NIST Time|NIST Home|About NIST|Contact NIST

HomeAll Years:AuthorKeywordTitle2005-2010:AuthorKeywordTitle

Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES): Software for Selecting Cost-Effective Green Building Products.

pdf icon Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES): Software for Selecting Cost-Effective Green Building Products. (461 K)
Lippiatt, B. C.; Boyles, A. S.

Performance in Product and Practice. CIB (International Council for Innovation and Research in Building and Construction) World Building Congress. Paper 151. Proceedings. April 2-6, 2001, Wellington, New Zealand, 1-8 pp, 2001.

Available from:

DOWNLOAD A NEW VERSION OF THE BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) SOFTWARE


economic performance; environmental performance; green buildings; life cycle assessment; life cycle costing; cost effectiveness; computer programs


The BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) tool implements a rational, systematic technique for selecting cost-effective green building products. The technique is based on consensus standards and designed to be practical, flexible, and transparent. Version 2.0 of the Windows-based decision support software, aimed at designers, builders, and product manufacturers, is available free of charge and includes actual environmental and economic performance data for 65 building products across a range of functional applications. BEES measures the environmental performance of building products using the environmental life-cycle assessment approach specified in the International Standards Organization (ISO) 14040 series of standards. The approach is based on the belief that all stages in the life of a product generate environmental impacts and must be analyzed. The stages include raw material acquisition, manufacture, transportation, installation, use, and waste management. Economic performance is measured using the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard life-cycle cost method. The technique includes the costs over a given study period of initial investment, replacement, operation, maintenance and repair, and disposal. Environmental and economic performance are combined into an overall performance measure using the ASTM standard for Multiattribute Decision Analysis. Applying the BEES approach leads to several general conclusions. First, environmental claims based on single attributes, such as recycling, should be viewed with skepticism. These claims do not account for the fact that other impacts may indeed cause equal or greater damage. Second, assessments must always be quantified on a functional unit basis, such that the products being compared are true substitutes for one another. Third, a product may contain a high-impact constituent, but if that constituent is a small portion of an otherwise benign product, its significance decreases dramatically. Finally, a short-lived, low first-cost product is often not the cost-effective alternative. In sum, the answers lie in the trade-offs. The BEES methodology is being refined and expanded under sponsorship of the U.S. EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program. The EPP program is charged with carrying out Executive Order 13101, "Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition," which encourages Executive agencies to reduce the environmental burdens associated with the $200 billion in products and services they buy each year, including building products. BEES is being further developed as a tool to assist the Federal procurement community in carrying out the mandate of Executive Order 13101.