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User Preferences for Life-Cycle Decision Support Tools: Evaluation of a Survey of BEES Users.

pdf icon User Preferences for Life-Cycle Decision Support Tools: Evaluation of a Survey of BEES Users. (1416 K)
Hofstetter, P.; Lippiatt, B. C.; Bare, J. C.; Rushing, A. S.

NISTIR 6874; 162 p. July 2002.


Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC

Available from:

: National Technical Information Service (NTIS), Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce, Springfield, VA 22161.
Telephone: 1-800-553-6847 or 703-605-6000;
Fax: 703-605-6900; Rush Service (Telephone Orders Only) 800-553-6847;
Order number: PB2002-105724


building products; green buildings; decision support systems; life cycle assessment; life cycle impact assessment; software; life-cycle costing; user preferences


In the 1990's, a number of software-based decision support tools were developed that consider the life cycle performance of products and services. BEES 2.0 (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) is one such tool. It measures the life-cycle environmental and economic performance of 65 different building products. Considerable research effort has been dedicated to improving methods to assess and weight environmental impacts and costs over the life cycle. However, virtually no information is available on what type of information users of these tools really want and use. To fill this gap, users of BEES 2.0 that downloaded the software before July 2001 were asked by email to participate in an Internet-based survey. Five hundred sixty-six partially or fully completed surveys are used to evaluate: why they downloaded BEE 2.0; whether they applied the tool to a real-world decision; what type of building products need to be added; how much time they spent using BEES; what level of analysis they are most interested in; which degrees of transparency, complexity, and uncertainty analysis users want; what type of result presentation they would prefer; whether they used the weighting options, which one they used and if not, why; how they determined their own weighting factors and whether they are influenced by temporal and spatial considerations; and how environmental and economic information should be combined. Responses to these questions are presented for the full sample and by cross-tabulating with other responses. Categorical data analysis has been used to better understand who answered what and why. These results will be used to further develop BEES. Although the survey was geared towards users of one specific tool (BEES 2.0), many results may apply as well to other tools. Therefore, suggestions are made that tool developers and researchers may want to consider when they make choices and assumptions about their interface between tool and users.