Making the Most of a Wind Engineering Conference

July 20, 2017

It is good to get out of the office once in a while, and to connect with others in your field. Conferences are a great opportunity to network and to catch up on the latest ideas and developments.

At the end of May, several AIR researchers attended the 13th America’s Conference on Wind Engineering (ACWE) hosted by the University of Florida. This event is held once every four years and brings together top researchers in the field of wind engineering in the Americas. Our reasons for attending were threefold:

  • To immerse ourselves in the latest cutting-edge research in wind engineering
  • To present to the greater wind engineering community two papers highlighting research done at AIR
  • To promote AIR and catastrophe modeling

Why do building code standards and enforcement matter?


Over the course of the three day conference more than 180 papers were presented. The wide range of topics covered can be gauged by taking four titles almost at random from the program—“Cost-Effective Tornado Resistant Construction,” “Effect of Hurricane Wind Direction on Loss Estimation,” “Leading Edge Vortex Dynamics on a Flat Roof,” and “Development in Remote Sensing of Hurricane Winds from Air and Space.”

3 Key Takeaways

  1. Tornado research was a big focus, and a good deal of the research presented is to go into developing the new ASCE  standard for tornado wind speed estimation set to be published in 2022.
  2. Computational fluid dynamics research is a hot research topic and given that computational performance is so improved, it is now a viable option for analyzing wind flow around structures and aerodynamically favorable shapes.
  3. Catastrophe modeling garnered a good deal of interest from both professors and students, with four sessions focused on catastrophe models and presentations by both practitioners and members of the academic community.

Our Presentations

AIR staff presented two papers at the conference based on recent research. One focuses on the history of building code adoption in Florida and discusses the vulnerability implications of the adoption of the 2010 Florida Building Code. It includes changes to the model codes and wind standard that the codes reference, and the impact of these changes from a vulnerability perspective. This research was incorporated into the Touchstone 5.0 version of the U.S. hurricane model released in June 2017.

The second paper focuses on our work with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) in conducting a cost-benefit analysis of upgrading structures to different IBHS FORTIFIED standards based on the likely structural characteristics before and after the upgrade. The point of the study was to substantiate the choice of a specific level of designation in the IBHS FORTIFIED program—in terms of the Bronze, Silver, or Gold levels—by comparing the cost of the upgrade against the expected lifetime losses, which were estimated using AIR’s U.S. hurricane model. Through this study we were able to determine the optimal FORTIFIED designation for a structure of a certain age and location.

The papers we presented will be published to conference participants through the ACWE website.


To learn more about wind engineering, read Where the Wild Winds Blow, Part 1 and Part 2.

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