Pressing for Innovation

By Roy Wright

March 12, 2021

Over the last 24 months, we’ve demonstrably moved the needle with roofing manufacturers – motivating them to improve the performance of their asphalt shingle products. When it comes to sharing the science behind that shift with Members, the virtual space opens doors to new possibilities.  

As we wait for the time when we can bring our Members back to the IBHS Research Center in South Carolina, we took the opportunity to share the findings of the first (5-year) harvest of asphalt shingles from our Roof Aging Farms. To mark this milestone, our recent Disaster Dynamics Academy (DDA) demonstrated the innovation IBHS brings to our Members and what is needed to continue recent gains in improving the dominate roof cover in the U.S., to better protect policyholders from wind, hail, and wildfire.  

The big picture: IBHS scientists addressed three gaps that separate expectations from real-world asphalt shingle performance… 

  • Consistent disconnect between expected and actual performance seen time and time again in the field.  
  • Standardized tests designed to characterize performance of new products while most roofs are far from new. 
  • Dynamics of performance that change with age, yet with the change notably varying across the perils of wind, hail, and wildfire. 

With DDA attendance not bound by the seating capacity of our conventional conference space, several hundred attendees joined our 3-day broadcast event. Broadcasting from eight locations across our campus, we brought Members ‘inside the peril’ (and maintained all the physical separations needed during this COVID season). 

We put members up close to some of the small but important testing capabilities at the Research Center, including the stand-alone fan where we replicate standard test methods on smaller roof specimens; an IBHS-designed shingle lifter to test the durability of new and aged shingles; and hail performance testing on shingle panels. These close-up views would not have been possible for a group of 50 or 60 Members gathered on our campus during a traditional DDA.  

We took a deep dive into understanding why the asphalt shingle performance on the roofs our Members insure differs from that expected from standardized test results. As we harvest samples from our Roof Aging Farms for the next 20 years, we will build the insights at the five-year mark across wind, hail, and wildfire performance as our roofs continue to age in five different climates.  

All the while, we will continue to press for innovation—innovation in the manufacture of asphalt shingles, innovation in standardized testing, and innovation in the ways we share our knowledge with you