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11/25/2013

NIST Examines Building Performance During Joplin Tornado

 

The tornado that hit Joplin, Missouri on May 22, 2011 caused 161 fatalities and $1.228 billion dollars in commercial property losses, according to the Joplin city government. In an effort to reduce the death and destruction caused by natural disasters, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) completed a technical investigation of the Joplin tornado. The culmination of the findings were released in a report along with recommendations to better safeguard tornado-prone communities.

The NIST study is the first to scientifically assess the impact of a tornado in four major categories: tornado characteristics, building performance, human behavior, and emergency communication—and the impact of each on life-safety. It also is the first to recommend that standards and model codes be developed and adopted for designing buildings to better resist tornadoes.

Following the public comment period, NIST will issue a final report and then work with the appropriate code development organizations to use the study's recommendations to improve model building codes and lay the foundation for nationally accepted standards. NIST also will work with organizations representing state and local governments—including building officials—to encourage them to seriously consider implementing its recommendations.

"The overarching conclusion of our two-year study is that death and destruction from tornadoes can be reduced," said Eric Letvin, director of disaster and failure studies for NIST. "It's time to begin developing and implementing standards and codes that directly address tornado hazards."

In the majority of cases, the study found that regardless of construction type, buildings did not adequately protect occupants and that Joplin residents had limited access to underground or tornado-resistant shelters. The majority of deaths (135 or 83.8%) were caused by impacts associated with building failure. Virtually all of the buildings in which people died were affected by wind speeds equivalent to an EF-3 tornado or higher on the Enhanced Fujita scale.

Based on findings from the investigation, NIST developed 16 recommendations for improving how buildings and shelters are designed, constructed, and maintained in tornado-prone regions; and for improving the emergency communications that warn of imminent threat from tornadoes.

The key recommendation proposed in the report is "the development and adoption of nationally accepted performance-based standards for the tornado-resistant design of buildings and infrastructure to ensure the resiliency of communities to tornado hazards." This includes a call for designing and constructing essential buildings—such as hospitals and emergency operations centers—and infrastructure to remain operational in the event of a tornado.

The report also recommends uniform national guidelines be developed that enable communities to create the safest and most effective public sheltering strategies. Shelters, the report states, should be installed in new and existing multi-family residential and commercial buildings, schools, and in buildings with assembly occupancies located in tornado hazard areas.

The full draft report can be found on the NIST website.

 

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04/14/2014

Are you what some would call a “climate-change denier”? If so, you'll want to read this.

04/10/2014
Los Angeles has remained the top city for ENERGY STAR certified building since 2008, while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new list released by the EPA.
04/09/2014
Green construction has grown massively over a short period of time.
04/07/2014
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy-efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
04/03/2014
Building owners in Chicago now have more options when it comes to getting their building energy data verified.
04/01/2014
According to a new report from Eaton, such outages are up 15% in 2013 over 2012 and over half of those surveyed believe that downtime could have been prevented.
03/31/2014
The newly revised ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 105-2014, Standard Methods of Determining, Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, aims to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing the energy performance of buildings.
03/27/2014
Facility managers face an every expanding array of sustainability choices and challenges, but for the next generation of FMs, green practices could be second nature as sustainability literacy enters the K-12 school system.
03/25/2014
While the economic recession explains the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to fall.
03/24/2014
University of Washington (UW) scientists have built the thinnest known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.
03/21/2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2378 into law, effectively enacting the state’s first building code.
03/19/2014
In an attempt to improve building energy performance, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a web-based tool called the Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx.
03/18/2014
Could green building practices pose unanticipated life-safety hazards?
03/13/2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.
03/11/2014
Through the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program, every dollar the DOE has spent on building energy codes over the past two decades has resulted in $400 in energy cost savings.
03/07/2014
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space, according to new research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
03/05/2014
Is your building prepared to handle an emergency?
03/04/2014
NASCAR revealed five newly installed charging stations for employee use.
03/03/2014
In response to California’s worst drought on record, an overwhelming majority of voters favor strategies to stretch local water supplies, including recycling, rainwater harvesting, and efficiency measures, according to a new poll conducted on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
02/28/2014
The organizations released a letter urging the rejection of a proposal to repeal Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act.
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