American Society of Civil Engineers

Wind Risk Assessments for Cladding and Glazing in Critical Facilities

by Paul E. Beers, (Managing Member, Glazing Consultants International, LLC, 2460 Metrocentre Boulevard, West Palm Beach, FL 33407. E-mail:
Section: Forensics, pp. 1606-1617, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Structures Congress 2011
Abstract: One of the most vulnerable areas for critical facilities in severe windstorms is the exterior building envelope. Loss of roofing, cladding or glazing exposes building occupants to life safety risks and renders facilities inoperable at the time they are most needed. Engineers, Architects and Building Professionals are in need of guidelines for how to assess building envelopes to predict performance during severe windstorms and identify required upgrades. This paper outlines the necessary steps for assessing severe windstorm threats to cladding and glazing on existing critical facilities. This outline includes developing appropriate design criteria for wind pressure, windborne debris and water infiltration, as the code mandated minimum may not be enough, depending upon the location and use of the facility. A staged analysis approach is presented to allow the user to determine the condition of existing cladding and glazing. An initial assessment would include a review of project documents and a visual survey. Higher level assessments include field testing and destructive analysis. The included methodology for assessing and analyzing various cladding and glazing systems provides the reader with guidance for make a determination about the resistance of components and overall systems in severe windstorms. The assessment can then be used to identify needed upgrades and plan for safe operations during severe windstorms.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Wind loads
Risk management
Lifeline systems
Forensic engineering