. Staffing and integration with other BFRL projects (multi- hazard) still need to be addressed. The NEHRP is a multi-agency partnership: the partners are the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NIST, the NSF, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Since the lead agency role was assigned to NIST, the following activities have taken place: The establishment of the Interagency Coordinated Committee (ICC), which consists of the Directors of FEMA, NIST (Chair), NSF, USGS, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget; The establishment of an Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR) that reports to the NIST Director; Initiation of the development of an updated strategic plan (a draft of the plan is to be reviewed by ACEHR in 2008); as directed by the ICC, performance of a gap analysis of the current 2001-2005 Strategic Plan, on the basis of 37

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stakeholder comments received in the spring of 2006 and on feedback from ACEHR; this effort resulted in nine areas of added emphasis for the plan identified with particular lead agencies; Development of coordinated NEHRP agency budgets (although NEHRP itself has no control over budgets of other agencies); and Preparation and submission of annual NEHRP reports to Congress. The annual resources associated with the NEHRP secretariat office within the BFRL are currently $750,000 (redirected from BFRL research funds) and $85,000 from each of the partner institutions (FEMA, NSF, and USGS). In addition, the BFRL provides administrative support to the NEHRP. Care should be taken that the role of the overall management of the NEHRP does not interfere with the BFRL technical programs associated with earthquake engineering. DISASTER RESILIENT STRUCTURES AND COMMUNITIES (FIRES) The extent of damage from wildland-urban interface fires has grown as a result of increased construction at that interface, which in turn has been aggravated where the weather has become hotter and drier. The problem area provides new technical challenges with the need to cover spatial scales ranging from submeter (to define fuel elements) to the regional scales (governing the terrain and winds that determine the propagation of the wildland fires). The problem requires an interdisciplinary approach to take into account socioeconomic factors that determine the type of construction and spatial distribution of the homes impacted by the fires. The BFRL is uniquely qualified to address the many facets of the wildland fires, drawing on its competencies in characterizing and modeling fire spread in buildings, its large-scale fire facilities for testing at multiple scales, its extensive connections in the fire community internationally, and its expertise in deriving lessons from fire investigations—particularly the skills demonstrated in the WTC and the Rhode Island Station nightclub fire investigations. The WUI technical plan includes (1) the development of databases of fuels at the WUI; (2) the development of predictive tools bridging the multiple scales in communities at risk, extending the capabilities of the Wildland Fire Dynamic Simulator (WFDS); (3) the measurement of the fire resilience of WUI economies at the community scale; and (4) the development of risk-reduction strategies. Impressive progress has been made toward achieving these goals in a relatively short time with the resources provided under the America COMPETES Act and with extensive collaborations such as those with the U.S. Forest Service, the University of California at Riverside, San Diego State University, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the City of San Diego Fire Department, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), the Forest Engineering Institute in Canada, and the Building Research Institute in Japan. Using facilities at NIST, models are being tested with data on the fires involving the following: single Douglas fir trees, the initiation of crown fires, grass fires, and fires in forest stands. The applicability of the WFDS to model community-scale fires has been demonstrated, but there is need for a controlled experiment involving a community fire. Fire investigations have been conducted on the October 2007 fires in San Diego County, employing post-fire analyses of both structure 38

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ignitions and the fire spread travel through the wildland to the urban interface. A major innovation of the program is the systematic treatment of the role of so-called fire brands as a source of ignition, including study of the vulnerabilities of building elements such as roof structure and materials of construction, based on both wind tunnel tests conducted at the BRI in Japan and the post-fire investigation of the October 2007 San Diego WUI fire. The BFRL should prepare technology roadmaps that clearly indicate the use of additional funding for the BFRL and indicate with precision and rigor the milestones being targeted and the affected stakeholders. The BFRL should fully embrace portfolio management tools and processes for the totality of the research programs being conducted across the laboratory. The laboratory should also move beyond the characterization of components to that of systems, as exemplified by work for the WTC and what is clearly emerging for WUI work. The focus on systems is critical to the science of measurement and U.S. competitiveness. New technologies from systems engineering, dynamical systems, and information technology should be examined and applied where appropriate. 39