Resilient design is rarely the focus of building codes, which instead require structures to protect occupants from various hazards, be it fire prevention, ballistic threats, or natural disasters.

That’s a problem, says Mark Nelson, associate principal, Advanced Technology and Research at Arup, a sustainable development consultancy. While buildings need to be designed to protect occupants, designers must also design structures to recover quickly after a disaster.

Hurricane Ian damaged many homes and businesses in Englewood, Fla. While buildings need to be designed to protect occupants, designers must also design structures to recover quickly after a disaster. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

For the glazing industry, this means ensuring glass does not fall out during an earthquake, windows retain a watertight barrier during flooding via proper installation and sealants, and impact-resistant windows are added to buildings in hurricane-prone areas.

Nelson explains that the architecture and construction industries have growing recognition that they need to protect property from damage and improve repair response time. To help achieve that, Arup has developed a Resilience-based Engineering Design Initiative (REDi) Rating System.

The system provides owners, architects and engineers with a framework for resilience-based design for earthquakes, extreme storms and flooding. The framework enables owners to resume business operations and provide livable conditions quickly after a disaster. It also offers a loss evaluation methodology for assessing the success of the adopted design and planning measures in meeting the resilience objectives.

“[REDi] basically starts by saying what are your objectives,” says Nelson. “So, how well do you want to perform in terms of financial damage, downtime and things like that? You would follow REDi through a pathway that would make you do certain things to your building from a design perspective that would make it more resilient. Some of those are particularly related to building envelopes when discussing seismic or wind and flooding.”

The system considers a performance-based design approach, say Arup officials. Rather than saying here’s a qualified product, REDi details what a product needs to demonstrate in order to perform well. Nelson says that’s based on the history of previous events and testing in labs.

For example, during seismic events, Nelson says, “A lot of what we go back to is we’re going to require additional movement capability or capacity in a unitized system. Or we’re going to require that you show through testing that your system can obtain a high level of story drift or acceleration performance, which are basically the main events during seismic that will damage any non-structural component.”

Tim Fuller, senior façade engineer in Arup’s Façade Engineering group, adds that the baseline for glass during a seismic event is the avoidance of breakage and, beyond that, the movement of combination within the sealing lines of the envelope.

REDi also focuses on building hardening and envelope components, such as glazing, to ensure those components are sealed. Nelson adds that REDi considers climate change effects, which building codes don’t address.

“We know temperatures are going to rise, precipitation is going to increase and winds might increase,” says Nelson. “So, how might that impact the design perimeters that you would impose on a system to ensure that system will stand up in 20, 30 or 50 years.”

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