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Resilience certification for commercial buildings: a study of stakeholder perspectives


Infrastructure resilience has become a primary objective for homeland and national security organizations over the past decade. Recent initiatives have focused on resilient building design, and one approach under consideration is a voluntary resilience certification program for commercial buildings. The intent of this program would be to encourage the adoption of resilient design practices in construction and planning of the buildings. While resilience may be a frequently discussed concept within the security communities, its level of awareness within the construction, design, insurance, and building owner communities is not well known. Given the voluntary nature of the certification program under consideration, program development requires a comprehensive understanding of resilience as defined by the commercial building stakeholders. Toward this end, Sandia National Laboratories conducted a study of stakeholder perspectives on resilience to ascertain factors that would serve as motivation for participation in the resilience certification program. This paper describes how Sandia performed the study and the resulting conclusions. One of the key conclusions that the study found is that the term resilience is unfamiliar to many and inconsistently defined across the industries. Those familiar with the term frequently linked it to sustainability concepts. The study also found that increased participation in the resilience certification program is very likely affected by demonstrable returns on resilience investments and a public–private partnership model for program administration.

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  1. For the sake of brevity, the remainder of the paper will refer to the group of commercial building construction, design, insurance, and owner communities as the commercial building stakeholders.


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The authors would also like to thank Sharon O’Connor and Patti Glass for their editing assistance. Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-program laboratory managed and operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corporation, for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration under contract DE-AC04-94AL85000.

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Correspondence to Barbara J. Jennings.

Appendix: Stakeholder Questionnaire

Appendix: Stakeholder Questionnaire

  1. 1.

    How do you identify resilience in your industry?

  2. 2.

    What does resilience mean to you in the context of commercial buildings?

  3. 3.

    Does it include?

    1. (a)

      Energy conservation yes/no

    2. (b)

      Safety yes/no

    3. (c)

      Security yes/no

    4. (d)

      Cost/benefit yes/no

    5. (e)

      Something else?

  4. 4.

    Do you use the word resilience in your commercial building codes, general planning or other activities? (Can you give some examples?)

  5. 5.

    Can you share the document or information that refers to resilience with me (land use, codes, redevelopment plan), or provide me a reference?

  6. 6.

    What programs are you aware of that exist related to resilience?

  7. 7.

    How do the developers discuss resilience?

  8. 8.

    How do developers support resilience efforts? Can you provide some examples?

  9. 9.

    How do planners discuss resilience?

  10. 10.

    What do you see as a motivation to build using resilient technology?

  11. 11.

    What would motivate customers in your industry to build or reengineer to resilient standards? Would any of the following reasons encourage adoption of these practices:

    1. (a)

      Increased revenue from ability to continue/return to business operations in the event of a disruption.

    2. (b)

      Competitive edge from being able to continue/return to business operations in the event of a disruption.

    3. (c)

      Quicker, cheaper recovery following a disruptive event.

    4. (d)

      Ability to charge higher lease rates due to increased attractiveness of the building to tenants (as a result of a, b, and c).

    5. (e)

      Decreased insurance premiums.

    6. (f)

      Tax incentives.

    7. (g)

      Increased chance of receiving financing or lower finance rates.

    8. (h)

      It is “the right thing to do.”

    9. (i)


  12. 12.

    In addition to structural integrity of the building, what support systems might be essential to ensuring building resilience? for example, heating systems, power, and telecom and cyber connections.

  13. 13.

    In looking at the resilience of a building, how much would one need to look at the surrounding environment including other infrastructure?

  14. 14.

    Where would resilience be introduced? Initial planning, design, construction, operations, etc.?

  15. 15.

    Is there anything that I missed?

  16. 16.

    Are there any comments that you would like to add to this interview?

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Jennings, B.J., Vugrin, E.D. & Belasich, D.K. Resilience certification for commercial buildings: a study of stakeholder perspectives. Environ Syst Decis 33, 184–194 (2013).

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  • Resilience
  • Building certification program
  • Infrastructure resilience
  • Grounded Theory Method
  • Sustainable