As energy codes become more stringent, many new solutions for constructing more efficient building envelopes are being developed. This includes wall systems. But, as new wall systems are developed and conventional wall configurations are optimized to improve energy and moisture performance, this presents a new challenge—making sure these systems, including cladding and attachments, are not only energy efficient, but cost effective and durable as well, especially in the face of high wind events.

This November the NAHB Research Center launched a new testing capability to better understand the ability of walls to resist wind pressure from thunderstorms and hurricanes. With a sophisticated testing apparatus designed and built by the University of Western Ontario, a world leader in wind engineering and research, the NAHB Research Center can now accurately simulate wind pressure histories on a wall system that occur in a windstorm including high frequency and high magnitude pressure pulses.

“We’ve been able to test the structural integrity of walls for decades,” says Michael Luzier, president of the Research Center, “but this unique new capability is really going above and beyond anything this industry has seen or had access to before, and has greater applicability for the development and optimization of next-generation energy-efficient wall systems. The ability to realistically simulate the effects of rapidly changing wind pressures is what makes this set-up different. We are really excited about the breadth of system performance data this testing will be able to capture toward creating more efficient, effective, durable, and affordable wall solutions for the nation’s homes and home builders.”

The new capability will allow the Research Center to better define performance criteria for the evaluation of new and existing wall systems. The test results will be used to develop wall system design methods and prescriptive solutions including attachment details. This information will provide a basis for the development of building codes, material standards, and product acceptance criteria for high-performance wall systems.