Wind Engineering in the Philippines

This is a summary of my presentations at the recent APCWE7 and APEC-WW2009 in Taiwan in November 2009.  Also posted on the ASEANwind website.

The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, being in what some would call the "Typhoon Gateway of the Pacific," experiencing about 9 total, 5 destructive, and 2 very strong landfalling cyclones annually. Wind storms rank as the worst type of natural disaster with much more affected populations, casualties, and damages collectively compared to earthquakes (2nd), flooding and landslides (3rd), and volcanic eruptions (4th), collectively.

However, since the 1960's there have been very few wind engineering activities in the Philippines. While earthquakes for example, although very rarely occurring, cause a lot of damage and casualties, and thus "earthquake engineering" is deemed as a very important subject matter in the country, hosting the 1st three Asia conferences on earthquake engineering, a group of civil engineers grouped in 2004 to form a more comprehensive program called "DMAPS" or "Disaster Mitigation and Preparedness Strategies." DMAPS then started to introduce the concept of "typhoon engineering" as part of its information campaign. Since 2004, there is considerably more wind engineering activities in the Philippines, although still not as abundant as in other countries.

Looking at the structural wind engineering perspective, the wind loading code in the country is primarily embodied in the National Structural Code of the Philippines (NSCP 2001) which has been historically based on US-based wind loading codes. The latest code, the NSCP 2001, is based on the ASCE7-95. A new code update is due to be released in 2010.

Still part of the DMAPS program, being initiated from the devastating effects of recent typhoons, engineers are developing rapid visual assessment procedures for structures usually damaged by strong typhoons.

From an individual design projects perspective, wind tunnel testing is being outsourced outside the country, but only for a limited number of projects. The new "damped outrigger system" to control both wind and earthquake response of tall buildings has been first used in the Philippines.

Looking at the environmental aspect of wind engineering, national air quality policies, embodied in the Clean Air Act of 1999 is in effect. There are no occupant comfort, pedestrian comfort, or specific indoor air quality standards in the country.

The University of the Philippines, in Diliman, Quezon City, has recently established the Institute of Civil Engineering where there are planned two boundary layer wind tunnel laboratories planned. More wind engineering research work is expected in the coming years.

Overall, while the threat of wind has been here for centuries now, wind engineering or the more general typhoon engineering as fields of study is just starting in the Philippines.

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