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NFPA’s EFFECT (Exterior Façade Fire Evaluation and Comparison Tool) has won an Innovation Award from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH). The world’s premiere authority on skyscrapers honors best in class tall buildings, urban contributions, technologies, and innovations that have emerged during the calendar year and impressed high-rise developers, designers, occupiers, operators and engineers.


EFFECT was created in response to fires occurring in tall buildings with combustible exterior wall assemblies around the globe. NFPA first worked with Arup to develop a risk assessment methodology that takes into account the building envelope; potential ignition sources; structure characteristics; and existing fire safety measures such as means of warning, containment, and extinguishment. Then it was time to build a comprehensive tool that would help building owners, facility managers and AHJs proactively assess risk in high-rise building inventory with exterior cladding. Since its release in February, various authorities, consultants and building owners have successfully used EFFECT to prioritize high-rise fire safety mitigation efforts and remediation work.


NFPA’s risk assessment tool is free to access and employs a two-tiered review process: 


  • Tier 1 entails an AHJ, building owner, or facility manager answering a small number of questions with clearly pre-defined answers, to inform the ranking of tall buildings within their portfolio. Some questions pertain to the combustibility of the insulation and facade cladding; the presence of sprinklers; potential ignition sources; and the type of alarm system.
  • Tier 2 is where authorities will complete a deeper fire risk assessment evaluation of those buildings deemed at risk in Tier 1. Onsite inspection; as-built information; maintenance records; samplings; and laboratory testing of unknown facade materials are considered in this section.


“This year’s Award of Excellence Winners communicate the diversity of interdisciplinary thought and innovation that will characterize both current and future generations of urban development around the world,” said Best Tall Building Jury Chair Karl Fender, Director at Fender Katsalidis Architects. NFPA’s EFFECT and other forward-thinking projects will now move on to the next stage of the CTBUH Awards Program in Shenzhen, China and vie for “Best in Category” distinctions in April 2019.

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