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Three Thoughts on Resilience in Commercial Facilities


In the July issue of Building Operating Management, all of the editors focused our research on the topic of resilience in commercial facilities. During interviews with the fantastically generous and intelligent people we speak with, there are inevitably little bits of information that get left out, sometimes simply due to space constraints.

My conversation with Julie Rochman, president and CEO of the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), was one of those interviews where I'm loathe to let any little bit go to waste. So, here I share three thoughts on resilience in commercial facilities from my conversation with Rochman. — Naomi Millán, senior editor

1. Increasing resilience is an aspect of managing liability exposure. Rochman says it's important for building owners and facility managers to recognize that if a window, masonry, or other component of the building falls off and injures someone, that is a liability exposure. "You don't really think about that with houses," she says. "You just think, 'The house is gone.' But with commercial structures, depending on when the event hits, you may have workers comp exposures, liability exposures, so this is something to take very seriously."

2. Building forward. The conversation around the intersection of disasters and buildings in the United States has been one of response and recovery, instead of prevention, mitigation, and providing self-defense systems for commercial structures, Rochman says. This is not a sustainable strategy. "You can stand up and say we're not going to keep putting brittle buildings back together in the same old places in the same old ways and expecting a different result next time," she says.

"Why not build something safer and stronger?" Rochman says. When rebuilding from a disaster, or when building fresh from the ground up in new construction, take proactive steps towards a more resilient facility: put continuous load paths in, reinforce masonry, install the toughest windows you can get. "Those are things that cost a lot less to do new than they do when you're trying to retrofit," she says.

3. Work from the top. Considering all the things to do to make a facility resilient can be daunting. But if facility managers are looking for a first step, Rochman says look at the roof. "The roof is really any building's first line of defense, so if you're going to start anywhere, start with the roof," she says.

As mentioned, this conversation was part of the larger coverage on resilience in the July issue of Building Operating Management. Find the three resilience articles here.

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