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Structural Resiliency Checklist for Disaster Preparedness and Response

minimize risk and protect assets

For property owners and equity investors, it’s the things you don't think about that become critical when a disaster event occurs! This can mean an immediate loss of revenue and long-term asset equity instability. Investing time and resources into upgrading properties, maintaining structural and engineering sustainability, and implementing contingency plans in can save you a lot of money and value in the long term.

So critical is resiliency to the future of commercial real estate investment, that investors are looking to resiliency metrics in addition to yields and interest rates for long-term asset planning. For current investors and property owners, true holistic resiliency is comprised of three primary considerations: building reinforcements and/or avoiding vulnerable buildings, advanced preparedness for proactive asset management, and post-disaster recovery planning.

Depending on the location of your property, the type(s) of physical risk the property might incur there (earthquakes, hurricanes, high winds, etc.), your risk tolerance, and the current condition of the building or facility, below are some key considerations for improving resiliency, preparedness, and asset management year-round.

Earthquake Risk
Seismic Risks Assessments can help property owners, tenants, investors, lenders and other stakeholders to understand and control related risks associated with earthquakes. In addition to death and injury, these can include damage to buildings, loss of inventory, disruption of operations and cash flow, interruption of utility and public services, and more. 

The evaluation of earthquake risks is calculated according to client-specific risk factors, seismic zone location, peak and seismic ground acceleration, and building condition. Building owners and investors can estimate vulnerability and exposure to probable loss and potential mitigation plans.

Properties in cities that have issued retrofit ordinances engaging with structural engineers who specialize in retrofits and seismic assessments can keep your asset safe, efficient and compliant.

Wind Risk
Building damage from high winds can impact properties in hurricane zones and those in high-risk wind zones. Start with consulting ASCE high-risk wind maps to identify your level of risk. A civil engineer or surveying expert can help you further assess and delineate these risks.

Utilize a detailed Property Condition Assessment to help Identify the biggest potential property risk factors and for reinforcement mitigation solutions for:
• Lateral wind forces
• Exposure to wind-blown debris
• Building envelope and window thickness, fortification and sealant
• Building’s ability to withstand uplift
• Roof system seals and tie-ins to foundation

Flooding/Storm Water Risk
Hurricanes and high-impact storms increase the likelihood of water damage, especially for properties located in flood zones. Consult a FEMA flood zone map and engage with a civil engineer to create a more accurate topographical and flood elevation land survey. A careful building assessment for storm surge risks will provide options for strengthening resiliency and structural integrity.

Disaster Planning Through Proactive Asset Management
No one can accurately time a natural disaster, or the degree of damage incurred. However, proactive management (especially for facilities managers) can help minimize operational downtime and facilitate access in the event of debris or other storm-related hazards.
• Evaluate critical mechanical and engineering systems near or at ground surface
• Ensure hazardous materials are adequately contained and anchored
• Verify insurance coverage for exposure from nearby industrial plants
• Verify that emergency generator system will support sustained operation
• Install Camera system for remote observation 
• Prepare contingency plan for technology and cybersecurity

Post Disaster Recovery Planning 
If your property has been affected by a hurricane or other disaster, the initial steps you take to recover and restore your asset(s) are the most important. Have detailed foundation and site elevation surveys on hand as a reference for engineers and environmental consultants. If possible, prepare and store an asbestos and lead operations and maintenance plan.

Formal storm contingency plan per property should include: 
• Surveys and operations plans described above
• Protocols for drinking water and ground water risks
• Safety precautions for machine operations 
• Emergency kits and cash on hand
• Insurance procedures to expedite post-disaster claims 
After a storm or hurricane event, the first step is to conduct a moisture intrusion investigation/moisture mapping. It takes less than 48 hours for mold colonies to start growing in water-exposed area, and unmitigated moisture intrusion can severely weaken structural integrity over time. Assessments for Industrial Hygiene risk factors, including asbestos, mold, and lead paint before any demolition or construction occurs.

When it comes to your asset, it is always prudent to think about preparedness and risk, as well as strengthening operations management. A knowledgeable, experienced consultant can guide you through the best options, depending on your business objectives. 

Read more about the importance of building resiliency, hurricane preparedness tips, and what to do if your property is impacted by wind or flooding damage

For more information about our comprehensive range of services, visit http://www.PartnerESI.com or contact a Partner representative at (800) 419-4923. For an interactive, downloadable version of this checklist, click here.