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Extreme Performance for Extreme Weather Conditions
With hurricane season in full swing I was recently reminded of research I did for a program in San Juan, Puerto Rico several years ago. As Puerto Rico is often directly in the path of hurricanes as they enter the Gulf of Mexico, I decided that extreme weather performance of building systems would be an appropriate topic for my audience. It ended up being an eye-opener for me, too!
A number of vinyl products routinely survive catastrophic weather situations. The examples below are just a few of the many products appropriate for the southern coastal regions, where the risk of storm damage is an annual threat.
The first example is that of a soffit application that really sparked my interest. Rulon Co., located in Jacksonville, Fla., first introduced me to their vinyl soffit product at a training seminar. One of the presentations featured a case study of an auto park in Florida that had its original aluminum soffit destroyed in a hurricane. A PVC soffit installed to replace it which has remained in place through many years of exposure to severe storm conditions. The photograph below is an unplasticized PVC (commonly known as uPVC) ceiling product by Rulon, installed at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center.
Another application is an industrial railing system manufactured by Avcon Rail in New Jersey. Avcon produces a thermoplastic vinyl rail that can withstand extreme weather. Pictured below is the mast of a catamaran that broke while the vinyl rail withstood its impact. This system is often used in areas of extreme water and salt exposure and delivers many years of corrosion-free performance.
PVC flood barriers are an effective alternative to sand bags. Long, reinforced vinyl tubes are filled with water from a hydrant or truck and interlocked to form a modular barrier system that can stretch for miles. The barrier is a stacking system, typically ranging in height from 19 inches to 32 feet, and is typically half the cost of sandbags after the first use. After a flood the tubes can be emptied, stored, and reused, resulting in repeated cost savings each time they are employed. Not only are they used in flooding situations, they were also used for shoreline protection in Louisiana during the 2010 oil spill.
NuForm Building Technologies is a building system consisting of PVC sleeves that are filled with concrete and steel reinforcing bars. It is highly resistant to extreme weather conditions and can be designed to handle earthquakes and hurricanes.
Interlocking PVC seawalls also have a solid history of performance in hurricane conditions. While not specifically intended for hurricane flood protection, they would be expected to survive such severe storm exposure.