First-ever 'hurricane-resilient' hotel opens on the Gulf Coast
Located in Gulf Shores, Alabama, The Lodge at Gulf State Park was originally destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Now, the newly rebuilt Lodge is the first-ever hotel to be recognized as “hurricane-resilient,” as recognized by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety’s (IBHS) FORTIFIED Commercial construction standards.
Sitting along the Gulf Coast, the $140 million coastal hotel and conference center was designed and built to be more resilient to the risks of property damage caused by hurricanes and other extreme wind-driven weather events. The Lodge can withstand Category 5 wind speeds of 160 mph and is propped up well above flood level in order to protect against storm surge.
Over the past few years, Alabama’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources has worked with IBHS to adopt their FORTIFIED construction guidelines in an effort to ensure new construction was made more resilient to the impacts of severe weather events, including hurricanes, high winds and hail.
FORTIFIED ‘hurricane-resilient’ standards
FORTIFIED has three rankings of extreme weather “resilience:” bronze, silver and gold. IBHS announced that the new Lodge hotel is the first-ever building to earn IBHS’s FORTIFIED Commercial™–Hurricane Bronze Level.
The difference between the three levels revolves around roof design, backup power, and more costly add-ons. FORTIFIED Bronze construction strengthens a typical roof, enabling it to better withstand strong winds during hurricanes and tropical storms.
IBHS conducts commercial construction “testing” at the 90-acre IBHS Research Center in Chester County, South Carolina to test a construction project’s weather resiliency. Numerous weather perils can be simulated in the IBHS test chamber including hurricane-force winds, severe hailstorms, torrential rainstorms and wildfires.
Resilient construction: An investment in communities
Chuck Miccolis, VP of Commercial Lines at IBHS says as severe weather events continue to increase in size and severity, adopting weather resilient construction standards is an affordable way to invest in your community.
One out of four small businesses never recover if they fall victim to an extreme weather event. “Residents can mitigate a lot of the damages associated with these severe storms, Miccolis said. “A lot of these mitigation costs will pay for themselves in the event of just one storm.”
Complete details on IBHS’s FORTIFIED Commercial construction standards and qualifications can be found on their website.