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Building Construction Design for Extreme Weather

Last Updated on March 29, 2021 by Admin

Extreme weather conditions are a critical factor for construction companies to consider when designing commercial buildings. Natural disasters, snowstorms, extreme heat, and torrential rains require preparedness and new structural design approaches. Today’s builders need to consider the reality of winter, earthquakes, floods, and other extreme weather conditions. 

Enhancing Stability

While there is a significant focus on sustainability, there is an equally urgent need to look at ways to enhance a building’s structure to maintain stable performance when exposed to unexpected weather and moisture variables. By factoring these things in, builders can determine the best structural design and choose materials best suited for extremes. 

Government buildings, hospitals, and businesses can benefit significantly from technological advances like optical sensors that measure inter-story drift to determine a structure’s stability. The goal is that with this kind of information, reinforced commercial buildings can safely stay open when disaster strikes.

While prudence requires individuals, families, and communities to practice emergency preparedness, enhancing the structural design of commercial buildings can reduce property damage, loss, injury, and death. 

As a side note, all commercial buildings should have basic emergency preparedness kits, which may include: 

Essential emergency kit checklist:

  • Water: Two liters per person per day
  • Food: Non-perishable canned food, energy bars, and dried 
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlights and radios with batteries
  • First aid kits
  • Emergency plan
  • Utensils, plates, and cups
  • Household chlorine bleach or water purifying tablets
  • Essential tools (hammer, pliers, wrench, screwdrivers, work gloves, pocket-knife
  • Small fuel-operated stove and fuel



Design Improvements to Handle Extreme Weather

Architects and structural engineers continuously work on improving the way buildings handle wind, precipitation, and heat. Some of the methods involve widening drainage areas, adding early warning systems, strengthening foundations to withstand water, and taking advantage of modern materials that can better withstand extreme conditions. 

By focusing attention on increasing resiliency and stability, the goal is to construct long-lasting and safe buildings and structures that can tolerate the impact of extreme weather conditions and natural disasters. 

Urban design and policy planning also need to be overhauled. With the climate being more volatile and natural disasters and extreme weather having more frequently, with longer duration and greater severity, practices like over paving, diminishing coastal areas, and building in flood-prone areas due to land shortages need to stop. All of these factors weaken the ability of communities to prepare and survive. 

Improving Practices for More Resilient Construction

Many innovative practices result in more resilient construction. Green roofs are a viable strategy to delay stormwater runoff and encourage its gradual absorption into the earth. Green walls (living walls) provide improved insulation and air quality and act as a giant sponge that moderates stormwater passage from the building’s roof onto the paved streets below.

Living roofs and walls can reduce urban heat island effects that exacerbate climate volatility. Low embodied energy materials like timber can reduce manufacturing-related carbon dioxide emissions compared with conventional materials like steel and concrete.

Alternative materials to concrete and asphalt include porous concrete used where rigid surfaces are required. Interlocking blocks create an exciting visual mix of hard paving and natural ground cover while still allowing proper drainage. 

Innovative Ways to Protect Your Commercial Buildings

Some great products are available to strengthen a commercial building during a natural disaster or extreme weather, including floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and blizzards. 

Product #1 Access Doors: In areas prone to flooding, try installing flood-resistant materials like flood-tight access doors or water-resistant stainless steel access doors and panels. Installing a high velocity and impact-tested exterior access door and panel is sure to withstand mother nature’s most brutal storms.

Product #2 Lead-Rubber Bearings: Earthquakes

Product #3 Structural Steel Beams and Plates: High winds and earthquakes

Product #4 Reinforced Concrete: Hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe thunderstorms

Product #5 Rocking Frames: Absorbs the impact of an earthquake

Product #6 Reinforced Glass and Doors: Winds up to 250 miles per hour

Product #7 Shear Walls: Earthquakes

Product #8 Hip Roofs: High winds, hurricanes

Product #9 Tie-Down Straps: High winds

Product #10 Damping Systems: Earthquakes

Product #11 Invisibility Cloak: Earthquakes

Product #12 Shape Memory Alloys: Earthquakes

Product #13 Flexible Pipes: Earthquakes

Industry pros are also exploring ideas to build structures that rise with the tide. When the water level increases, the buoyant inner volume will rise accordingly. The waterproof base keeps moisture out, and the lower wet dock with a porous base allows water to recede into the ground. 

Continued research and advances will increase structures’ resilience, reduce the impact of natural disasters and extreme weather, and minimize damages. 




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