LSU Research Team Working to Increase Supply of Affordable, Resilient Housing in High-Risk Areas

Isabelina NahmensMay 6, 2024 

BATON ROUGE, LA – With hurricane season around the corner, a team of LSU researchers is exploring the feasibility of FORTIFIED® elevated manufactured homes as a solution for lower- and middle-income residents in high-risk areas. The outcomes of the project have the potential to enhance housing supply significantly, particularly in areas prone to natural disasters, offer greater safety to residents, and reduce burden on the National Flood Insurance Program and other disaster prevention, mitigation, and relief endeavors.

FORTIFIED® is a voluntary, code-plus construction standard for wind-resistant construction that includes independent, third-party evaluation to achieve a building-specific designation from the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

The project is funded by a grant of more than $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The research team is led by LSU Industrial Engineering Professor Isabelina Nahmens, principal investigator on the project. She is joined by a cross-campus collaborative team of LSU Industrial Engineering Professor Laura Ikuma, LSU Biological and Agricultural Engineering Assistant Professor of Research Rubayet Bin Mostafiz, LSU Biological Engineering Associate Professor and Director of the LSU AgCenter’s LaHouse Research and Education Center Carol Friedland, and LSU Oceanography & Coastal Sciences Professor Robert Rohli.

“These homes help meet the need for affordable and resilient housing in underserved communities across Louisiana,” said Bin Mostafiz, who also serves as assistant director of LaHouse. “This project will help low-resource and underserved communities with sustainability, housing, and emergency recovery.”

Laura IkumaIn determining the feasibility of installing these manufactured homes, the research team will integrate perspectives from manufacturers (supply chain, ergonomics, factory modifications), installers (on-site requirements), and end users. It will also examine the challenges that hinder the widespread adoption and resilience of factory-built homes, such as transportation logistics, early contractor commitments, and the absence of standardized practices within the construction industry. Additionally, the team will assess the vulnerability of manufactured housing to natural hazards, including severe weather events like windstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding. The result will be the incorporation of essential resilience elements into the off-site construction process of these homes, creating durable and reliable structures that are able to withstand the challenges these communities face.

“The project’s findings and tools can serve as a valuable resource for HUD researchers, policymakers and government officials, and industry partners, including construction professionals, guiding them toward the adoption of resilient construction practices,” Nahmens said.

Research conducted at LaHouse has shown that implementing strategies from the FORTIFIED® roof requirements reduced wind loss by up to 38%. FORTIFIED® Silver standard elements decreased wind loss by up to 73%, and the FORTIFIED® Gold standard reduced loss due to high wind by up to 80%. Additionally, increasing the first-floor height of the home by 1 foot above 100-year flood elevation results in approximately 90% flood-risk reduction.

About LaHouse

LaHouse conducts research on strategies to reduce damage to the home from high-speed winds and floods. The facility allows visitors to explore exhibits that display resilient, sustainable, and healthy housing techniques best suited for the Gulf of Mexico region.

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