COLUMBIA, SC – October 22, 2008 – The South Carolina Department of Commerce, Chester County and the Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) today announced that IBHS will locate its new research center, the Insurance Center for Building Safety Research, in Chester County. The company expects to invest $27 million.
The primary purpose of the multi-peril research facility – funded entirely by insurers and reinsurers – is to identify effective methods of minimizing risk and loss to homes, businesses and communities resulting from natural disasters. The research center will have the ability to subject 1,800 square foot, two-story homes and light commercial construction to a variety of hazards, including realistic Category 3 hurricanes, wind-blown fire (mimicking wildfire embers) and hailstorms.
“Chester County, South Carolina, as it turns out, is the perfect location for our research facility,” said Julie Rochman, IBHS President and CEO. “We had very specific needs because our lab will be a unique, world-class operation, and it was not easy to find the right home. We couldn’t be happier with the results of our long search.”
“The IBHS is committed to studying methods that will reduce the effects of natural disasters, and their new facility in Chester County will help further that mission. The decision to locate the facility in South Carolina is a strong testament to our quality infrastructure and the availability of sites. Thanks to the team effort of state and local officials, Chester County will benefit from this investment with 20 new jobs now and in the future,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.
IBHS purchased 90 acres of land along South Carolina Highway 99 from Chester County. The organization evaluated many sites but chose this location because it fulfilled key search criteria, including:
· a location more than 100 miles from the coast with a very mild climate to accommodate year-round testing and to preserve the “inventory” of structures kept on the campus
· more than 35 acres for a campus encompassing a laboratory, an office building and a “street” on which to park structures between tests
· no height restrictions precluding structures 80 feet tall
· sufficient natural noise reduction features or land upon which artificial noise barriers could be constructed
· a location directly adjacent to a 100kVpower transmission line carrying electricity generated by renewable resources, and able to house a transformer/sub-station
· a site close to other centers of excellence, academic institutions and relevant business sectors and relatively close to a major interstate with airport access.
“We welcome the Institute for Business & Home Safety and fully support the creation of a new one-of-a-kind, multi-peril research facility to be located here in Chester County,” said R. Carlisle Roddey, Chester County Supervisor. “We look forward to being a supportive partner in making IBHS a premiere source for quality information that improves building and home safety. The leadership of Chester County remains committed to economic development to encourage new industry investment for the purpose of improving each citizen’s prosperity and overall quality of life.”
Odell Associates Inc., based in Charlotte, N.C., has been chosen to lead the architectural/engineering design team for the state-of-the-art facility, which should be complete in 2010.
A two-track research program will allow IBHS to address catastrophes, as well as more isolated, but expensive, maintenance-related issues like plumbing system failure and interior fires. The research findings will be used in aggressive consumer education and advocacy campaigns, and to supply vital data for developing public policies in areas such as building codes and land use.
IBHS has been a leader in using building science to develop real-world approaches to reduce the risks posed by natural disasters and other perils. Events in recent years, including tornadoes, hurricanes and wildfires, have given IBHS researchers opportunities for field work, during which they have learned much about how to better engineer structures against certain risks. There remain, however, knowledge gaps that can be filled only with testing in controlled environments, which the new research center will provide.
IBHS is an independent, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization supported by the property insurance industry. The organization works to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters and other risks to residential and commercial property by conducting research and advocating improved construction, maintenance and preparation practices. For more information, visit the IBHS web site www.DisasterSafety.org.