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    Wind Load Design and Performance Testing of Exterior Walls: Current Standards and Future Considerations

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    Although the main structural systems of fully engineered buildings perform adequately during extreme wind events, costly losses happen to buildings once the components of the exterior walls and claddings fail. In response to these failures, new design methods have been developed that result in higher design wind loads applied to components, and prescribe additional tests on cladding to determine the structural resistance of exterior wall elements.

    This paper discusses some recent changes to the wind load design provisions of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Standard, ASCE 7-98, that apply to exterior building walls. ASCE 7-98 includes new concepts for cladding design that consider impact resistance and topographic effects on overall wind loads. Examples compare the wind design loads obtained using ASCE 7-98 with loads obtained with 7–95 and 7–88 for regular-shaped buildings. The changes may eventually influence the exterior wall design throughout the U.S. because the recently published International Building Code (IBC-2000), formed under a partnership agreement of the three existing model building codes, has adopted ASCE 7-98.

    Improving the wind performance of exterior walls depends equally on improved wind design codes as well as on improved test procedures that determine the structural capacity of installed cladding systems. The current state-of-the-art in full-scale testing of building components is discussed, and a summary of current full-scale tests is presented. The author proposes that the current fragmented design process for different cladding materials and the reliance on materials-specific performance tests is too complex and needs to be streamlined in order to improve the overall performance of building envelope systems.


    building envelope, components and cladding, wind load, missile impact, curtain walls, model building codes, windows and doors, metal edge flashing, wind-borne debris, shutters, design codes, performance testing, ASCE 7

    Author Information:

    Prevatt, DO
    Senior Engineer, Simpson Gumpertz & Heger Inc., Waltham, MA

    Committee/Subcommittee: E06.55

    DOI: 10.1520/STP10925S