The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) has created a unique, state-of-the-art, multi-risk applied research and training facility on a 90-acre parcel of land in Chester County, South Carolina, about 45 minutes south of the Charlotte Airport. This facility will significantly advance building science by enabling researchers to more fully and accurately evaluate various residential and commercial construction materials and systems.
The new lab is a tangible, very public demonstration of the property insurance industry’s deep commitment to reducing and preventing losses that disrupt the lives of millions of home and business owners each year.
IBHS’ scientific research will influence residential and commercial structural design and construction for decades to come. Resulting savings on natural disaster-related losses – which totaled more than $26 billion across the U.S. in 2009 alone, and are expected to double every decade – will “pay for” the lab many times over.
The primary lab structure is a specially designed wind tunnel with an exceptionally large chamber: 145’ wide by 145’ long, with a clear interior height of 60’. The lab’s dimensions, long-span steel structure, and 105 nearly 6’ diameter fans at the end of a contraction inlet combine to create proper aerodynamic flows necessary to create realistic Category 1, 2, and 3 hurricanes, extra-tropical windstorms, thunderstorm frontal winds, wildfires, and hailstorms. The test chamber contains a custom-built turntable so that complete rotation of structural specimens without human intervention can occur during testing. Hailstones, burning embers and various types of “debris” also can be introduced into the wind stream via a series of special ducts and other mechanical systems.
Below is a video from the opening day demonstration. The home on the right meets the IBHS Fortified buliding standards; the one on the left, quite clearly, does not.