MIT researchers develop hazard mitigation metric for construction specs

Sources: National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, Silver Spring, Md.; Concrete Sustainability Hub at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge; CP staff

The MIT-hosted Concrete Sustainability Hub has developed Break Even Mitigation Percent (BEMP), a new tool to estimate the cost of weather hazards on a building. In its July research brief, “A break-even hazard mitigation metric,” CSHub staff finds that a $10 million non-engineered wood building is expected to face more than half a million dollars in hazard related damages over 50 years, while a $10 million engineered concrete building is expected to face only $165,000 over the same period.

“Simple, practical metrics such as the BEMP can be incorporated into tools to support building designers, property owners, and community leaders as they compare mitigation options in anticipation of hazard damage,” the brief notes. CSHub researchers found that up to $340,000—the difference in potential damage tallies—could be additionally invested on top of the $10 million planned initial cost to build an engineered concrete building rather than a wood building, and still break even over the 50-year lifetime. The document validates recent efforts by the NRMCA-led Build with Strength coalition to educate the design and construction communities about the importance of using durable and resilient materials. Release of the BEMP proposal dovetails coalition efforts in Seattle, one of a host of major markets to which participants are bringing the Build with Strength message.

“MIT is reaffirming something builders already know[:] Concrete construction not only increases the safety of new structures, but it provides the design/build and construction community more financial flexibility and saves money over time,” says the Coalition’s Kevin Lawlor. “The National Weather Service estimated that weather events caused $4.2 billion in property damage across the United States last year, dramatically impacting local economies, communities and families. With weather-related damages only expected to increase over the coming years, it makes perfect sense to invest more upfront and save money in the long run.”

CSHub research findings are particularly useful to Seattle’s low- to mid-rise residential sector, he adds, as residents are more vulnerable to the weather-related hazards than other parts of the country, and utilizing stronger and more durable materials in construction is paramount.

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