Last month, we all got a preview of the surprises nature potentially has in store for us as we enter the summer season. And amid all the violent weather, record snowfall events, torrential rains and flooding there was nothing more sensationally suited to the evening television news cameras than the coverage of the early-season wildfire that swept across tens of thousands of acres of California brush, mostly in Ventura County.
What was unusual about the outcome in this fire is revealed in the uncommonly small number of homes that were lost or severely damaged by the massive blaze. Apparently, a big part of this positive news is that those responsible for battling these wind-whipped monsters were better prepared and coordinated than ever, and were able to take what they have learned in years past to execute highly effective ways to manage the inferno. We all owe them huge gratitude.
But there are additional takeaways from this particular experience. Some of the television coverage, even during the height of the battle, spotlighted the fact that in certain threatened subdivisions and neighborhoods proactive fire officials, building departments and homeowners have implemented measures that greatly reduced the risk to many residential structures.
Requirements for new homes in those areas to have nonflammable exterior finishes, such as tile roofs and stucco walls, along with fire sprinklers and prescribed “defensible fire perimeters” were credited with greatly reducing the property loss for those in the path of this wildfire.
As we search for the emerging technologies that will move us toward safer and more-sustainable buildings, we will surely develop products, materials, systems and
techniques that we haven’t yet imagined. And we need those advances if we hope to meet the shelter challenges of an increasingly unpredictable world.
Some in the residential construction industry feel threatened by advancing technology and the adoption of regulations and ordinances that are created to protect homeowners and serve the greater good, including their target customers. During a discussion of building codes at an open meeting of the NAHB Executive Board a while back, one of the association leaders declared, “The code development process has been hijacked by the manufacturers, so they can force us to buy their new products!”
What? If the housing industry has been hijacked by anyone, it is the trade associations who protect backward special interests only concerned with the number of housing starts and their particular sales figures. The nexus of emerging technology, responsible public officials and citizens, along with the invaluable application of common sense, offers our best hope of creating a sustainable housing stock—and housing industry—for our country and the world.
Posted: 7/11/2013 9:05:07 AM by
Mary Kestner | with 0 comments