UBC Okanagan researcher Matiyas Bezabeh is studying the effect of extreme wind loads on tall timber building models at the Wind Engineering, Energy and Environment Research Institute photo:contributed

UBC Okanagan researchers look to create homes that withstand tornadoes

Researchers investigate making buildings stronger to endure devastating winds

New research from the UBC Okanagan’s School of Engineering and Western University provides a roadmap to safer building designs in tornado-prone areas.

With the exception of nuclear facilities, current building codes across North America do not specifically address tornado risk. This is due to a variety of factors including the low probability of occurrence and costs, explains Matiyas Bezabeh, a graduate student at UBC Okanagan.

But tornados do happen—even in Canada. On Sept. 25, six tornados with wind speeds between 135 and 175 kilometres per hour touched down in the Ottawa-Gatineau region, causing $300 million dollars worth of damage. And in 2011, a tornado in Goderich, Ontario caused about $110 million in damages according to insurance estimates.

America’s Wind Hazard Reduction Coalition also states that tornadoes claim nearly 100 lives each year in the United States and account for nearly a billion dollars in property damage.

RELATED: UBCO and Okanagan College to collaborate for green building initiatives

“The potential damage of tornadoes is extensive, so as structural wind researchers we have been turning our attention towards tornado-structure interactions and tornado-induced wind loads on civil structures in recent years,” said Bezabeh.

In collaboration with Girma Bitsuamlak, research director at the WindEEE Research Institute at Western University and UBC Okanagan Engineering Professor Solomon Tesfamariam, Bezabeh investigated the impact of tornado-like winds on structures. His research focuses on mass-timber buildings—those built with cross-laminated timber for walls and floors and glued-laminated products for beams and columns.

In Canada and the United States, the intensity of tornadoes is measured using an Enhanced Fujita scale (EF-Scale) based on the damage caused. According to research, buildings designed to a 1-in-50-year wind load can withstand weaker tornadoes with a low EF-Scale—wind speeds less than 175 kilometers per hour—but do not fare as well against tornadoes with higher intensities.

RELATED: UBCO Heat lose first homecoming match to number-one team in Canada

“Increasing the lateral stiffness by adding core walls and bracings could make mass-timber buildings able to withstand higher intensity wind loads,” said Bezabeh. “Furthermore, increasing the dead weight of buildings and incorporating tension piles (rock anchors) as part of the foundation system can also lower the risk of collapse.”

While his research was specific to mass-timber frames, Bezebeh points out his results address potential mitigating factors for all types of buildings.

Bezabeh’s research was recently published in the Journal of Wind Engineering and Industrial Aerodynamics. He is already looking ahead to the next stage of his research where additional experimental tornado tests will be conducted on an assortment of low-, mid- and high-rise mass-timber building models to develop a performance-based tornadic design framework.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Restaurant dedicated to the potato opens its doors in Kelowna

Oh So Potato has opened to the public in Kelowna on KLO Road.

Highway 97 widening in Kelowna complete

Province announces end of $67 milion project to six-lane 4.5 kilometres of the busy highway

No Stuart Park fire-pit in Kelowna this winter

City says in bid to reduce natural gas use, it won’t light fire pit at popular outdoor ice rink

Differences between the California and Okanagan fires taken seriously

Chief Travis Whiting and Kelowna Fire Department learn from the devasting U.S. fires

Glenrosa Elementary PAC fundraiser nets $10,000

Half the $20,000 allegedly stolen from school funds is replaced

Find me my furever home

Meet Moon a 16-year-old senior gentleman at the Kelowna BC SPCA

1st Indigenous woman to start Canadian airline looks to B.C.’s remote regions

Teara Fraser is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to start her own airline, called Iskwew Air

Prosecutors appeal B.C. cops’ acquittal of sex assault charges in Cuba

Port Moody’ Const. Jordan Long and Vancouver’s Const. Mark Simms were acquitted last week

Examine ‘monstrous’ allegations of forced sterilization of Indigenous women: NDP

The issue of forced sterilizations will also be raised at the UN Committee Against Torture

Canada Post ‘cooling off’ period won’t resolve postal dispute, says CUPW

CUPW national president Mike Palecek says the union isn’t holding rotating strikes to harm the public

Calgary city council votes to shut down bid for 2026 Winter Games

More than half of those who went to the polls voted ‘no’ to bidding for the games

Union offers support following B.C. mine death

Death of B.C. mine worker described as a wake up call for industry

Vernon ringette action underway Sunday

Vernon teams dominate in West Kelowna and Salmon Arm

Most Read