Every year, severe weather highlights weaknesses in our building codes, products, and the standards used to rate those products. To reduce future losses, IBHS analyzes existing standards and identifies ways to improve them. The resulting research and insights will influence building codes and standards, which will lead to better products and stronger buildings. IBHS research also provides critical data to improve existing modeling methods and outputs and reduce fraud.

A Holistic Approach

IBHS brings the ability—through experimental testing, field research, and analytics—to identify the pathology behind the damage caused by our core perils and where mitigation strategies can have a real-world impact. In addition, the outcomes of field and laboratory research can advance our ability to predict damage.

To reduce damage, we need to understand it. In this regard, understanding damage to the built environment—whether observed during post-event investigations or through other external data sources (e.g., aerial imagery)—helps IBHS identify vulnerabilities that offer the greatest potential to reduce avoidable suffering. Building upon research insights, IBHS can design experimental testing to understand the sequence of events that leads to damage and determine where the critical vulnerabilities lie.

For every laboratory research project, IBHS meticulously recreates the destructive capability of Mother Nature. The next step is to build specimens that replicate the built environment, and to design experiments that realistically mimic what happens in the real world. Results captured in the lab are coupled with data gathered in the field to understand and demonstrate what makes buildings vulnerable, how to cost-effectively prevent damage, and how to reduce the impact when damage cannot be fully avoided. This research will also help determine what cost-to-consumer benefit tipping point is required to change decision-making.

Translate Research into Product

IBHS is committed to changing behaviors by advancing applied research. By leveraging our Members’ knowledge and experience, working with external partners, and analyzing building industry economics and innovations, IBHS is driving toward outputs that are more useful, timely, and lasting. This will enable IBHS to fulfill its central role as a resiliency shaper.

Shape Consumer Choices

IBHS products can influence the choices people make when they understand their risks and invest in a stronger home or business. Yet the true costs of damage are more than financial. Lives can be lost, and the deep emotional impacts are incalculable. Following damage from a natural disaster, countless hours over weeks, if not months, are spent filling out forms, inventorying and replacing belongings, and talking to adjusters and contractors. IBHS information can affect a better outcome that leads to a more resilient tomorrow.

Following the model developed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, releasing performance results is an important way to guide consumers when building or rebuilding, and to illustrate performance for manufacturers and other stakeholders. Shining a light to distinguish top performers with strong reliability in wind, wind-driven rain, hail, and wildfire perils raises expectations of performance and drives innovation and improvement. For IBHS, this effort of clearly demonstrating product reliability and building consumer demand for resilient products begins at the roof but expands to include other building components.

Choose Science That Can Shape Codes

Numerous studies have quantified the cost-benefit of quality building codes and enforcement across multiple perils. Historically, codes focus on life safety. However, through proper application, they can serve to reduce the disruption natural hazards have on our lives.

Existing test standards, upon which some codes are based, struggle to serve as predictors of real-world performance. As IBHS pushes our core peril research programs forward, we will share research results that can improve codes and standards. In the wind domain, foundational science already provides the basis for improving testing standards that can inform future building codes. On the other hand, new science is required to advance wildfire codes and standards.

IBHS focuses on determining the most appropriate methods and cost-effective practices to ensure buildings are adequately constructed for the hazards they face. This will include establishing and updating standards with wide applicability, advancing specific improvements to codes, and using science to refute efforts to weaken existing codes and standards. Rapid technological advances can also bring about the need for research to make sure that codes and standards reflect the state of the science and avoid introducing unnecessary vulnerabilities.