Owners of buildings in hurricane zones want to minimize damage and get tenants back in their homes or offices as soon as possible after a storm. So the onus is on the Building Team to find, specify, and—when necessary—engineer products and systems to ever-higher standards. The powerful hurricanes of the past 20 years have resulted in more stringent building codes and standards as well as more rigorous product testing.
In Florida, for example, the Miami-Dade County Building Department issues a Notice of Acceptance (NOA) to products only after they’ve passed intensive tests that simulate the effects of high-velocity hurricanes. The Miami–Dade list is a good place to start when selecting products for a building in a hurricane zone, says Bryan Karsky, AIA, LEED AP, executive vice president of Collman & Karsky Architects in Tampa, Fla. “You’re dealing with assemblies and testing that already give you a baseline for the level of hurricane hardening or wind resistance,” says Karsky. But bear in mind that additional engineering will be needed in areas where wind speeds can reach Category 4 (sustained winds of 131 to 155 mph) or Category 5 (sustained winds greater than 155 mph).
Let’s take a look at four building products that have been recently put to the test and approved for use in hurricane zones.