NIST Community Resilience Economic Decision Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems

Prepared by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) economists, the Community Resilience Economic Decision Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems provides a standard economic methodology for evaluating investment decisions aimed to improve the ability of communities to adapt to, withstand, and quickly recover from disasters. The economic guide provides a process for considering alternate methods for increasing community resilience through cost-effective investments in the built environment and other infrastructure systems. It includes a step-wise methodology for analyzing the economics of competing capital improvements and ultimately selecting economic investment strategies, and is designed to help communities to identify critical elements for long-term community resilience plans.

Guidance is offered in determining the capital investments that are most likely to yield greatest returns, the sum of net cost savings, damage avoided and secondary benefits to the community. The economic guide also details how to do an accounting of anticipated costs and benefits as well as non-economic considerations such as environmental, social and cultural impacts.

The report opens by defining “resilience,” and reviews the stages of the disaster cycle and intervention process. Multiple frameworks for measuring resilience are described, with useful resilience metrics and indicators.

The rest of the report outlines the steps in the economic decision process, which are detailed along with corresponding actionable strategies:

1. Select Candidate Strategies

2. Define Investment Objectives and Scope

3. Identify Benefits and Costs

4. Identify Non-Market (Non-Economic) Considerations

5. Define Analysis Parameters

6. Perform Economic Evaluation

7. Rank Strategies

To better understand how to use the guide and its methodology, Appendix A provides an example of its use in evaluating investments. Appendix B includes the technical and mathematical details of the benefit/cost model underlying the guidelines. Finally, Appendix C describes selected techniques for estimating the economic costs of losses that occur from disaster.

The economic guide was developed to complement the NIST Community Resilience Planning Guide for Buildings and Infrastructure Systems which lays out a six-step process that communities can follow to develop long-term resilience plans by engaging stakeholders, establishing performance goals for buildings and infrastructure systems, and developing an implementation strategy.


The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.




Publication Date: January 4, 2016

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Stanley W. Gilbert, David T. Butry, Jennifer F. Helgeson, Robert E. Chapman

Related Organizations:

  • National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)

Related Resources:


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Planning guides


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