Researchers to test homes against Mother Nature

Richburg, SC - By Kyle Grainger - bio | email

RICHBURG, SC (WMBF) - Researchers in South Carolina are building a new state-of-the-art disaster research center where they will test homes against the forces of Mother Nature.

From wildfires to hurricanes, the Institute for Business and Home Safety will look to see what causes damage to buildings that cost billions of dollars each year.

"The kind of wind you would get in a hurricane that blow horizontally, that wind-driven rain is important to us because it tends to find its way around shutters and still get into the building," President and CEO Julie Rochman said. "So we'll be looking at wind alone, and we'll be looking at wind and water."

Rochman says the facility costs $30 million to build and will be the only one of its kind in the country.

The highlight of the facility will be a giant test chamber. Inside, a bank of 105 fans standing 6 feet tall will create wind that can be distructive in a storm.

"The really interesting thing about this lab is that we're going to put Mother Nature in a huge box," Rochman added. "We're going to recreate Category 1, Category 2, Category 3 and even Category 4 hurricanes in a very realistic way."

Dr. Time Reinhold, the chief engineer for IBHS, says the whole idea behind building full-scale homes and blowing them down is to help learn how to make buildings safer and more stable in homes. He adds they'll also be looking to see how to improve existing homes.

"If you're getting ready to re-roof your home, what we want you to do is to re-roof it the right way," said Reinhold.

The IBHS plans to start their full-scale testing in Fall 2010.

Copyright 2010 WMBF News. All rights reserved.