BY Tara Taffera
AnyA major news event brings with it differing opinions
on the given topic. A few of those come to mind under the topic of the
2011 devastating tornado season and how it may impact the building industry
going forward. In the investigative series that begins on page 26 you
will discover that there are as many different questions as there are
answers. Will the codes change? Should they even change? Will we see more
use of impact-resistant doors and windows, particularly to prevent against
lesser tornadoes? Will homeowners pay more for this added protection?
Will architects spec homes or buildings to voluntary tornado standards?
A dwmmag.com reader posted a comment recently to a story that talked about
research done following the Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Joplin, Mo., tornadoes,
and his comment sheds an interesting perspective on that last question.
“I meet with architects regularly to discuss anchoring windows in a fashion
that would prevent or mitigate high wind damage and possible injury,”
said the reader. “Last week I told an architect (the principal of a firm
that does education work) about it and he said (in regards to the downloadable
details on my website), ‘I don’t download that *@&^ .’ A lot of architects
don’t want to be ‘bothered’ with information and it’s a daily battle to
get them to listen to good and well-intentioned advice.”
Now this is only one comment and I know there are a lot of architects
out there who do look for relevant info and who do specify according to
the various standards. But it just confirms that there a variety of uphill
battles to be fought in the quest for higher standards.
No one can deny that the loss of life and property was significant in
the cases of Joplin and Tuscaloosa and that the industry needs to take
a hard look at how they design for tornado-prone regions.
It was interesting that David Prevatt, an engineer who is heading up research
for the National Science Foundation in Tuscaloosa and Joplin, didn’t claim
to have all the answers on the topic of building new structures. He says
this is an easier problem to solve than what to do with existing structures
built prior to current building codes.
Although he may not have all the answers he isn’t giving up. He won’t
forget about Tuscaloosa and Joplin and is working toward educating the
industry so as a community we all can focus on workable solutions.
“If we can improve structural performance and reduce the amount of houses
lost from 11,000 to 5,000 then that is an enormous improvement,” he says.
“We can improve through use of better engineering details.”
But it will be a long process. In fact, the issue is so expansive that
I couldn’t even cover it one feature. So look for future articles in this
investigative series throughout 2011. And of course, if you have insights
on the issue to share please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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