Pathway to Resilience:
As important as IBHS research is for expanding our understanding about future mitigation opportunities, our work will not motivate change unless we can demonstrate the practical and financial value of what we learn in the Test Chamber and the field. The 2019-2020 Disaster Safety Strategy introduced a new Product Development discipline to IBHS. Our “products” bring research to those who can operationalize it—IBHS Member companies, product manufacturers, building professionals, external partners, consumers, and public policymakers.
Roofs are constantly exposed to severe weather, solar radiation (especially ultraviolet), and temperature fluctuations. Roofs that are older often perform worse than brand new roofs in disastrous weather events, resulting in costly damage. Through our research, IBHS is working to illustrate how natural aging and weathering of roofing products in different climates translates into reduced wind, hail, and fire performance. The long-term roof aging program is beginning to fill this knowledge gap with the first insights into products aged in our roof farms and evaluated against wind, hail, and fire testing protocols. As the weathering data and performance data are analyzed and observed for trends, this information will be leveraged to inform Members, risk modelers, roofing product manufacturers, and consumers.
In the wildfire area, the IBHS Research Center provides a safely controlled environment for demonstrating (through real time video) the ways in which embers attack buildings, and the power of defensible space. However, the practical limitations of the Test Chamber prevent us from focusing on the ways in which landscaping designs and decisions make a home more, or less, vulnerable—a point of emphasis that is critical to the Suburban Wildfire Adaptation Roadmaps that are a major area of focus going forward. We will solve for this by bringing landscape architecture to bear to design visually appealing defensible spaces and create highly engaging animations and augmented reality products that help homeowners imagine what is possible in their wildfire-resistant landscaping.
- Leverage roof aging farm data to translate results to product manufacturers and risk modelers.
- Show the power of realistic wildfire resistant approaches that improve the performance of the built environment
IBHS believes that the true costs of damage are more than financial; yet resilience must be cost-effective and affordable to be actionable. Some action is readily accessible such as do-it-yourself home projects. Other projects require specific expertise from contractors. To that end, we have already developed hurricane, thunderstorm, and wildfire “Ready Guides” that show specific actions home and business owners can take to reduce risk at a range of price points. During 2021-2023, IBHS will expand on the concept of “affordable resilience” to focus on severe convective storms and other perils that threaten inland areas. Likewise, IBHS will build out the Suburban Wildfire Adaptation Roadmaps with practical how-to information that makes it easier for a homeowner or small contractor to make necessary retrofit improvements. While the emphasis for both commitments is “practical” and “affordable,” the assumption is that the building owner has a baseline level of resources to invest in better protection.
Yet, IBHS’s mission also extends to vulnerable populations and underserved communities where occupants may not own their homes, or they have virtually no financial resources to improve their building safety. The Disaster Safety Strategy recognizes the need for greater inclusion as we work toward a more resilient nation. IBHS will expand current partnerships with NGOs that serve economically vulnerable communities to demonstrate and implement resilient construction and home improvement. This will include, but not be limited to, building and retrofitting homes in the Southeast and Midwest using IBHS-informed science.
- Build out the Suburban Wildfire Adaptation Roadmaps to educate the public, policymakers, and insurers on the relative importance and practicability of retrofit actions.
- Teach resiliency actions that are affordable and accessible to all, so homeowners can initiate independent action to prevent avoidable damage.
- Demonstrate the affordability and availability of resilient construction (including, but not limited to, FORTIFIED) for NGOs that serve economically vulnerable communities (e.g., Habitat for Humanity) through building and retrofitting homes across the Southeast and Midwest.