London, Ont., researcher questions tornado-proofing building standards
With higher construction standards, Ontario homes and buildings could suffer far less damage when hit by tornadoes or high winds, says a Western University researcher.
Connell Miller has been studying the aftermath of tornadoes in communities around the province, trying to find better ways to decrease damage to building exteriors, like shingles or vinyl siding.
He visited Windsor and LaSalle last week to sift through the aftermath of two tornadoes that touched down in the southwestern Ontario communities. The data he collected will inform his PhD research, which aims to demonstrate the need to improve the province's building codes.
Miller says existing regulations are inadequate when it comes to protecting people's homes from wind damage, particularly when cladding is ripped from homes, causing further water and mould damage.
"Our research has already shown that design standards are inadequate," he said. "They're not taking into account certain physics of how the wind works on these different cladding elements."
Saving lives more important
City of Windsor building inspectors disagree with Miller's early assessment of Ontario's regulations.
The province's building codes aim to keep homes and businesses standing in order save lives, which is what happened when two twisters tore through last week, said Windsor's chief building official John Revell.
"If you look at the damage here, during a pretty significant tornado, most of the buildings are still standing and no one died," he said. "To me, that says the building code worked admirably."
The only buildings that crumbled during the tornado were built before the upgraded building codes, Revell explained.
He said siding quality could be regulated even more in the building code, but those types of changes would make the cost of home construction far too expensive.
"We could do the same with vehicles. If we designed all the cars on the road to be completely crash proof, they would be tanks and they would be unaffordable by most people," he said.