About the IBHS Research Center

The IBHS Research Center is a state-of-the-art research facility located on a 90-acre parcel of land in Chester County, South Carolina (approximately 45 minutes south of the Charlotte airport). This unique facility enables researchers to more fully and accurately evaluate residential and commercial construction materials and systems under realistic re-creations of severe weather hazards.

This facility is also a tangible, public 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. The research conducted here significantly advances building science and influences residential and commercial structural design and construction, helping to create more resilient communities.

Demonstrating Risk

IBHS conducts full-scale demonstrations to illustrate and validate IBHS guidance.

Demonstrate Risk → Insiders’ View

“A picture paints a thousand words, but a video shows a thousand pictures.” Since its opening in 2010, images from the IBHS Research Center have amplified our work by graphically demonstrating the ways that wind, wind-driven rain, hail, and wildfire can damage homes and businesses, and how to affordably reduce that risk.

Over these years, IBHS has staged several full-scale demonstrations and leveraged the impact of these demonstrations through traditional media, social media, presentations, and public policy engagement. As a general matter, these demonstrations have coincided with tests conducted to advance IBHS’s research agenda relating to our core perils (e.g., the wind protection benefits of FORTIFIED Home, how a sealed roof deck prevents water infiltration, defensible space protections against wildfire). As important as these linkages have been, we can expand the number of demonstrations at the Research Center and focus on targeted opportunities to drive real-world impact through new and compelling footage.

IBHS will never abandon the pursuit of new scientific information, but new science isn’t a prerequisite for a highly effective demonstration. Rather, the goal should be to use vivid, realistic demonstrations to illustrate the benefit of good resiliency-based choices and the disastrous impacts of inaction.

IBHS’s existing videos and other media continue to be well received. That said, a relatively modest investment in new demonstrations (and refreshing of videos from the current inventory) will keep the media coming back to the Research Center for new content and reinforcement of our core resiliency message.

Campus

There are a variety of research and production opportunities at the IBHS Research Center.

Main Chamber

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This structure is a specially designed wind tunnel that is exceptionally large—6 stories tall and 145 feet wide by 145 feet long. This equates to more than 21,000 square feet under the roof, the equivalent of 4½ basketball courts.

IBHS is the only lab in the world that can test full-scale one- and two-story residential and commercial buildings in a controlled, repeatable fashion for highly realistic windstorms, wind-driven rain, hailstorms and wildfire ember storms utilizing the unique features below.

Fans

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The large test chamber is easily identified by its enormous wall of 105 fans—each nearly 6 feet in diameter and equipped with a 350 HP engine. Together the fans can replicate realistic weather conditions including Category 1, 2 and 3 hurricanes (with winds up to 130 mph), extra-tropical windstorms, wind-driven rain conditions, and straight-line windstorms (also called derechos).

Small Laboratory

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In this building, IBHS evaluates individual components of construction materials through highly controlled experiments. For example, our researchers create and store artificial hailstones—created to resemble the size and density of real hailstones we collect from storms—and then fire them at roof shingles using a hail-firing cannon. Experiments like this allow us to precisely replicate real-world conditions while testing common building materials.

Roof Aging Farm

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Much of today’s building science focuses on brand new materials and systems and does not take into account decay and deterioration caused by severe weather, UV exposure, and temperature fluctuations. To address this gap in research, part of our campus is dedicated to our “roof farm” project, which consists of residential and commercial roof sections that are subjected to natural aging. This project allows us to conduct long-term testing and analysis of the roofs at specified time intervals (e.g., 5, 10, 15 and 20 years) for wind, hail, and wildfire performance.

COMET Apparatus

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The COMET (Component Materials Evaluation Testing) apparatus consists of a single fan, similar to those in the wall of fans, which is used outdoors to test individual components of a structure such as roof shingles.

Research Center Founding Members

The IBHS Research Center exists thanks to the generous investment of these founders.

AAA – The Auto Club Group
AAA Insurance – Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida
AAA Mid-Atlantic Insurance Group
ACE Tempest Re
Alabama Insurance Underwriting Association
Alfa Insurance Companies
Allstate Insurance Company
American Agricultural Insurance Company
American Family Insurance
American Insurance Association
American Modern Insurance Group
Amica Mutual Insurance Company
The Andover Companies
Aon
Aspen Re
Auto-Owners Insurance Company
Bankers Insurance Group
California FAIR Plan Association
CSAA Insurance Group
COUNTRY® Financial

EMC Insurance Companies
Enumclaw Insurance Group
Erie Insurance
Farm Bureau Property & Casualty Insurance Company
Farmers Insurance
Florida Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Gen Re
Guy Carpenter
The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company
Holborn Corporation
Insurance Information Institute
Interinsurance Exchange of the Automobile Club
Liberty Mutual Insurance Group
The Main Street America Group
MetLife Auto & Home
Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company
Munich Re
Mutual Assurance Society of Virginia Fund of The Community Foundation
National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

Nationwide Insurance
The Norfolk & Dedham Group®
Ohio Mutual Insurance Group
OneBeacon Insurance
Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI)
Quincy Mutual Group
Reinsurance Association of America
RenaissanceRe Risk Sciences Foundation, Inc.
Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association
RMS
South Carolina Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company
South Carolina Wind & Hail Underwriting Association
State Farm Insurance Companies
Swiss Re
Travelers Companies, Inc.
USAA
Verisk Insurance Solutions
Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Companies
W. R. Berkley Corporation
Willis Research Network
XL Group
Zurich