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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 7 Building and Fire Research Laboratory
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 PANEL MEMBERS Rose A. Ryntz, Visteon Automotive Systems, Chair Janet S. Baum, Health, Education & Research Associates, Inc., Vice Chair Robert A. Altenkirch, Mississippi State University Robert J. Asaro, University of California at San Diego Craig L. Beyler, Hughes Associates, Inc. Donald B. Bivens, DuPont Fluorochemicals Ronny J. Coleman, Consultant, Elk Grove, California James M. Delahay, Lane Bishop York Delahay Inc. Filip C. Filippou, University of California at Berkeley James H. Garrett, Carnegie Mellon University Leon R. Glicksman, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Eric R. Hansen, Ash Grove Cement Company Susan D. Landry, Albemarle Corporation Richard E. Schuler, Cornell University Jim W. Sealy, Architect, Building Code Consultant, Dallas, Texas Miroslaw J. Skibniewski, Purdue University James A. White, Western Fire Center, Inc. Michael Winter, United Technologies Research Center Elaine M. Yorkgitis, Automotive Division/3M Submitted for the panel by its Chair, Rose A. Ryntz, and its Vice Chair, Janet S. Baum, this assessment of the fiscal year 2000 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 9-10, 2000, in Gaithersburg, Md., and the annual report of the laboratory. 1 1 U.S. Department of Commerce, Technology Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Building and Fire Research Laboratory Activities, Accomplishments, and Recognitions, NIST SP 838-16, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Md., February 2000.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 LABORATORY-LEVEL REVIEW Laboratory Mission According to laboratory documentation, the mission of the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL) 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, public safety, and environmental safety, and to assure the life-cycle quality and economy of constructed facilities. This mission statement is appropriate and well aligned with the overall NIST mission. BFRL's role is unique, in that the focus on standards and metrics work accomplished by this laboratory could not occur at any academic or industrial institution. The BFRL possesses a unique collection of expertise, and its value to the nation is based not only on the technical excellence of individual projects but also on the benefits that accrue from having so many groups serving building-related industries in one location. These industries are conservative and fragmented and perform little research. The work in BFRL is therefore needed to push the boundaries of existing technologies and develop new and innovative measurement techniques to support new products and directions. In addition, the fragmentation into many sectors of the building industries and the lack of communication even between parties with common interests limit the spread of technologies and the ability of U.S. companies to have an effective voice on the international stage. BFRL serves as a central source of information about the relevant technologies, as a coordinator and convener of workshops and standards committees and a U.S. representative to those workshops and committees, and as a neutral evaluator of new standards and technologies. The result of laboratory efforts is increased U.S. competitiveness, as companies gain access to new technologies and world markets. The public also benefits from the introduction of better products and the industry's use of more accurate standards that—owing to the unbiased nature of NIST's measurement techniques and its participation in standards committees—are formulated fairly and with safety in mind. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The panel continues to be impressed by the technical quality of the work and of the staff in BFRL. Many examples of world-class research and innovative techniques are occurring in the laboratory. Two examples are the development of the ultraviolet (UV) integrating sphere, which can provide controlled exposure of materials to a combination of environmental stresses in order to measure the service life of the materials, and the fire dynamics simulator, which will assist building designers by modeling sprinkler effects and smoke transport. Many more excellent projects are described in the divisional assessments that follow. The BFRL contains five divisions: Structures, Building Materials, Building Environment, Fire Safety Engineering, and Fire Science. Research also occurs in the Office of Applied Economics and the Standards and Codes Services Unit of the laboratory office. In addition to using the mission statement to define activities for these groups, the laboratory has identified 10 major objectives that articulate the themes and intended impacts of the cross-divisional efforts at BFRL. This approach is approximately 3 years old, and the laboratory continues to refine the specific objectives. As of January 2000, the 10 major objectives of the BFRL were as follows: Construction Integration and Automation Technologies, Cybernetic Building Systems,
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 Fire Safe Materials, Industrial Fire Simulation System, Partnership for High-Performance Concrete Technologies, Performance Standards System for Housing, Service Life Prediction of Materials, Metrology for Sustainable Buildings, Earthquake, Fire, and Wind Engineering, and Advanced Fire Measurements and Fire-Fighting Technologies. The first five objectives include specific products that the BFRL is actively disseminating or preparing to disseminate to relevant industries. Because the major objectives often cut across divisional boundaries, brief comments about each one are offered in this overview section. More detailed comments about the individual projects that support these laboratory-wide thrusts are provided in the divisional assessments. The main accomplishment of the Construction Integration and Automation Technologies (CONSiAT) objective this year was the formation of the FIATECH (Fully Integrated and Automated Technologies) Consortium, dedicated to technologies in support of fully integrated and automated project processes for construction. This consortium includes owners and contractors; adding equipment makers would be a good next step. NIST's work on organizing this group is an important step toward facilitating adoption of new technologies in the construction integration and automation area. Rapid proof of concept and implementation are necessary to maintain the competitiveness of U.S. companies, especially vis à vis Japan. In the work on Cybernetic Building Systems (CBS), the technologies embodied in the data communication protocol for Building Automation and Control Network (BACnet) have gained acceptance throughout industry, and staff helped form a BACnet Manufacturers Association that will create and operate a certification program for BACnet products. NIST can now focus on expanding the reach of BACnet into lighting controls and systems with fire-fighting applications. Work on the Virtual Cybernetic Building Testbed (VCBT) also has a lot of potential; the challenge in this area is how to test and validate the integration of various components. The Fire Safe Materials (FSM) objective is very strong technically. Work at NIST has brought a scientific approach into a field previously dependent on trial and error approaches. The fundamental research on understanding what characteristics contribute to a material's flammability is valuable to many companies. Since the work is precompetitive, funding from this industry is unlikely, but BFRL results will probably lead to better products and faster product development. Many years of work on the Industrial Fire Simulation System (IFS) has resulted this year in the release of the Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS), a great success that would not have been possible without the long-term commitment and focus on fundamental models that is available only at NIST. The FDS will certainly be effectively employed by researchers and engineers from industry to further the community 's understanding of fire dynamics and to apply this understanding to solving fire problems in building design. The Partnership for High-Performance Concrete Technologies (PHPCT) is bringing together a fragmented collection of communities, including concrete producers, suppliers, users, and highway engineers. The NIST results are efficiently disseminated via the Internet, and data and techniques from BFRL will advance the U.S. agenda by increasing the safety and quality of concrete products. The panel particularly applauds the effort to work cooperatively with the American Concrete Institute to ensure that this product has maximum impact on the user community.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 The projects working on Performance Standards System for Housing (PSSH) span several divisions. The focus is on developing new measures and diagnostic tools that can be used to implement new standards and demonstrate the effectiveness of new technologies. This work is coordinated by a manager within the Standards and Codes Services Unit in the laboratory office, and the panel was not clear how projects are selected and short-term goals are set in support of this objective. The projects on Service Life Prediction of Materials (SLPM) have increased their coordination in the past year and are now unified around a single theme so they can take advantage of synergies between various activities. The focus on techniques to measure durability and on a scientifically rigorous approach that utilizes well-controlled environmental conditions will be of great benefit to industry. The Metrology for Sustainable Buildings (MSB) objective utilizes BFRL expertise in thermal machinery, heat transfer, and indoor air quality to develop measurement methods, tests, data, and simulations to support sustainability in the design, construction, operation, and demolition of buildings and their systems. This work is appropriately focused on a long-term concern of the United States and other countries. The programs in the objective are evolving as needs change; for example, the expertise developed during NIST's important work on alternatives to ozone-destroying chlorofluorocarbons is now being applied to research on refrigerants and systems with low potential for global warming. The focus of the work in Earthquake, Fire, and Wind Engineering (EFWE) is on providing the technical basis for performance-based design and rehabilitation standards and for nondestructive evalution methods used in condition assessment and quality control. This work also involves conducting postdisaster and failure investigations, but the level of effort on this sort of work fluctuates, as these events are intermittent and unpredictable. Other activities include participation in standards committees and supervision of research at other institutions (congressional pass-throughs), which are not necessarily the best use of NIST staff time. The group working in wind engineering may be dropping below critical mass, and BFRL should consider realigning some of the structural efforts in support of the PSSH objective. The Advanced Fire Measurements and Fire Fighting Technologies (AFM/FFT) objective contains a variety of meaningful individual projects, although the panel did not see an overall programmatic goal or strategy that unified this array of projects. Examples of work under way include the development of methods to evaluate the performance and limitations of firefighter protective clothing, the development of sensors that warn firefighters when the environment is too hot for them, and the investigation of fire-suppressing alternatives to Halon. Although most of these objectives include projects from multiple divisions, the panel observed that there do not appear to be mechanisms to support and encourage collaboration across administrative lines. Specifically, no effective way of allocating resources and managing staff from multiple groups, divisions, or laboratories was seen; the authority of project managers is not broad enough to unify activities that cross borders. The panel does not mean to imply that cooperative work is not occurring, but rather that the management structure is hindering, not helping, coordination of these efforts. Overall, the alignment between individual projects and laboratory-wide objectives appears to have increased. However, the panel is somewhat concerned about the amount of restructuring that has occurred within the BFRL over the past 3 years, since staff need an environment with stable goals and resources to be productive and build long-term relationships with their customers. Laboratory management is making an effort to develop evaluation criteria for the purpose of rating projects and allocating internal funding, and the panel supports this goal. Criteria used to assess projects throughout the laboratory in the budget decisions of June 1999 were responsiveness to construction industry needs, magnitude of economic impact, opportunities for recognition of BFRL by outside parties, opportunities for recognition of BFRL within NIST, and potential for leveraging BFRL's resources. The evaluation
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 of major objectives that occurred in January of 2000 was based on similar criteria, except that opportunities for recognition were replaced by technical merit of work. Although these criteria are appropriate, it appears that the project assessment process is mainly top-down, in that activities are rated and priorities set at the top levels of management and the results are then announced to the staff. This lack of communication between laboratory management and technical staff about the logic and criteria behind decisions about the status and funding of individual projects and about determining major thrusts of the BFRL troubles the panel. Because they understand the technical issues and are well-connected to researchers in industry, the laboratory 's technical personnel in the various divisions can be a resource for project selection. Their appreciation for how BFRL results might impact the industry and how new techniques might most effectively be implemented could help determine which proposed projects and objectives have the best chance of success. In addition, clearer communication by laboratory management about how decisions are made and how success is defined would have a positive impact on staff morale and productivity. BFRL management appears to be aware of the communication problems and has instituted a series of informal conversations between the laboratory director and small groups of bench scientists and engineers to begin to build clearer channels between them. Impact of Programs The programs of the BFRL have an impact on a number of industries, from the fire protection community to construction and design companies. Also, improving the quality of items that affect virtually everyone in the United States—structures and building control systems and furniture—improves public safety and quality of life. The validation and standardization of nondestructive testing methodologies for fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites could speed the adoption of new materials in the retrofit and repair of constructed facilities. Tools developed to accurately and efficiently measure the service life of materials could shorten product development cycles and improve the quality of the final products. Techniques to determine the energy efficiency of heating and cooling systems using alternative refrigerants will provide data needed by regulators trying to make good decisions on issues related to global warming. Fire simulation tools could improve building design and firefighter training. Work on silicon-based nanoscale additives that reduce polymer flammability could lead to more fire-resistant materials. An important issue facing all BFRL projects is how laboratory results can most effectively be communicated to the relevant industries and what NIST can do to ensure the implementation of new techniques. A variety of mechanisms are already employed, including publications; interactions with and organization of consortia; Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADAs); development of software packages; participation in standards committees and technical working groups; and NIST-hosted workshops and training programs. Informal relationships and collaborations also exist with individuals at companies and universities. The fragmented and conservative nature of building-related industries often makes dissemination difficult. In some areas, such as wind engineering, there are no industry organizations with which BFRL can cooperate. BFRL has had some notable successes when industry is involved early in the life of a project; one example is the consortium on service life of coatings. Another effective technique is the real-life implementation of a new technology to convincingly demonstrate the practical value of BFRL results (the full-scale test of the BACnet standard in an office building in San Francisco is an example of this approach). Delaying proof-of-concept activities can delay acceptance and implementation of new ideas. The current success of the laboratory's products is in numerous cases built upon many years of investigation into basic scientific questions, the accumulated experience of staff members, and the broad
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 array of technical expertise available within BFRL. To ensure that the laboratory's work has impact in the future and that NIST is positioned to meet the emerging needs of industry, it is important for BFRL management to maintain a portfolio of programs that ranges from work focused on short-term outputs to long-term studies in areas of importance. The core competences of BFRL must be nurtured because the collection of a wide variety of skills in one unit is part of what makes the laboratory's products unique. For example, although several of the areas of expertise in BFRL are represented in Department of Energy (DOE) programs, the DOE personnel are scattered throughout the national laboratories and therefore cannot take advantage of the synergies and collaborations available in BFRL. Laboratory staff continue to participate in standards committees, although work specifically on the writing of standards is decreasing. Instead, BFRL is focusing more on developing innovative and accurate measurement techniques that may be used to implement standards fairly and effectively. These techniques, along with simulations and testbeds developed at NIST, can also be used to support product development and building design. This adjustment of BFRL's approach is based on the staff's experience that in some areas, standards-writing activities often focus on existing, already-verified technologies. The new approach is expected to allow the laboratory to engage in more proactive work on measurement techniques that will allow designers and users to evaluate and improve new technologies in emerging areas. Laboratory Resources Funding sources for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory are shown in Table 7.1. As of January 2000, staffing for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory included 157 full-time permanent positions, of which 129 were for technical professionals. There were also 29 nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The percentage of the laboratory's budget provided by external sources rose from 29 percent in 1997 to 35 percent in 2000. As of March 2000, all of the needed outside funding had not been secured, and reductions in force (RIFs) were planned in at least three divisions. This situation has had an unfavorable effect on morale in the laboratory and has the potential to negatively affect the quality and appropriateness of the work done at NIST. The time and effort required to obtain external funding is reducing the productivity of senior staff members, and the pressure to cover anticipated budget short-falls is forcing BFRL to seek out projects that are not necessarily consistent with its mission. It appeared to the panel that the responsibilities associated with securing outside money to support the groups are falling on the individual group leaders. The uncertainty of the current environment should make laboratory management reconsider this approach. While individual groups can certainly be expected to maintain connections with other government agencies and to take advantage of funding opportunities that advance BFRL objectives, the long-term health and stability of the laboratory is the responsibility of laboratory-level management. Decisions must be made about what core competences NIST must have to meet industrial and governmental needs and about how best to maintain the necessary expertise, and internal funds must be allocated across the laboratory in support of these long-term requirements. Another contributor to the shortfall in funding for the BFRL may be the number of areas in which there is a mismatch between the actual costs of projects and the allocated resources. In some cases, these are externally funded activities for which the support provided by outside agencies is insufficient, and NIST is forced to make up the difference with internal funds. In the Structures Division, the situation is exacerbated by the existence of several congressionally mandated activities—reconnaissance missions after major wind, fire, and earthquake catastrophes and supervision of funds earmarked for university research programs. These activities require NIST staff time and effort but are funded inadequately or
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 TABLE 7.1 Sources of Funding for the Building and Fire Research Laboratory (in millions of dollars), FY 1997 to FY 2000 Source of Funding Fiscal Year 1997 (actual) Fiscal Year 1998 (actual) Fiscal Year 1999 (actual) Fiscal Year 2000 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 20.1 16.3 16.4 16.1 Competence 0.4 0.4 0.4 0.2 STRS, nonbase 0.0 2.5 1.8 1.4 ATP 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.9 MEPa 0.2 0.1 0.2 0.2 Measurement Services (SRM production) 0.2 0.0 0.0 0.0 OA/NFG/CRADA 8.6 8.9 9.2 10.3 Other Reimbursable 0.2 0.2 0.1 0.2 Total 30.1 28.9 28.7 29.3 Full-time permanent staff (total)b 177 161 157 157 NOTE: Funding for the NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories comes from a variety of sources. The laboratories receive appropriations from Congress, known as Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) funding. Competence funding also comes from NIST's congressional appropriations but is allocated by the NIST director's office in multiyear grants for projects that advance NIST's capabilities in new and emerging areas of measurement science. Advanced Technology Program (ATP) funding reflects support from NIST's ATP for work done at the NIST laboratories in collaboration with or in support of ATP projects. Funding to support production of Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) 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.” a Manufacturing Extension Partnership. b The number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year. not at all. Overall, a clear understanding at the start of projects about the resources that will be needed and how these resources will be provided may assist BFRL in appropriately leveraging its scarce internal resources and allow the laboratory to avoid the current situation, in which some researchers are involved in a large number of projects. The BFRL is seeking to formalize a relationship with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in which NIST would officially provide the research capabilities needed by FEMA. The panel strongly endorses this approach, as well as a similar approach already in progress with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), in which external funding is provided for an array of BFRL projects in support of HUD's Partnership for Advancing Technologies in Housing (PATH). These affiliations exemplify good external support. Two things are important: (1) long-term commitments and (2) goals consistent with the BFRL and NIST missions. These qualities allow the laboratory to make long-term plans for research strategies and staffing levels. The relationships with FEMA and HUD are beneficial to both parties: the agencies get sound technical advice and NIST gains influential advocates who can promote BFRL results to industry and support funding for BFRL in Congress. The strain on morale caused by funding instability and staff reductions (as a result of retirements and voluntary departures as well as RIFs) is particularly apparent among younger staff. The loss of mentors and the decreasing opportunities to be involved in long-term research programs, as well as the large number of projects per person in some areas, are very hard on junior personnel. Yet these are the
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 people who will ensure that BFRL continues to support a key sector of the U.S. economy. The United States is currently facing a challenge of unprecedented proportions with regard to its vital infrastructure. The building and construction industries account for more than 12 percent of the U.S. economy, and the unique role played by BFRL in support of the measurements, standards, and technologies needed by these industries clearly justifies why NIST should provide adequate funding for it. External support for the other NIST Measurement and Standards Laboratories as a whole is 16 percent of their total budget. The panel believes that bringing BFRL's ratio in line with that at other laboratories would relieve pressure on the BFRL staff and provide benefit to the large industry served by BFRL's work. The outlook for BFRL facilities appears to be brighter than in the past. Most reassuring is the progress on the Large Fire Research Facility (Building 205); the facility should be back in service by January 2001. The capability to do real-scale fire testing is vital to the fire research programs going on in BFRL, and the panel applauds NIST for committing the resources necessary to repair and refurbish this facility. DIVISIONAL REVIEWS Structures Division Division Mission According to division documentation, the mission of the Structures Division is to promote construction productivity and structural safety by providing measurements and standards for key technologies supporting the design, construction, and serviceability of constructed facilities, including infrastructure lifeline systems. The current array of projects in the Structures Division aligns well with this mission and supports the laboratory's major objectives. The emphasis on research that culminates in the development of design standards is appropriate and valuable to industries involved in building design, construction, and maintenance. In support of national needs, the division also conducts postdisaster and failure investigations in order to understand the shortcomings of existing structures and design standards and improve the safety of constructed facilities. Recent studies of this kind include an analysis of an engineered building that suffered structural damage in the Oklahoma City tornado of May 1999 and an analysis of the performance of buildings during the August 1999 earthquake in Turkey. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The Structures Division is currently organized in three groups: Construction Metrology and Automation, Structural Evaluation and Standards, and Structural Systems and Design. All of the projects in the division are of high quality and technical merit. The division is providing important competence and support for key BFRL major products and objectives: the Partnership for High-Performance Concrete Technology (PHPCT), the Performance Standards System for Housing (PSSH), and the Construction Integration and Automation Technology (CONSiAT). In addition, the division undertakes several projects within the major objective of Earthquake, Fire, and Wind Engineering (EFWE) and conducts hazard reconnaissance missions and failure investigations. The following discussion highlights progress and successes in the work under way in the division. In the Construction Metrology and Automation Group, research efforts are well-focused on the development of CONSiAT, and excellent progress has been made. The coordination between this group and the Computer-Integrated Construction Group in the Building Environment Division improved
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 significantly over the past year owing to the appointment of a new leader to coordinate goals and resources for CONSiAT and strengthened connections between the groups at the project level. A significant step toward establishing an industry sponsor and champion for this NIST work was achieved this year with the creation of the FIATECH Consortium, which is affiliated with the Construction Industry Institute and includes several key players from the construction industry. These accomplishments are commendable, and the panel hopes to see swift validation and deployment of the CONSiAT product in the next few years. In fact, rapid progress is essential if NIST is to stay ahead of the constant new developments in computer and communications technologies. In the Structural Evaluation and Standards Group, very good progress has been made on characterization of the fire performance of high-strength concrete, part of the PHPCT. This effort is an excellent example of the strong collaboration between this group and the Building Materials Division. Another project that could have a great impact on the construction industry is the work on accelerated curing of high-strength concrete and the development of quantitative measures to replace 60-year-old empirical information. Research on characterizing the behavior of FRP composites and their in-service assessment using nondestructive testing methods holds significant promise for repair of existing structures and in situ evaluation of performance-based design standards. However, the work on FRPs could benefit from more sharply focused objectives and better alignment with the major objectives of BFRL. Structures Division staff should be encouraged to reach out to Building Materials Division staff to strengthen the collaborative work on the durability of FRP composites. In the Structural Systems and Design Group, the progress toward development of testing guidelines for passive energy dissipation devices is satisfactory. Stronger focus is needed for the development of next-generation standards for wind loads. Analytical simulation capabilities might integrate this project more closely with the PSSH objective by supporting multihazard performance evaluation of existing structures. Increased participation in PSSH should result in a better integration of the wind engineering competence of the division into the project and a more substantial validation of the developed standards through analytical simulations. Overall, the panel believes that any efforts on housing standards cannot be successful without a more significant experimental and analytical component and a better identification of the wind hazard for this type of construction. Impact of Programs The Structures Division utilizes a variety of methods to disseminate results, including research reports, development of design guidelines, and participation in key national committees. A particularly outstanding example of the division's work is the validation and standardization of the nondestructive testing methodology. The panel notes with some concern that the visibility of the division's work has decreased in recent years. Although this is a natural consequence of the retirement of BFRL's past director, who was responsible for much of this visibility, efforts should be focused on making better use of Web technology to disseminate information about the division's projects, goals, and accomplishments. Division Resources Funding sources for the Structures Division are shown in Table 7.2. As of January 2000, staffing for the Structures Division included 20 full-time permanent positions, of which 17 were for technical professionals. There were also five nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The panel noted with concern the low level (10 percent) of external funding in the division's budget. This percentage is lower than the NIST average (~20 percent) and much lower than the level in BFRL
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 TABLE 7.2 Sources of Funding for the Structures Division (in millions of dollars), FY 1997 to FY 2000 Source of Funding Fiscal Year 1997 (actual) Fiscal Year 1998 (actual) Fiscal Year 1999 (actual) Fiscal Year 2000 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 3.1 2.3 3.1 2.7 STRS, nonbase 0.0 0.6 0.4 0.0 ATP 0.0 0.0 0.1 0.1 OA/NFG/CRADA 0.4 0.5 0.3 0.3 Total 3.5 3.4 3.9 3.1 Full-time permanent staff (total)a 21 20 21 20 NOTE: Sources of funding are as described in the note accompanying Table 7.1. a The number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year. as a whole (35 percent). A change in the Structures Division's approach is needed immediately, because the current situation may be adversely affecting the viability of the division. The importance of securing more outside funding should be conveyed to the group leaders and technical staff, since their participation and help are essential in this effort. A specific concern of the panel is whether the division is able to fund current efforts in support of the PSSH, a BFRL-wide major product. As discussed above, the Structures Division should play a more significant role in integrating the efforts related to PSSH and should also be afforded a larger allocation of the external funds supporting this product. The morale among staff in the division is low as a result of the budget shortfall for fiscal year 2000 and the announcement of a reduction in force, to occur this summer. While the current staffing of the CONSiAT project is adequate, this is not the case for projects in the Structural Evaluation and Standards and Structural Systems and Design Groups. In these groups, the small number of people and large number of projects are fragmenting staff time and reducing efficiency because of the extra effort required to manage many small projects. The division should consider reducing the number of projects, integrating the goals of the division's work more tightly with the major objectives of the laboratory, and then leveraging available resources outside the division to support these newly focused efforts. Adding a staff member with expertise in nonlinear simulation of structures might assist in these tasks. A person with this expertise could serve as a catalyst for the deployment of the next-generation standards for wind loads, contribute to a better integration of the experimental and analytical efforts of the Structural Systems and Design Group into PSSH, and provide expertise for the numerical validation of structural control and passive dissipation concepts in connection with the performance-based evaluation of existing structures and the design of new structures. One of the major commitments of the Structures Division is participation in and leadership of a variety of technical working groups and standards committees. Although these activities are important and provide visibility for division staff and NIST, the time and resources are a drain on the division at a time when budgets are very tight; thus, it would be prudent if some of these activities were judiciously discontinued. Another major role of the division is supervision, evaluation, and coordination of wind engineering research at Texas Tech University. Although this activity also provides visibility for BFRL and NIST, it is not clear to the panel what effect BFRL staff have on this congressionally mandated endeavor. Laboratory equipment is in dire need of maintenance and upgrading. Its poor condition, the lack of stable annual maintenance funds from NIST, and the serious shortage of staff and support personnel are
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 ing the operation of sprinklers in heptane spray fires represents a significant advance in fire modeling capabilities. Perhaps the most significant aspect of this success is the relative ease with which sprinkler spray modeling was incorporated into the FDS model. The original system implemented a model for the dynamics of smoke particle transport that was sufficiently general and fundamental that the interaction of sprinkler sprays with fire flows could then be included by making relatively simple modifications to the existing particle transport model. This efficient expansion of the simulation system was possible because, although smoke particles and sprinkler sprays interact with fire in entirely different ways, the fundamental dynamics are describable by the same equations. The FDS thus illustrates the enhanced value that can result from high-quality fundamental work and the way such work can form the foundation for the solution of practical engineering problems. Work to expand and improve FDS is continuing. One effort focuses on characterizing the sprinkler spray formation needed as input to the dynamics calculation. The current model uses generic spray formation data rather than data specific to the range of sprinklers currently available in the marketplace. Sprinkler producers have agreed to cooperate with NIST to make the necessary measurements, but the companies have not to date made much progress on this effort. Given that NIST 's work is focused directly on assisting this key fire protection industry, it is somewhat troubling that the division's efforts are not being well supported by the industry. The group has several other efforts supporting continued enhancements of FDS, but some of these are not as focused on fundamental descriptions of fire phenomena as the work on fluid dynamics modeling that provided the foundation for FDS. For example, staff of the current NIST project on modeling the combustion of the fuel array and the effect of the water application on fire development are taking a somewhat pragmatic view. This may be a useful short-term approach for adding value to the FDS, but fundamental work on this very challenging problem should not be ignored in the process. Work in this area also clearly has the potential to be linked to the effort on Fire Safe Materials, and projects and results should be well integrated with that objective whenever possible. Another project dedicated to improving the FDS is the modeling of radiation for the system. This work appears to be based on the Lagrangian thermal element (LTE) gas-phase combustion model, and the panel is concerned that this could be a somewhat shortsighted approach. Laying the groundwork for radiation modeling with a gas-phase combustion model based on fundamental work would allow the FDS to address problems of importance; staff should consider putting such a fundamental model in place in order to maximize the eventual impact of their efforts on radiation modeling. The Large Fire Research Group develops measurement equipment and techniques for collecting laboratory-quality data in field experiment environments and addressing the research goals within BFRL and at other government agencies. Both the laboratory and the field work are supporting fire model development and validation, source-term characterization, and fire event recreation and reconstruction. One of the group's main accomplishments is the development of a version of the ALOFT (A Large Outdoor Fire Plume Trajectory) model that predicts smoke movement from in situ burning of oil. This high-quality program is a clear improvement over the many existing models, and it significantly enhances scientists' ability to model smoke plumes from burning sources. The ALOFT product, based on the experimental and analytical work of this group, has facilitated the use of in situ burning as a means of limiting environmental damage from accidental oil spills. This group also manages the NIST Large Fire Research Facility (Building 205); this facility was closed down for many years but is finally undergoing necessary repairs and should reopen soon. The Large Fire Research Group has helped to solve a wide range of fire problems for many government agencies, including the FEMA's U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the Department of the Interior,
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), the Justice Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). The projects undertaken for these agencies include development of a mobile fire laboratory in cooperation with the USFA, full-scale fire testing of passenger railcars for the FRA, and development of a standardized test method for the fire-resistant booms used to contain oil-spill burns for the Minerals Management Service (MMS). The Fire Safety Engineering Division has had a long and productive relationship with FEMA's USFA. While major emergencies, especially natural disasters, are the main responsibility of FEMA, the research required to support FEMA's efforts can best be carried out within the research environment at BFRL. The connection between NIST and FEMA should continue, with the USFA providing direction and funding and BFRL providing the technical expertise needed to solve problems associated with mitigation of, preparation for, and response to natural and human-caused emergencies. The collaboration between the Large Fire Research Group and the USFA has led to the development of better methods for assessing the performance of firefighter turnout gear; these methods will lead to improvements in protective clothing and reduction in injuries to firefighters. The Fire Safety Systems Group is focused on developing technologies for fire safety systems for buildings and on enabling the integration of these systems with other building systems. This group also maintains the Fire Research Information Services library, database, and Web site. NIST staff are working on the infrastructure for performance-based design of fire safety, and the group leader has been an energetic participant in the development of the International Code Council performance-based code that is due to be released as a draft document in 2000. Another project is assisting the FRA in understanding the fire hazards of passenger railcars. This work has allowed the FRA to transition to modern fire test and hazard analysis methods that provide the technical basis for implementing a performance-based approach to railcar fire safety and design. While NIST's work in this area is valuable, the efforts of this group do not seem to have been well integrated with related work going on in the Fire Dynamics and Materials Fire Research Groups. Several of the projects in the Fire Safety Systems Group contribute to the fire safety aspects of the BFRL's major objective on Cybernetic Building Systems (CBS). Many new technologies for building systems control are emerging, and as these systems become more integrated and centrally controlled, they have the potential to become valuable tools in emergency situations by assisting the fire service in controlling the fire, evacuating occupants, and moving fire products throughout the building. However, without a standard, user-friendly interface to allow firefighters to connect easily and effectively to these systems, the new building control technologies will be ignored, shut down entirely, or misused. The Fire Safety Systems Group is focusing on developing an appropriate standard interface for the interactions between the systems and the fire service so that CBS can be useful for firefighters responding to an incident. A past product of the Fire Safety Systems Group is CFAST, a zone model for predicting the environment in a multicompartment structure subjected to a user-specified fire. Development of this program took more than 15 years and required a major investment of BFRL resources. It is now the most widely used and best-validated model in the fire disciplines and is also an integral part of the CBS. The panel understands that NIST is considering phasing out support for this software program. It would be very concerned by such a move because there are indications the model will gradually degrade without the oversight provided by Fire Safety Division staff. Overall, the panel found that the technical quality of the staff and the products of the work in the Fire Safety Engineering Division are very good. The Fire Dynamics Group is producing world-class results at this time, and the Large Fire Research and Fire Safety Systems Groups are certainly capable of producing world-class work and have done so in the past.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 Impact of Programs The Fire Safety Engineering Division is contributing significantly to achieving BFRL goals and objectives and is directly improving the quality of tools and information available to the U.S. fire protection community. A major achievement of the division is the recent release of the FDS. Although it is too soon to assess the impact of this product, its release is an important milestone and indicates the maturation of this technology. The panel expects that over time this program will have as large an impact as the NIST zone modeling tools (e.g., CFAST). In last year's report, the panel emphasized the division's need to open up more active communications with the fire-fighting community. Such communication would allow it to gather input and build a customer base for NIST's initiative to develop products that advance fire-fighting and fire protection technologies. The links between the division and the fire service community have been strengthened, but there is still room for improvement. The technical knowledge in the division could increase understanding of fire behavior and the limitations of firefighters' personal protective clothing, which in turn could improve the capacity of firefighters to enter and survive dangerous environments. NIST is also in a position to bolster the connection between fire safety engineering and the fire prevention function of the fire service; this connection is vital to the reduction of unnecessary losses. One example of the broad variety of potential impacts of this division 's work on the fire-fighting community can be seen in the project on developing a standardized fire service interface for fire alarm systems. This project is focusing on technologies that will enable responding fire service personnel to identify and indicate the status of emergency response equipment or fire safety functions that might affect the safety of occupants. It is a very appropriate project for NIST since the concentration on developing, defining, and implementing standards cuts across the industry. The division is involving constituency groups at the start of the project to ensure that NIST's results can be implemented relatively quickly. The outcomes could have a profound effect not only on the design and specification of alarm panels but also on fire agencies' operational capacity to handle complex emergencies in high rises, massive shopping malls, and complex business and industrial occupancies. Any technology that provides firefighters with decision aids, especially those that increase their understanding of fire dynamics, improves the operational capacity of fire services. In addition to its work on the BFRL major objectives, the Fire Safety Engineering Division has also made a measurable and positive contribution through work done in support of other government agencies. For the MMS and the USCG, it developed methods, equipment, and analysis tools to allow in situ burning of oil spills in a manner that limits the environmental damage from them while preventing the smoke from affecting the health and safety of people in nearby coastal regions. Other examples include (1) the methods for testing the improved firefighter turnout gear and consequent improvements in firefighter safety that resulted from a collaboration with the USFA and (2) the groundwork with the FRA that allowed new test methods and new materials for railcars to be phased in without compromising passenger safety. Finally, the division's relationship with ATF and the Justice Department has contributed to the continuing development of fire investigation methods based on scientific principles. Division Resources Funding sources for the Fire Safety Engineering Division are shown in Table 7.5. As of January 2000, staffing for the Fire Safety Engineering Division included 29 full-time permanent positions, of which 23 were for technical professionals. There were also three nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 TABLE 7.5 Sources of Funding for the Fire Safety Engineering Division (in millions of dollars), FY 1997 to FY 2000 Source of Funding Fiscal Year 1997 (actual) Fiscal Year 1998 (actual) Fiscal Year 1999 (actual) Fiscal Year 2000 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 3.1 2.3 2.7 2.4 STRS, nonbase 0.0 0.4 0.4 0.3 Measurement Services (SRM production) 0.1 0.0 0.0 0.0 OA/NFG/CRADA 1.7 1.7 1.9 2.0 Other Reimbursable 0.1 0.1 0.0 0.0 Total 5.0 4.5 5.0 4.7 Full-time permanent staff (total)a 35 28 28 29 NOTE: Sources of funding are as described in the note accompanying Table 7.1. a The number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year. The financial resources allocated to the Fire Safety Engineering Division appear to be inadequate. Currently, more than 40 percent of the division's budget is provided by other government agencies. While this division has traditionally provided important support to these outside agencies, lately the pressure to bring in more external funding has had a negative impact on the division's internal activities and on staff morale. Too large a portion of senior staff members ' time is devoted to looking for outside funding for the division. This time and effort is being taken away from work on internal laboratory programs and is completely inappropriate. The BFRL should be supporting the needs of other agencies, but the division should not have to use internal resources to arrange these projects. The pressures and inherent instability of the current situation are resulting in poor morale and low productivity and are threatening fulfillment of the division's mission. While most of the burden related to obtaining outside funding is falling on senior personnel, the panel observed that even the junior staff are becoming preoccupied with concerns over the division's situation. Historically, the level of external funding in the area of fire safety engineering has always been high. However, declining internal resources allocated to the Fire Safety Engineering Division and the increased difficulty in finding projects from other agencies have resulted in a mismatch between division staffing levels and the amount of financial support available. This situation has led to RIFs being planned for the summer of 2000. Unless increased and assured internal funding can be obtained, it will be necessary for the division to reconfigure itself to conform with new financial realities; constantly decreasing NIST funds cannot be compensated for with ever-increasing efforts to secure outside resources. To ensure that staff have a stable and productive work environment, the division must limit itself to accepting projects in which outside agencies are making long-term commitments to the division. Short-term needs that arise should be met through the division's grants and contracting programs. While some level of effort is always necessary to secure external support for division activities, the time spent chasing these funds must be reduced dramatically. Progress continues on the renovation of the Large Fire Research Facility in Building 205; the contract for the emission control system was awarded in June of 1999 and the facility should be back in service by January 2001. NIST's commitment of $7.2 million to construction costs for this project indicates that the institute is aware of the importance of this test facility to the BFRL. Restoring the
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 division's ability to perform fire tests at a real-life scale will be a major step to increasing the laboratory's ability to achieve its mission and objectives. Fire Science Division Division Mission According to division documentation, the mission of the Fire Science Division is to perform research on and develop scientific and engineering understanding of fire phenomena and metrology for fire research. The mission of the Fire Science Division is pursued through integrated programs in support of the BFRL objectives in order to meet science and engineering needs related to fire safety. The diversity of the laboratory's major products and the variety of skills needed to tackle the technical questions in building and fire research necessitate interdivisional collaboration. Most of the research in the Fire Science Division is therefore conducted in a collaborative mode, and the division has been very successful and effective using this approach. Three BFRL objectives are supported by this division's work: Fire Safe Materials (FSM), Cybernetic Building Systems (CBS), and Advanced Fire Measurements and Fire Fighting Technologies (AFM/FFT). Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The fire research effort at NIST is internationally renowned for many outstanding scientific contributions over the years. The combination of expertise in both basic science and engineering provides results of great value to industry. The work is clearly integrated and focused on fire safety for materials, products, facilities, infrastructure, and people. In the Materials Fire Research Group, high-quality efforts are under way on fire-safe materials, including experimental and theoretical studies on understanding flame-retardant mechanisms and reducing the flammability of commodity polymers. Industry is very interested in NIST's work in this area, as illustrated by the formation of the Nanocomposite Industrial Consortium and the active participation in it of many companies. The consortium includes a CRADA focused on flammability of automobile materials. The group also conducts some NASA-sponsored work on flame behavior in microgravity; the panel was not clear how this fits into any of the BFRL major objectives. In the Advanced Fire Measurements Group, the focus is on instruments and techniques for characterizing fires and their effluents at full and reduced scales. Based on input from fire researchers in BFRL and external organizations, staff are working on approaches that allow scientists to determine the accuracy and uncertainty of the results of real-scale fire measurements. Projects in support of this goal include the nearly complete work on thermocouples and smoke meters. The effort using calorimeters to characterize the heat release rates of burning furniture materials is also in this category. In general, the output of work in this area is procedures for estimating measurement uncertainty in fire tests; these data can then be used to establish realistic standards. In the Fire Sensing and Extinguishment Group, staff are using multielement, multifunction sensors in a new fire emulator/detector evaluator (FE/DE). Part of the BFRL's work on CBS, this product is designed to evaluate how fire detectors respond to fire and nonfire stimuli. Industry needs to be able to assess the performance of the complex new sensing technologies for monitoring and predicting changing environments in buildings. The FE/DE system could facilitate the introduction of multielement (smart) fire detectors. In addition to this instrumentation work, the group is also performing cutting-edge research on fire-suppressing replacements for Halon and on the flame inhibition properties of iron compounds.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 Impact of Programs Overall, work in the Fire Science Division has had an impressive impact on a variety of customers. The division has built a strong awareness of NIST capabilities in the industrial and scientific communities through a variety of outreach and dissemination efforts; during the past year, staff were responsible for 23 archival journal articles and book chapters, 39 papers and presentations at conferences, and 14 NIST reports. However, the panel continues to be concerned that proprietary grants and contracts are limiting the division's ability to fully communicate the value and results of NIST programs. Future outreach opportunities might include the formation of more industry consortia. Companies might be responsive to the notion that the establishment of code, standards, and measurement methodologies could result in product differentiation and increase the competitiveness of U.S. industry. The Fire Science Division's technical expertise in standards and metrology can support industry's efforts in this direction. Division Resources Funding sources for the Fire Science Division are shown in Table 7.6. As of January 2000, staffing for the Fire Science Division included 28 full-time permanent positions, of which 25 were for technical professionals. There were also seven nonpermanent and supplemental personnel, such as postdoctoral research associates and part-time workers. The personnel in the Fire Science Division are quite capable, and the expertise available is appropriate for the research agenda of this division. However, persistent resource shortfalls are forcing the division to overrely on OA funding. The increasing number of projects in which goals are set externally tends to defocus the programmatic scope of the division; decreased coherency now will make it harder for the division to have a timely impact on industry needs in the future. In fiscal year 2000, the division is expected to bring in roughly 40 percent of its budget from external sources, but as of January 2000, 44 percent of this money had not been secured. This “insolvency” is localized in the Materials Fire Research Group, and preparations have been made for a summer RIF. The planned loss of four people from this group can be expected to dramatically impede productivity and dissemination of results in a group that has been conducting important research with the potential for significant impact. TABLE 7.6 Sources of Funding for the Fire Science Division (in millions of dollars), FY 1997 to FY 2000 Source of Funding Fiscal Year 1997 (actual) Fiscal Year 1998 (actual) Fiscal Year 1999 (actual) Fiscal Year 2000 (estimated) NIST-STRS, excluding Competence 2.6 1.9 2.5 2.0 Competence 0.2 0.2 0.2 0.0 STRS, nonbase 0.0 0.2 0.2 0.2 ATP 0.1 0.1 0.1 0.2 OA/NFG/CRADA 1.9 2.0 1.7 1.5 Total 4.8 4.4 4.7 3.9 Full-time permanent staff (total)a 31 28 28 28 NOTE: Sources of funding are as described in the note accompanying Table 7.1. a The number of full-time permanent staff is as of January of that fiscal year.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 Overall, the panel is very concerned about the laboratory's dependence on outside funding. Within the fire divisions, at least 40 percent of the budget is expected to be raised from external sources. The responsibility for securing this funding appears to fall on staff at the group level, and shortfalls are dealt with by project and staff reductions at the same level. When groups, and even divisions, are small, it is difficult to absorb fluctuations in external support while also maintaining a stable work environment with consistent project goals and levels of output. The balance between external and internal funding and the distribution of resources to groups in need is an issue for BFRL-level management, who must create a collection of projects and personnel that can fulfill the BFRL mission and objectives. Office of Applied Economics and Standards and Codes Services Mission According to laboratory documentation, the mission of the Office of Applied Economics (OAE) is to provide economic products and services through research and consulting to industry and government agencies in support of productivity enhancement, economic growth, and international competitiveness, with a focus on improving the life-cycle quality and economy of constructed facilities. The mission of the Standards and Codes Services (SCS) work is to increase opportunities for innovation, enhance competitiveness, and support the attainment of the goals of the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH) and the Healthy Homes Initiative (HHI) by developing performance standards, conducting research, and partnering with the housing industry. These missions are consistent with the BFRL and NIST missions. OAE staff execute their mission by working collaboratively with technical personnel throughout BFRL and all of NIST. In SCS, the PSSH program leader coordinates the activities of principal investigators within the BFRL divisions and integrates their projects into a coherent program in support of the PSSH goals. The OAE is involved with 7 of the 10 major laboratory objectives, and the SCS staff take primary responsibility for BFRL's PSSH objective, so these units are clearly an integral part of the BFRL, and their efforts are key to achieving the laboratory mission. Their work on the development of performance-based standards is often an important step toward the adoption of innovative materials and technologies developed in the divisions. Technical Merit and Appropriateness of Work The primary function of the OAE is enhancing the utility of other BFRL efforts. This added value is provided by OAE staff, who help shape, support, guide, and assess the value of activities in BFRL and at NIST to ensure that the projects are oriented appropriately and that the results are delivered in ways that can be readily accepted and used by industry and other government agencies. The quality of OAE's work is evidenced by the fact that the services of its staff are widely sought after by the BFRL divisions, NIST, and other government agencies. The programs administered by the SCS unit are defined via interactions and cooperative efforts with other government agencies and industry representatives. The net result is a portfolio of research and standards development projects that are individually focused on specific technical and marketplace issues. For example, in the Building Materials Division, research on rapid weathering techniques will lead to a better understanding of how to predict the service life performance of materials such as coatings, roofing, and sealants. The results will allow industry to perform more accurate tests in less time on proposed new technologies, thus generating better products and getting them to market faster. A major accomplishment of BFRL is the Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 (BEES) software package. With this program, a designer, builder, or researcher can analyze a number of building products and determine which is best for inclusion in a particular project. BEES permits the analysis of a product based on economic performance and on environmental considerations, such as personal and ecological health, ozone, and smog. The second generation of BEES software is under review and will be released in 2000. This latest update will more than double the number of products available for analysis. In preparation for future updates, work is scheduled to begin shortly on a residential version of BEES. Impact of Programs NIST results are disseminated widely by a variety of mechanisms, including computer software, training programs, publications, and presentations at meetings. For example, OAE staff train personnel at the Department of Energy in the computation of life-cycle costs. The training has recently been supplemented with NIST-developed user-friendly software. The mission of NIST is to provide services that enhance the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, and the OAE helps many branches of NIST to package their results and tools in user-friendly packages that will ease the integration of measurements and standards into the business and construction worlds. In addition to assisting with dissemination, OAE also is involved in measuring the effects of NIST activities; a recent study cataloged the regional economic impacts of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. Use of the World Wide Web is increasing. One Web site under development will allow Windows versions of OAE and SCS programs to be downloaded, making it much easier to distribute updates and new systems. In addition, as the laboratory posts more Web pages containing up-to-date information on BFRL activities, the site can serve as a reference for people familiar with the laboratory and as an introduction to the OAE-SCS programs for those new to NIST. The overall effort to make BFRL products and programs more user friendly and accessible is laudable; however, laboratory management must always consider how much of the implementation process is NIST's responsibility. Once technical results or new tools have been accepted by at least part of the industrial or government community, how much effort should NIST devote to ensuring further acceptance and how long should it be responsible for supporting the programs? Work done in the BFRL is of interest to the entire construction industry, including designers, builders, cities, and code enforcement personnel. NIST personnel have taken their products to forums being hosted or attended by key organizations from relevant industries, but they should also take the products to forums being attended by the mass membership of the organizations (the end users). For example, the residential version of BEES should be aggressively promoted at national trade shows such as the National Association of Home Builders' International Builders Show. This trade event is attended by as many as 75,000 people, many of whom have the potential to benefit from BEES. Other government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, already attend such shows, and NIST should become a regular participant. Other laboratory products from the PSSH objective lend themselves to mass-marketing efforts. For example, the Structures Division is now testing various structural connections that have the potential to improve wood construction (and, later, a variety of nontraditional construction systems). This work will have a significant impact on how well certain structural connections for roof panels and vertical shear panels withstand severe wind uplift and horizontal loads. In the Building Environment Division, products that enhance indoor air quality in enclosed and conditioned spaces are being tested in conjunction with the Carrier Corporation and ASHRAE. Both projects should be of interest to practicing members in all sectors of the building industry.
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 Resources Funding for the OAE totals $2.3 million, of which $1.6 million is from external sources. As of January 2000, staffing included 11 full-time permanent positions, of which 10 were for technical professionals. Funding for the SCS totals $3.7 million, of which $2.9 million is from external sources. One technical professional is assigned to SCS, but he works with 15 principal investigators spread throughout BFRL. Both OAE and SCS are funded mainly by outside sources. Because the goal of OAE is to facilitate implementation of BFRL results and to provide services to other groups both within and outside NIST, the high level of external support seems to be appropriate. In SCS, most of the funds come from HUD to support work across BFRL on the HUD initiatives PATH and HHI. The laboratory has become in part a research arm of HUD, and the panel believes that this relationship is appropriate and that the two agencies have formed a desirable partnership. OAE staff are economists and operations analysts who are versed in the latest economic and analytic tools, including statistical techniques, optimization and analytic decision-making methods, and simulation routines. They have the training and interest to immerse themselves deeply in understanding the technologies being explored at NIST and the potential opportunities for and limitations of their implementation by government and industry. The interdisciplinary capabilities of the OAE staff are unique, and OAE expertise is very useful for product and result dissemination and for valuing the outcomes of cost-saving initiatives on the local and regional economy. The latest computational equipment and software appear to be widely available to the OAE staff. However, there does seem to be some problem with overcrowding. Many of the professional staff are sharing offices, and since prolonged telephone conversations are often an integral part of their work, this situation may be interfering with a staff productivity. The panel also notes that the number of projects per staff member (10 technical professionals are handling 22 major activities) may be an issue. If the OAE is overcommitted, perhaps staff could be added; however, given the very special talents needed to combine economic and technical work as done in the OAE, caution should be exercised when hiring new personnel and integrating them into its unique culture. The fact that only one person is assigned to SCS is a concern for the panel. While specific projects may be adequately staffed within BFRL divisions, the coordinating and integrating efforts all rest on SCS. Currently, work on this program is supported by three contract organizations, and the panel acknowledges that these outside relationships are beneficial. Not only is required technical support provided, but the input from these external organizations also helps keep program activities relevant to industry's needs. MAJOR OBSERVATIONS The panel presents the following major observations: The quality of the technical work under way in BFRL and the impact of laboratory programs continue to impress the panel. The laboratory is a unique resource for the very fragmented building-related industries, and the positive impact on the competitiveness of U.S. companies and on public safety and quality of life should not be undervalued. The increasing pressure on BFRL staff to secure external funding is hurting morale in the laboratory and has the potential to adversely affect the quality and appropriateness of the work done at NIST. The panel believes that the percentage of the BFRL budget that comes from outside sources
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An Assessment of the NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY MEASUREMENT AND STANDARDS LABORATORIES: Fiscal Year 2000 should be decreased. The focus should be on projects in which the goals are consistent with the BFRL and NIST missions and other agencies are willing to make significant and long-term commitments to BFRL. It is also important to ensure that when external funds are provided for projects in BFRL, the resources allotted are sufficient to cover the time and effort of NIST staff. The BFRL's relationship with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the potential formalization of its relationship with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and its involvement in consortia such as FIATECH are all highly encouraged by the panel. These activities raise BFRL's profile in the building and fire industrial communities and bring in additional, stable, long-term external funding for laboratory programs supportive of BFRL's mission. The major objectives of the laboratory are appropriate and could have a significant impact on industry. However, the process by which decisions about goals and projects are made could be communicated more clearly to the technical staff by management. It is important to maintain a balance between projects with short- and long-term payoffs.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: