Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on June 2, 2023
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on June 15, 2023
Adopted by the Board of Direction on July 22, 2023
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports the mission and goals of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which is to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. ASCE supports continued and expanded funding to ensure that NIST can carry out its mission of promoting U.S. innovation and competitiveness by anticipating and meeting the needs for measurement science, standards, and technology. ASCE supports new funding initiatives to expand the research effort in natural and human- induced hazards; their effects on structures and building equipment; and the mitigation of their impacts - including new metrics to enable proper assessment of infrastructure resilience and life-cycle performance. Such new metrics are needed to properly assess the life-cycle performance of buildings and other infrastructure.
NIST is the premier, and in most cases, the only federal institution conducting resilience research focused on the impact of multiple hazards on buildings and communities and on post-disaster studies that can provide the technical basis for improved standards, codes, and practices used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure systems. NIST leads several national efforts within its Engineering Laboratory to develop guidance and tools to help communities improve the resilience of their buildings and infrastructure systems: Community Resilience; National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP); Fire Protection and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI); Wind Engineering; Progressive Collapse; and Disaster and Failure Studies.
There is a critical need for continuing and expanding research in civil engineering and construction. Not only is there a need to develop technologies to enhance the safety of our built environment from natural and human-induced hazards, but there also is an urgent need to improve the constructability, durability, resilience, and sustainability of building structures and equipment to meet the demands of today’s world. Ensuring that NIST receives adequate funding to continue these important research efforts will be vital for future infrastructure needs.
The CHIPS Act and Science Act of 2022, in which Division B is the Research and Development, Competition, and Innovation Act, included significant enhancements and includes a once in a generation increase in authorization levels for NIST. These changes have the potential, if fully funded, to address some of the priorities expressed in this policy. ASCE’s 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave the nation’s infrastructure an overall grade of C-. Among the recommendations from the report card is research and development of innovative materials, technologies, and processes to modernize and extend the life of infrastructure, expediate repairs or replacements, and promote cost savings.
Recent natural and human-induced disasters have shown an urgent need to study and improve the safety and resilience of our built environment. More information is needed to identify the effects of earthquakes, wind, flooding, fire, and intentional damage and to develop effective mitigation strategies. Performance-based design and life cycle planning for infrastructure require that metrics be developed to assess the likely impacts of disasters on available resources as well as time and cost to return lost elements to service. Adequate funding for research on these topics is essential.
Cost effective disaster resilience, including life-safety and property loss reduction, due to natural and human-induced hazards, is a recognized national need that requires scientific advances to enable technological innovation, enhance predictive capabilities, and improve codes, standards, best practices, and emergency response. Thus, measurement science needs to be developed to address: (a) resilience to natural and human-induced hazard events, including data collection from disaster events; and (b) the physical and economic performance of building and infrastructure materials that provide the Nation's primary defense against earthquakes, fires, floods, windstorms, and the effects of weathering / aging.
ASCE Policy Statement 319
First Approved in 1986