A clearer description of task 2 would read as follows:

Evaluate a report developed under a separate contract by the DOD consultant that focuses on a methodology and analysis of the cost-benefit, return on investment, and long-term payback for specified building design standards, and evaluate the potential application of the consultant’s analytical approach to the DOD operating environment.


In June 2012 the NRC appointed a seven-member committee of experts from government, industry, and academia to fulfill the three related elements of the statement of task: the Committee to Evaluate Energy-Efficiency and Sustainability Standards Used by the Department of Defense for Military Construction and Repair. The committee members’ expertise included architecture, engineering, construction, facilities management, engineering economics, energy efficiency, building codes and standards, life-cycle costing and assessment, the environment, green building certification systems, and sustainable design (see Appendix A). The committee’s tasks of conducting a literature review and evaluating the DOD consultant’s report were made more complex by several factors, as outlined below.

Difficulty of Measuring Building Performance Objectively

The research on high-performance or green buildings inherently incorporates some level of subjectivity because of the unique nature of buildings, the diversity in baselines for comparison studies, and the lack of a standard protocol for research on this topic.

All buildings differ in terms of location, materials, design, size, function, technologies, operational practices, and other factors, which influence overall building performance. The diversity in building design and the multitude of factors that contribute to any building’s performance make it difficult to isolate the specific factors that contribute to energy use, water use, or other performance measures.

There are no national baselines from which to measure the performance of the multiple factors associated with high-performance or green buildings. Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) is the only national data source of detailed characteristics and energy use of U.S. commercial buildings. EISA 2007 establishes the CBECS as a baseline within the definition of high-performance buildings. However, there are deficiencies in the CBECS database that should be accounted for when generalizing the findings of studies using CBECS data, as detailed in Chapter 3.

There are no national databases for water use, for design and construction costs, operations and maintenance, indoor environmental quality, or worker productivity related to buildings. Baselines for comparing those factors are typically developed differently for individual studies.

Currently, there is no standard protocol for conducting research on high-performance buildings, although some studies do use similar methodologies or evaluation methods. The diversity in building design, the lack of standard definitions for green or conventional buildings, the diversity in baselines, and the lack of a standard research protocol all combine to hinder objective comparisons across studies and to preclude definitive, fully documented findings. The subjectivity inherent in making comparisons across research studies instead requires judgments based on a “preponderance” of evidence.

Recent Release of ASHRAE Building Standards and LEED Volume Certification Program

NDAA 2012 specifically required an evaluation of the costs and benefits associated with the use of ASHRAE Standards 189.1-2011 and 90.1-2010. Given the recent release of those specific standards and the fact that most buildings require 2 to 5 years to design and construct, there are few if any exist-

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