In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew’s deadly and costly onslaught along the Atlantic coast last month, Build with Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, is calling attention to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study entitled “A Break-Even Hazard Mitigation Metric,” and urging its use as a tool that can assist designers, developers and architects in the southeast coastal states looking to build and re-build with resiliency in mind. The study confirms the importance of using resilient construction materials, like concrete and steel rebar in regions prone to extreme weather events such as Hurricane Mathew.
The study found a $10 million non-engineered wood building could be expected to face more than half a million dollars in hazard related damages over 50 years, while a $10 million engineered concrete building is expected to face only $165,000 over the same period.
According to Impact Forecasting’s monthly “Global Catastrophe Recap, U.S. economic losses (or non-insured losses) from Hurricane Matthew were forecast to range as high as $10 billion, while public and private insurance losses were estimated to possibly reach $5 billion.
“With the expectation that storms like Hurricane Matthew will continue to batter the Atlantic coastal states with increased ferocity over the next century, it is imperative public officials and architects mitigate weather related hazards with greater initial investment in their structures,” said Jeremy Gregory, Executive Director of the Concrete Sustainability Hub at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “The Break Even Metric tool proves that if a community wishes to save costs in the long run, they must invest in the future.”
In 1992, Hurricane Andrew slammed into South Florida (the costliest natural disaster at the time), prompting better building code requirements for the state. However, since then, many southeast Atlantic coastal states and cities have approached changes to building codes differently.
In mid-August, the Sandy Springs City Council in Georgia, along with Mayor Rusty Paul, amended the city’s building code to include new requirements that prohibit combustible materials from being used in certain building elements with the aim of providing increased building quality, sustainability, durability, and longevity. A September poll of 400 registered voters living in Georgia found more than 90 percent are supportive of the regulations passed in Sandy Springs, and more than 90 percent are also supportive of their own city passing similar regulations.
“We must all adapt to the reality of a changing environment, and that starts with building with strength and resiliency,” said Gregory.