Over the weekend Hurricane Irene battered the East Coast (nearly six years to the date that Hurricane Katrina swallowed the Gulf), leaving somewhere between $7 billion to $13 billion in damages. Making buildings more resilient is all the more feasible, with the help of these advanced building materials designed to stand up in harsh weather, thereby protecting communities from potentially devastating consequences.
Star Seismic During earthquakes, buildings undergo strong sideways forces that can bemitigated by structural bracing. Buckling restrained braces, an alternative to typical diagonal members, are composed of a concrete-encased steel core within a steel sleeve. Star Seismic’s products can be pinned or welded to standard gusset plates. AF AS ME NA EU
QuakeWrap To limit structural damage, fabrics reinforced with carbon or fibreglass can be applied to walls and columns to give them a strong yet flexible outer layer. Unlike strategies employed fromthe ground up, these tough, lightweight textiles can be used to retrofit existing wooden, steel and concrete structures. WW
Hurricane-resistant windows and doors
PGT Industries The WinGuard line of windows and doors meets Miami-Dade product approval requirements – North America’s most stringent standards for hurricane-safe openings. The classically styled windows come with aluminum and vinyl frames, and are available in such specialty shapes as arches and pentagons. NA SA
DuPont SentryGlas consists of extra-tough ionoplast interlayers, resulting in safety glass that resists high winds and even withstands bomb blasts. Strong enough for use in floors, balcony rails and canopies, the layers can be printed with custom images and patterns. WW
Savannah Flood Protection An alternative to removable flood panes, Flood Glass is a permanent systemof watertight windows. While they look like regular openings, the aluminum-framedmodules won’t leak or give way, even under the enormous pressure of rising flood waters. The system is also tested to resist the hurricane-force winds thatmay precede flooding. NA
Smart Vent’s doggy door–style vents allow water to flow through crawl spaces and foundations during floods,minimizing pressure on the foundation walls. For non-flood conditions, the units contain louvres that allow air to pass through while keeping out rodents and insects. NA
Technical Glass Products’ FireLite line is made froma glass ceramic that combines the transparency of glass with the fire resistance of ceramics. Rated for up to three hours of burn, the material is used for window and door openings as well as interior partitions, and can be specified with a patterned privacy coating. Other fire-rated offerings include transparent wall panels and frames. WW
Homasote Company Since embers can enter small gaps or ignite debris trapped in gutters,a house’s roof can be themost vulnerable component. Homasote’s Firestall roof decking is a fire-rated base layermade from structural board and 100 per cent recycled fire-treated wood fibre. Roofers can apply this deck over wood or steel framing and nail fire-rated shingles directly onto it. AS NA
Southwall Technologies Sandwiched between glass panes in windows, this company’s Heat Mirror film uses tiny metal particles to reflect heat back to its source. The film also protects against UV radiation and reduces noise transmission. WW
Cabot’s Nanogel aerogel is made by removing the liquid fromsilica. The result: a light-as-airmatrix whose microscopic pores inhibit heat transfer. The manufacturer’s translucent granules can be used in wall cladding and roofing systems. WW
AVAILABILITY: AF Africa AS Asia EU Europe NA North America SA South America ME Middle East WW Worldwide
Excerpted from the July/August 2010 issue and compiled by Elsa Lam.