Drive & Grow with Core Perils
The core perils of wind, wind-driven rain, hail, and wildfire were identified early in the conceptual development of the IBHS Research Center—well before groundbreaking—as the fundamental lanes in which IBHS could uniquely and profoundly drive change in the built environment. Founding Members of the Research Center recognized that in focusing on these core perils, IBHS’s best-in-class science could fill knowledge gaps to result in significant social and economic benefits across regions and demographics. As we approach the Research Center’s first decade milestone, IBHS remains committed to broadening and deepening our research efforts in the core perils, while adding our voice to a broader resilience dialogue.
Most of IBHS’s research focuses on understanding the efficacy of current design, materials, and installation practices. Looking forward, we will devote resources to understanding new materials, new building techniques, innovative technologies, and in changing climate patterns as they affect resilience.
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.
Research pathways for six key initiatives currently represent the most prevalent concerns facing IBHS Members: commercial roofs, commercial rooftop equipment, wildfire, hail hazard, hail impact performance of asphalt shingles, and wind performance of asphalt shingles. These pathways (also referred to as Research End-to-End Documents) outline specific issues, the research work necessary to address them, and the key stakeholders that could be affected. Outcomes include new product lines focused on resilience, cost-benefit analyses for consumers and IBHS Members, real-world potential cost savings, and customized fragility curves that could be useful in catastrophe modeling applications and risk assessment tools. We will continue to drive these initiatives forward, adjusting course as more is learned and needs arise.
Research pathways for additional initiatives will be created when there is a need for a multi-faceted approach beyond a single experiment or project. We will also help filter the vast array of rapidly evolving products and technologies to determine where IBHS could investigate innovations to help make homes and businesses more resilient.
7. Conduct research to provide consumer- and contractor-oriented guidance on the most cost-effective ways to build and retrofit resiliently.
8. Expand roof-related research beyond asphalt shingles to examine performance of metal, membrane, tile, and emerging technology roof covers, including cost-to-performance considerations.
9. Examine the performance of other vulnerable building components that could begin the cascade of damage (e.g., garage doors, photovoltaic panels, etc.).
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.
10. Perform research in the wildfire peril that will drive the establishment of meaningful wildfire building codes or standards.
11. Leverage past research from IBHS to more fully realize its impact in the codes and standards arena.
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.
We need to create a more robust product development capability that brings IBHS research to market—making it actionable for IBHS Member companies, building professionals/industry producers, and public policymakers. Research findings need to be shared more quickly; designed and delivered in a manner that meets the needs of each audience; calibrated to influence decision-making; and refreshed or updated as needed. Behavioral economics and social science should also be factored into messages and mediums.
Whether the tangible output of our research is a pamphlet, a two-page analysis or recommendation, or a voluminous report, IBHS products must improve the built environment, influence codes and standards, or modify consumer behavior. IBHS products are backed by scientific analysis and research that mimics what happens in the natural environment.
12. Add new role of Chief Product Officer at IBHS to lead product teams, implement a product management discipline, and deliver real-world impact.
13. Embed product managers on project teams to develop a clear sense of what best fits in a formal research report, a Member insight publication, or in a consumer-facing medium to drive action and informed choice-making. Leverage and improve the impact of existing research so it is useful and deployable.
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.
14. Build on lessons learned from the hail impact standard research and rollout to identify other building components where such performance evaluations would influence consumer choices.
15. Demonstrate to consumers that home and business resilience is available at a range of price points. Further, show the impact of poor choices or inaction when damage or destruction affects structures.