The Natural Hazards Laboratory
Windstorms, floods and earthquakes pose major threats to property, but the loss potential of these natural hazards can be greatly reduced. FM Global research following Hurricane Andrew in 1992 led to recommendations that lowered our clients' overall losses by an estimated US$250 million six years later when Hurricane Georges struck.
In hurricane Katrina, clients who undertook our research-proven recommendations suffered substantially fewer losses—proving that the property loss from natural hazards is not only predictable but preventable.
Today, the new Natural Hazards Laboratory helps researchers further understand what causes building materials to fail and the best ways to design buildings to resist the effects of Mother Nature.
Researchers can now replicate even the toughest weather phenomena, and recreate hurricane-force winds of 160-mph (258 km/h). Winds this strong truly test the strength of glass and the endurance of building materials, particularly roof systems.
Inside the laboratory, a hail gun launches ice balls of varying sizes, to simulate moderate and severe hail storms, and a debris cannon shoots simulated windblown wood projectiles at speeds matching those of a real hurricane to determine impact resistance of doors, windows and siding. To address seismic risk, an earthquake shake table replicates three-dimensional earthquake motions of all intensities, allowing scientists to study the effects of earthquake shaking on structures and nonstructural systems such as equipment, piping and storage racks. The laboratory also is equipped with a powerful xenon arc ultraviolet (UV) accelerated weatherometer to measure the effects of the sun's UV radiation on building materials that have been exposed for long periods. And, testing includes accelerating the weathering of all types of building materials to determine more precisely how to design and install them for long-term performance.
» Watch Video
FM Global Research in Action
To connect with someone at the FM Global Research Campus, click here.