ESOH in Acquisition



Environment, Safety, and Occupational Health (ESOH) in Acquisition

The Department of Defense (DoD) is committed to protecting human health and the environment, in an uninterrupted and cost-effective manner, while ensuring the success of its core mission. DoD strives to ensure effective and efficient compliance with all Federal, state, and local environmental laws and regulations, and provides guidance to the DoD Components for meeting those requirements, as necessary. Ensuring that the systems acquisition process considers risks and protects human health and the environment is critical to sustaining the DoD mission.

Environment, safety, and occupational health (ESOH) must be considered during the system acquisition process and for the duration of the system’s lifecycle. As part of a program’s overall cost, schedule, and performance risk reduction, the Program Manager must prevent ESOH hazards, where possible, and manage ESOH hazards where they cannot be avoided.

Crucial elements of an ESOH program include:

  • ESOH planning
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Program evaluation and reporting
  • Risk management
  • Pollution prevention
  • Hazardous materials management.

DoD Instruction 5000.2 establishes requirements for PMs to manage ESOH risks.


This article addresses the second component of the Air Force’s strategy and the following specific goal: By 2016, be prepared to cost competitively acquire 50% of the Air Force’s domestic aviation fuel requirement via an alternative fuel blend in which the alternative component is derived from domestic sources produced in a manner that is “greener” than fuels produced from conventional petroleum.

Making better risk management decisions and investments enables the Department of Defense to expedite and sustain systems acquisition; protect people; maintain operational capabilities; and minimize the likelihood of unanticipated future costs—ideally avoiding such costs altogether. Faced with growing public and governmental interest in environmental issues, DoD is committed to improving its understanding of emerging contaminants and acting early to manage them and other chemical risks. DoD defines emerging contaminants as chemicals or materials that have evolving science (e.g., beryllium); new or unknown exposure pathways (e.g., trichloroethylene and nanomaterials); and new detection capabilities (e.g., perchlorate) that can be reasonably anticipated to lead to regulatory changes.

Sustainability Analysis: Integrating Sustainability into Acquisition Using Life Cycle Assessment

In the context of defense acquisition, sustainability means the efficient and safe use of resources to meet performance requirements while minimizing the associated human health and environmental impacts and costs over the system’s life cycle.  The term sustainability is often confused with the defense-related term “sustainment,” which is primarily concerned with the end-user’s ability to operate and maintain a system once it is deployed.

A Sustainability Analysis combines life cycle assessment (LCA) and life cycle costing (LCC). Such an analysis helps uncover previously hidden human health and environmental impacts and their associated life cycle costs.  A better understanding of these costs and impacts helps inform both design decisions when making choices among alternatives and also inform long-term supportability requirements once a design has been chosen.

The application of Sustainability Analyses across DoD is expected to (1) lower Total Ownership Costs and (2) result in sustainable systems – those that use fewer and safer resources and have reduced human health and environmental impacts.  Reducing the life cycle costs directly supports the Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics).

Users are encouraged to employ the Sustainability Analysis methodology outlined in the Guidance document.  The methodology can be integrated into the Systems Engineering process and can be used to inform trade space and supportability analyses.  Also, the guidance can be used to conduct an evaluation of sustainability, an required element of the DoD Business Case Analysis Guidebook.

DoD Guidance

The most recent version of the Sustainability Analysis Guidance document was published in June 2020.

Upstream and Downstream Scoring Factors and Cost Factors for the DoD Sustainability Analysis Guidance

Sustainability Analysis Guidance: Integrating Sustainability into Acquisition Using Life Cycle Assessment
Supplemental: Superstructure Alternatives Example.  This document provides a notional example developed to illustrate each step of the Sustainably Analysis (SA) described in the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) Sustainability Analysis Guidance: Integrating Sustainability into Acquisition Using Life Cycle Assessment, Version 5.0.  While the example is intended to be realistic in nature, the main intent to demonstrate all aspects of completing a streamlined lifecycle assessment (SLCA), including less common analytical nuances such as the use of allocation methods for quantifying the value of land use impacts, recycled content and differences in system life. As such, some design and operational elements have been altered or exaggerated to more clearly demonstrate these nuances.  The example includes an Excel workbook that demonstrates how to complete the numerical calculation required.

Sustainability Analysis Training

A Sustainability Analysis training, titled Capturing Life Cycle Impacts and Costs in Defense Systems, was held 30 November 2017 during the SERDP/ESTCP Symposium. The course was taught by Dr. Kelly Scanlon, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment (EI&E) and Dr. Shannon Lloyd, Concordia University.

The short course provided:

  • an introduction to Sustainability Analysis at the DoD
  • a description of data, software, and other resources for performing Sustainability Analyses
  • results from recently completed Sustainability Analyses of DoD systems
  • explanation on how to use the results of a Sustainability Analysis to inform research and development or acquisition decisions

Upon completion of this short course, attendees understood how Sustainability Analysis can be used to characterize the potential cost impacts of natural resource, human health, and environmental risks. Also, they learned how to use Sustainability Analysis to assess life cycle impacts and benefits of alternative chemicals or technologies. Attendees departed the course better prepared to achieve life cycle objectives outlined in SERDP-ESTCP statements of need and defense acquisition policies.