TAMPA, Dec. 5 — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced a Pilot Project for its new Resilience STARTM Home program, which will utilize construction standards developed by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) to ensure homes meet DHS’ resiliency requirements.
Modeled after the very successful ENERGY STAR program, Resilience STAR will assign a certain number of stars to homes that meet specific resilience standards, much the same way ENERGY STAR assigns energy efficiency ratings to appliances. Together with IBHS and other private sector partners, DHS will work to engage homeowners, builders and contractors in communities at high risk for certain natural disasters to take proactive steps to enhance the resilience of the homes in their communities.
DHS is currently accepting applications from builders, contractors, and homeowners to participate in the Resilience STAR Home Pilot Project at: http://www.disastersafety.org/resilience-star/. The deadline for submitting applications is January 17, 2014.
“DHS has led an intensive effort to develop an approach to bolster the resilience of private residences through a government-led, public-private initiative to promote and recognize resilient building design and practices,” said Julie Rochman, president and CEO, IBHS.
“Resilience STAR comes along as the 2013 Hurricane Season ends, and we are very fortunate that no major storm made landfall in the U.S. this year. The same cannot be said of our neighbors to the south in Mexico, however, who were battered by numerous tropical storms. The resulting massive flooding and landslides killed dozens of people and destroyed scores of buildings, which ravaged communities around that country. Mexico’s experience is a stark reminder that we must always be prepared for the worst of Mother Nature,” Rochman said.
“Given that most people are not able to move out of the way to escape Mother Nature’s fury, what else can be done to help communities better withstand the devastating disasters that will continue to plague our nation?” asked Rochman. “If we cannot move structures out of harm’s way, the only alternative is to strengthen them in the face of natural hazards.”
The Resilience STARTM Home Pilot Project will test the concept of forming a voluntary partnership with the private sector to identify and designate residential homes that have been built or retrofitted using existing natural hazard-focused construction techniques and industry standards that have been scientifically demonstrated to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by disasters.
After two years of thorough vetting by DHS to identify rigorous, yet achievable and affordable, standards for the initial Pilot Project, IBHS’ FORTIFIED Home™ (hazard-specific retrofits) and FORTIFIED for Safer Living® (all-hazard, new construction) standards were selected as the sole construction and building criteria for the Resilience STAR pilot project.
“IBHS looks forward to the day when many thousands, and ultimately millions of homes around the country are built and retrofitted using resilient standards based on the FORTIFIED construction criteria,” said Rochman. “Residents will be able to stay in their homes following catastrophes and make necessary repairs, as opposed to rebuilding the entire house. Businesses will return to normal operations quickly once a storm has passed. Both of these outcomes will help maintain the local tax base, and communities will no longer be rocked to the core when Mother Nature roars,” Rochman stated. “We could not be prouder to be partnering with DHS on this exciting journey.”
Pilot communities featuring new construction and retrofitted homes will be selected on both the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Eventually, DHS envisions Resilience STAR designations being applicable to buildings of all types; during the pilot phase, however, only single-family homes will be eligible for designation.
Forty areas have been identified that meet the conditions for the Pilot Project, and DHS is currently soliciting applications until January 17, 2014, from builders, contractors, and homeowners who would like to participate in this project. Learn more about the program, and apply to participate in the Resilience STAR Home Pilot Project here: http://www.disastersafety.org/resilience-star/.