‘Safer Living’ Home Unveiled In Niagara: Co-operators

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House designed to withstand increasingly destructive weather

FORT ERIE, ON, January 2, 2009 – As climate change brings about increasingly destructive weather patterns, we need to adopt safer living standards for our homes. And that’s exactly what the innovative Designed…for safer living program is all about. Recently, the program celebrated the completion of Canada’s third safer living home, designed to withstand extreme winds and severe winter weather, in Fort Erie, Ontario.

Designed…for safer living is a partnership between the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and The Co-operators. The Co-operators funded the construction of the home to standards beyond what is called for in current building codes, which involved special building material and methods, from the foundation to the roof.

“The insurance industry sees first-hand the devastation that increasingly frequent natural disasters are causing. In financial terms, the cost of damage from natural disasters has doubled every five to seven years since the 1960s. In human terms, more and more families are suffering unnecessary losses,” says Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators and chairperson of the ICLR. “We feel a responsibility to respond to the realities of today’s weather by promoting safer living standards in Canada. We hope this encourages all stakeholders to embrace safer standards.”

The house on the shore of Lake Erie, which was insured by The Co-operators, was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt from the ground up, designed to withstand the most hazardous weather conditions in the area: extreme winter weather, high winds and rain storms.

Special construction features include:

  • steel hurricane clips and strapping to secure the trusses to the framing, and braced gable ends to withstand high winds;
  • reinforced rebar in the foundation;
  • wider foundation footings;
  • triple-glazed windows and doors;
  • laminate shingles installed with additional nails;
  • ice and water shield over the entire roof;
  • spray foam insulation; and
  • 5/8-inch fire-rated drywall.

“Canadians have a tradition of building strong homes, yet we have the knowledge to build homes that are even more resilient to extreme weather events, which are increasing in frequency and severity,” says ICLR executive director Paul Kovacs. “We need to harness that knowledge to build safer homes for future generations of Canadians. This home — and the other two before it — stand as models as we work to build more resilient homes and communities right across the country.”

The two other safer living homes that have been built since the program was launched in 2006 are in West Point, Prince Edward Island, and Sudbury, Ontario. In the months and years to come, additional safer living homes will be built in regions of Canada. They will be designed to be resilient to the local weather perils in their area, which may include earthquakes, prairie wildfires, tornadoes, and hail storms.

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:

Established in 1998 by Canada’s property and casualty insurers, ICLR is an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. ICLR is a centre of excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR’s research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number of fields, including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water resources engineering, and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a foundation for ICLR’s work to build communities more resilient to disasters. Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of Western Ontario, and a number of other partners.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, Co-operators General Insurance Company is the leading Canadian-owned multi-product insurance company. The company is part of The Co-operators, a national group of companies owned by a group of Canadian co-operatives and like-minded organizations, that offers insurance and investment products. www.cooperators.ca.