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Insurance industry opens research center for testing disastrous weather conditions
By Insure.com staff

A new state-of-the-art building designed to test how construction methods and materials hold up under disastrous weather conditions opened Oct. 19 in Chester County, S.C.

The Institute for Business & Home Safety opened the research center to advance “building science” and prevent home and business losses in natural disasters.

Funded entirely by the property and casualty insurance industry, the center features a 21,000 square-foot test chamber that will be able to simulate Category 1, 2 and 3 hurricane-force winds, extra-tropical windstorms, thunderstorm frontal winds, wildfire ember showers, wind-driven rain and hailstorms. The lab features 105 huge electric fans that can reach speeds of up to 140 miles per hour. A 750,000-gallon water tank will supply the test chamber's 200 nozzles, capable of creating "rain" at a rate of up to eight inches per hour.

Researchers will be able to test the impact of other debris, such as hailstones and burning embers, by introducing them into the wind stream through a series of ducts and other mechanical systems.

Initial research at the center will focus on improved roofing performance because roof covers are replaced more than any other part of a building, according to the Institute for Business & Home Safety, a nonprofit organization supported by property and casualty insurance companies.

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