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NIST Releases Report on the Costs of Inadequate Interoperability in Construction

AUSTIN, TX, August 6, 2004—Inadequate interoperability increases the cost burden of construction industry stakeholders and results in missed opportunities that could create significant benefits for the construction industry and the public at large. The lack of quantitative measures of the annual cost burden imposed by inadequate interoperability, however, has hampered efforts to promote the use of integration and automation technologies in the construction industry.

To address this need, the Building and Fire Research Laboratory and the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) commissioned a study to identify and estimate the efficiency losses in the U.S. capital facilities industry resulting from inadequate interoperability among computer-aided design, engineering, and software systems. Although the focus of the study is on capital facilities—commercial/institutional buildings and industrial facilities—it benefits key stakeholders throughout the construction industry. This study—the conception, design, and publicity of which FIATECH was a strong and early contributor to—is based on a earlier report also done by NIST of the cost of interoperability in the U.S. automobile supply chain.

NIST GCR 04-867, prepared for NIST by RTI International and the Logistic Management Institute, estimates the cost of inadequate interoperability in the U.S. capital facilities industry to be $15.8 billion per year. These cost impacts are of interest to owners and operators of capital facilities; design, construction, operation and maintenance, and other providers of professional services in the capital facilities industry; and public- and private-sector research organizations engaged in developing interoperability solutions.

The material contained in the report will promote an increased awareness of interoperability-related issues—both challenges and opportunities—in the capital facilities industry. The report addresses the cost burden issue by presenting both quantitative and qualitative findings and identifying significant opportunities for improvement. The report also analyzes the barriers to improved interoperability in the capital facilities industry and recommends actions for NIST and others to address these barriers.

“I applaud NIST for their leadership in initiating this study and bringing heightened awareness to this costly issue that plagues the industry,” explains Ric Jackson, Director of FIATECH. “This study, for the first time, illustrates the enormity of the problem that this industry is facing and should serve as a clarion call to Congress and corporate boardrooms across the nation to allocate funding immediately to solve this issue.”

Electronic copies of NIST GCR 04-867 are available at