BEES Sustainability Database Moves Online, Offers Limited Time Discount on Listing

The BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) database developed by the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) is a tool for life cycle analysis for building products.  It is now available as a nifty new online tool at It allows the user to research a vast array of sustainability data on a wide variety of building products. Economic performance and environmental performance are both evaluated, and graphed as simple snapshot. The underlying numbers are all available too, including data on the presence of a huge array of chemical compounds, toxins, metals, and greenhouse gasses; energy usage in various categories; and more.  Even better, multiple products can be compared.

BEES is not simply a bunch of information.  It is software that draws info from its product database and does useful calculations that can be tailored to a specific project. On entering the system, the user can select products by the part of the building in which they are used.  Evaluation can be straight, or weighted according to a set of 12 impact criteria: Global Warming, Acidification, Eutrophication, Fossil Fuel Depletion, Indoor Air Quality, Habitat Alteration, Water Intake, Criteria Air Pollutants, Smog, Ecological Toxicity, Ozone Depletion, and Human Health.  There are several preset weightings to choose from, or the user can define the weighting.

Moving BEES online makes it operating system independent. (Previously, it was downloadable software that only ran on Windows OS.)  This means that you can access it with common web browsers on your computer.  Yes, you can even access it on your iPhone, although I wouldn’t recommend that for your first adventure into the system; some of the display on iOS Safari is a little buggy, and it helps to know where to expect information to appear.
Products in the database include a mix of generic and proprietary products, but the proprietary list tends to be limited. One of the advantages of having BEES live online is that NIST can now add new products easily.

Manufacturers can submit their products to the database, which has two kinds of value.  It will the improve usefulness of BEES, and it may give participating manufacturers an edge in getting specified on projects where sustainability calculations (LEED or otherwise) are factor in choosing products.

To participate, contact Anne Landfield Greig, Four Elements, LLC, the BEES Certified LCA Practitioner who works directly with the BEES project.  She will walk you through the process:

   Anne Landfield Greig
   Principal, Four Elements Consulting, LLC
   Seattle, WA
   w +1 206.935.4600
   m +1 240.426.1098

According to the BEES team, "A typical building product manufacturer should anticipate a cost of about $8,000 for the first product and $4,000 for each additional product with similar processing steps. These prices are well below the cost of validating, completing, and incorporating your data set into BEES Online, and represent a limited-time offer that is guaranteed only while funds are available. Manufacturers can expect a questionnaire seeking data from the following departments:

      Accounting - quantity of materials purchased
      Production Control - quantity of output
      Facilities - energy use
      Environmental - waste and releases."