21 Oct 2019

US DoD looks to improve construction standards following natural disasters

The US DoD is working on construction standards after natural disasters caused extensive damage to military sites.

Military installations will see an overhaul in construction standards after natural disasters caused extensive damage to China Lake in California and Tyndall Air Base in Florida. Assistant secretary of defense for sustainment Robert H. McMahon highlighted the need for more resilience in construction to withstand climate change during a joint hearing of two House Armed Services Committee subcommittees.

Last year the category 5 Hurricane Michael cause billions of dollars of damage in Florida and earthquakes in California damaged the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. The DoD is committing to updating construction methods to create more resilient and environmentally friendly bases.

Robert H. McMahon said: “We take the lessons we learn from each of these installations — whether it is the construction, whether it’s the roofing, what we are doing on one floor versus another — and roll that in on an annual basis to continuously update what those standards are to ensure that, as we get to the next either rehab or new construction, that those standards are, in fact, reflected in the way that we build the facility.”

“As we look out over the last decade or two decades, the challenges and threats we face within our installations have grown dramatically. It’s climate. It’s the challenge we also face with regards to natural disasters, whether that be earthquakes, whether that be forest fires, whether that be deforestation or drought.”

Other threats to military installations include electromagnetic pulses and unmanned aerial vehicles. Lawmakers were also concerned about the use of PFAS — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — foams in fire-fighting applications.

The DoD is looking for alternatives to firefighting foams containing PFAs. A summit later this year will look at the problem and PFA-containing foams are no longer used in training exercises.

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