Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES): Software for Selecting Cost-Effective Green Building Products



Barbara C. Lippiatt, A Boyles


The BEES (Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability) tool implements a rational, systematic technique for selecting cost-effective green building products. The technique is based on consensus standards and designed to be practical, flexible, and transparent. Version 2.0 of the Windows-based decision support software, aimed at designers, builders, and product manufacturers, is available free of charge and includes actual environmental and economic performance data for 65 building products across a range of functional applications.BEES measures the environmental performance of building products using the environmental life-cycle assessment approach specified in the International Standards Organization (ISO) 14040 series of standards. The approach is based on the belief that all stages in the life of a product generate environmental impacts and must be analyzed. The stages include raw material acquisition, manufacture, transportation, installation, use, and waste management. Economic performance is measured using the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standard life-cycle cost method. The technique includes the costs over a given study period of initial investment, replacement, operation, maintenance and repair, and disposal. Environmental and economic performance are combined into an overall performance measure using the ASTM standard for Multiattribute Decision Analysis.Applying the BEES approach leads to several general conclusions. First, environmental claims based on single attributes, such as recycling, should be viewed with skepticism. These claims do not account for the fact that other impacts may indeed cause equal or greater damage. Second, assessments must always be quantified on a functional unit basis, such that the products being compared are true substitutes for one another. Third, a product may contain a high-impact constituent, but if that constituent is a small portion of an otherwise benign product, its significance decreases dramatically. Finally, a short-lived, low first-cost product is often not the cost-effective alternative. In sum, the answers lie in the trade-offs.The BEES methodology is being refined and expanded under sponsorship of the U.S. EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) Program. The EPP program is charged with carrying out Executive Order 13101, Greening the Government Through Waste Prevention, Recycling, and Federal Acquisition, which encourages Executive agencies to reduce the environmental burdens associated with the $200 billion in products and services they buy each year, including building products. BEES is being further developed as a tool to assist the Federal procurement community in carrying out the mandate of Executive Order 13101.
Proceedings Title
Proceedings of the CIB World Building Congress 2001
Conference Dates
April 2-6, 2001
Conference Location
Wellington, NZ
Conference Title
CIB World Building Congress


economic performance, environmental performance, green buildings, life-cycle assessment, life-cycle costing


Lippiatt, B. and Boyles, A. (2001), Building for Environmental and Economic Sustainability (BEES): Software for Selecting Cost-Effective Green Building Products, Proceedings of the CIB World Building Congress 2001, Wellington, NZ, [online], (Accessed June 16, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created April 1, 2001, Updated February 19, 2017