The recent tornado in Goderich and this year's earlier devastation in
Alabama strengthen the case for building with concrete block, brick and stone
TORONTO, Sept. 20, 2011 /CNW/ - Hotter summers. Heavier rain. More
frequent severe storms. These are the effects of climate change, and
while building owners can't directly control them, they can minimize
their effects through the use of weather-resistant building materials
such as concrete block, clay brick, and stone.
While Environment Canada notes that global temperatures have risen less
than one degree over the past 100 years, the agency points out that
"even a modest warming of global temperatures would significantly
change global wind and precipitation patterns, and hence alter local
weather behavior around the world." The agency also notes that "The
number and cost of extreme weather events/disasters (extreme storms,
floods, heat waves, droughts, etc.) is rising and new thresholds,
regulations, technologies and infrastructure codes and standards need
to be developed now to improve the safety of Canadians."
An example of that extreme weather manifested itself August 21, 2011 in
Goderich, Ontario, where an F3 tornado and winds of 280 kmh killed one
person and left parts of the town in ruins. While tornados are not
unheard of in Canada, the Goderich storm shocked residents with the
extent of its devastation.
South of the border, the April 2011 "super outbreak" of tornadoes, which
cut through the Southern, Midwestern and Northeastern U.S., is the
largest tornado outbreak on record.
"There's no doubt that our weather is becoming more severe, and building
regulations today need to reflect that," says Paul Hargest, President
of the Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association (CCMPA). "The
right building materials are important not only in terms of durability,
but also the heavier rain and hotter summers we're experiencing."
Concrete block, brick and stone naturally resist moisture, which helps
prevent mould, according to research coordinated by the National
Research Council of Canada.
Masonry also has the ability to absorb heat from the sun and release it
over a period of time, helping to maintain more consistent temperatures
in a building and reduce the need for air conditioning as well as lower
Masonry may help reduce storm-related fatalities as well. In states such
as Alabama, which was especially hard-hit by the April super outbreak,
the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has helped fund the
construction of masonry storm shelters and safe rooms. The National
Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) has also held workshops to educate
industry professionals and consumers on how to build these structures.
NSSA-approved safe rooms can withstand 400 kmh winds and the impact of
a 6-kg, 2 X 4 piece of lumber flying at 160 kmh. The worst of the
storms that struck Alabama measured EF5 with winds surpassing 300 km/h.
In Florida, meanwhile, efforts to raise building standards and
reevaluate building codes have been in effect since Hurricane Andrew
struck the state in 1992. In 1995, coastal areas began to use high-wind
provisions for residential housing. By 2001 the state had adopted a new
Florida Building Code incorporating these new standards. And in certain
communities where more advanced construction techniques have been used
— for example, anchoring roof trusses to concrete masonry walls — homes
have fared far better in severe storms than their
Today, virtually every state in the U.S. has implemented stricter wind
requirements in their building codes. A growing number of homeowners,
meanwhile, are expressing interest in masonry as a preventive safety
Although storms in Canada historically have not been quite as severe,
the force of the Goderich tornado would indicate that extreme weather
should be a greater consideration for Canadian builders. Experience
shows that in high winds — particularly those carrying debris —
exteriors such as siding and stucco are often damaged. The Insurance
Bureau of Canada reports that Canadian governments have spent an annual
average of $500 million in recent years to repair extreme-weather
damage — damage that might have been lessened considerably through the
use of masonry. In Goderich, the Ontario government has pledged a
minimum of $5 million to help fund the clean-up.
"Severe weather is a reality that we all face today," says Paul Hargest.
"Today's building codes need to reflect that." He questions the merit
of altering codes to allow six-storey buildings to be constructed
entirely of wood; such legislation now exists in British Columbia.
"Designing structures based on tradition does not work," he says. "We
need to design for a world that's changing — and will continue to
The Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association operates as Region 6
of the National Concrete Masonry Association, and is the representative
voice for the Canadian concrete block manufacturing industry. The
Association supports concrete masonry producers and suppliers in a
number of areas including standards, training, technological research,
government relations, and marketing and communications. Through these
areas, the Association works to ensure the highest standards of quality
and maintain the industry's strong market presence.
SOURCE Canadian Concrete Masonry Producers Association
For further information:
OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW WITH PAUL HARGEST:
Marina de Souza
Managing Director, CCMPA
Toll Free: 1-888-495-7497