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. Building House Forms And Shapes For Better Hurricane Endurance

The design of the cyclonic home includes simple systems to reduce the local wind stresses at the roof's lower edges such as a notched frieze or a horizontal grid to be installed at the level of the gutters along the perimeter of the home.
by Staff Writers
Newark NJ (SPX) Jun 20, 2007
Certain home shapes and roof types can better resist high winds and hurricanes, according to a researcher at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Civil engineer Rima Taher, PhD, special lecturer in the New Jersey School of Architecture at NJIT, spent two years examining the findings of research centers that have studied the best designs and construction materials and methods needed to withstand extreme wind events and hurricanes.

"Although I'd like to say that there is a simple and economical solution for housing that won't fail or collapse in the perfect storm, such information does not yet exist," said Taher. "However, it is obvious that thanks to the work of wind engineers and researchers that changes to home design and construction can make buildings safer for people, while saving government and industry billions of dollars annually."

"Design of Low-Rise Buildings for Extreme Wind Events" (Journal of Architectural Engineering, March, 2007) by Taher highlighted such research findings. Wind researchers at the Center for Building Science and Technology (CSTB) in France, researched and tested reduced-scale home models at its wind tunnel facilities, and developed a prototype of a "cyclonic" or hurricane-resistant dwelling. Taher cooperated with the CSTB wind researchers, working on the structural aspect of the home's design.

That design eventually became an elevated structure of a square plan form on an open foundation. The home had a hip roof and was equipped with a central shaft with aerodynamic features designed to reduce wind forces during an extreme wind event. Wind tunnel tests at CSTB showed that such a home would be far more efficient under high winds and hurricane conditions than a typical structure. CSTB is working with a builder to construct a prototype of such a home on Reunion in the West Indian Ocean.

From this work and other studies Taher recommends the following construction considerations for homeowners in hurricane-prone regions.

A home with a square floor plan (or better a hexagonal or octagonal plan) with a multiple-panel roof (4 or more panels) was found to have reduced wind loads.

Roofs with multiple slopes such as a hip roof (4 slopes) perform better under wind forces than gable roofs (2 slopes). Gable roofs are generally more common because they are cheaper to build. A 30-degree roof slope has the best results.

Wind forces on a roof tend to be uplift forces. This explains why roofs are often blown off during an extreme wind event. Connecting roofs to walls matters. Stapled roofs were banned following Hurricane Andrew in Florida in 1993.

Strong connections between the structure and its foundation and connections between walls are good. Structural failure is often progressive where the failure of one structural element triggers the failure of another, leading to a total collapse. Connections are generally vulnerable but can be inexpensively strengthened.

Certain areas of a building such as the ridge of a roof, corners and eaves are normally subject to higher wind pressures. In the cyclonic home design, CSTB researchers proposed some aerodynamic features to alleviate these local pressures such as introducing a central shaft which would function by creating a connection between the internal space and the roof ridge considered to be the location of the largest depression. This connection helps balance pressures leading to a significant reduction in the roof's wind loads.

Roof overhangs are subject to wind uplift forces which could trigger a roof failure. In the design of the hurricane-resistant home, the length of these overhangs should be limited to 20 inches.

The design of the cyclonic home includes simple systems to reduce the local wind stresses at the roof's lower edges such as a notched frieze or a horizontal grid to be installed at the level of the gutters along the perimeter of the home.

An elevated structure on an open foundation reduces the risk of damage from flooding and storm-driven water.

earlier related report
ACTech Panel System to be Subject of Hurricane Projectile Test Demonstration in Florida
Melbourne FL (SPX) Jun 20 - Alternative Construction Company says its ACTech Panel System will be compared in a test of hurricane projectile strength against conventional building materials. Revels Construction of SW Florida will be conducting the test at a current jobsite in Bradenton.

The presentation is also to include a demonstration of the speed and ease of use of the ACTech Panel System and many of the other inherent "efficiency" qualities of the system.

Dave Revels, the Founder and co-owner of Revels Construction and a former Manatee County Building Inspector stated, "As far as we are concerned, this is the state of the art in housing technology. We have not found the number of features and benefits found in the ACTech structural insulated panel in any other materials at any cost." The demonstration will begin at 1PM, June 22 at 4419 37th Street East (2 blocks North from State Road 70 on 37th Street E).

To be compliant with hurricane projectile test standards, FEMA requires that an 8 foot, 6 pound "2 X 4" be projected at a structure or construction material at a speed of 34 m.p.h. without penetration. A "wind" cannon will be present to launch the projectiles.

The demonstration will compare results of the "2 X 4" projectiles shot at a wood framed (and sheathed) construction method, a block based construction method and the ACTech Panel system. Spectators, builders and builder associations, broadcast and print media and potential home buyers are invited to view the demonstration.

Steve Rechtsteiner, also a co-owner and Founder of Revels Construction, works with customers to design their homes to meet cost and feature specifications.

"As an architect, an engineer, a national plans examiner and a builder, I am able to achieve customer goals while achieving excellent economics. More often than not, our homes are built at a cost of $78-90 per square foot base price. This while providing the very highest quality, secure and energy efficient home. The long-term value of 35-70% in monthly energy bill savings cannot be over stated."

Alternative Construction Company, Inc. (ACC) possesses a unique and patented construction technology called the ACTech(TM) Panel System that is used in the design and production of state of the art buildings in commercial, residential, industrial and modular building applications. Generically known as structural insulated panels (SIPs), ACC's revolutionary and efficient construction solution utilizes an inherently better galvanized steel "skin" SIP system to complete energy efficient, stronger, safer, faster, and more economical structure than conventional wood and brick based building products.

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Related Links
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Alternative Construction Company
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Contract Signed For Building Of GMES Sentinel-1 Satellite
Paris, France (ESA) Jun 19, 2007
ESA and Thales Alenia Space have signed a 229 million euro contract for the design and development of Sentinel-1, the first Earth observation satellite to be built for Europe's Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) programme. ESA's Director General, Jean-Jacques Dordain, and President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space, Pascale Sourisse, signed the contract on behalf of the Italian branch of the company Monday at the International Paris Air Show Le Bourget.

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