Resilience STAR™

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is creating a new program called Resilience STAR™ to build and retrofit homes that are more disaster-resistant. The first phase of the Pilot Project will focus on single-family homes in hurricane-prone communities. The deadline for submitting applications was January 21, and the review process is currently underway. The locations for the Pilot Projects will be announced soon. Read more about Resilience STAR™ below.

DHS has led an intensive effort to develop an approach to bolster the resilience of private residences through a pilot project that utilizes a DHS issued trademark called Resilience STAR™. The Pilot Project (or “Pilot”) will be a government-led, public-private initiative to promote and recognize resilient building design and practices. The Pilot will confer a standardized and objective designation of resilience on homes in select high-risk communities that comply with DHS approved resilience programs. Homes that receive a Resilience STAR™ designation will be awarded one to five stars, five being the highest level of resilience.

The Resilience STAR™ Home Pilot will test the concept of forming a voluntary partnership with the private sector to identify and designate residential homes that have been built or retrofitted using existing “code-plus” construction techniques and industry standards that have been scientifically proven to reduce deaths, injuries, human suffering, economic losses and property caused by disasters.

 

Resilience STAR™ Home Pilot Project FAQs

What is Resilience STAR™?

A new pilot program called Resilience STAR™ will designate structures that are built to withstand damage from certain disasters.  The initiative, piloted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), recognizes homes that are voluntarily built or remodeled to include design features that are both affordable and scientifically proven to enhance resilience. 

What is resilience to disasters and why is it important?

Resilience is the ability to withstand the impact of a severe weather event and adapt to changing conditions. We need to do more to make our communities more resilient because storms and other natural hazards have become more severe and frequent over the past 40 years. Studies have shown that certain areas of the country could save billions of dollars in property damages if they build resiliently before a catastrophe strikes. 

How do homebuilders, contractors, homeowners, and trained third-party home evaluators get involved in the Resilience STAR™ Home Pilot?

Homebuilders, contractors, homeowners and evaluators can visit http://www.disastersafety.org/fortified/resilience-star/ to learn more about Resilience STAR™ and register their interest in being a Pilot participant. Applications for the Pilot closed on January 21, 2014. However, additional rounds may be announced and applications will be kept on file.  Applications for the Pilot will be reviewed by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), the non-profit research and communications organization partnering with DHS on the Pilot.

What standards will be used and who ensures that the Pilot homes actually meet the standards? 

Resilience STAR™ leverages existing hazard-specific and “code-plus” construction techniques and standards, which have been scientifically proven to reduce property damage, deaths, injuries, economic losses and human suffering caused by disasters. In partnership with IBHS, DHS will use two programs to construct, retrofit, and designate Resilience STAR™ Pilot Homes: IBHS FORTIFIED HomesTM (http://www.disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/fortified-home-hurricane-standards.pdf) and IBHS FORTIFIED for Safer LivingTM (http://www.disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/fortified-safer-living-standards-IBHS.pdf). 

FORTIFIED references peer-reviewed, accredited, scientifically sound standards from globally recognized leaders in the development and delivery of international voluntary consensus standards, such as the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), FM Global, and Underwriter’s Laboratory.

With IBHS supervision and training, third-party evaluators will inspect the Pilot homes to ensure they meet the resilience standards. The steps in the designation processes can be found on the IBHS website at http://www.disastersafety.org/disastersafety/seven-steps-to-the-fortified-for-safer-living-designation/  and http://www.disastersafety.org/wp-content/uploads/FH-Existing-Fact-Sheet_IBHS.pdf. FORTIFIED’s process for third-party verification draws on years of laboratory research and testing and real-world assessments of home performance in pre- and post-disaster environments. 

Who is the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety?

IBHS is a 501(c)3 research and communications association supported by property insurers and reinsurers. The Institute and its members are committed to conducting objective, scientific research to identify and promote effective actions that strengthen homes, businesses, and communities against natural disasters and other causes of loss.  

Why should I be interested in Resilience STAR™? 

Owners of Resilience STAR™ homes in coastal areas can benefit from enhanced peace of mind, knowing their homes are likelier to stand up to natural hazards than homes built using more common construction practices. 

There is also an economic case to be made for Resilience STAR. Especially in high-risk areas, individual insurance companies have shown a willingness to offer reduced premiums and other incentives to homeowners who take specific measures to make their homes more disaster-resistant. The investment in making a home resilient is not exorbitant, and Resilience STAR™ designations may improve a home’s overall value. Participating builders and evaluators may be permitted to use Resilience STAR™ in their marketing materials, advertising successful participation in the pilot to real estate agents and homebuyers.

It is also foreseen that, if the pilot is successful, mortgage modifications and tax credits may eventually become available for Resilience STAR™ homeowners. Other financial assistance for mitigation measures may come from FEMA grants such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.  

What role does local government play in a Resilience STAR™ Pilot Project?

No formal agreement is required between DHS and local governments for a Resilience STAR™ Pilot. The parties who seek Resilience STAR™ designations are individual builders, contractors, homeowners, and evaluators, not the locality. It is important to note that the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Multi-hazard Mitigation Council estimates that for every $1 invested in resilience before a disaster strikes, about $4 are saved in property destruction, damage, debris clean-up, and other societal costs after a disaster. Like DHS, local governments have a huge stake in supporting efforts to enhance resilience through the creation of safer, stronger communities. Moreover, following disasters well-prepared communities can resume operations more quickly and better maintain a functioning economy and tax base.   

How can local governments support Resilience STAR™?

Local governments are encouraged wherever possible to work with DHS to apply any available government incentives to make it easier for homeowners, contractors, homebuilders, and evaulators to pursue Resilience STAR™ home designations.  Those incentives could include state-level hazard mitigation grants, mortgage modifications by local public housing authorities, tax credits, or expediting building permits. For the Pilot Projects to be successful, DHS also needs local governments to help spread the word about the opportunity to participate in the Pilot to local builders, contractors, home evaluators, insurance companies, real estate agents and homeowners.  

Can homes get Resilience STAR™ designations by meeting the requirements of local building codes?

Resilience STAR™ homes will be built exclusively to the IBHS “code-plus” requirements. The Pilot Project is an opportunity for homeowners, builders, contractors, and evaluators to learn how to enhance the resilience of their homes beyond the minimum safety requirements typically found in building codes – and, by doing so, perhaps even save money in the long run.

What financial incentives are available for Resilience STAR™ pilot projects? 

Individual insurance companies have shown a willingness to offer reduced premiums and other incentives to homeowners who take specific measures to make their homes more disaster-resistant. In addition, it is anticipated that, if the pilot is successful, mortgage modifications and tax credits may eventually become available for Resilience STAR homeowners. Other financial assistance for mitigation measures could come from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. 

Is there any opportunity for a State or municipality to start a local version of the Resilience STAR™ program?

DHS is exploring the possibility of licensing the Resilience STAR™ program and designation marks to local governments so that they can start their own versions of the program. Interested local government should submit a request to http://www.disastersafety.org/fortified/resilience-star/. This would begin the process of developing a license agreement by which DHS authorizes the locality to use the Resilience STAR™ name and logo to designate resilient properties, builders, and evaluators.

What is the future of Resilience STAR™ after the Pilot Projects?

Resilience STAR™ will be developed in stages, beginning with residential properties. The first step will be a Pilot Project for homes in an area that faces a particularly high risk of disasters, and where investment in the rebuilding process is ongoing. Based on its evaluation of the Pilot, DHS may pursue additional Pilots and eventually determine how the Pilots could be transitioned into a full scale program. It is contemplated that future stages of Resilience STARcould extend across the Nation’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors, initially expanding to the commercial facilities, transportation, and water sectors.

 

Resilience STAR™ Pilot Eligibility Requirements

The following criteria will be used to select initial participants in the Resilience STARTM Pilot Project being administered by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS).

PROGRAM COMPLIANCE ASSETS

In order to maximize 1) quality control and 2) efficiency, since the Pilot program is time-limited, as many Pilot homes as possible should be located in jurisdictions where there are already FORTIFIED evaluators, as well as builders and contractors familiar with the FORTIFIED program standards.

MIX OF POTENTIAL DESIGNATION LEVELS

Of the 24 Pilot Project homes, at least 6 should be new construction homes seeking to qualify for a FORTIFIED for Safer Living (FFSL) designation. Participants will be selected based on assessment of probability that homes can and will be completed during the Pilot Project duration. Priority will be placed on selecting homes that provide a mix of different exposures (wind and flood/surge), construction and foundation types.

Pilot homes will be selected with a priority to evaluate all points (star levels) on the Resilience STAR™ spectrum. The list of Pilot houses should include both new construction (seeking FFSL designations and seeking FORTIFIED Home™ – Hurricane Gold designations) and retrofit projects (FORTIFIED Home™ – Hurricane), with a spread among the three tiers of FORTIFIED Home™ – Hurricane retrofit designations (Bronze, Silver and Gold).

Wherever possible, preference should be given to homes seeking both FORTIFIED and energy efficiency designations.

INCENTIVES

Since it is critical to evaluate the perceived and real value of both private and public incentives related to Resilience STAR™, priority should be given to selecting Pilot homes in jurisdictions which have a variety of public and private financial incentives in place. Existing incentives tied to the FORTIFIED programs include wind insurance premium reductions, building permit rebates, state-level tax incentives, as well as state and federal grant funds that can be used to offset retrofitting or building costs.

OPERATING ENVIRONMENT

Several, if not all, Pilot homes should be located in areas where there is relatively broad familiarity with IBHS’ FORTIFIED programs. This will provide the largest potential data set of informed commentators for surveying and measuring the Project’s success level once the Pilot is complete. 

 

Qualified Building Standards

 

 

About FORTIFIED

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s suite of FORTIFIED programs is dedicated to improving the quality of residential construction. The FORTIFIED programs feature practical, meaningful solutions for new as well as existing structures throughout the United States. Every area of North America is exposed to some type of natural hazard that puts homes in harm’s way. IBHS uses applied building science solutions to reduce the risks facing these properties, and has incorporated that knowledge into two programs.

FORTIFIED HomeTM

PrintThis program employs an incremental approach toward making new and existing homes more resistant to damage from specific hazards based on the home’s location. Hazards included in the program are hurricanes, tropical storms, hailstorms, high winds and wind-driven rain associated with thunderstorms. With three levels of FORTIFIED Home™ designation available – Bronze, Silver and Gold – builders and contractors can work with homeowners to choose a desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals.

For more details about FORTIFIED Home™, please visit http://www.disastersafety.org/fortified/home/.

 

 

 

FORTIFIED for Safer Living®

Battle-tested by Hurricane Ike on the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas in 2008, this code-plus new construction program helps homeowners and home builders create stronger, safer houses from the ground up. From earthquakes and hurricanes to severe winter weather and wildfires, the program’s standards are designed to increase a home’s resistance to whatever natural hazards threaten the area where the house is located.

For more details about FORTIFIED for Safer Living, please visit http://www.disastersafety.org/fortified/safer_living/.

 

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