The grand opening included "winds" knocking down a house. A 21,000-square-foot test chamber can simulate Category 1, 2, and 3 hurricane winds, hailstorms, and more.

Institute Opens Disaster Research Center

The Institute for Business & Home Safety said its new research center in Chester County, S.C., includes a 21,000-square-foot test chamber that can simulate Category 1, 2, and 3 hurricane winds, hailstorms, and more.

The Institute for Business & Home Safety held the grand opening of its new research center in Chester County, S.C., on Oct. 19 with a dramatic display of wind strong enough to knock down a house. Funded by the property insurance industry, the IBHS Research Center includes a 21,000-square-foot test chamber that can simulate Category 1, 2 and 3 hurricane winds, hail, wind-driven rain, and more, according to the institute.

Winds are generated from 105 electric fans 5.5 feet in diameter that can accelerate to 140 mph. A 750,000-gallon water tank and 200 nozzles can similate rain as heavy as 8 inches per hour. Hailstones, burning embers, and debris will be added to the wind stream during tests.

"The new lab is a tangible, dramatic, generous demonstration of the property insurance industry's deep commitment to reducing and preventing losses that disrupt the lives of millions of home and business owners each year," said Julie Rochman, the institute's president and CEO. "We are confident that IBHS' scientific research will greatly improve residential and commercial design and construction, and we are very excited to get to work."

The research center's initial work concerns way to improve roofing performance. How shingles handle various windstorm conditions, short- and long-term aging's effects on roofing material and systems, and developing cost-effective methods to retrofit various systems will be studied.

"In addition to wind alone, damage from wind-driven hail, water, and fire will be core components of our research programs," said Dr. Timothy Reinhold, senior vice president of research and chief engineer. "There is so much to be learned about new construction, as well as how best to retrofit existing buildings, now that we can closely watch building materials and entire systems perform in real-world conditions. We are pleased that even at this early point in our initiative, we already are able to forge significant partnerships with leading public, private, and academic institutions who appreciate the quantum leap forward the findings from our lab will mean for building science in this country."

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