IBHS Commends White House on Natural Disasters Report

The following is a statement from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) President and CEO Julie Rochman:
 
“We commend the Obama Administration’s efforts to make our nation more resilient to natural disasters – which are summarized in a blog and new report entitled ‘Standards and Finance to Support Community Resilience.’
 
“Every American should appreciate that, when homes and businesses remain standing in the aftermath of a natural disaster, communities retain economic viability because people get back to work more quickly, less federal and state aid is needed, and less storm debris ends up in landfills.
 
“The report will help ensure that communities hit by natural disasters don’t just rebuild, but build back stronger and smarter to withstand the next storm.  The report also encourages the public and private sectors to invest in resilience now, which pays off beyond the obvious safety benefits with reduced storm losses, lower insurance costs, enhanced market values for homes and bottom-line savings for businesses.
 
“By bringing together and working with multiple federal agencies, along with state, local, and tribal leaders, as well as industry and non-profit groups, the White House has both demonstrated thought leadership and set an example for future leaders at all levels. The multi-pronged approach to promote stronger and safer buildings, including innovative financing, and other measures that can reduce the devastation and costs of severe weather events, will help secure our economy, as well as families, businesses, and communities in every state. 
 
“We are pleased that the White House report once again recognizes the effectiveness and market value of IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home program as one that builds community resilience. As part of our work in the area of resilience, IBHS is announcing our commitment to deploy a FORTIFIED Commercial standard and program in 2017 to support resilient design and retrofits for commercial, retail, and public buildings. Using the same science-based foundation upon which FORTIFIED Home sits, FORTIFIED Commercial will address new and existing small and mid-sized commercial structures. FORTIFIED Commercial building designations will be available for hurricane risk along the coast, as well as for high wind and hail risk further inland, first in the state of Alabama, and then in other states as well.”

Interactive Tablet App Provides Information to Strengthen Structures Against Natural Disasters

FORTIFIED Home On the Go interactive tablet app gives information to strengthen homes against natural disasters.

FORTIFIED Home On the Go interactive tablet app gives information to strengthen homes against natural disasters.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and Munich Re, US launches an interactive tablet app to help builders, contractors, architects and homeowners design and build structures in the face of increasing severe weather events.

FORTIFIED Home On the Go interactive tablet app is available for free download from the iTunes Store.  It walks homeowners, contractors and architects through the steps for strengthening homes. The information includes videos, animations and technical specifications for retrofitting or building single family homes.

Information in the app is taken from IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home program, which provides a set of building standards for homes in high-risk areas, such as in the plains and coastal states.

IBHS Participates in White House Conference on Resilient Building Codes

The recent White House Conference on Resilient Building Codes emphasized the critical role of building codes in helping create more resilient communities and highlighted the importance of strong construction standards, such as those in the Tampa, Fla.-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS’) FORTIFIED programs.

Several speakers at the White House event highlighted IBHS’ FORTIFIED building standards and methods for new construction and retrofitting existing buildings.

In addition, IBHS made several commitments in conjunction with the White House event, including:

  • To work closely with FEMA, the White House, other federal agen- cies, and several states to increase public awareness and use of FEMA P-804, “Wind Retrofit Guide for Residential Buildings”, which mirrors technical knowledge underpinning the IBHS FORTIFIED Home-Hurricane standard.
  • To work with partners in 2016 to integrate IBHS guidance for enhancing resilience of commercial properties into federal, state and private initiatives.
  • To work with the National Institute of Building Sciences, Washington, and other allies to provide funding and unique engineering expertise so studies providing essential proof points about the value of loss mitigation are completed expeditiously. NIBS’ Multihazard Mitigation Council’s 2005 “Mitigation Saves” report found that every $1 invested in mitigation by FEMA saves society $4. The new report will be an enhanced study to identify the benefits of public and private investment in property loss mitigation.

Learn more on IBHS’ website.

A Coastal Home Is Built to Withstand the Severe Weather that Destroyed Its Predecessor

Dave Caldwell doesn’t have to travel into the future to see how a sustainable beach house—a complete rebuild of a home destroyed by Hurricane Sandy—in Westerly, R.I., will survive the next major storm. Half an hour northeast along the coastline, on the ocean side of Narragansett Bay, stands a testament to resiliency, another new home that Caldwell built in October 2012, just two weeks before Sandy swept in.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

The Westerly, R.I., coastal home features an asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system.

Featuring the same asphalt laminate shingle and integrated solar shingle roofing system, the Narragansett Bay home weathered the worst storm to hit the Ocean State in more than half a century, emerging unscathed while 1,000 other coastal Rhode Island properties incurred a combined $35 million in damage. The home’s survival demonstrated the power of construction techniques used to protect against the forces of nature—techniques that Caldwell repeated in the re-creation of the Westerly home.

For Caldwell, the second-generation owner of North Kingstown, R.I.-based Caldwell & Johnson, a design-build firm founded in 1968, the construction industry’s response to Hurricane Sandy only validates an approach to sustainable building that emphasizes long-term value over one-time costs. He says the owners of the Westerly home, a retired couple from South Carolina, were not afraid to put a little money into making the building stout and durable after their previous home was destroyed by the storm. “The goal,” he says, “was to sit and watch the next category 5 hurricane blow through.”

HURRICANE DESTRUCTION AND ITS AFTERMATH

It’s a good thing nobody was at the Westerly home in late October 2012 when 15-foot waves carrying softball-sized stones and tons of sand crashed onto Misquamicut State Beach. The structure there at the time was a bedrock of family tradition, an annual summer destination for the owners and their children and grandchildren. But without insulation to even keep out cold air in winter, it was no match for flooding and gale-force winds. Caldwell describes the storm’s impact in neat and peaceful terms. “After the tidal surge, not much of the house was left,” he says. “Where the living room used to be, there was a 4-foot pile of sand.”

Commissioned to rebuild using the maximum footprint allowed by regulatory agencies, Caldwell designed a flood-resistant foundation using concrete footings and pilings reinforced with rebar and breakaway walls at ground level so the rest of the house will not be compromised by the next big storm. The whole house received airtight insulation, efficient heating and cooling systems, and a third-party-verified air quality measurement that combined to achieve a silver rating by the National Green Building Standard, which is maintained by the National Association of Home Builders, Washington, D.C.

Caldwell gets a lot of customer requests to add rooftop solar panels. Many times he says no because of shading impacts or suboptimal roof orientation that can limit energy production. When site conditions allow for solar, Caldwell usually brings in a subcontractor for the installation. For high-end projects with an aesthetic that requires preserving the architectural integrity of the roofline, Caldwell has his own construction crew, led by foreman Dwayne Smith, install solar shingles that integrate with traditional shingles to form a seam- less roof system. Smith went through a manufacturer’s training program to become a certified roof shingle and solar shingle installer, making Caldwell & Johnson eligible for warranty protection from the supplier and demonstrating to customers that the firm is serious about the product.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern for the client, a retired physicist.

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern

Traditional solar panels would not have been suitable for the Westerly beach home, because durability was a principal concern.

“Durability is a key component of sustainable green building,” Caldwell explains. “Oceanfront homes in our region are exposed to some pretty harsh elements throughout the year, including high winds, ice, salt and more. Fortunately, the individual components of the integrated solar system are up to task, and the fastening system allows the entire array to be secured directly to the roof deck as an integral unit.”

Caldwell was able to easily dispel the concern by referring to the Narragansett Bay project that survived Hurricane Sandy, where his team had installed solar shingles for the first time. “That home came through the storm with no problem at all. The solar energy system turned on and hasn’t had a problem since,” he says.

If the conditions in Rhode Island don’t provide enough assurance that solar shingles can withstand the worst that Mother Nature has to offer, Caldwell can also point to an installation he’s put on his own ski house in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, about 4,000 feet above sea level. “If you wanted to test this stuff, that’s getting on the outer edge of the bell curve,” he says. “I wouldn’t put traditional solar panels there. It would be too dangerous. But in pretty harsh conditions, the solar shingles work great.”

Pages: 1 2

FEMA Streamlines Processes and Helps Build Disaster Resilient Communities

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) commends the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for helping build more disaster resilient communities by streamlining its process for state and local jurisdictions to obtain property mitigation grants.

FEMA has established the use of pre-calculated benefits, which can be substituted for the traditional Benefit/Cost Analysis (BCA) tool in its Wind Retrofit Guide for Residential Buildings, known as P-804. The FEMA standard (P-804) takes a systems-based approach, with three successive levels of protection—Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced—that correspond to the Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels in IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home-Hurricane program.

“The BCA can be very daunting for grant applicants. This action by FEMA has the potential to help transform our nation’s communities by making homes safer, stronger and better able to withstand high winds. Eliminating the requirement for applicants to submit a separate BCA is a true game-changer for jurisdictions seeking assistance to make disaster resilient communities,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS.

In order to bypass the BCA, grant applicants must demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of all projects in an application using FEMA’s pre-calculated benefits. Projects utilizing IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home–Hurricane retrofit construction standards meet this streamlined requirement and will be deemed cost-effective, thereby eliminating the need to conduct and submit a BCA. IBHS’ fact sheet about this change was published in conjunction with the start of Hurricane Season this week, and is available on its website at disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FEMA-Wind-Retrofit-Guide-for-Residential-Buildings-P-804-and-IBHS-FORTIFIED-Home.pdf.

“High winds destroy buildings, devastate lives, and damage the physical and economic infrastructure of communities. Fortunately, research by IBHS, FEMA and other public and private sector experts has identified ways in which such damage can be reduced or prevented. This research led to the development of IBHS’ FORTIFIED standards and FEMA’s P-804 standard,” Rochman noted.

The FORTIFIED Home—Hurricane construction standards are based on 20 years of post-storm research, and are designed to reduce or prevent damage from windstorms, including hurricanes, which are among the most destructive forces of nature, accounting for eight of the ten most expensive disasters in U.S. history (six of these since 2000).

“The only real difference between P-804 and FORTIFIED Home is the independent, third party verification required by FORTIFIED to ensure the standards have been properly implemented. The streamlined cost-effectiveness requirement applies to both FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) grant program, and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP).

FEMA has published the Residential Hurricane Wind Retrofits fact sheet on its website at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/117414. This fact sheet emphasizes the importance of wind retrofit projects for mitigating damage to buildings and contents during high-wind events such as hurricanes while highlighting both FEMA’s technical guidance on wind mitigation of existing residential buildings, and FEMA’s streamlined process for determining the cost effectiveness of P-804 wind mitigation projects, Cost Effectiveness Determination for Residential Hurricane Wind Retrofit Measures Funded by FEMA.

“We look forward to working with FEMA throughout this year’s Hurricane Season to ensure state and local jurisdictions in hurricane-prone locations are aware of this beneficial, expedient change in the cost-effectiveness requirement for FEMA wind retrofit grants,” stated Rochman.

IBHS Encourages Hurricane Preparation Despite Predictions of a Quiet Year

With the NOAA Climate Prediction Center announcing its forecast of a normal to below-normal Atlantic hurricane season recently, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) urges residents not to let predictions keep them from preparing for the season.

“Early-season predictions do not always come to fruition,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO of IBHS. “In fact, the 2012 season was initially forecast to be below-average, partially because of a predicted El Nino event. The El Nino did not develop as expected, and the season was extremely busy, with 19 named storms and 10 hurricanes, including Sandy, which slammed several Northeast states.”

It only takes one hurricane to significantly damage an entire region. Hurricane Andrew was the first storm during the 1992 season, which resulted in devastating damage to south Florida.

While the Gulf and Atlantic states are the most at risk of damage from a tropical system, hurricanes and tropical storms can travel far inland, causing high winds, heavy rain and tornadoes in areas not expecting the damage. Hurricane Hugo, which struck 25 years ago in South Carolina, maintained high winds all the way inland to Charlotte, North Carolina, and caused damage in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Connecticut. More recently, Hurricane Ike made landfall in 2008 on the Texas coast and traveled all the way to Ohio, where it caused $1 billion in damage.

IBHS encourages residents to be prepared, and start their hurricane protection efforts now. A variety of resources on strengthening buildings against the high winds and wind-driven rain of tropical systems, including the following:

5 Ways to Protect Your Home From Water Damage During Hurricane Season
Keeping a Roof Over Your Head: Hurricane Season Ready
Business Emergency Preparedness for Hurricane Season
Getting the Roof Right Animation Video
Building a Continuous Load Path Animation Video

IBHS and FEMA Prepare Homes and Businesses for Natural Disasters

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recently joined with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in the first National Prepare-A-Thon, which was designed to help home and business owners become better prepared for natural disasters.

“Research shows that communities, families and individuals who prepare in advance for possible disasters are better able to recover from them and adapt to new or changing conditions,” says Julie Rochman, IBHS president and CEO. “Communities around the country [held] Prepare-A-Thon events April 30. The time to act is now before disasters threaten. These events are perfect opportunities to learn how to make your home and business safer and stronger in the face of disasters.”

The first step in preparing for a disaster is knowing what risks you face. IBHS provides an interactive risk map on its website to help you identify your region’s risks by entering your ZIP Code.

“A critical part of preparedness is making sure your home or business is disaster-resistant. Strengthening your building will make it more likely it will be there when you return after a disaster. A stronger, safer building will sustain less damage, making your community more resilient and requiring less federal and state aid to recover,” states Rochman.

IBHS provides a wealth of information for home and business owners about how to protect your home and business against damage from tornadoes, wildfires, floods and hurricanes.