New Alabama State Park Buildings Utilize IBHS Commercial Resiliency Standards

November 8, 2018

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has utilized construction standards from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) FORTIFIED Commercial in the creation of new buildings at Alabama’s Gulf State Park to make them more resilient from the impacts of severe wind events, according to an announcement from IBHS.

The Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel, and The Interpretive Center at Gulf State Park, have earned IBHS’ first-ever FORTIFIED Commercial–Hurricane Bronze Level as a result of the use of these construction standards, IBHS said. FORTIFIED Bronze construction strengthens a typical roof, enabling it to better withstand strong winds during hurricanes and tropical storms.

Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel (photo: Billy Pope, Alabama State Parks)

The new Lodge at Gulf State Park, A Hilton Hotel, replaces the original Lodge, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. It is an environmentally-friendly coastal development which features 350 rooms and suites, as well as 40,000 square feet of meeting space in its convention center. The $140 million project was built to withstand Category 5 wind speeds of 160 mph and sits well above flood level to better protect it from storm surge.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Friday, Nov. 2 for the lodge.

The Interpretive Center at Gulf State Park, located along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico, is a gateway to the 6,150-acre park. It features interactive exhibits that introduce visitors to the diverse ecosystems throughout the park.

“IBHS worked closely with state and local leaders, as well as the project’s developers, on ensuring these new structures at Gulf State Park were built to incorporate specially designed FORTIFIED Commercial standards and best building practices so they are more resilient from the risks of property damage caused by hurricanes and other wind-driven severe weather events,” said Chuck Miccolis, vice president, commercial lines, IBHS.

“We are proud that two of Gulf State Park’s new enhancements, the Interpretive Center and The Lodge, are the first buildings in the world to receive designations as FORTIFIED Commercial structures,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “These designations represent the park’s commitment to be an international benchmark of environmental and economic sustainability through responsible design and construction. These beautiful facilities go beyond basic building code requirements to ensure that it will welcome and educate visitors to Alabama’s Gulf Coast for years to come.”

Following more than 20 years of scientific research and real-world testing, IBHS developed a set of building guidelines and standards designed to provide additional protection from extreme weather events such as hurricane-force winds, rain and hail. The standards, known as FORTIFIED, have proven to be an effective and cost-efficient method for mitigating avoidable property casualty losses.

“Over the past five years, IBHS has approved more than 7,000 FORTIFIED Homes in Alabama, which leads the nation in FORTIFIED construction,” Miccolis said. “With the Gulf State Park project, we have now established how commercial structures in Alabama can also be built stronger to withstand severe weather events.”

FORTIFIED Commercial designations are currently available only in Alabama.

He added, “While no structure is fully immune to nature’s most extreme weather, IBHS research continues to show that mitigation and strong building codes are the best ways to prepare communities for natural disasters.”

FORTIFIED Commercial is a voluntary, superior construction standard and designation program designed by IBHS to make new commercial buildings stronger against severe weather, including hurricanes and high winds/high winds and hail. FORTIFIED Commercial employs an incremental approach with three levels of designations available—Bronze, Silver and Gold—so design professionals can work with building owners to choose a desired level of protection that best suits their budgets and resilience goals.

Source: Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety

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