Corrosion Prevention & Control (CPC) Source Overview  

by Joseph C. Dean, P.E. for the Director, Corrosion Policy & Oversight (D, CPO) [OUSD (AT&L)]
Updated: 05/09/2017



Although, the word "corrosion" is most often associated with "rust" and the oxidation of other metals, the Congressional definition of corrosion is, "the deterioration of a material or its properties due to a reaction of that material with its chemical environment" and can be found in 10 U.S.C. § 2228. It is inclusive of the deterioration of all materials, which can be caused through sun exposure, mold and mildew, wind, and other environmental elements.

Corrosion mitigation includes selecting the right materials in consideration of the environmental severity factors that exist at the facility's location. Selecting the correct surface treatment, type of wallboard, providing dehumidification, or HVAC system water-treatment will make a huge difference in facility durability and longevity.

The Whole Building Design Guide (WBDG) hosts a large number of corrosion related criteria and Corrosion Prevention and Control (CPC) related resources. By following the CPC Criteria link, the SRM Engineer/Architect and maintenance professionals have access to a wealth of knowledge to make informed durability and longevity decisions for the selection of materials and processes consistent with required levels of corrosion resistance.

DoD Corrosion Overview

The Department of Defense (DoD) acquires, operates, and maintains a vast array of physical assets that include vehicles, aircraft, ships, materiel and facilities such as wharves, buildings, and other stationary structures and infrastructure. All these assets are susceptible to corrosion. For information on Corrosion Costs, refer to the CPC SOURCE - DOD Facilities And Infrastructure Corrosion Costs web page that discusses the cost of corrosion for Facilities and infrastructure (F&I) (subsequently will be referred to as "Facilities"). Facilities assets affected by corrosion are extensive. They include pipelines, fuel tanks, pavements, roofs, transformers, switchgear, electrical boxes, HVAC equipment, water towers, fire hydrants, motors, compressors, bridges, wharfs, piers, connectors, fencing, steam and water distribution lines, boilers, ladders, stairways, wash racks, fire sprinkler systems, fire hydrants, airfield pavements, and many other facilities types. Corrosion often effects remain unseen or unnoticed until failure occurs. The CPC Source is intended to help facility managers, Architects and Engineers get ahead of those problems and make informed decisions to correct deficiencies before they cause failure and increase sustainment costs.

Facilities Policy and Guidance

The DoD has in place extensive policy and guidance to facilitate effective management of corrosion in the facilities that are required to support the national defense. The Policy Table provides insights into the extensive nature and reach of DoD Guidance and Policy as it relates to CPC. Each military service has issued, in varying degrees, their own implementing guidance and policies related to CPC.

Acquisition and the Facilities Life Cycle

Common to each DOD Component engaged in facilities management is the need to plan, design, construct and sustain those assets. The Facilities Life Cycle involves elements of Planning and Requirements Definition, Sustainment Restoration and Modernization (SRM) Engineering and Design, Construction and Commissioning, Sustainment, Renovation, Restoration, and or Disposal as shown in the graphic below. All of these steps interact with the defense acquisition program to create a lasting CPC solution.

Flow chart of acquisition and the facilities life cycle: Planning & Requirements Definition, SRM Engineering & Design, Contruction & Commissioning, Sustainment, and Disposal or Renovation & Restoration surround Aquisition Support DB, DBB, Simplified Acquisition

Planning and Requirements Definition

Corrosion vulnerability and the potential effects of corrosion need to be fully evaluated as part of project planning, design, construction, and sustainment phases and activities. Trade-offs must be made through an open and transparent assessment of alternatives during the planning and design process.

Often facilities planning does not include CPC considerations unless the planning initiative is focusing on a specific facility or group of facilities to be constructed or sustained in a high corrosion area such as Guam or a waterfront location. Decisions and steps to address corrosion may not occur until much later in the facilities life cycle process. Failure to consider CPC at the appropriate time will definitely negatively affect the durability of the facility over the life cycle.

Decisions made in facilities affect the readiness and availability of equipment and operations that they support. To ensure the desired level of functionality, facilities must be planned, constructed, and sustained in sync with the requirement. For example, a dry dock facility must be sized to the type of ship it supports and must be available and functioning when ship availability occurs.

Identifying which CPC and associated criteria to utilize is an essential part of the CPC facilities planning and requirements definition. The practical selection, application, and implementation of corrosion-related solutions can be found in the technical manuals, bulletins, maintenance and operations manuals, handbooks, guides, and engineering technical letters, all of which can be found on the WBDG. This guidance presents a rich and in-depth body of knowledge available for the SRM Engineer/Architect and maintenance professional to select the best solution for durability and sustainability.

SRM Engineering and Design for CPC

CPC related SRM engineering and design includes the full range of efforts from corrosion problem solving to selection of criteria, development of plans and specifications to completing the work via in-house forces or by contract. Problem solving may require analysis of an issue such as the cause of mold or the untimely appearance of rust. The SRM Engineer/Architect and maintenance professional must then determine what corrective measures are required; the solution might include dehumidification, selection of a specialized coating, or determining which type of power pole should be used as a replacement in a highly corrosive soil area. These "solutions" may not require full plans and specifications, however, some level of specificity is required in the contract documents or job order to ensure that the appropriate solution is realized.

Facility design must include assessment of environmental severity impacts and the appropriate selection of CPC materials (e.g. coatings, grades of steel, humidity controls, etc.) appropriate to the locale to reduce the risk of corrosion vulnerability. Any trade-offs required during acquisition stages must include the selection and application of design criteria that will prevent or mitigate future corrosion, improve sustainability, durability, key dimensions of longevity, and reduce cost over the facilities' life cycle.

The criteria on the WBDG provides corrosion guidance on a variety of topics at different levels of planning, design, construction, and sustainment and can assist in developing the appropriate levels of detail for inclusion in contract request for proposals (RFPs). The CPC related Criteria Pages and vignettes on the CPC Training page will provide insights into these issues.

Good corrosion performance is both an attribute of an entire facility and the sum of its sub-components including leveraging Best Practices. The best practices discussed on these pages and expanded upon in the Facilities and Infrastructure Corrosion Evaluation (FICE) Study  submitted to the U. S. Congress in July 2013, are the result of each surveyed installation's focus on finding the best process, understanding regional or environmental severity influences, and leveraging the associated knowledge of system requirements to achieve a successful solution.

Examples of the major types of corrosion to be considered include:

  • general
  • galvanic
  • pitting
  • crevice
  • concentration cell corrosion
  • selective leaching and de-alloying
  • inter-granular
  • stress cracking
  • hydrogen embrittlement
  • fatigue
  • flow-assisted (erosion)
  • fretting
  • stray current
  • microbially influenced corrosion
  • solar ultraviolet

Design Considerations for CPC:

  • Location climate and corrosivity
    • Temperature, humidity, time of wetness, and airborne salinity
    • Industrial pollution
    • UV/solar exposure
    • Soil corrosivity (PH, resistivity, moisture, and presence of chlorides, sulphides, and bacteria)
    • Destructive insects, fungi, and marine borers
    • Waterfront and splash zone conditions
    • Potable water chemistry for utilities, plumbing, and mechanical systems
  • Micro climate effects such as structure location and orientation
  • Design element condition
    • Location on structure (exposure)
    • Design geometries (see CPC training vignettes)
    • Detailing
    • Adjacent materials and connections
  • Material selection and grade
  • Protective coatings, isolators, and corrosion inhibitors
  • Cathodic protection need
  • Maintenance condition, frequency, and difficulties

Components and systems that traditionally need CPC and have high sustainment costs associated with corrosion:

  • Building envelope—Exterior doors, windows, and roofing
  • Exterior attachments—Stairways, gutters/down spouts, lighting fixtures, electrical panels, and mechanical louvers
  • Interior spaces with high humidity, plumbing, and fixtures
  • Interior spaces routinely open to the exterior and non-conditioned spaces that are vented
  • HVAC systems
  • Exterior reinforced concrete and pavements
  • Utilities and buried structures
  • Fuel tanks
  • Waterfront and coastal structures
  • Wastewater plants
Example of spalling concrete

Spalling concrete, Guam.

The picture on the right is an example where the reinforcing steel rebar has rusted, expanded and caused the concrete cover to spall. Decisions must be made to take corrective action before further damage occurs that might include structural failure. Selecting a design approach to prevent this sort of failure on other structures is an essential part of good CPC practice.

An excellent example of leveraging criteria and design guidance is in the high-risk CPC area in Guam and the Marianas Islands where this knowledge assists with providing more sustainable and durable facilities and in the reduction of life-cycle costs. The Marianas Navy and Marine Corps Design and Construction Standards (MDACS), (September 2011), leverages the WBDG and guides engineers and architects in selecting the right criteria and materials for sustainability and durability in that highly corrosive environment.

Design best practice decisions in the new Guam Navy Hospital, completed in April 2014, included:

  • Higher quality concrete (impervious to water/chloride intrusion) helping mitigate corrosion of the reinforcing steel and concrete
    • Concrete with silica fume, fly ash
    • Low water-to-cement ratio
    • Use of aggregates that inhibit the alkali-silica reaction preventing premature degradation of the concrete
    • Use of galvanized steel, stainless steel, and non-metallic components and appurtenances providing better corrosion resistance than carbon steel.
  • Aluminum or stainless steel doors and windows in lieu of coated carbon steel for better corrosion resistance.
  • Galvanized steel, stainless steel, and aluminum hardware were also used in lieu of carbon steel.
  • Isolation of dissimilar metals using dielectric inserts or protective coatings after proper surface preparation helping prevent galvanic corrosion.
Small shed with a stainless steel dore per MDACS
Guam Naval Hospital under construction

Use of stainless steel doors in severe corrosive environments per MDACS

Guam Naval Hospital under construction utilizing best practices

UFC 3-600-01, Fire Protection for Facilities (September 26, 2006) provides guidance including water quality evaluation, material selection and corrosion control requirements for sprinkler piping to assist in life-cycle decision-making. There are extensive resources available to increase sustainability & durability via application of good CPC related design practices. The CPC Source Criteria page and the CPC Training Vignettes provide more specific information.

Construction and Commissioning and CPC

CPC features or requirements should be included in project and construction documentation such as the request for proposal, associated designs and criteria documents, and Contractor Quality Control, Quality Assurance and Commissioning Plans regardless of the size and type of procurement. There are 6 Unified Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGSs) that address Quality Control (QC) as well as others in the WBDG. The QC plans should include and define the type and levels of oversight for corrosion features including required testing. Standard government or industry test methods should be used whenever possible. The QC Plan should also include specifics related to the CPC aspects of the project including coatings, mold and mildew prevention, steel types, and materials to accomplish the CPC objectives in the design. The submittal plan should include all CPC related materials, treatments and processes. Similarly the Design Quality Control Plan should include CPC details to ensure that the government can establish the correctness of the design and ultimately the installation of these CPC related features. Government Quality Assurance (QA) should consider all of the above and select the most critical systems for oversight to ensure contractor compliance with the Request for Proposal and associated design. A good example of QA is in the NAVFAC ECB 2008-03; these guidelines highlight several CPC related areas encouraging government engineers to investigate. More importantly, a QA Plan focused on CPC provides the government with the verification that it has actually received what has been identified in the contract.

Construction Impacts—Poor construction practices can easily negate the best design provisions taken to produce a durable and corrosion-resistant structure. Key concerns:

  • Ensure modifications and substitutions to the original design and specifications do not reduce CPC features or increase maintenance requirements.

  • Avoid Trade-offs of corrosion prevention technologies and features (such as cathodic protection) or elimination of the Operation and Maintenance Support Information (OMSI) in order to obtain project betterments.

  • Ensure proper storage and handling of materials. Avoid damage to coatings and surfaces. A marred or scratched surface becomes anodic to the surrounding metallic surface.

  • Avoid field cuts and field welding of materials that will be exposed to a corrosive environment.

  • Ensure proper ventilation and moisture protection of building interior during construction.

  • Resist the temptation to backfill utility trenches partially with insitu soils because of job site shortages of select fill. It is critical to have all soils in contact with the structure or utility to have consistent properties and be of similar composition.

  • Ensure specified concrete mix design, rebar placement, and proper placement and consolidation of concrete elements.

Differing acquisition strategies and delivery methods (e.g. Design/Bid/Build (DBB), Design-Build (DB), Simplified Acquisition, Task Order/Indefinite Quantity Job Order Contracts, etc.) should consider and include CPC in their requirements definition, RFP and execution. Information contained on the WBDG and addressed on these pages are good resources to consider as the RFP and specifications are developed and executed.

While commissioning is addressed in other sections of the WBDG and in the Building Information Management (BIM) content area, one important action is critical as it relates to CPC. During turnover from the construction agent to the installation responsible for sustainment, key documents that include information on the built facility (e.g. as-built drawings, material types (coatings, cathodic protection), equipment descriptions and operations, manuals, warranties, etc.) along with commissioning information must be transferred to the SRM manager. This is typically referred to as Operations and Maintenance Support Information "OMSI"  and is usually electronic. This information is key to successful SRM management.

Sustainment and CPC

Sustainment is the maintenance and repair activities necessary to keep an inventory of facilities in good working order. It also includes major repairs or replacement of facility components (usually accomplished by contract) that are expected to occur periodically throughout the life cycle of facilities. The facilities manager is always in the position of having to decide which requirement to address while deferring others in the face of having limited resources and competing priorities. Outside influences complicate those decisions, often causing a split of resources between multiple tasks where few actually can be fully resolved. Knowing, for example, that there is an effective splash zone coating to be used in the face of rising sea levels helps the facilities manager consider available options to reduce or defer, impacts of waterfront corrosion.

Sustainment plans should include as-built conditions included in the electronic Operations and Maintenance Support Information (e-OMSI) UFGS 01 78 24.00 20 and Comprehensive Facility Operation and Maintenance Manual provided by the Construction Agent during facility turnover. SRM Managers should insist on receiving these essential documents along with systems training to best position the sustainment personnel to ensure that life-cycle expectations for the delivered facility is achieved.

In general, preventive maintenance is more cost effective than corrective maintenance. From a corrosion perspective, materials typically degrade at a higher rate once rust forms and chemical deterioration of the material begins. Waiting for the component to fail or be near failure results in:

  • Emergency repair procedures
  • Downtime and lost productivity
  • Labor and material cost for component removal and replacement
  • Shortened service life of the component

During facility inspections and maintenance activities it is important to identify, record, and assess corrosion. Initial assessment determines the needed course of action:

  • Continue to monitor corrosion
  • Require a more detailed distress survey
  • Contact corrosion subject matter expert(s)
  • Identify mitigation or corrective action

Assessment of the corrosion often requires additional information as follows:

  • Corrosive environmental condition and severity
  • Type and extent of corrosion
  • Component age, material, and coatings
  • Design characteristics or defects
  • Construction impacts

The feedback from the 30 installations surveyed in the FICE Study Report resulted in a treasure trove of best practices at the installation level. In the Report, the best practices are segregated into seven categories:

  1. Condition assessment
  2. Material selection
  3. Technology
  4. Process and applications
  5. Communications, training and partnering
  6. Policies, criteria, and guidance
  7. Acquisition

The SRM engineer and facility designer can evaluate these best practices to determine if they might be suitable to try at their installations.

Disposal or Renovation and Restoration of a Facility

Planned deterioration of a pier

Planned deterioration of a pier, Quantico VA, a disposal decision.

SRM decisions often require an evaluation to determine the extent of renovation and restoration of existing facilities to extend life of the facility to meet mission needs. Disposal of existing facilities is or can be part of that evaluation. The ravages of corrosion can accelerate the necessity for making the decision to decide the future of an existing facility. If life-cycle extension in the form of renovation or restoration is determined to be feasible, then the information provided in the previous sections can assist in designing and constructing the facility modifications. Assessment of best practices will help the SRM engineer make informed decisions to extend the life of the renovated or restored facility.

Application of Good CPC Practice

Application of good CPC in all phases of the facilities life cycle from planning to sustainment are essential to prolonged sustainability, durability, and reduced life-cycle costs. There are extensive resources in the form of criteria, materials, and technology to help the SRM engineer and designer facilitate accomplishment of successful CPC. Whether the issue is selection of the correct concrete structure design to ensure prolonged coverage of reinforcing steel, determining the appropriate cathodic protection design and positioning, or application of advanced coatings that provide longer system performance, these issues are solvable and doable within the framework of industry standards and criteria hosted on the WBDG.

Emerging Issues in CPC

As technologies evolve, aggressively updating the knowledge base is essential to achieving reduced life-cycle costs. Technologies are those innovative or non-standard technical processes and products that may later be identified in criteria. Technology includes the practical application of better products, processes or procedures, and standards. Discoveries of new CPC technologies occur when the combined efforts of industry, academia, and DoD result in corrosion-cost savings. The incorporation of these successful CPC-related outcomes that ultimately make their way into criteria updates ensures CPC factors are considered in the construction of new facilities and infrastructure as well as in day-to-day sustainment operations.

There are a number of facilities technology research projects funded by the D, CPO for facilities. These projects are cost shared with the military services conducting an active research and demonstration program for CPC-focused materials, equipment, and processes associated with facilities. These projects include evaluation of sophisticated coatings and processes, new cathodic protection approaches, and many others. The transition of successful technology into criteria plays a key role in providing DoD components and participating organizations with the assurance that corrosion guidance and technologies have been vetted before inclusion into criteria and processes. The Engineer Research and Development Center, Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, (ERDC-CERL), Naval Facilities Engineering and Expeditionary Warfare Center (NAVFAC EXWC), and Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) work to evaluate these CPC technologies and expedite the transition of the successful demonstration projects into criteria.

The List of Corrosion-Related D, CPO-Funded Projects provides an overview of CPC related research, many of which are either transitioning into or transitioned into criteria. The UFC Coordinating Panel and the Discipline Working Groups oversee criteria updates to make sure that these new technologies are evaluated and incorporated into new revisions. Service Subject Matter Experts (SME) and Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation Project Managers are actively supporting advancement of new facilities CPC technology transitions into criteria.

Some of these include:

  • Corrosion Project Utilizing IR Drop Free Sensors (FNV01) UFC 3-570-01, Cathodic Protection Design (Publication Pending)
  • Integrated Concrete Pier Piling Repair and Corrosion Protection System (N-F-229)—UFC 3-570-01 Cathodic Protection Design (Publication Pending)
  • Pre- and Post-Stressing Concrete—Now integrated into UFGS 03 31 29 Marine Concrete (August 2012). In addition, the methodology is now being used in the industry.
  • Self-Priming Cladding for Splash Zone Steel (N-F-221)—UFGS 09 97 13.26
  • Coating of Steel Waterfront Structures; UFGS 09 97 13.15
  • Epoxy/Fluoropoly-urethane Interior Coating of Welded Steel Petroleum Fuel Tanks
  • UFGS 09 97 13.17 Three Coat Epoxy Interior Coating of Welded Steel Petroleum Fuel Tanks
  • Solar Powered Cathodic Protection—UFC 3-570-01, Cathodic Protection

Relevant Codes, Standards and Guidelines

Criteria on the WBDG are generally based on industry standards. An industry standard is an established norm or requirement about technical systems, usually presented in the form of a formal document. It establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes and practices. Industry Standards can also be found in the form of reference specifications. These are standardized mandatory language documents that prescribe materials, dimensions, and workmanship that are referenced in contract documents. An industry standard may be developed independently by a corporation, regulatory body, or military organization. Industry standards can also be developed by groups such as trade unions or trade associations. The standards referenced in criteria are usually written and maintained by Standards Organizations such as:

By referencing industry standards, the whole industry, both government and non-government, is able to maintain uniformity and consistency in the design, construction and sustainment of facilities. This allows government organizations to reduce the cost and time it takes to create new criteria; and, maintaining uniformity allows for interoperability between government and non-government organizations performing work together.

Below is a list of links to relevant CPC-criteria provided on the WBDG:

Criteria Use Mandates

  • DoDD 4270.5, Military Construction  (February 12, 2005)—Provides guidance on MILCON program management. Establishes requirement that UFCs and UFGSs must be used to the greatest extent possible for planning, design, and construction (restoration or modernization) of facilities, regardless of funding source.
  • House Conference Report 105-247 —Accompanies Conference Committee on House Report (H.R.) 2016, Military Construction Appropriations Act, 1998. Contains language on unified design guidance and directs DoD and the services to establish procedures for unification of facilities criteria.
  • MIL-STD-3007F, Standard Practice for Unified Facilities Criteria and Unified Facilities Guide Specifications  (December 13, 2006)—Establishes procedures for the development and maintenance of Unified Facilities Criteria (UFC) and Unified Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS) and prescribes their use by the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Department of Defense (DoD) defense agencies, and DoD field activities.
  • UFC 1-200-01, DoD Building Code (General Building Requirements) (June 20, 2016)—Represents the joint Services effort to bring uniformity to the military use of non-government model building codes.
  • USD (AT&L) Memorandum , dated 29 May 2002, Department of Defense Unified Facilities Criteria—Implements MIL-STD-3007 as the guidance for developing and maintaining unified facilities design and construction criteria for planning, design, construction, sustainment, restoration and modernizations of DoD facilities.

For service and agency-specific mandates, please refer to their associated policy and guidance.

Additional Resources


Design Objectives

Cost-Effective, Utilize Cost and Value Engineering Throughout the Project Life Cycle, Historic Preservation, Sustainable

Design Disciplines

Applicable to Design Disciplines

Guides & Specifications

Building Envelope Design Guide

Cast-in-Place Concrete Wall Systems (11 Corrosion References)

Mechanical Insulation Design Guide

Mechanical Insulation Design Guide (23 Corrosion References), Materials and Systems (14 Corrosion References)



Federal Facility Criteria: