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.”

ASTM International Committee E60 on Sustainability is Seeking Participants to Submit Preliminary Abstracts

ASTM International Committee E60 on Sustainability is seeking participation through presentations and papers for the Symposium on Balancing Resiliency, Safety, and Sustainability in New Orleans, Louisiana, in conjunction with the committee’s standard development meetings.
 
The committee is soliciting participation on topics related to resiliency, safety, sustainability, and built environments including:
 
• Natural Disasters (Hurricane, Earthquake, Flood, Fire Resistance, etc.)
• Material and System Contributions to Resiliency
• Design Considerations and Challenges Related to Resiliency, Safety, and Sustainability
• Building in the Sustainability Era
• Life Cycle Considerations
• Public Policy Considerations Related to Building for Resiliency and More
 
Potential participants must submit an online 250 – 300 word Preliminary Abstract Form by January 13, 2017. Please email Hannah Sparks (hsparks@astm.org) to confirm your submission. For more information on the symposium, contact chairmen Emily Lorenz (elorenz@pci.org) and Walter Rossiter, Jr. (wjrossiter@verizon.net).
 
To submit a preliminary abstract form visit http://www.astm.org/E60CFP2017.

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.

RICOWI Provides Unbiased Research on Recent Hail Damage

Each time weather reports and news stories warn of impending heavy rains and hail, the Hail Investigation Program (HIP) Committee of the Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues (RICOWI) Inc., Clinton, Ohio, begins a process to determine whether the hail damage is sufficient to meet the HIP requirements for deployment of volunteer research teams.

Before the daily assignments began, the volunteers reviewed the various research requirements, met their team members and learned their responsibilities.

Before the daily assignments began, the volunteers reviewed the various research requirements, met their team members and learned their responsibilities.

Mobilization criteria is met when “An event is identified as a hailstorm with hail stones greater than 1 1/2 inches in diameter causing significant damage covering an area of 5 square miles or more on one of the target- ed areas.” Once a storm that meets the criteria has been confirmed and meteorological data and local input have been obtained by HIP, a conference call with RICOWI’s Executive Committee is held to discuss HIP’s recommendation and review information. The Executive Committee decides whether to deploy.

On April 11, 2016, the hailstorm that damaged the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex met the requirements for mobilization.

RESEARCH TEAMS AND BUILDINGS

Volunteer recruitment is an ongoing process throughout the year. RICOWI members are encouraged to volunteer as a deployment team member by completing forms online or at HIP committee meetings held twice a year in conjunction with RICOWI seminars and meetings.

Once a deployment is called, an email is sent to RICOWI members to alert the volunteers and encourage new volunteers. RICOWI sponsoring organizations also promote the investigation to their memberships. Volunteers are a mixture of new and returning personnel.

On May 2, 2016, 30 industry professionals traveled from across the U.S. to assemble in Texas. These volunteers were alerted to bring their trucks, ladders and safety equipment. To provide an impartial review, 10 teams of three volunteers were balanced with roofing material representatives, roofing consultants or engineers, meteorologists, contractors and researchers. Team members volunteered to be their team’s photographer, data collector or team leader.

When the deployment was called, press releases were sent to various media in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to alert local companies and homeowners of the research investigation. RICOWI staff began making calls immediately to the local area’s government officials to seek approval for the investigation teams to conduct research. Staff also made calls throughout the research week to help identify additional buildings.

A large area in and around Wylie, Texas, had hail as large as 4 inches in diameter.

A large area in and around Wylie, Texas, had hail as large as 4 inches in diameter.

Several methods are used to help determine which areas and roofs are chosen. A list of building permits were provided to RICOWI by local building officials to assist with roof choice. In addition, one of RICOWI’s members from the area did preliminary research and provided addresses for the teams. These site owners were contacted through phone and email to notify them of the research project.

Teams were assigned low- or steep- slope research and were assigned addresses accordingly. Team members carried copies of the press release and additional information to help introduce the investigation to business owners and homeowners.

Ultimately, the objective of the re- search project in Dallas/Fort Worth included the following:

  • Investigate the field performance of roofing assemblies after this major hail event.
  • Factually describe roof assembly performance and modes of damage.
  • Formally report the results for substantiated hail events.

DAY-TO-DAY DUTIES

Before the daily assignments began, the volunteers reviewed the various research requirements, met their team members and learned their responsibilities. The teams were briefed on safety, how to take proper photos and how to capture important data.

As each day began, a briefing was held providing assignments for the day. This included addresses for investigation based on whether the team was focused on low- or steep-slope research. The teams were encouraged to stop at other homes and facilities that were undergoing roof repairs in addition to their assigned inspections.

The days were hot and long for the teams. Volunteers began each day at 8 a.m. and many did not return until 5 or 6 p.m., depending on the number of roofs they were assigned. The temperature during the day was around 80 F and humid; the temperatures on the roofs were much worse.

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The Building Industry Is Working to Reduce Long-term Costs and Limit Disruptions of Extreme Events

“Resilience is the ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and to withstand and recover rapidly from deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring threats or incidents.” —White House Presidential Policy Directive on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience

In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in the Gulf Coast as a category 3 storm. Insured losses topped $41 billion, the costliest U.S. catastrophe in the history of the industry. Studies following the storm indicated that lax enforcement of building codes had significantly increased the number and severity of claims and structural losses. Researchers at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, found that if stronger building codes had been in place, wind damages from Hurricane Katrina would have been reduced by a staggering 80 percent. With one storm, resiliency went from a post-event adjective to a global movement calling for better preparation, response and recovery—not if but when the next major disaster strikes.

CHALLENGES OF AN AGING INFRASTRUCTURE

We can all agree that the U.S. building stock and infrastructure are old and woefully unprepared for climatic events, which will occur in the years ahead. Moving forward, engineering has to be more focused on risk management; historical weather patterns don’t matter because the past is no longer a reliable map for future building-code requirements. On community-wide and building-specific levels, conscientious groups are creating plans to deal with robust weather, climatic events and national security threats through changing codes and standards to improve their capacity to withstand, absorb and recover from stress.

Improvements to infrastructure resiliency, whether they are called risk-management strategies, extreme-weather preparedness or climate-change adaptation, can help a region bounce back quickly from the next storm at considerably less cost. Two years ago, leading groups in America’s design and construction industry issued an Industry Statement on Resiliency, which stated: “We recognize that natural and manmade hazards pose an increasing threat to the safety of the public and the vitality of our nation. Aging infrastructure and disasters result in unacceptable losses of life and property, straining our nation’s ability to respond in a timely and efficient manner. We further recognize that contemporary planning, building materials, and design, construction and operational techniques can make our communities more resilient to these threats.”

With these principles in mind, there has been a coordinated effort to revolutionize building standards to respond to higher demands.

STRENGTHENING BUILDING STANDARDS

Resiliency begins with ensuring that buildings are constructed and renovated in accordance with modern building codes and designed to evolve with change in the built and natural environment. In addition to protecting the lives of occupants, buildings that are designed for resilience can rapidly re-cover from a disruptive event, allowing continuity of operations that can liter- ally save lives.

Disasters are expensive to respond to, but much of the destruction can be prevented with cost-effective mitigation features and advanced planning. A 2005 study funded by the Washington, D.C.-based Federal Emergency Management Agency and conducted by the Washington-based National Institute of Building Sciences’ Multi-hazard Mitigation Council found that every dollar spent on mitigation would save $4 in losses. Improved building-code requirements during the past decade have been the single, unifying force in driving high-performing and more resilient building envelopes, especially in states that have taken the initiative to extend these requirements to existing buildings.

MITIGATION IS COST-EFFECTIVE IN THE LONG TERM

In California, there is an oft-repeated saying that “earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.” Second only to Alaska in frequency of earthquakes and with a much higher population density, California has made seismic-code upgrades a priority, even in the face of financial constraints. Last year, Los Angeles passed an ambitious bill requiring 15,000 buildings and homes to be retrofitted to meet modern codes. Without the changes, a major earth- quake could seriously damage the city’s economic viability: Large swaths of housing could be destroyed, commercial areas could become uninhabitable and the city would face an uphill battle to regain its economic footing. As L.A. City Councilman Gil Cedillo said, “Why are we waiting for an earthquake and then committed to spending billions of dollars, when we can spend millions of dollars before the earthquake, avoid the trauma, avoid the loss of afford- able housing and do so in a preemptive manner that costs us less?”

This preemptive strategy has been adopted in response to other threats, as well. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J., emerged as a national example of electrical resilience with its microgrid, an efficient on-campus power-generation and -delivery network that draws electricity from a gas-turbine generator and solar-panel field. When the New Jersey utility grid went down in the storm, police, firefighters, paramedics and other emergency-services workers used Princeton University as a staging ground and charging station for phones and equipment. It also served as a haven for local residents whose homes lost power. Even absent a major storm, the system provides cost efficiency, reduced environmental impact and the opportunity to use renewable energy, making the initial investment a smart one.

ROOFING STANDARDS ADAPT TO MEET DEMANDS

Many of today’s sustainable roofing standards were developed in response to severe weather events. Wind-design standards across the U.S. were bolstered after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 with minimum design wind speeds rising by 30-plus mph. Coastal jurisdictions, such as Miami-Dade County, went even further with the development of wind- borne debris standards and enhanced uplift design testing. Severe heat waves and brown-outs, such as the Chicago Heat Wave of 1995, prompted that city to require cool roofs on the city’s buildings.

Hurricane Sandy fostered innovation by demonstrating that when buildings are isolated from the supply of fresh water and electricity, roofs could serve an important role in keeping building occupants safe and secure. Locating power and water sources on rooftops would have maintained emergency lighting and water supplies when storm surges threatened systems located in basement utility areas. Thermally efficient roofs could have helped keep buildings more habitable until heating and cooling plants were put back into service.

In response to these changes, there are many opportunities for industry growth and adaptation. Roof designs must continue to evolve to accommodate the increasing presence of solar panels, small wind turbines and electrical equipment moved from basements, in addition to increasing snow and water loads on top of buildings. Potential energy disruptions demand greater insulation and window performance to create a habitable interior environment in the critical early hours and days after a climate event. Roofing product manufacturers will work more closely with the contractor community to ensure that roofing installation practices maximize product performance and that products are tested appropriately for in-situ behavior.

AVERTING FUTURE DISASTERS THROUGH PROACTIVE DESIGN

Rather than trying to do the minimum possible to meet requirements, building practitioners are “thinking beyond the code” to design structures built not just to withstand but to thrive in extreme circumstances. The Tampa, Fla.-based Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has developed an enhanced set of engineering and building standards called FORTIFIED Home, which are designed to help strengthen new and existing homes through system-specific building upgrades to reduce damage from specific natural hazards. Research on roofing materials is ongoing to find systems rigorous enough to withstand hail, UV radiation, temperature fluctuations and wind uplift. New techniques to improve roof installation quality and performance will require more training for roofing contractors and more engagement by manufacturers on the installation of their products to optimize value.

Confronted with growing exposure to disruptive events, the building industry is working cooperatively to meet the challenge of designing solutions that provide superior performance in changing circumstances to reduce long-term costs and limit disruptions. Achieving such integration requires active collaboration among building team members to improve the design process and incorporate new materials and technologies, resulting in high-performing structures that are durable, cost- and resource-efficient, and resilient so when the next disruptive event hits, our buildings and occupants will be ready.

Denver International Airport Is Reroofed with EPDM after a Hailstorm

The millions of passengers who pass through Denver International Airport each year no doubt have the usual list of things to review as they prepare for a flight: Checked baggage or carry-on? Buy some extra reading material or hope that the Wi-Fi on the plane is working? Grab
a quick bite before takeoff or take your chances with airline snacks?

The storm created concentric cracks at the point of hail impacts and, in most cases, the cracks ran completely through the original membrane.

The storm created concentric cracks at the point of hail impacts and, in most cases, the cracks ran completely through the original membrane.

Nick Lovato, a Denver-based roofing consultant, most likely runs through a similar checklist before each flight. But there’s one other important thing he does every time he walks through DIA. As he crosses the passenger bridge that connects the Jeppeson Terminal to Gate A, he always looks out at the terminal’s roof and notices with some pride that it is holding up well. Fifteen years ago, after a hailstorm shredded the original roof on Denver’s terminal building, his firm, CyberCon, Centennial, Colo., was brought in as part of the design team to assess the damage, assist in developing the specifications and oversee the installation of a new roof that would stand up to Denver’s sometimes unforgiving climate.

HAIL ALLEY

DIA, which opened in 1995, is located 23 miles northeast of the metropolitan Denver area, on the high mountain desert prairie of Colorado. Its location showcases its spectacular design incorporating peaked tent-like elements on its roof, meant to evoke the nearby Rocky Mountains or Native American dwellings or both. Unfortunately, this location also places the airport smack in the middle of what is known as “Hail Alley”, the area east of the Rockies centered in Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming. According to the Silver Spring, Md.- based National Weather Service, this area experiences an average of nine “hail days” a year. The reason this area gets so much hail is that the freezing point—the area of the atmosphere at 32 F or less—in the high plains is much closer to the ground. In other words, the hail doesn’t have time to thaw and melt before it hits the ground.

Not only are hail storms in this area relatively frequent, they also produce the largest hail in North America. The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Greenwood Village, Colo., says the area experiences three to four hailstorms a year categorized as “catastrophic”, causing at least $25 million in damage. Crops, commercial buildings, housing, automobiles and even livestock are at risk.

Statistically, more hail falls in June in Colorado than during any other month, and the storm that damaged DIA’s roof followed this pattern. In June 2001, the hailstorm swept over the airport. The storm was classified as “moderate” but still caused extensive damage to the flat roofs over Jeppesen Terminal and the passenger bridge. (It’s important to note that the storm did not damage the renowned tent roofs.) The airport’s original roof, non-reinforced PVC single-ply membrane, was “shredded” by the storm and needed extensive repair. Lovato and his team at CyberCon assessed the damage and recommended changes in the roofing materials that would stand up to Colorado’s climate. Lovato also oversaw the short-term emergency re- pairs to the roof and the installation of the new roof.

The initial examination of the roof also revealed that the existing polystyrene rigid insulation, ranging in thickness from 4 to 14 inches, was salvageable, representing significant savings.

The initial examination of the roof also revealed that the existing polystyrene rigid insulation, ranging in thickness from 4 to 14 inches, was salvageable, representing significant savings.

Under any circumstances, this would have been a challenging task. The fact that the work was being done at one of the busiest airports in the world made the challenge even more complex. The airport was the site of round-the-clock operations with ongoing public activity, meaning that noise and odor issues needed to be addressed. Hundreds of airplanes would be landing and taking off while the work was ongoing. And three months after the storm damaged the roof in Denver, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, making security concerns paramount.

INSPECTION AND REROOFING

Lovato’s inspection of the hail damage revealed the extent of the problems with the airport roof. The original PVC membrane, installed in 1991, was showing signs of degradation and premature plasticizer loss prior to being pummeled by the June 2001 storm. The storm itself created concentric cracks at the point of hail impacts and, in most cases, the cracks ran completely through the membrane. In some instances, new cracks developed in the membranes that were not initially visible following the storm. The visible cracks were repaired immediately with EPDM primer and EPDM flashing tape until more extensive repairs could begin. Lovato notes that while nature caused the damage to DIA, nature was on the roofing team’s side when the repairs were being made: The reroofing project was performed during a drought, the driest in 50 years, minimizing worries about leaks into the terminal below and giving the construction teams almost endless sunny days to finish their job.

The initial examination of the roof also revealed that the existing polystyrene rigid insulation, ranging in thickness from 4 to 14 inches, was salvageable, representing significant savings. Although a single-ply, ballasted roof was considered and would have been an excellent choice in other locations, it was ruled out at the airport given that the original structure was not designed for the additional weight and substantial remediation at the roof edge perimeter possibly would have been required.

Lovato chose 90-mil black EPDM membrane for the new roof. “It’s the perfect roof for that facility. We wanted a roof that’s going to perform. EPDM survives the best out here, given our hailstorms,” he says. A single layer of 5/8-inch glass-faced gypsum board with a primed surface was installed over the existing polystyrene rigid insulation (secured with mechanical fasteners and metal plates) to provide a dense, hail-resistant substrate for the new membrane.

In some areas adjacent to the airport’s clerestory windows, the membrane received much more solar radiation than other areas of the roof.

In some areas adjacent to the airport’s clerestory windows, the membrane received much more solar radiation than other areas of the roof.

In some areas adjacent to the airport’s clerestory windows, the membrane received much more solar radiation than other areas of the roof. When ambient temperatures exceeded 100 F, some melting of the polystyrene rigid insulation occurred. “That section of the roof was getting double reflection,” Lovato points out. To reduce the impact of this reflection, the roof was covered with a high-albedo white coating, which prevented any further damage to the top layer of the polystyrene rigid insulation board and also met the aesthetic requirements of the building.

LONG-TERM SOLUTION

Lovato’s observations about the durability of EPDM are backed up by field experience and controlled scientific testing. In 2005, the EPDM Roofing Association, Washington, D.C., commissioned a study of the impact of hail on various roofing membranes. The study, conducted by Jim D. Koontz & Associates Inc., Hobbs, N.M., showed EPDM outperforms all other available membranes in terms of hail resistance. As would be expected, 90-mil membrane offers the highest resistance against punctures. But even thinner 45-mil membranes were affected only when impacted by a 3-inch diameter ice ball at 133.2 feet per second, more than 90 mph—extreme conditions that would rarely be experienced even in the harshest climates.

Lovato travels frequently, meaning he can informally inspect the DIA roof at regular intervals as he walks through the airport. He’s confident the EPDM roof is holding up well against the Denver weather extremes, and he’s optimistic about the future. With justified pride, Lovato says, “I would expect that roof to last 30-plus years.”

PHOTOS: CyberCon

Roof Materials

90-mil Non-reinforced EPDM: Firestone Building Products
Gypsum Board: 5/8-inch DensDeck Prime from Georgia-Pacific
Plates and Concrete Fasteners: Firestone Building Products
White Elastomeric Coating: AcryliTop from Firestone Building Products
Existing Polystyrene: Dow

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.”

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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