New Test Protocol Provides Deeper Insight Into Performance of IR Shingles Against Hail

Hail impact testing takes place at the IBHS Research Center in Richburg, South Carolina. Manufactured hailstones are launched using a hail cannon designed to create an impact with the same kinetic energy as naturally occurring hail. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

Consumers deserve to have confidence that shingles labeled as impact resistant live up to their resilient expectations. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has dedicated years to collecting data and identifying unprecedented insights into the performance of impact resistant-labeled shingles.

IBHS is a non-profit, scientific research organization funded by the property insurance industry as a tangible demonstration of its commitment to resilience. Charged with advancing building science, influencing residential and commercial construction and creating more resilient communities, IBHS recreates real-world severe weather conditions to test buildings and building components, including asphalt shingles.

Background

Hail poses a threat to roofs across the country. It routinely causes more than $10 billion in insured losses each year according to a 2017 WillisRe study, and those losses have been growing. Yet, hail is not well accounted for in typical construction processes because hail-resistant products are not typically required by building codes.

There are three impact modes possible when hailstones hit shingles. Hailstones can bounce off the shingle cleanly, shatter into many pieces, or turn to slush leaving a residue behind on the shingle.

Impact-resistant (IR) asphalt shingles are marketed to consumers to perform better in hailstorms. Currently, those products are tested according to Underwriter’s Lab UL 2218 test or FM Approvals FM 4473 test, which use steel balls and pure water ice balls, respectively. They are based on diameter to kinetic energy relationships from the 1930s, and both tests launch projectiles at the roofing products and assume the damage severity is directly tied to the kinetic energy of the projectile. These tests evaluate products on a pass or fail basis using human evaluation to judge whether a crack has occurred, and in the case of the UL test, the damage is viewed from the backside — the side of a shingle a homeowner, roofer or insurance adjuster can’t see. Neither test, however, accurately replicates both the type and severity of damage found on rooftops after hailstorms.

Missing in the development of these test standards was an understanding of the material properties of natural hail. Historical studies had quantitative data on mass, diameter, and density, but qualitatively described the strength or hardness of hailstones. There were no quantitative hailstone strength data from which to base a laboratory test.

Filling a Knowledge Gap

IBHS began laying the foundation for what would become the IBHS Impact Resistance Test Protocol for Asphalt Shingles by collecting quantitative data on hailstone properties to expand understanding of the phenomenon itself in 2012. Researchers in the field have followed severe thunderstorms and collected hailstones to measure their mass, diameters, and strength. These data provided a deeper understanding of the kinetic energy with which hailstones fall, their mass to diameter relationship, and the strength of the hail itself.

IBHS partnered with Accudyne Inc to design the hail machine to manufacture hailstones in the laboratory to mimic the properties of natural hailstones.

After collecting thousands of data points, IBHS was able to fill the gap in the fundamental properties of hail that would affect damage. The data revealed that natural hail is slightly stronger than pure ice and current test methods overestimate the mass, fall speed and impact energy of hail. This was a significant breakthrough in hail science.

Recreating Hail in the Lab

Armed with these new insights, IBHS researchers could begin to replicate the properties of natural hail and achieve the right impact energies in the laboratory to develop a new test for impact resistance that would produce damage representative of natural hailstorms. Seltzer water was initially used to create the density observed in natural hail. Later, IBHS and Accudyne Systems Inc. developed and patented a hail machine to mass-produce manufactured hailstones for testing. The hail machine allows researchers to configure the density and strength of hailstones to mimic the variety that occurs in natural hail.

Figure 1. Hail causes three distinct types of damage to shingles. Hail can deform a shingle with dents, dislodge the protective granules on the surface of the shingle, and cause cracks or tears that breach the material.

Variations in strength and density led to the identification of three impact modes, or types of impacts, that occur when manufactured hailstones are launched at asphalt shingles. The hailstones may result in a “hard bounce” off the shingle remaining nearly intact, a “hard shatter” with the hailstone fracturing into numerous small pieces leaving no ice residue behind, or a “soft” impact where the hailstone turns to “slush” on the surface of the shingle.

The hard impacts typically caused granule loss and deformed the shingles, leaving dents and creating breaches. The soft, slushy impacts produced a larger area of granule loss, but left less noticeable deformations. These damages are reflective of damages observed on real roofs after hailstorms and may diminish a shingle’s water-shedding capabilities. Deformations to shingles can allow water to penetrate and get into the roof, which may damage the interior of a home. Loss of granules on shingles exposes the asphalt to UV radiation, which can cause them to become more brittle and prone to further damage and shorten the service life of the roof.

The Test Protocol

The IBHS Impact Resistance Test Protocol for Asphalt Shingles uses a hail cannon to launch 1.5- and 2-inch manufactured hailstones at roofing test panels. Unlike existing test methods, IBHS requires the shingles be purchased from distribution channels as a roofer or contractor would purchase the product.

Figure 2. An example of the Roof Shingle Hail Impact Ratings chart found ibhs.org. Each product recieves an overall rating in addition to a rating by damage type ranging from excellent to poor performance.

The test panel follows the UL 2218 method with a 3-foot by 3-foot frame with a middle structural member to simulate the presence of a roof truss. The panel has a plywood roof deck and underlayment. Shingles are installed according to each manufacturer’s instructions. Impacts are focused on the main portion of the shingles avoiding edges, joints, corners, the outer frame and the middle structural member.

When testing three-tab shingles, 20 impacts per hailstone size are required. When testing architectural shingles, 40 impacts per size are required — 20 on the single layer portion of the product and 20 on the multiple layer portion of the product. For each hailstone size, an equal number of hard and soft impacts are required. However, some variation is allowed between hard shatter and hard bounce.

Damage Assessment and Ratings

As part of the new test protocol, IBHS needed an objective tool to assess damages and improve upon the human judged pass/fail ratings of the existing test methods. IBHS partnered with Nemesis Inc. to create a cloud computing tool to measure the volume of deformations and the area of granule loss. The application runs on a computer or mobile device and uses at least 13 photos to generate gridded 3D data of the impacts. The 3D mesh allows the application to precisely measure deformations, including both the depth of dents and the height of the ridge surrounding each dent, as well as granule loss individually and in patches. The quantitative data allows for the severity of the damage to be evaluated, rather than treating all damage as equal. The third mode of damage, breach, is assessed by expert judgement to visually determine the severity level.

The damage severities for each of the 20 impacts for three-tab shingles or 40 impacts for architectural shingles are used to calculate the overall performance evaluation rating of a product for a given test size. IBHS publicly released results of the initial testing in June 2019. The published ratings provide the overall performance evaluation rating in addition to performance ratings by damage category.

The initial release included eight of the most widely-sold IR shingle products on the market. As part of the release, IBHS committed to retest the products every two years and to test new products introduced to the marketplace within six months of release. In October 2019, IBHS issued an update to the performance evaluation ratings, adding three newly released products to the list.

Summary

The IBHS Test Protocol differentiates the performance of widely-sold IR shingles currently on the market by replicating the properties of natural hailstones and providing a quantitative evaluation of performance. Moving beyond pass/fail testing provides more detailed performance information for consumers looking to purchase a better performing product, roofers looking to sell a better product and manufacturers who wish to improve their products.

As hail-related losses continue to rise, the IBHS Impact Resistance Test Protocol for Asphalt Shingles and its ability to more effectively determine which shingles may be more resilient to hail will help raise the level of performance and arm consumers in hail-prone regions with more information when selecting a roofing product.

To view the latest shingle performance ratings, visit www.ibhs.org/hail/shingle-performance-ratings.

About the author: Dr. Tanya Brown-Giammanco is the Managing Director of Research at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) and has overseen the IBHS hail program since its inception in 2010. For more information on hail research, please visit ibhs.org.

IBHS Awards 15,000th FORTIFIED Home Designation

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recently awarded the 15,000th designation in its FORTIFIED Home program for resilient living to a home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which has a new roof funded by Strengthen Alabama Homes and installed by Habitat for Humanity Tuscaloosa. FORTIFIED is the national standard for construction that is resilient to severe weather and is part of a rapidly growing trend to build stronger homes across the country. Alabama currently leads the nation in FORTIFIED designated buildings and is home to nearly 80 percent of all FORTIFIED Homes.

“As homeowners across Alabama are keenly aware, severe weather disrupts lives, displaces families and drives financial loss,” said IBHS President and CEO Roy Wright. “For nearly three decades we’ve worked to identify solutions to help property owners prevent avoidable losses. In recent years, we’ve seen our FORTIFIED program and resilient building, in general, pick up momentum. The number of FORTIFIED Homes has more than doubled in the past two years, and Alabama’s Gulf Coast has been at the center of adopting these construction methods. With FORTIFIED now taking hold across the State it is fitting that the 15,000th home be dedicated here today.”

The State of Alabama first recognized IBHS’s building standards in 2009 by passing legislation requiring insurers to provide discounts for homes with a FORTIFIED designation. In 2016, Strengthen Alabama Homes began issuing grants to help homeowners retrofit roofs to the FORTIFIED standard. On Jan. 1, 2020, new state legislation became law ensuring every homeowner in Alabama is offered a FORTIFIED endorsement. Homeowners with this extra protection can now have their roof upgraded to FORTIFIED standards if it is being replaced due to a claim.

“For every home that is FORTIFIED, a family is safer, their lives are less disrupted from the effects of a destructive storm, a damaged roof is not filling up a landfill and the cost of wind insurance is lower,” said Alabama Insurance Commissioner Jim Ridling.  “Fortification keeps workers in their homes and at their jobs, allowing employers to maintain their productivity, thus reducing the storm’s impact on the local economy. Our collaboration with IBHS makes Alabama a safer place to live and work.”

Understanding the importance of helping people make their homes more resilient against severe weather, during the event State Farm announced a $150,000 contribution to support the Strengthen Alabama Homes program. According to State Farm’s counsel for Alabama, Steve Simkins, the company is excited to help Alabama homeowners gain the peace of mind that comes with a FORTIFIED Roof, and they are hopeful the donation will encourage other companies to support the program.

“FORTIFIED provides achievable property protection for any family,” stated Julie Shiyou-Woodard, President and CEO of Smart Home America. “Dedicated public-private partnerships between IBHS, State Farm, Smart Home America, Habitat for Humanity, the Department of Insurance, and many others, have allowed FORTIFIED to take root here (Alabama). Across the nation, we are all working to grow and integrate FORTIFIED and resilient construction at the community and state levels.”

Using the FORTIFIED Home standards as a guide, Habitat for Humanity has created its own resilience program for new construction and also partners with Strengthen Alabama Homes to retrofit homes, like the one designated today, to the FORTIFIED standards.

 “All of us at Habitat Tuscaloosa are excited about the opportunity to offer FORTIFIED Roofs to our homeowners,” added Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa Executive Director Ellen Potts. “The additional safety and durability this adds to a home provides families with peace of mind. And, through discounts on their homeowners insurance, it will save them money over the long term.”

The 15,000th home in the FORTIFIED program was dedicated at a special ceremony held at the Tuscaloosa home. Jim Ridling, Commissioner, Alabama Department of Insurance; Brian Hastings, Director, Alabama Emergency Management Agency; Brian Powell, Director, Strengthen Alabama Homes; Steve Simkins, Counsel for Alabama, State Farm; Julie Shiyou-Woodard, President and CEO, Smart Home America; Ellen Potts, Executive Director, Habitat for Humanity of Tuscaloosa, were in attendance.

For more information about the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety or for tips and information about making your home more resilient visit www.disastersafety.org.

For more information, visitwww.fortifiedhome.org.

Atlas Roofing Product Receives Excellent Overall Rating for Hail Resistance From IBHS

Atlas Roofing announced that its StormMaster Shake shingles received an excellent overall rating from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The performance rating is based on 2019 results from a new test standard for impact resistance developed by the IBHS.

Severe weather can displace families, disrupting their lives and impacting finances. To prevent these avoidable issues, IBHS conducts top-tier scientific research, the results of which help manufacturers engineer better materials, ultimately saving both the insurance industry and homeowners significant time and money.

The IBHS impact-resistance rating factors in how well shingles hold up to specific damage caused by hail. Out of the 10 products tested, Atlas StormMaster Shake shingles received a good rating for dents/ridges and an excellent rating for tears and granule loss. In addition, StormMaster Shake is the only product to receive an excellent overall rating.

“We’re thrilled that StormMaster Shake outranked the competition,” said Paul Casseri, product manager for Atlas Roofing. “The secret is in our Core4 Enhanced Polymer Technology — the most innovative development in asphalt shingle manufacturing today.”

IBHS tests are designed to replicate real-world conditions on a variety of widely purchased shingles labeled as “impact resistant.”

“Hail causes billions of dollars in property damage every year,” said Tanya Brown-Giammanco, managing director of research for IBHS. “Consumers deserve to have confidence that shingles labeled as impact resistant live up to expectations. Our research serves to empower manufacturers to develop better products.”

For more information about IBHS, visit www.IBHS.org. For more information about Atlas Roofing, visit www.AtlasRoofing.com.

STINGER NailPac Approved by IBHS FORTIFIED Home Program for Strengthening Residential Buildings Beyond Standard Building Codes

National Nail’s STINGER, its leading brand for roofing tools, cap fasteners and underlayment, has partnered with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) FORTIFIED Home program, specifically highlighting the STINGER NailPac. The NailPac (1-inch plastic collated caps and 1-inch x .083 stainless steel or electro galvanized ring shank nails for securing underlayment) seals out moisture and provides superior holding power in up to 150 mph hurricane-force winds. Because of its performance, NailPac meets the standards required of a FORTIFIED Roof — a level of protection in the FORTIFIED Home program that ensures water will stay out of the house in the event of severe weather. As a program, FORTIFIED Home aims to protect and strengthen homes to reduce the risk of property damage and financial loss, and they do so by going beyond standard building codes.

“Contractors who build stronger, more resilient homes provide their homeowners with the best protection from high winds and heavy rains. We are excited to see manufacturers like National Nail respond to contractor needs and develop products like their STINGER NailPac to make building to the FORTIFIED Roof standards easier than ever,” said Fred Malik, managing director of FORTIFIED Products. “By providing FORTIFIED-compliant, corrosion-resistant nails and eliminating the hassle of hand-driving button-cap nails, roofers can more quickly deliver stronger roofs for homeowners.”

“We are honored to be one of the select brands to partner with FORTIFIED Home,” said Roger Szotko, STINGER Product Manager, National Nail. “The approval from FORTIFIED Home confirms that NailPac makes the installation of roofing underlayment easy for contractors, and it ensures strong protection against the elements.”

STINGER NailPac is designed for exclusive use with the STINGER CN100B Cap Nailer. According to the company, the CN100B is an innovative and versatile pneumatic tool that was engineered to make securing underlayment easy. Each 2,000 count NailPac — which includes 10 reels of 200 count 1-inch plastic collated caps and 10 coils of 200 count 1-inch x .083 304 stainless steel or electro galvanized ring shank nails — will cover approximately 25 square feet, dependent on installation instructions and/or building code requirements.The stainless steel NailPac is required in areas within 3,000 feet of saltwater, while the electro galvanized NailPac can be used in areas beyond 3,000 feet, but always refer to local building codes before beginning the job.

In addition to the FORTIFIED Roof designation, FORTIFIED Home also offers FORTIFIED Silver and FORTIFIED Gold. Each level provides increased home protection, allowing homeowners to choose a set of building standards that works with their budget and resilience goals.

Not all homes built using STINGER NailPac will qualify for a FORTIFIED Home designation. Homes require compliance with all FORTIFIED Home technical requirements and additional inspections. For more information, please visit www.fortifiedhome.org.For more information about the CN100B and NailPac, visit www.STINGERWORLD.com.

ERA Leadership to Speak on Business Resilience at IBHS Event

Jared Blum, the Executive Director of the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), will speak at a symposium on “Facing the Storm: The Case for Business Resilience” to be hosted on June 11 by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). Blum will participate in a four-person interactive panel discussion on what actions can be taken by varying stakeholders to break the cycle of “repeated and preventable damage.” Also participating on the panel will be Rachel Minnery, Senior Director of Resilience, Adaptation and Disaster Assistance at The American Institute of Architects; Ryan Colker, Vice President of Innovation and Executive Director, Alliance for National and Community Resilience at the International Code Council; and Alex Contreras, Director of Preparedness, Coordination and Communication at the Office of Disaster Assistance of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 

“It’s an honor to be included on this prestigious panel of experts who are making valuable contributions to a more resilient future for American business,” said Blum, “ERA is committed to making the construction community aware of the need for resilience in the built environment, and the role that EPDM can play in creating a resilient roofing system.”

“The specific attributes of EPDM make it uniquely valuable in attaining resilience in a structure,” said Ellen Thorp, Associate Executive Director of ERA, “We applaud the work that IBHS has done to provide science-based information about the need for resilience, and ERA is excited about joining them to support their important work.”

Responding to the heightened interest in and concern over the resilience of the built environment, ERA last year published its first annual report on resilience, “Building Resilience: The Roofing Perspective” and launched its microsite, EpdmTheResilientRoof.org. To add context to the information about EPDM products, the website provides a clearinghouse of sources about resilience, as well as an up-to-date roster of recent articles, blog posts, statements of professional organizations and other pertinent information about resilience. 

To access the complete ERA website, go to www.epdmroofs.org. To access the resilience microsite, go to www.EpdmTheResilientRoof.org.

Improving Disaster Mitigation Strategies

This past January, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), a non-governmental, non-profit organization, reported that for every dollar spent on mitigation efforts to protect the built environment from the ravages of natural disasters, six dollars could be saved. These findings were part of a follow-up to the widely cited benefit-cost ratio of four to one in a comparable study by NIBS more than a decade ago. For this most recent study, NIBS reviewed the outcomes of 23 years of mitigation grants funded by FEMA, HUD, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

On the same day that the NIBS study was released, FEMA released its draft National Mitigation Investment Strategy to provide a “national approach to investments in mitigation activities and risk management across the United States.” According to the FEMA draft, the final investment strategy will be grounded in three fundamental principles: (1) catalyze private and non-profit sector mitigation investments and innovation; (2) improve collaboration between the federal government and state, local, tribal and territorial governments, respecting local expertise in mitigation investing; and (3) make data- and risk-informed decisions that include lifetime costs and risks. The investment strategy’s overarching goal, according to FEMA, is to improve the coordination and effectiveness of “mitigation investments,” defined as risk management actions taken to avoid, reduce, or transfer risks from natural hazards, including severe weather.

FEMA invited comment on its draft report and will publish its final strategy in November. Given the potential impact of this report on the built environment, and the industries that work to incorporate resilient strategies, the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) submitted feedback to FEMA. ERA represents Johns Manville, Firestone Building Products, and Carlisle SynTec Inc., the three EPDM manufacturing members of the association, whose businesses span the globe. EPDM roofing membranes have been one of the leading commercial roofing materials in the country for the past 40 years, and the companies’ knowledge of the role of roof performance in achieving a building’s resilience is unparalleled.

In our response to FEMA, ERA noted that we appreciate the role that the built environment plays in a comprehensive disaster mitigation strategy. As an organization, ERA has invested time and resources to gather and provide state-of-the-art information about various approaches to creating a resilient built environment. This past year, ERA established a new microsite, EPDMtheresilientroof.com, to provide the roofing industry with a one-stop source for information about resilience. As part of information gathering for this site, ERA staff and members have visited three of the premier research facilities in the country: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. These visits were also devoted to gaining a fuller understanding of the intersection between public and private progress in research and development.

At the outset of our response to FEMA, ERA commended FEMA for its issuance of the draft strategy, and supported all the recommended goals as desirable as risk management strategies to be implemented at the private and public sector levels. However, given ERA’s experience with building performance, we also focused our comments on two of the specific recommended strategies in the published draft.

First, ERA responded to the recommendation that “Federal departments and agencies should ensure up-to-date building standards are used for federal building projects and could incentivize state, local, tribal and territorial governments receiving federal aid for building projects to adopt and enforce, at a minimum, the most current version of model building codes.”
Commenting on this recommendation, ERA pointed out that a review of hurricane and related weather catastrophic events demonstrates that the better the building quality and the better the building codes, the better the performance of the community. While there has been substantial improvement in many states across the country, adoption and compliance pose significant hurdles for overall performance in disaster events. The urgency of this cannot be overstated. Part of this effort to upgrade the building codes and consequently overall resilience must focus on the quality of materials, installation, and inspection of final construction to ensure compliance by local authorities.

The experiences of the roofing industry in its inspection of many disasters over the years have confirmed that a well-installed, inspected, and well-maintained roof is a linchpin of overall building resilience. ERA believes that federal funding to the states to allow for the kind of technical assistance that enhances code quality and state and local compliance programs necessary to achieve physical and community resilience should be provided.
Additionally, ERA responded specifically to the recommendation that “Public sector entities should focus more on rebuilding better as well as rebuilding quickly following damage caused by natural disasters.”
ERA pointed out in its response that this recommendation to achieve rebuilding better buildings quickly following damage caused by natural disasters is among the most important in the report. As FEMA Deputy Director Roy White has pointed out in several presentations focused on resilience, it makes no sense for the agency to fund rebuilding of a destroyed facility to standards that existed when the original building was constructed with the likelihood that it would not be able to withstand another weather event beyond historic norms. Consequently, ERA recommends that FEMA and HUD need to have authority and appropriations to ensure that rebuilding is done with an eye towards future — not historic — climate conditions. This is in recognition that the original basis for many buildings that then are destroyed has been dramatically changed by recently evolving weather patterns. In addition, as the FEMA and NIBS study recently demonstrated, there is a payback to the government of a 6 to 1 ratio for investing in rebuilding to a more resilient standard.

There are many, many elements of the draft strategy that ERA supports; however, we believe the two mentioned above are particularly within our expertise and with which we are very familiar. We look forward to the final mitigation strategy report from FEMA, due to be released in November, and we encourage FEMA to incorporate our recommendations to ensure that the value of investment in resilience be realized to the fullest extent possible.

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.”

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