Mission and Motivation

Our Mission

The long term goal of our research is to develop anticipatory mitigation strategies to save people’s homes from the destructive environmental forces of nature. Research results will be implemented by:

  • modifying building codes to advance safer, yet less expensive houses;
  • working with the insurance industry and government to develop implementation strategies;
  • developing cost-effective mitigation devices for retro-fitting the existing housing stock; and
  • developing quality-control strategies to minimize human error in construction.

The Insurance Research Lab for Better Homes will also allow alternative construction methods and materials to be rigorously evaluated. The simulated full-scale wind loading will be controlled to the extent that geometrically similar structures made of different materials can be fairly compared.

Our Motivation

One's home usually represents one’s single most significant personal investment. Around the world, tropical cyclones regularly provide vivid illustrations of the devastation that strong winds and rain can produce, in both developing and developed countries. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida, destroying 20,000 houses and causing US $30 billion in damage. If the storm had tracked 50 km further north, estimated damage would have exceeded US $100 billion.

house still standing after hurricane

We cannot stop natural hazards from occurring; rather, after the next Hurricane Andrew strikes, we hope to look back and see how much better our houses performed.

Canadian engineers are active in the US and other countries that experience extreme wind speeds (Japan, China, Caribbean, etc.) and our wind code provisions are influential in these countries. The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) was created to minimize the effects of natural disasters by reducing vulnerability through mitigation efforts. This not only applies to the well-publicized rare events, but also to the myriad of less dramatic incidents in which houses and light frame buildings are damaged in preventable circumstances.

See also:
IRLBH Overview
Wind Research @ Western

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Faculty of Engineering • Spencer Engineering Building
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5B9 • Tel: 519-661-2128

Updated June 22, 2010 by contactWE
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