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5 Reasons for Architects to Design with Lightning in Mind



from LPI Build and Protect April 19, 2019


HARTFORD, Conn., April 16, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — According to the American Institute of Architects, sustainability is a key element of the architecture profession’s approach to design in the 21st century. As architects are tackling a myriad of global challenges, including challenges posed by increasingly unstable weather patterns, more architects and planners are taking a “build” and “protect” approach to design and construction.

Since lightning is a weather hazard that affects people, property and places in nearly every region of the U.S., it’s no surprise that lightning protection systems (LPS) have become increasingly important for the building process.

“Lightning protection is a built-in feature designed to protect structures—both old and new—from a very common, yet highly destructive weather event,” said Bud VanSickle, executive director of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI). “In an era where technology, delivery methods and construction science are evolving at a lightning-fast pace, specifying lightning protection is part of a best-practice risk management approach.”

“Building design can have a profound impact on the economy, so it’s important that architects and designers embrace a broader concept of sustainability,” said Michael Chusid, RA FCSI, an architect specializing in building materials. “By including lightning protection systems in their owner check-lists, architects can deliver a higher level of quality assurance and value-engineering for resilience.”

Architects who haven’t considered lightning protection, may want to consider these five important reasons for including LPS in building designs and plans.


  1. Affordability – Pricing for LPS typically runs less than 1% the value of a structure; hence often less expensive than security systems, generators and specialty lighting.

  2. Safety Requirements – Insurance, OSHA and risk management authorities are increasingly citing lightning protection measures in their hazard mitigation plans.

  3. Fortifies Technology – Automated building systems and smart structures rely on lightning protection to prevent surge interruptions and costly downtime.

  4. Improves Sustainability – LPS is frequently included on Green and LEED structures as a building resilience measure against a common and highly destructive weather threat.

  5. Hazard Analysis: Lightning protection is increasingly required when a NFPA 780 Risk Assessment determines a structure’s vulnerability to lightning is greater than its tolerable risk.


“Conducting a lightning risk assessment is the architectural standard of care,” explained Chusid. “Architects who fail to use the NFPA procedure may be professionally liable if lightning damages a building they designed,” he warned. Lightning protection systems have become increasingly important for schools, as more and more communities are choosing to play it safe against the dangerous and destructive forces of lightning. Why wait for a lightning event to test your school 's storm smarts? Safety standard-compliant lightning protection systems can provide security and peace of mind for your school community. School buildings are intended to provide a safe learning environment for students and educators, and in many situations these structures provide important community shelters in the aftermath of disasters, as well. Since lightning is a leading weather risk, as well as a threat that's known to accompany tornadoes and even hurricanes—installing safety standard compliant lightning protection systems for schools helps provide an important resilience measure.

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