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Benefits and Costs of Research: Two Case Studies in Building Technology.


pdf icon Benefits and Costs of Research: Two Case Studies in Building Technology. (5795 K)
Chapman, R. E.; Fuller, S. K.

NISTIR 5840; 109 p. July 1996.

Available from:

National Technical Information Service
Order number: PB96-202221

Keywords:

benefit cost analysis; building economics; building materials; construction; economic analysis; energy conservation; evaluation methods; research impacts; resource allocation

Abstract:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is improving its resource allocation process by doing "microstudies" of its research impacts on society. This report is the outgrowth of a series of microstudies prepared by NIST's Building and Fire Research Laboratory (BFRL). This report has four major purposes. First, it examines five evaluation methods for measuring the economic impacts of research investments. Second, it establishes a framework for identifying, classifying, quantifying, and analyzing the benefits and costs of research investments. Third, it presents a generic format for summarizing the economic impacts of research investments. Fourth, it illustrates - by way of two case studies - how the framework, evaluation methods, and generic format would be applied in practice. The first case study provides estimates of the economic impacts from past BFRL research leading to the introduction of the ASHRAE 90-75 standard for residential energy conservation. The energy costs of the ASHRAE 90-75 standard are compared to those of pre-1973 oil embargo standards. More than $900 million (in 1975 dollars) of the energy savings from ASHRAE 90-75 modifications in single-family houses were directly attributable to the BFRL activities that promoted the development of ASHRAE 90-75. The second case study provides estimates of the net dollar savings from a past BFRL research effort leading to the development of an improved asphalt shingle for sloped roofing. BFRL's contribution resulted in a faster adoption of the longer-lasting 235 shingle, which significantly reduced roofing costs to building owners.