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Making Molehills Out of Disasters With Resilience


Facility managers know having a resilient facility is a good thing. But how is resilience defined? And where can facility managers start? Here, Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), offers some guidance.

"We define resilience as the ability to recover from an event," says Rochman. The event can be man-made or delivered by Mother Nature, but in the end it doesn't matter. The crux of thinking about resilience revolves around the ability to withstand some sort of a negative impact and recover. "Something bad happens and it's less of a cliff and more of a pebble or a boulder, so you can continue down the road," she says.

In 2010, IBHS built a laboratory where they can test building assemblies against controlled storm conditions, such as creating hurricane-force winds to test uplift resistance on a roof, which has helped to develop the conversation around resilience in commercial facilities, Rochman says.

Resilience is not an a la carte process. "You can't just put shutters on the windows and not tie the roof to the walls, because if the roof tears off, then you just have a big shuttered bucket," she says. To address this, IBHS has created the FORTIFIED program, which calls out a package of steps to implement in order to improve a facility's resilience.

In addition to the program, Rochman calls out a few first steps to take on the path to resilience.

— Work with your insurance company. Commercial insurance companies have fleets of risk engineers that can come out, inspect the facility, and make recommendations. "As they work with you on liability and other things, they can work with you on resilience," Rochman says.

— Look at the building code. "If you have a building that was built before modern IBC was put in place, if you could retrofit it and at least bring it up to code that would be a good first step, because the codes haven't applied in many areas," she says. Meeting code is a legal minimum. But going beyond code is always preferable.

For more ways to make commercial facilities more resilient, check out "Improving Resilience" here.

It's part of the July Building Operating Management's extended coverage on resilience.

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