Chester County will be the home of a home safety testing ground unlike any other. The Institute for Business and Home Safety held a groundbreaking ceremony today.
This disaster safety research center will test how full-sized homes and buildings hold up in storms and weather hazards–including realistic Category 3 hurricanes, wind-blown fire (mimicking wildfire embers) and hailstorms.
The $40 million multi-peril research facility – funded entirely by property insurance companies, reinsurers and brokers – is to identify effective methods of minimizing risk and loss to homes, businesses, and communities resulting from natural disasters.
It’s a one-of-a-kind lab using building science and true-to-life-testing, says the Institute’s President and CEO Julie Rochman.
“There will be nothing else like it anywhere on the planet,” said Rochman. “We’ll be able to test full-size houses, light commercial construction, agricultural buildings, and we’ll be able to turn on our wind machines and create a Category 4 hurricane indoors, with gusty winds and rain.”
The Chester County Supervisor says — as the state is reminded of the importance of this research with the upcoming anniversary of Hurricane Hugo. That hurricane caused destruction all the way to Charlotte.
Chester was chosen among national sites as a perfect location,” says Rochman. “We’ve started with Duke Energy and some other companies. We want lots of renewable energy. We want to be more than 100 miles from the coast because we’ll be building specimen and letting them sit out to age and we didn’t want them blown away. And we wanted a really good intellectual capitol base. Between Clemson, Virgina Tech and Georgia Tech there’s a tone of intellectual capital around here.”
This unique testing facility is funded by companies and brokers in the insurance industry.
The Institute’s CEO says testing structures helps to educate two groups of people. “Will give public policy makers good sound basis for improving building codes and building material standards, and we’ll be able to better teach consumers what to shop for when they’re buying a house, and we’ll prevent people from being out of their homes or prevent businesses from being down for a long time when disaster strikes.”
The worldclass facility is expected to be ready by the Spring of 2010, and fully up and running by this time next year.