NIST leads federal effort to save lives and property from windstorms
Congress recently designated the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to be the lead agency for the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP), giving it the primary responsibility for planning and coordinating the collaboration of federal agencies charged with achieving "major measurable reductions in the losses of life and property from windstorms."
In one of its first actions as lead agency, NIST has announced in the Federal Register that it is establishing a panel of external experts to "provide advice on windstorm impact reduction and represent related scientific, architectural and engineering disciplines."
The National Advisory Committee on Windstorm Impact Reduction (NACWIR) will consist of at least seven and no more than 15 members. Reporting to the NIST Director, these experts will offer assessments of and recommendations on NWIRP activities, provide advice on priorities and strategies, and evaluate how effectively the program is meeting its goals.
NIST, as the NWIRP lead agency, promotes the implementation of windstorm risk reduction measures; supports the development of performance-based engineering tools to lessen windstorm impact; and coordinates federal post-windstorm investigations to the extent practicable.
The four agencies assigned as NWIRP members are: NIST, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other federal agencies are invited to participate in NWIRP activities; among those already involved are the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Energy.
Together, these organizations seek to increase scientific and technical understanding of windstorms and their hazards, including extreme winds, wind-borne debris and storm surge. In turn, they use that knowledge to design, establish and implement cost-effective programs and develop advanced tools and techniques to mitigate the windstorm threat to lives and property. Among the areas targeted for advancement through NWIRP research efforts are: data collection; performance assessment of structures; loss estimation; risk assessment; simulation and computational modeling; construction systems, structures and materials; and construction design and practices.
Participants in NWIRP work closely with national standards and model building codes organizations to utilize research results and promote better building design and construction practices. Another key role for the agencies is outreach to the public, promoting the adoption of windstorm preparedness and mitigation measures for households, businesses and entire communities.
The instructions for nominating experts to serve on the NACWIR are available in the Federal Register issue of July 12, 2016 (go to https://federalregister.gov/a/2016-16373). The deadline for submissions is Aug. 19, 2016. Additional information on NWIRP is available on the program's homepage, http://www.nist.gov/el/nwirp/.
Michael E. Newman