Resilience in Health Care Facilities

The hurricanes that pounded portions of the East Coast of the United States in recent years left record-setting destruction in their wake. But they also taught valuable, if painful, lessons about resilience — what works, what doesn’t, and what’s needed to ensure that the built environment can withstand the predicted increase in these cataclysmic weather events.

These storms, as well as wildfires in the West and tornadoes, hailstorms and extreme flooding throughout the South and Midwest, also drove home the message that hospitals and other health care facilities face unique challenges during times of crisis. They must continue operating to ensure the wellbeing of their patients, meet the needs of staff members who are caring for those patients, and admit additional patients, many of whom may have been injured during the storm. Hospitals frequently house ongoing research and millions of dollars of scientific work could be destroyed if power is lost, or a lab is flooded. Health care facilities are often called on to serve as emergency command centers for entire communities, even during extended utility outages and transportation infrastructure disturbances, and provide such basic necessities as food and water. In fact, in a 2014 report, FEMA cited hospitals, along with public shelters, vital data storage centers, power generation and water and other utilities, and installations which produce, use, or store hazardous materials, as critical facilities “for which the effects of even a slight chance of disruption would be too great.” In other words, hospitals must be able to provide “a standalone level of resilience” independent of the surrounding community and its infrastructure.

The same FEMA report points out that demographics are working to make hospitals even more essential during a crisis, pointing out that the aging population of the United States “will place additional stresses on health care infrastructure.” Finally, while hospitals understand how to organize for the unexpected, other “sub-acute” residential health care settings such as nursing homes, dialysis centers, rehabilitation centers and retail pharmacies tend to be less focused on the stresses that an emergency could put on their systems. Nonetheless, these non-hospital settings need to plan for worst-case scenarios and fully assess their physical vulnerabilities.

Given the increasing frequency of cataclysmic natural events, there has been a growing awareness that rebuilding health care facilities in the wake of a storm is not a viable approach: to fend off the impact of future storms, it will be necessary to incorporate increased structural resilience to protect both patients and staff during extreme events. In many instances, hospitals have responded, ensuring that their built environment incorporates features that were unheard of even a decade ago.

The Importance of the Roof

In any building, the continued functioning of the roof is essential to protect the interior from water or wind damage, and to maintain a comfortable level or heating or cooling for the interior space. In a health care setting, especially when flooding is an issue, the roof must perform additional essential tasks such as serving as a potential location for evacuation of patients or delivery of essential supplies and personnel. For instance, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina at Tulane Medical Center, the hospital’s engineering staff was called on to fashion a makeshift helipad on a parking garage roof to evacuate 200 patients and 1,500 personnel beginning two days after the storm, as generators ran out of fuel or failed and it became apparent that no fuel would arrive. Patients were transported in passenger pickup trucks, as ambulances were too tall to access the parking deck.

Additionally, roofs may be required to support heating and cooling equipment. At Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, opened in 2013, all critical mechanical and electrical infrastructure was placed on the roof and above flood elevations to minimize possibility of interruption. In fact, hospitals in flood-prone regions are being planned and designed “upside-down” with critical infrastructure on rooftops and electromechanical distribution systems fed from the roof downward.

To help the health care sector better prepare for increasingly extreme weather, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has produced the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, devoting one specific section to Building Health Care Sector Resilience. The guide was developed through a public-private partnership with the health care industry and provides an introductory document as well as a suite of online tools and resources that showcase “emerging best practices for developing sustainable and climate-resilient health care facilities.” The guide also provides case studies of organizations that are finding innovative ways to deal with the threats posed by extreme weather events.

The toolkit also provides a checklist to help gauge the resilience of a building, focusing in part on conducting a critical building inventory. Questions specific to the roof, or partly pertaining to it, include:

  • Have you compiled building envelope and performance vulnerabilities for each critical building?
  • Have you reviewed building code design baselines against extreme weather intensities (wind speeds, rainfall volumes, etc.) for each critical building?
  • Have you incorporated expected climate change data over time into building vulnerability assessments?
  • What are the design wind loads for roofs?
  • What are the design snow loads for roofs? Have rooftop structures and equipment (and their attachments) been reviewed for anticipated wind speeds?
  • Have rooftop structures and equipment (and their attachments) been reviewed for extreme precipitation and/or hail vulnerabilities?

A Case in Point

As with most issues related to roofing, the people who have been on the front lines, helping to create a resilient system, are the real experts. Chuck Anderson is Construction Program Director at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. When Hurricane Ike struck in September 2008, the hospital, encompassing 100 buildings, suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage. Anderson has been one of the people charged with ensuring that the hospital campus, located on a vulnerable low-lying barrier island, is protected from similar future losses. The hospital campus is also required to be self-sustaining for two weeks during and after a storm. As far as priorities for building a resilient roof, Anderson says, “Number one, it is the product. Number two, the installation.” Anderson advocates for a fully adhered system. “You can have the best product in the world, and if it’s not applied correctly, that’s going to blow off.”

Anderson also points out that it’s essential to use a membrane that will withstand “any little blowing object that might put a hole in your roof.” But ultimately, along with state-of-the-art materials and installation methods, Anderson says that additional care is needed; when a storm is predicted, he and his staff walk the roofs to clear them of any debris that could create damage if it becomes windborne. High-tech roofing and low-tech, step-by-step attention to detail — a winning combination to help protect the built environment against increasingly destructive weather events.

To access the U.S Climate Resilience Toolkit and its guide, “Enhancing Health Care Resilience for a Changing Climate”, go to https://toolkit.climate.gov/image/662.

For information on incorporating resilience into a roofing system, go to http://epdmtheresilientroof.org.

About the Author: Louisa Hart is the director of communications for the Washington-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA). For more information, visit www.epdmroofs.org.

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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Traditional Wood Shakes Are Made of High-strength Steel

The Roser Stone Wood Shake pairs the aesthetic beauty of the traditional wood shake with the low maintenance and exceptional performance of high-strength steel.

The Roser Stone Wood Shake pairs the aesthetic beauty of the traditional wood shake with the low maintenance and exceptional performance of high-strength steel.

The Roser Stone Wood Shake pairs the aesthetic beauty of the traditional wood shake with the low maintenance and exceptional performance of high-strength steel. Tested against the elements, Stone Wood Shake by Roser has been tempered against hurricanes, fires, hail storms and earthquakes and has proven its durability and protection for your greatest investment—your home.

The roofing system includes:

  • Clear acrylic over-glaze protective coating
  • Roofing granule coating
  • Adhesive basecoat
  • Protective surface coating
  • Aluminum/zinc coating
  • Commercial-grade steel core
  • Protective surface coating

The Stone Coated Steel Roofing System, manufactured by Roser, offers the advantage of high-strength steel with a look a variety of traditional and innovative architectural styles. When compared to asphalt shingles and concrete roofing products, which can weigh 350 to 1,000 pounds per square, the Roser Stone Coated Roofing System, at only 150 pounds per square, effectively reduces the overhead weight on the house structure. This provides for a much safer building during an earthquake, fire or a hurricane. While the standard shingle and shake roofs naturally deteriorate over time, the Roser Roofing System will continue to maintain its beautiful appearance and requires the least amount of maintenance in the roofing industry. An eco-friendly Roser roof will increase the resale value of your home not only with its elegance, but also with its proven durability.

About Roser Roofing System:

  • Installs direct to deck or over battens.
  • Stone surface resists fading and provides for a quiet roof.
  • Fastener design features a confirmed and a locking profile.
  • Low-maintenance roof system with water-shedding performance.
  • Storm driven engineering design is proven throughout the world.
  • Includes the stringent Miami-Dade Approval.

The National Storm Damage Center Develops Website for Impending Weather

The National Storm Damage Center has developed a portal that offers forensic, geo-targeted technology.

The National Storm Damage Center has developed a portal that offers forensic, geo-targeted technology.

The National Storm Damage Center has developed a portal that offers forensic, geo-targeted technology that can detect every critical characteristic of an impending tornado, hurricane and storm, including the precise addresses that will be most affected. The portal pairs homeowners with prescreened certified roofing and building contractors, along with the nation’s leading public insurance adjusters who work on behalf of the policy owner, not an insurance carrier. Learn more about becoming a certified contractor at StormDamageCenter.org.

U-Anchor Solar Attachment System Withstands Hurricane

The U-Anchor 2000 has withstood another blast of hurricane force winds. The 800 kW Trina solar power generation system was secured to a Carlisle TPO roof membrane in a hybrid system, consisting of U-Anchor 2000 attachments and ballast solar racking on top of the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa in St. Maarten. The system provides solar electric power to 317 guestrooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities and the spa.

The hurricane slammed into St. Maarten on Oct. 13 with no damage to the rooftop attachments and only minor debris-blown damage to the solar panels. Surrounding homes and boats were destroyed and the community’s water and power utilities reported outages. The solar electric power at the resort remained uninterrupted.

Hurricane Gonzalo was the second time the U-Anchor’s held a rooftop solar project securely in place while hurricane force winds blasted a rooftop solar project. U-Anchors shield a project on a large factory roof in Yonkers, New York, from 90 mph wind gusts during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Anchor Products completed the project in partnership with Sollega, Inc., which provided the ballasted racking portion of the hybrid system.

Anchor Products, LLC is the manufacturer of the U-Anchor 2000 patented rooftop solar attachment products for the attachment of solar equipment and accessories to ridged and flexible film roof membranes. When properly installed, the U-Anchor can withstand approximately 1,000 lbs of ultimate load force in tension, and approximately 2,000 lbs of ultimate load force in shear.

U-Anchor 200 can be used on ballasted or non-penetrating designs. U-Anchors maintain the roofing manufacturer’s warranty and can be quickly installed at a rate of 12 per man hour. U-Anchor 2000 and all of Anchor Products rooftop attachments come with an industry standard material warranty.

The U-Anchor line of products can also attach mechanical equipment, electrical conduit, plumbing pipes, HVAC ducting, satellite dishes, windscreens, lightning protection and antennas, among many others.

Ceiling Finishing System Meets Florida Building Code

Zip-UP Ceiling finishing system is designed for finishing the underside of exterior soffits at schools, hospitals, airports, and commercial facilities. Testing for wind pressure, under both static load and cyclic load, was performed in accordance with the requirements of the Florida Building Code (High Velocity Hurricane Zone) and the product meets every Florida standard for static and cyclic load tests of hurricane strength winds. The Static Load Test (TAS 202) is performed, in several ascending stages, under test conditions that eventually meet -110 psf design pressure for a prescribed length of time. The Cyclic Load Test (TAS 203) tests under various alternating positive/negative pressures for 631 cycles.

Made from durable interlocking PVC components engineered to fit together easily, Zip-UP Ceiling provides a flat, clean, grid-free washable mildew and mold resistant paintable ceiling surface. The panels unzip for quick access to mechanical and electrical services in the soffit. Unlike steel finishing systems which rust and require pressure washing, Zip-UP Ceiling is rust-free and can be cleaned with a garden hose.

The manufacturer warrants that the system is free from defects, materials and workmanship for 25 years from the date of purchase and that the components will continue to zip together for that time.

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

Ultra HT Wind & Water Seal Underlayment Formally Approved by Miami-Dade

MFM Building Products, a manufacturer of a full envelope of waterproofing and weather barrier products for the building industry, has announced that its Ultra HT Wind & Water Seal high temperature roofing underlayment has been formally approved by Miami-Dade to comply with the Florida Building Code including the High Velocity Hurricane Zone. A copy of the NOA No. 13-1125.06 can be found on Miami-Dade’s website.

This self-adhering “self-stick” roofing underlayment is composed of a cool white, non-slip, cross-laminated, high density polyethylene film laminated to a high temperature rubberized asphalt adhesive system. This premium product is extremely tough and durable, and offers a 90-day UV exposure rating.

Ultra HT is engineered as a whole roof underlayment for use under asphalt shingle and metal roofing systems. Product rolls out smooth and lays flat while offering the contractor excellent foot traction. Ultra HT comes with a split release liner for use in valleys, ridges, around chimneys and at eaves for protection against ice dams, wind-driven rain and water penetration. Ultra HT aggressively adheres directly to the roof deck and self-seals around roofing fasteners. Product is rated to 250°F maximum.

Ultra HT has a thickness of 45 mils nominal and is available in a 36-inch width by 67-foot length (2 square) roll. Product meets ASTM D 1970, Florida Building Code FL16562, Miami-Dade County NOA 13-1125.06 and comes with a 10-Year Limited Warranty.

A Slate Roofer Shares Slate’s History in and Benefits for the Carolinas

Although slate had been used as ballast for ships crossing the Atlantic as early as the mid-1600s, its use was somewhat sparse in the Carolinas until after the great fire. With the Civil War in full bloom, a catastrophic fire broke out in Charleston in 1861, and the city was decimated. However, the Great Reconstruction Era (1865-77) brought shiploads of slate and bricks from North Wales. Welsh slate from the Penrhyn quarries and bricks and tiles from Flintshire and Chester made their way to nearby Liverpool, England, and ultimately to the historic Battery of Charleston.

Not to be outdone, the American quarries started to ship to the Carolinas also. New quarries opened up all along the New York and Vermont corridor, and, in the South, the Virginia Buckingham Co. started quarrying slate in 1867. Slate roofing was growing exponentially at this time, and the Carolinas were consuming it at a very rapid rate.

This dormer features Vermont Black installed in a German style.

This dormer features Vermont Black installed in a German style.

As a large port city, Charleston was able to acquire a wealth of different types of slate for its roofs: purple and gray slates from Penrhyn, Wales; Pennsylvania black slates; lustrous black Buckingham slates from Virginia; and greens, purples and reds from Vermont. Although it took more than a decade, Charleston was rebuilt in a grand manner with beautiful slate roofs as far as the eye could see.

Unfortunately, in 1989 Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, causing nearly $6 billion in damage. The silver lining was many of these historic properties with slate roofs were 100 to 200 years old by 1989 and were in need of major restoration. From 1989-91, Charleston experienced a huge building boom with the insurance companies footing the bill for the restoration of the city. Tradespeople skilled in historic restoration were called in from all over the country and world. Among them were slate roofers hired to assess and restore the city’s slate roofs.

Learning Experience

Having only been a slate roofer for four years at the time, Charleston proved to be a great learning experience for me. Often working 12- to 15-hour days to keep up with the workload, I was able to personally observe various slating techniques from more than a century ago.

For example, still one of the most unique slate roofs I’ve encountered in my 20-plus years in slate roofing, was on a private residence on King Street. It had sustained minimal damage, and in the process of our repairs, we could see why. The entire slate roof was laid in a bed of mortar with wooden pegs where one usually finds nails. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure to restore it back to its prominence.

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