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Tornado Resilience and Sustainability

Research Purpose:

Develop embodied carbon estimates of tornado damage to an interdisciplinary NSF research project.


Strong winds such as those produced by a tornado or a hurricane have resulted in billions of dollars in damage annually and continue to threaten the safety of building occupants.  Much of the U.S. that is susceptible to these hazards also have expansive soils; slab-on-grade construction in such areas is commonplace.  The building design will be optimized by considering how a building should be designed such that it contributes as much as possible to community resiliency while maintaining a prescribed level of sustainability; and while keeping costs associated with homeownership at a reasonable level.

The research hypothesis is that it is possible to develop risk-informed performance criteria for individual resilient and sustainable buildings exposed to a spectrum of natural hazards that can be matched to community goals; that building attributes can be identified and parameterized to support this general risk-informed decision framework; and that the risk-informed decision framework supporting these performance criteria for individual buildings will enable enhanced community resilience and sustainability by targeting public and private investments to manage life-cycle costs.

The UW research team is responsible for integrating architectural considerations in the development of building and community archetype models as well as developing life cycle cost and environmental impact assessment models for residential construction taking into account the impacts of tornadoes and expansive soils.  Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) students have been active contributors to the project’s success.

Journal publications

Research team

Principal investigators:

  • Van de Lindt (Colorado State University) (PI)
  • A. Cerato (University of Oklahoma) (co-PI)
  • B. Ellingwood (Colorado State University) (co-PI)
  • H. Mahmoud (Colorado State University) (co-PI)
  • L. Peek (Colorado State University) (co-PI)
  • K. Simonen (University of Washington) (co-PI)
  • N. Wang (Oklahoma State University) (co-PI)

UW contributors

  • A. Ianchenko (REU)
  • D. Alampay (REU)
  • C. Cyra (REU)
  • C. Ayers (REU)
  • A. Xie
  • M. Huang

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