Chapter 7

Building and Fire Research Laboratory



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 Chapter 7 Building and Fire Research Laboratory

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 PANEL MEMBERS Thomas L. Anderson, Fluor Daniel Hanford, Inc., Chair Rose A. Ryntz, Visteon, Vice Chair Ronald L. Alpert, Factory Mutual Research Corporation Robert Altenkirch, Washington State University Janet S. Baum, Health, Education & Research Assoc., Inc. Lee W. Burgett, The Trane Company Marcia L. Coleman, DuPont Central Research & Development Ronny J. Coleman, State of California Filip C. Filippou, University of California, Berkeley Gavin A. Finn, Prescient Technologies, Inc. Anthony E. Fiorato, Portland Cement Association Robert Fowler, City of Pasadena, Pasadena, California Nicholas P. Jones, Johns Hopkins University Richard M. Kelso, University of Tennessee Boyd C. Paulson, Stanford University Richard E. Schuler, Cornell University Miroslaw J. Skibniewski, Purdue University Forrest O. Stark, Dow Corning Corporation John G. Voeller, Black & Veatch James A. White, Western Fire Center, Inc. Submitted for the panel by its Chair, Thomas L. Anderson, and its Vice Chair, Rose A. Ryntz, this assessment of the fiscal year 1998 activities of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory is based on site visits by individual panel members, a formal meeting of the panel on March 25–26, 1998, and documents provided by the laboratory.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 LABORATORY-LEVEL REVIEW Laboratory Mission The mission of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL), according to the laboratory, is to partner with its customers to provide the measurement technologies, performance prediction methods, and technical advances needed to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. industry and public safety and to assure the life-cycle quality and economy of constructed facilities. In last year's assessment, the panel noted that the mission was becoming more sharply focused and more closely aligned with the NIST mission. That assessment also noted that the laboratory was evolving a new “success ” strategy, which thematically links individual projects from across the laboratory into a few major objectives. Over the last year, this reorganization process has continued and has resulted in a strategic plan that defines the laboratory mission, vision, strategies, goals, action plans, and metrics to monitor progress against the goals. The laboratory has worked with a broad range of customers to develop these goals. This customer involvement in the determination of the laboratory objectives is commendable and is the best technique to ensure that research results are adapted by user communities and put to widespread use. The laboratory's strategy for carrying out its mission is embodied in a set of 10 objectives: Computer-Integrated Construction Environment (CICE), Cybernetic Building Systems (CBS), Industrial Fire Simulation System, Performance Standards System for Housing, Fire Safe Materials, Partnership for High-Performance Concrete Technology (PHPCT), Service Life of Building Materials, Metrology for Sustainable Development, Earthquake, Fire, and Wind Engineering, Advanced Fire Measurements and Firefighting Technologies. At the time of last year's assessment, only the first six of these objectives had been identified. Through continued effort and extensive discussions with public- and private-sector institutions, the objectives have been expanded to the 10 listed above. The first six are considered to be “major products, ” whereas objectives 7 through 10 are regarded as high-impact project areas. In the objectives-setting process, the laboratory worked in partnership with its customers, with the fire safety community, and with the Construction and Building Subcommittee and the Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The major products represent approximately 43 percent of the laboratory 's appropriated funding. The BFRL has now focused this share of its resources on a small number of high-priority products, each of which appears to have strong advocates among the laboratory's customers and can be expected to produce significant benefits within 5 years. The plan suggests that products will be demonstrated and implemented in cooperation with private-sector partners

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 so that benefits may be assessed quantitatively through such collaborations. The panel was pleased to see that, among the objectives that have been identified within the last year, the laboratory's objectives include work on sustainable development and service life prediction, as well as the structural engineering and fire science programs from the traditional areas covered by the BFRL. The emerging strategic plan is well constructed and solidly in alignment with the laboratory and NIST missions. The laboratory has displayed self-discipline in limiting the number of objectives and confining the major products to a small handful of the top priority needs identified by its customers. This restriction is a necessary result of the limited resources available to the laboratory. Every project addresses a well-defined customer need or fills the laboratory's legislatively mandated roles, and the laboratory is increasing its utilization of partnerships in deployment of results. There is some concern that the connections between the goals of the many individual projects and the 10 laboratory objectives are not yet completely clear; this issue will be discussed further in the next section. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work Overall, the technical merit of the laboratory projects is very good. The current array of programs forms a coherent and unified whole in support of the emerging national construction technology goals for research and development. 1 These goals were initially set out in 1995 by the Subcommittee on Construction and Building of the Committee on Civilian Industrial Technology of the NSTC. BFRL staff played an important part in the development of the document Construction and Building: Federal Research and Development in Support of the U.S. Construction Industry, which defines the national construction goals as well as other general strategies for research and development in this area. The laboratory staff have collaborated closely with the Civil Engineering Research Foundation to build upon the initial goals over the last several years. The goals have also been sharpened by a number of interactions between the construction industry and the Construction and Building Subcommittee of the NSTC. These technological goals have now been embraced in general by the U.S. construction industry and are reflected in evolving partnerships between segments of the industry and corresponding institutional organizations. The BFRL's strategic plan broadly lays out the linkages between the laboratory objectives and its customers' needs, as exemplified by the national construction goals, the national disaster reduction goal, and the fire safety improvement goal. However, as the laboratory moves to a number of diverse projects that address multiple objectives within the laboratory mission, there is a need for a clearer picture of the degree to which the various projects contribute to the attainment of these distinctively diverse goals, as well as to other goals of major constituents. Establishing this clarity will set a clear line of sight between researchers and laboratory outcomes and could also provide guidance in priority setting and resource allocation. This clarity will also help the panel to perform a high-quality, unambiguous assessment of the laboratory. The linkages between programs and goals could be displayed graphically through a matrix-like presentation in 1   Subcommittee on Construction and Building of the Committee on Civilian Industrial Technology, National Science and Technology Council, Construction and Building: Federal Research and Development in Support of the U.S. Construction Industry, National Science and Technology Council, Washington, D.C., 1995, pp. 7-9.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 which all of the laboratory projects are listed in the columns and the laboratory objectives are listed in the rows. Entries in this matrix could then identify how each project contributes to the 10 laboratory objectives and outcomes. Since the BFRL has only recently reorganized, this assessment was conducted by research area, which reflects the previous structure of the laboratory and is consistent with last year's report. At that time, there were six research areas: High-Performance Materials and Systems, Mechanical and Environmental Systems, Automation and Information, Structural Engineering, Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering, and Performance-Based Standards and Economics. The panel discusses the technical merit of the work in each of these areas in detail in the reports that follow, but some highlights are described below. The personnel working on High-Performance Materials and Systems continue to accomplish important work. The panel was particularly impressed by the technical projects that contribute to the laboratory objectives in the PHPCT and the Service Life of Building Materials Programs. These programs are state of the art and utilize capabilities unique to NIST. For example, NIST provides strong leadership with its work on the Computer-Integrated Knowledge Systems (CIKSs). Because of the specialized staff requirements and the need to integrate information from a wide range of sources, it is unlikely that this work could be done as effectively in a commercial or academic environment. The Mechanical and Environmental Systems (MEMS) work continues to be extremely timely, particularly in the area of sustainable design and construction. The MEMS project is both fundamental and leading edge, representing a thrust toward the practical and economic application of an advanced technology by leveraging fabrication techniques developed for microelectronics into assembling machinery sensors for buildings. Such sensors will enable the intelligent control of building environmental systems by connecting building controls with the measurement of levels of gases such as carbon dioxide to manage indoor air quality (IAQ) and detect the presence and growth of an unwanted fire. Over the past year, the programs in Automation and Information have become much more robust and relevant, and the increase in input from industry is considerable. Electronic exchange of construction information such as vendor data, finance data, and engineering calculations occurs with growing frequency over the Internet, but there are very few standards designed to ensure consistent transmission and interpretation of data. NIST's work to develop such standards could play a substantial role in meeting the national construction goal for reduced construction delivery time. Structural Engineering is producing highly visible and useful products for the construction industry. Particularly significant contributions have been made through their work on precast connections for earthquake-resistant construction and on the development of test guidelines for base isolation devices. The Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering Divisions have a dual responsibility to support U.S. industrial competitiveness and to enhance public safety, as mandated by law. The combination of basic science and engineering provides valuable synergy unavailable anywhere else and continues to deliver results to industry in a readily useful form. The world-class work in these divisions is very clearly focused, and the integrated programs are organized around several laboratory objectives based on fire engineering for materials, products, facilities, infrastructure, and people in both the public and private sectors.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 The Office of Applied Economics (OAE) continues to be a unique and valuable resource for all of NIST. The staff routinely utilize state-of-the-art economic concepts, data, and software along with computerized electronic distribution and delivery tools to complement and enhance products from within the BFRL as well as from other units at NIST. The work of the OAE is central to NIST's mission because its purpose is to examine and strengthen the connections between laboratory programs and the enhanced competitiveness of U.S. businesses. The United States is lagging behind Europe, Japan, and Australia in the development and use of performance-based standards for the construction and building industries. For example, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has an active research program in performance-based standards for building construction and fire safety. The BFRL is a major contributor to the U.S. effort in this area, and in the panel's judgment, work done at NIST may be the only way that the current performance standards development effort can succeed. Overall, the panel was very pleased to note dramatic improvements over the past year in technical merit, program impact, and dissemination of results. The repackaging of projects into objectives that are focused on outcomes rather than on activities or outputs is viewed as a positive step. Impact of Programs The laboratory continues to improve the effectiveness of multifaceted activities designed to disseminate program results. Although the impact of laboratory programs has grown over the last several years, the incremental change in 1997 has been significant. In the panel 's judgment, the reorganization has sharpened programmatic focus in a way that improves the effectiveness both of dissemination of results and of the impact of these results on industry. The assessments of individual research areas contain many examples that illustrate the effectiveness of laboratory programs and the resulting value these programs deliver to laboratory customers. Highlights are described in the following paragraphs. The panel was particularly impressed by the intralaboratory cooperation on the project quantifying the appearance characteristics of materials. The Building and Fire Research, Manufacturing Engineering, Physics, and Information Technology laboratories have all contributed to progress on this project. A state-of-the-art measurement criterion will be established to enable users to design and ensure the life-cycle appearance of paints and coatings. This advancement will be most valuable in industries where surface finish durability is a market differentiator. One example is the automotive industry, particularly in climates where rust and acid rain can affect cars' surfaces and hence product lifetimes. Impressive progress is also being made by the laboratory in measurements and standards development for design and control of building utility systems. The laboratory is moving effectively toward the goal of being able to measure overall building performance. Such techniques could provide a dramatic market differentiator for the U.S. construction industry and contribute substantially to improving U.S. competitiveness. In the area of High-Performance Materials and Systems for constructed facilities, the laboratory continues to stretch its performance by utilizing its expertise and association with industrial sponsors, with industry trade and standard committees, and with academia to bench mark NIST capabilities against the state of the art. Characterization of industrial needs is

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 constantly related to economic impact, and implementation of new technologies through consensus standard activities, such as American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) committees, is a standard practice, as is appropriate. The CIKSs are effectively used to both develop and disseminate key protocols for standards, such as protective coatings for steel and structure/properties for concrete and other cement-based materials, and for predicting the service-life of steel-reinforced concrete to chlorine ions. All BFRL reports and scientific papers are published on CD-ROM and are available over the Internet. Several projects related to global-warming issues aim to provide a technical basis for the selection of the best alternative refrigerants for the next century. Improved understanding of fundamental processes will enable U.S. industry to maintain a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. 2 Furthermore, staff in this area have done an outstanding job in continuing to lead the development of the Building Automation and Controls Network control protocol that permits the building control systems of one manufacturer to communicate with those of another manufacturer. This protocol is now in use worldwide. Program improvements made within the Automation and Information Group will clearly position projects in this area for high potential impact across broad sectors of the construction industry. The laboratory already appears to be a dominant player in the process plant sector of the architecture-engineering-construction (AEC) industry, but because of limited resources, the laboratory has not yet engaged other sectors of the construction industry in NIST's work. The potential for impact is high in the building, residential, and infrastructure sectors, where there is an unfulfilled need for construction automation and information exchange standards. As is typical for BFRL staff, structural engineering personnel are heavily involved in numerous professional society and code-writing committees. In general, NIST staff play a very active role in such groups, either through a leadership position or via technical contributions. Such activities serve as an effective mechanism to transfer information from research products to industrial practice. Overall, the groups working in structural engineering have employed several successful methods to assure the acceptance and institutionalization of research project results. These include identifying and engaging industry champions, utilizing committees of external experts to oversee program development, and aggressively pursuing wide distribution of computer products. An example of the last technique can be seen in the planned dissemination of the software for the determination of wind loads in accordance with the latest design recommendations. Within fire safety and fire science engineering, staff are actively engaged in developing advanced measurement systems to better understand fire test results; increased understanding will in turn produce better predictions of the response of designs to a range of fire situations. This diagnostic work is essential to the traditional standards and measurements efforts of the NIST mission and forms a springboard from which industry can move toward advanced prevention and protection technologies to better assure fire safety in constructed facilities. An example of the high-impact work in this area is the development of the Industrial Fire Simulation System, which will permit modeling of the spread and suppression of fires of increasing size and complexity. This development will clearly have a significant positive impact on the future of plant design, fire testing, and public safety. 2   Shedlick, Matthew T., Albert N. Link, and John T. Scott, Economic Assessment of the NIST Alternative Refrigerants Research Program (Planning Report 98-1), U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., 1997, 1998.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 The OAE has developed user-friendly software such as Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES) that allows decision makers to assign weights and evaluate lifecycle costs (LCCs) and environmental impacts of alternative materials. Economic assessment tools also are accessible to users over the Internet for application to bridge design analyses. These programs are critical for improving the nation's seriously deteriorating infrastructure. Overall, the panel believes that management has successfully restructured the array of laboratory projects to be consistent with the strategic objectives. Many researchers have a clear connection between their work and the customers. The new emphasis on a limited number of objectives and major products has naturally led to increased focus and a clearer definition of key deliverables. Excellent progress has been made over the last year on aligning support for this laboratory's work and on demonstrating the world-class capabilities available at NIST. Laboratory Resources Funding sources3 for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (in millions of dollars) are as follows:   Fiscal Year 1997 Fiscal Year 1998 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 20.14 18.05 Competence 0.40 0.35 ATP 0.40 0.13 MEP 0.21 0.20 Measurement Services (SRM production) 0.17 0.02 OA/NFG/CRADA 8.58 10.69 Other Reimbursable 0.18 0.14 Total 30.08 29.58 3   The NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories funding 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 it is allotted 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 done at the NIST laboratories in collaboration with or support of MEP activities. Funding to support production of Standard Reference Materials is tied to the use of such products and is classified as Measurement Services. 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.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 The level and type of outside funding is appropriate, and the projects supported in this manner are well aligned with the laboratory mission and nicely complement internally funded programs. The level of outside funding varies widely across the six research areas of the BFRL. Some of the newer work (such as projects on automation and integration) is necessarily supported mainly from internal sources, whereas more established programs (such as the fire research) have already demonstrated the value of their projects and therefore can receive a substantial fraction of their funding from the communities that benefit from NIST results. The overall goal of roughly 20 or 25 percent for external funding aims to strike a balance between the need to ensure that the work being done is important enough to outside companies and agencies that they are willing to contribute financially to its success and the need to ensure that the burdens placed on staff involved in applying for and managing outside grants do not eclipse their ability to oversee and perform high-quality research. The panel was very pleased to learn that the Fire Test Facility in Building 205 is budgeted for renovation and that repairs on the environmental chambers are already under way. As was noted in several past assessments, the inadequacies of these facilities had impeded the laboratory' s ability to carry out its mission, and the panel commends the decision to fund these much needed refurbishments. The BFRL is also exploring the future of its large-scale 53 MN Structural Test Facility. The panel supports the investigation of a potential role for this facility in the NSF initiative for a National Network for High Performance Seismic Simulation (NHPS). Careful planning will be needed to manage this decision, and issues related to the details of this process are discussed further in the section on Structural Engineering. Staffing for the BFRL currently includes 161 full-time permanent positions, of which 132 are for technical professionals. There are 26 nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral fellows and part-time workers. Personnel throughout the laboratory display a diversity of skills, depth of training, and variety of experience that, when coupled with their willingness to learn and to help others, provide the key ingredients that allow the laboratory to perform very high-quality technical work and communicate results to their customers. The Structures Division is undergoing a reorganization. The panel observed several issues that lend some sense of urgency to this proceeding. The ongoing programs in earthquake engineering are in need of both leadership and vision, and the current human resources devoted to this area do not appear to be adequate to cover the many important projects under way. Furthermore, the laboratory's preeminence in wind engineering is centered around a single NIST Fellow, so management attention is needed for succession planning.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 Funding (in millions of dollars) and personnel for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory's 10 major objectives for fiscal year 1998 (estimated) are presented below:   STRS Fundinga OA/NFG/CRADA Otherb Total Funding FTPsc Computer Integrated Construction Environment (CICE) 2.4 0.0 0.0 2.4 6 Cybernetic Building Systems (CBS) 1.5 0.2 0.0 1.7 7 Industrial Fire Simulation System 0.6 0.0 0.0 0.6 6 Performance Standards System for Housing 1.0 0.1 0.0 1.1 7 Fire Safe Materials 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.8 7 Partnership for High Performance Concrete Technology (PHPCT) 1.5 0.0 0.0 1.5 12 Subtotals for major products 7.8 0.3 0.0 8.1 45 Service Life of Building Materials 0.9 1.5 0.0 2.4 15 Metrology for Sustainable Development 2.8 3.1 0.3 6.2 32 Earthquake, Fire, and Wind Engineering 2.0 0.9 0.0 2.9 12 Advanced Fire Measurements and Firefighting Technologies 4.4 4.7 0.1 9.2 41 Subtotals for last four objectives 10.1 10.2 0.4 20.7 100 Total for all 10 objectives d 17.9 10.5 0.4 28.8 145 a “STRS Funding” in this table includes Competence funding. b “Other” includes ATP, MEP, Measurement Services (SRM production), and Other Reimbursables. c FTP, full-time permanent. d The totals do not include the $0.8 million dollars and 16 FTPs allotted to laboratory-wide administrative support. As has been mentioned at other points in this assessment, the reorganization of the laboratory projects into products in support of 10 strategic objectives is a positive step, and the programmatic benefits are already becoming apparent. However, this restructuring is still in progress, and continued careful oversight is necessary to ensure eventual success. As can be seen from the above table, 69 percent of the permanent staff and 72 percent of the total laboratory funding are devoted to the four objectives that have not been designated as major products. This de-emphasis of a major portion of the laboratory activities has had some effect on staff morale, as has the conclusion of projects that is a natural part of a reorganization. Since the previous assessment, the number of FTPs has decreased by 14. The reallocation of human resources was assisted by the utilization in 1998 funding decisions of the analytical hierarchy process (AHP) budget allocation technique, which is a zero-base process that assists in prioritization and has resulted in the discontinuation of some lower-priority work. The restructuring of the laboratory is ongoing and the number of objectives labeled as major products may change, but the effects of the reorganization on the staff should not be underestimated or ignored. The reordered portfolio of projects and the new strategy have in fact strengthened the laboratory programmatically, but the true test of the management and staff will be how they handle the coming adjustments and whether they can utilize this new system to provide a lasting, stable structure for the work performed throughout the laboratory.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 DIVISIONAL REVIEWS The BFRL is officially composed of five divisions: Structures, Building Materials, Building Environment, Fire Safety Engineering, and Fire Science. Before the restructuring, work in the BFRL was organized in six research areas: High-Performance Materials and Systems, Mechanical and Environmental Systems, Automation and Information, Structural Engineering, Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering, and Performance-Based Standards and Economics. The individual assessments below are divided into these research areas, but as this structure is no longer used by the laboratory, the budget and personnel information in these reports is all for fiscal year 1997. High-Performance Materials and Systems for Constructed Facilities Work in this area is mainly conducted in the Building Materials Division, but some projects also are located in the Structures and Fire Science Divisions. Mission According to the laboratory, the mission of the work on High-Performance Materials and Systems for Constructed Facilities is to perform research for the characterization, measurement, and evaluation of the performance (such as strength, durability, constructability, and fire safety) of materials and systems for structures, building envelopes, and external and internal finishes. Work in this research area is conducted in close collaboration with industry, government agencies, and academia because the results affect the productivity and competitiveness of U. S. industry as well as people's quality of life. The projects are in conformance with the laboratory and NIST missions. Programs are clearly in accordance with several of the national construction goals, 4 specifically: reduced delivery time, increased durability and flexibility of materials and processes, increased productivity and comfort, and reduced operation, maintenance, and energy costs. The projects presented to the panel in this research area focus on two of the major objectives set forward in the strategic vision for the laboratory: the PHPCT and the Service Life of Building Materials. The laboratory's programs in these areas are multidisciplinary and involve both intra- and interdivisional collaborations. Appropriately, the focus is on developing multiattribute models for prediction and optimization of performance. 4   Subcommittee on Construction and Building of the Committee on Civilian Industrial Technology, National Science and Technology Council, Construction and Building: Federal Research and Development in Support of the U.S. Construction Industry,National Science and Technology Council, Washington, D.C., 1995, pp. 7–9.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 locations. During construction, real-time field data acquisition can be used to rapidly update as-built project design details and monitor the status of field construction processes to facilitate the planning and coordination of subsequent operations. Meanwhile, process automation and control can provide the information and modeling context to facilitate the integration of robots and other automated machines into the construction environment. Finally, advances in facility operation and maintenance will provide owners with detailed computer-based models and accurate as-built information about their completed projects to enable them to better operate and maintain completed facilities. Recent examples in industry that illustrate the potential gains from the application of better information technologies include the design and building of the new Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, and the construction of a new 200,000 sq ft office building in Virginia that took just 5 months from the start of design to occupation of the facility. Many recent and current NIST projects are central to the achievement of the scenarios described above. The CICE staff, are developing and demonstrating electronic integration of lifecycle work processes. The project includes coordination and standards work, as well as development of a CICE testbed on which data sets and software tools are used to verify information models. The personnel who are experts on STEP for process plant industries serve as ISO liaisons and coordinate U.S. standards and test suites for process-plant product data representation and exchange. The Electronic Commerce of Technical Data for Process Plants project focuses on exchange and utilization of decision support applications, component data from suppliers and databases, and exchange of product information. The work on construction automation includes real-time metrology, data collection, process simulation, component tracking, and machine automation. This work benefits from current testing in collaboration with other NIST laboratories on automating materials handling, and the staff may be able to test their results with a field demonstration during the construction of the new Advanced Measurement Laboratory at NIST. A concern of the panel is that the construction automation research remains organizationally separate from the rest of the groups working in the Automation and Information area. Currently the Construction Automation Group is in the Structures Division, whereas all the other projects are in the Building Environment Division. All of the groups might benefit if the construction automation work was better integrated with the other projects. All of the programs described above contribute directly to enhancing the abilities of the AEC industry in the United States to exploit advanced information technologies for improved industry performance and competitiveness. Since last year, the scientists in this field have improved coordination and communication with parallel industry and academic efforts. As these technologies evolve, NIST has the potential to play a stronger and broader role in coordination and standards. Impact of Programs The CICE group publishes papers in the appropriate journals and conferences, but even more significant dissemination and impact occur through the staff's strong liaison and coordination role in U.S. and international technology development and standards activities related to Automation and Information. Such activities are very important to the growth and

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 competitiveness of U.S. industry in the increasingly global market for AEC services. NIST is the logical neutral party to lead this effort for the United States in the future. Substantial new resources will be required to fulfill this mission across the broader scope of this industry. The Construction Automation Group has increased industry interaction via site visits, participation in conferences, and hosting a workshop. These activities have contributed to the improved focus of this group over the past year. Currently, most of the NIST projects in Automation and Information focus predominantly on the process plant sector of the AEC industry. Although this is the smallest sector, it has some of the largest and most sophisticated firms. Therefore, considering that the NIST resources and staff time currently available for these projects are somewhat limited, it is appropriate for laboratory personnel to narrow the focus of their dissemination to firms in which the NIST results can be adopted most easily. Additional resources and efforts will be needed to allow this laboratory to have a similarly effective involvement with the larger sectors of this industry—building, housing, and infrastructure. At present, NIST's level of activity and visibility seems to be much lower in these sectors. An example of significant impact by NIST's work in Automation and Information can be seen in the participation and coordination for PlantSTEP (the use of STEP for exchange of plant engineering information). NIST personnel played a vital role in the adoption of ISO Application Protocol 227, the new international standard for exchanging plant engineering information, such as three-dimensional CAD models. Work included an experimental testbed for assessing prototype implementations of this protocol. The construction automation testbed may have potential for similar impact in the near future. Resources Funding sources for the work in Automation and Information (in millions of dollars) are as follows:   Fiscal Year 1997 NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 2.0 Total 2.0 At present, the CICE and Construction Automation projects do not have external funding from industry or other government agencies. However, 45 percent of the funds do come from sources within NIST but outside the BFRL. There are two CRADAs, and the laboratory has funded projects at four universities. At present, the absence of external funding seems appropriate because the activities in this area are still in the early stages of development. However, as the CICE testbed nears completion, it does seem that external support for the testing of new data sets and software tools to verify information models would be appropriate. In fiscal year 1997, staffing for the work in Automation and Information included 12 full-time permanent positions, of which 11 were for technical professionals. There were also two nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral fellows and part-time workers.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 Relative to the scope of its mission, the groups working in this research area have a very small staff. The current number of personnel is barely adequate for the limited focus on the process plant sector. Substantially more people and funding would be needed if these activities are to be expanded to the point where they would have an effect on the larger sectors of the AEC industry or if the new and important effort on electronic commerce is to be fully developed. The panel noted that qualified staff for these sorts of projects are very difficult to find. Few U.S. citizens have been trained for these activities, and they are sought after by many firms. The physical requirements for this work primarily consist of offices and computer facilities, plus access to test laboratories via collaboration with other groups. The current facilities appear to be satisfactory. However, there appears to be room for tighter coordination of activities between the various BFRL groups working on Automation and Information. Structural Engineering Work in this area encompasses almost all of the programs carried out in the Structures Division. Mission The mission of the Structures Division, according to the laboratory, is to increase the productivity and safety of building construction by providing technical bases for improved structural and earthquake design criteria and to conduct laboratory, field, and analytical research in structural engineering that includes the following: investigation of important structural failures, characterization of normal and extreme loads on buildings occurring during construction and in service, associated structural response and methods for providing desired reliability, development of design criteria for reduction of risks from natural hazards, evaluation methods and criteria for safe and economical construction practices, engineering properties of soils and foundations, and nondestructive evaluation methods and criteria for assessing structural properties. The programs in structural evaluation address the development of measurement methods for condition assessment and align well with the mission. In the area of natural hazard mitigation, there are two types of projects: projects that primarily address the development of measurements for building construction under the threat of natural hazards, but ultimately lead to the development of standards (e.g., structural performance of single family housing); and those that primarily address the development of new standards for existing and new building construction based on measurement information from previous or concurrent projects within or outside NIST (e.g., guidelines for testing and design of base isolation devices and, more recently, of passive energy dissipation devices). Both types of programs are well thought out and align with the divisional mission.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The projects in this division are of uniformly good quality and high technical merit. One example of a significant contribution is the development of technical data to be used in defining design provisions for earthquake-resistant connections between precast components. Another high-quality project is the work on performance requirements for base isolation systems. NIST staff have collected data about different proprietary systems and recently have published guidelines for conducting tests on base isolation systems. The next phase of this project will focus on passive energy dissipation systems. Technical work done at NIST often results in new standards, as was the case with the work on the impact-echo method developed in the structural evaluation group in the mid-1980s. In 1997, this method was approved by ASTM for measuring member thickness. Another very impressive current project is the effort to develop guidelines for the repair and rehabilitation of welded-steel moment frames. This work was begun in response to structural failures observed in southern California after the earthquake of January 1994. This year, NIST personnel plan to conduct experiments to validate and evaluate potential repair strategies. The panel found that this work is being performed in a timely manner and has the potential to make significant technological contributions in this field in coordination with work funded by other federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency. One of the valuable roles of the scientists in this division is to provide a focus for national work in structural engineering. For example, NIST provides personnel for the U.S. secretariat of the U.S.-Japan panel on Wind and Seismic Effects. The staff also are building connections with the three university-based earthquake engineering centers in the United States. Finally, NIST facilitates the work of the Interagency Committee on Seismic Safety in Construction (ICSSC) by providing the chair and the technical secretariat. Although the panel did not doubt the value of this last activity, there was some concern that the amount of staff time devoted to ICSSC work (currently approximately three full-time employees) may be too much of a burden for this small division. Current projects and planned deliverables generally align well with division mission and are of high quality. However, the alignment of the project on soil with the overall objectives and the mission of the division is not absolutely clear. It would be appropriate to reassess this project in the context of the laboratory's new objectives and products. Also, the reasons for the placement of the Construction Automation project in the Structures Division were not clear to the panel, as all of the other programs that focus on Automation and Information are located within the Building Environment Division. Impact of Programs The dissemination of results is in the form of research reports, design guidelines, collections of test results, and software. Furthermore, a great deal of technology transfer occurs through copious committee work by staff members. The communication of results appears adequate, but greater efforts to enhance the use of the World Wide Web for dissemination could be valuable.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 The impact of NIST results on the industry is uniformly strong. Particularly outstanding examples are the testing guidelines for base isolation devices and the computer program for determination of wind loads according to the latest code recommendations. Several successful models for ensuring the acceptance and impact of developed products have been pursued: use of an industry champion as in the precast connection project; buy-in through committee input of external experts as in the base isolation project (a strategy currently also being pursued in the new passive energy dissipation devices project); and wide distribution of software as in the wind load project. Division Resources Funding sources for the work in Structural Engineering (in millions of dollars) are presented below:   Fiscal Year 1997 NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 2.2 OA/NFG/CRADA 0.3 Total 2.5 In fiscal year 1997, staffing for the work in Structural Engineering included 17 full-time permanent positions, of which 14 were for technical professionals. There were also three nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral fellows and part-time workers. The division currently appears to be reorganizing, and it is currently a little difficult to assess whether the group assignments align well with proposed products. For example, the current human resources allotted to earthquake engineering do not appear adequate to cover the many projects in this area, and the efforts in this field are clearly in need of leadership and vision. In the field of wind engineering, the laboratory maintains some degree of national and international stature due primarily to the work of one NIST Fellow, but the group as a whole seems to be below critical mass. There are three or four people partially involved on an ad hoc basis in wind engineering research, but the number of projects per staff member may be too large. The National Science Foundation has planned an initiative for a NHPS. The BFRL's 53-MN testing machine may fit into this network. However, it was not clear to the panel what participation in such a national network would cost NIST or how the measurement activities of the division in the earthquake engineering area could be sustained if the laboratory's facilities were not integrated within such a network. Equipment is definitely in need of repair and upgrade. The discussions about a NHPS are an opportunity to assess the national need for NIST 's facilities and also to bench-mark current conditions at NIST against experimental facility requirements at other federal agencies, such as the Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army's Construction Engineering Research Laboratories, and at other institutions, such as universities. Such information will help the division to identify clearly what are the minimum test facility requirements for sustaining measurement efforts in earthquake engineering. Division management

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 has begun to examine the many issues related to the future of NIST 's large-scale testing machine, and the panel encourages their continued work on clarifying the options. Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering Work in this area is done in two divisions: Fire Safety Engineering and Fire Science. Mission The mission of the fire-related work, according to the laboratory, is to perform research for scientific and engineering understanding of fire phenomena and metrology for fire research and to develop engineering methods to predict the behavior of fire and smoke and means to mitigate their impacts on people, property, and the environment. The parallel missions of the Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering Divisions are pursued through integrated programs and objectives to meet the science and engineering needs of fire safety. These divisions have a dual responsibility to support U.S. industrial competitiveness and to enhance public safety, with the legislative directives guiding their work dating back to 1973. Obligations to both the public and private sectors are not inconsistent. Life and property losses from fires in all spheres of society have a tremendous impact on the efficiency and reliability of the workplace and the availability of capital and human resources for industrial growth. The formal planning process has strengthened both organizations, the value of their deliverables, and the focus on specific objectives and milestones. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The fire research effort at NIST is world-class. The combination of basic science and engineering provides valuable synergy unavailable anywhere else and delivers results to industry in a usable form. The work is clearly integrated and focused on creating a product output based on engineered fire safety for materials, products, facilities, infrastructure, and people in both the industrial and public sector. Explicit milestones are defined to measure the work in progress in most programs. In both divisions, the major objectives—industrial fire simulation, fire safe materials, and advanced fire measurements—are well conceived and well executed. Their results provide important information with critical applications to commerce, industry, and the public sector. They also add to the competencies of both divisions, thus sustaining the laboratory's technical ability. Impact of Programs The development of the Industrial Fire Simulation System will have a significant impact on the future of plant design, fire testing, and public safety. This model is designed to simulate the

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 behavior and suppression of fires of increasing size and complexity. Development of advanced measurement systems is essential to increasing the understanding of fire test results, which in turn will produce better predictions for the response of designs to a range of fire scenarios. The combination of simulation and measurement advances provides improvements in understanding and prediction that are critical to the development of performance-oriented designs, codes, and standards. This diagnostic work is essential to the traditional standards and measurements efforts at the core of NIST's mission. Such work forms a base to allow the industry to move toward advanced prevention and protection technologies for assured fire safety in constructed facilities. A high-impact accomplishment during fiscal year 1998 is the completion of the ALOFT (A Large Outdoor Fire Plume Trajectory) model. This fire simulation model predicts smoke spread from major outdoor fires over variable terrain and is a valuable tool for public safety management. In the continuation of this science, a major technical advance is the ability to dynamically model the dynamic fire behavior and the interaction of fire propagation with smoke vents and sprinklers in an industrial warehouse scenario. The continued shift in emphasis from producing research results to facilitating improved fire safety, which enhances both competitiveness and public safety, will continue to have a positive impact on the laboratory's short-term ability to deliver value. It also stimulates wider industrial interaction during the entire program life. In making this shift, laboratory management needs to be sensitive about adequately meeting prior commitments made to the fire community. Resources Funding sources for the work in Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering (in millions of dollars) are as follows:   Fiscal Year 1997 NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 6.9 Competence 0.2 ATP 0.1 Measurement Services (SRM production) 0.2 OA/NFG/CRADA 3.6 Other Reimbursable 0.1 Total 11.1 In fiscal year 1997, staffing for the work in Fire Science and Fire Safety Engineering included 58 full-time permanent positions, of which 50 were for technical professionals. There were also 16 nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral fellows and part-time workers. Both divisions have been able to maintain the high quality of personnel. Although modest, the current budgets are applied efficiently to well-established priorities. External funding makes up approximately one-half of the total budget, which is higher than the 20 to 25 percent that is the

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 overall NIST goal, but for these divisions, external collaborations are critical and such funding is supporting projects in line with the BFRL mission and vision. The OA grants are quite appropriate, and the work focuses on real-world problems while continuing to serve the larger purposes outlined in the divisional missions. Work funded by outside agencies can provide an important way to leverage the modest STRS funds and build both the competencies and product output of the laboratories. The continuing management challenge is to ensure that significant effort is not diverted from research activities to acquire and administer the external funding. Allocation of these modest resources against the multiple priorities of the many public and industrial constituencies interested in fire safety requires ongoing reprioritization efforts. The decision to curtail further work on the Consolidated Fire and Smoke Transport model and to initiate work on fire protection by building automation systems like the advanced annunciator panel is an example of reprioritization that is causing concern in parts of the fire physics community. Understanding of fire physics is an important continuing objective for the fire research effort. The capital renewal of the Large Burn Facility in Building 205 is under way. This upgrade will correct a long-recognized serious deficiency and will enable these divisions to perform necessary fire measurement and verification work in an efficient, economical, and safe manner. Plans are in place to use commercial facilities for critical data acquisition during Building 205 renovation, although this option would result in a higher cost and lower productivity than having the renovated facility. Other equipment needs are being met satisfactorily. Office of Applied Economics The Office of Applied Economics is administered through the BFRL Office. Mission According to the laboratory, the mission of the Office of Applied Economics is to provide economic products and services through research and consulting to industry and government agencies in support of productivity enhancement, economic growth, international competitiveness, and public safety, with a focus on improving the life-cycle quality and economy of constructed facilities. OAE staff have become vital links in establishing priorities, in performing performance-based analyses, and in assisting the divisions and the laboratory in defining more clearly who NIST's customers are and how NIST's products are valued. Thus, the OAE has been instrumental in shaping the missions of other NIST units, as well as in providing assistance in improving and assessing performance. The mission of NIST is to enhance the competitiveness of U.S. industry, and OAE staff provide the tools to estimate how the laboratory products that enhance private-sector efficiency translate into improvements in economy-wide performance. Thus the work of OAE is central to NIST 's mission. In addition, the creation and application of performance-based standards allow for and encourage the use of innovative designs, products, and processes in buildings and

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 structures that lead to improved quality, lower life-cycle costs, and increased competitiveness for U.S. companies. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work State-of-the-art economic concepts, data and software, and computerized electronic distribution and delivery tools are utilized routinely by staff, both to complement and enhance the products of other divisions and units at NIST and to render their own activities meaningful and user-friendly to clients. One example is the evolution and application of the analytical hierarchy process to assist in multiobjective decision making. OAE also advises on how to determine the prices charged for Standard Reference Materials so as to make sure that they are used to the fullest extent while still recovering full costs. Finally, OAE staff employ a regional economic model to estimate the long-range economic benefits to the U.S. economy, by geographic location, of many of the efficiency-enhancing products of NIST. Furthermore, OAE efforts support four of the BFRL's six major products. The work on performance-based standards at NIST is part of a growing international focus on developing criteria for the overall integrity, safety, and cost-effectiveness of structures in relation to their intended uses, rather than just using traditionally measurable quantities like component strength and flammability to determine the quality of buildings. Because overall performance is dependent on the interactions between a large number of individual components and systems, collaborations between the OAE staff and the technical personnel in other areas in the BFRL are required to tackle this problem. The expertise in the OAE is a key part of assessing relative values and potential trade-offs among various building system costs, while other laboratory staff can focus on developing the technology and standards for feasible measurements of overall performance. Examples of current laboratory projects that are contributing to these goals include the work on the Computer-Integrated Construction Environment, the Cybernetic Building Systems, and the Economics of High-Performance Concrete projects. The first two programs aim to provide mechanisms and systems to assist in planning and monitoring budget construction and performance. The last program is working on surveying potential new materials in terms of performance objectives. The work ongoing at NIST is important because the building code system in the United States is currently undergoing a drastic overhaul. The three-model code organizations in the United States are merging their code systems into a single national model code. Since criteria are traditionally developed in response to disasters, much of the information contained in the current building codes is not supported by proper research and validation. Therefore, the consolidation of the three codes provides opportunities to review these criteria and strengthen the building communities' ability to determine the cost-effectiveness of various code requirements through research on economic tools and evaluation of alternative building materials, as is occurring at NIST.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 Impact of Programs Evidence of the effectiveness of both the internal and external communications strategies of OAE staff is the extent to which their projects are used by other NIST personnel. Internally, the AHP process was used this year to perform zero-based budget analyses on all of the BFRL activities and to identify and establish budget allocations for the realigned laboratory products. Outside of the BFRL, NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Advanced Technology Program both use OAE staff services to assess their economy-wide impact. Finally, user-friendly software, sometimes accessible over the Internet, extends the use of laboratory tools to a wide audience. For example, the software for the BEES project allows users to assign weights and to evaluate the LCCs and environmental impacts of alternative building materials. Also, the project on the Economics of New Technology Materials, is developing the BridgeLCC software to disseminate the laboratory's work on bridge maintenance analyses. However, the greatest evidence of the impact of this office may be that the work of OAE is assisting in the transformation of how the BFRL (and to a lesser extent NIST as a whole) views its function, its customers, and its products. Resources The diversity of skills, the depth of training, and the variety of experience among the OAE staff are exceptional. The personnel offer a unique blend of competency in economic theory, statistical techniques, and systems analytic methods, combined with an appreciation of technological possibilities and constraints. Most important, the staff members view economic analysis not as an end in itself, but as a set of tools to be used in improving understanding of which technological and managerial innovations might be used to enhance economic performance economy-wide and how such innovations can be expected to help. OAE personnel have ready access to the latest technological tools (both computer hardware and software), but currently the greatest limitation on their work is the increasing paucity of adequate industry data. This shortage is due to recent constraints imposed on the U.S. Bureau of Census. Another difficulty is several unfilled staff positions in OAE. A unique combination of multidisciplinary training and focus on applied economics is needed for OAE personnel to be effective in support of the laboratory and NIST missions. Therefore, OAE management is appropriately employing a highly selective recruitment strategy. This issue will likely persist over the next 5 to 10 years, since two skilled and productive staff members are nearing retirement eligibility. A consequence of the shortage of staff is that OAE is unable to fulfill a number of requests for assistance from NIST programs outside of the BFRL.

OCR for page 149
An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES Fiscal Year 1998 MAJOR OBSERVATIONS The panel presents the following major observations. The technical merit of the work performed in the BFRL is very high. The current array of programs forms a coherent and unified whole in support of the emerging national construction technology goals for research and development. The outlook for the laboratory's major facilities has improved drastically over the past year. Repairs have begun on the environmental chambers, and the laboratory is looking into potential National Science Foundation support for the large-scale structural testing facility. The panel is also particularly pleased to report that the renovation of the Fire Test Facility in Building 205 will strengthen the laboratory's capabilities and is critical to fulfilling the laboratory's mission in measurements, standards, and public safety. The success strategy that has evolved over the last few years is very sound. A solid strategic plan is in place, 10 objectives have been defined, and the panel commends the laboratory for moving from an output focus to an outcome focus. Although the panel perceives the programmatic restructuring to be appropriate, the laboratory is merely at the beginning of the adjustment process for the reorganization. Issues relating to staff morale and prioritization will require careful attention. A clearer demonstration of the connections between each laboratory project and the 10 objectives might help to ensure a smooth transition and enable the panel to perform a thorough assessment.