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When Bill Fleming, Associate V.P. and Senior Architect of Stevens & Wilkinson Architects was appointed to design the new James E. Clyburn Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina located in a flood zone, he had to find a compliant and reliable flood vent system. Because of it's unique location, Fleming determined that the medical facility would be elevated above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) on a crawl space, the BFE for this construction site was 13 feet with the existing site grade at 7 feet.
Building the facility on top of a crawl space would also provide easy access to utility lines and other services so that maintenance could be performed from under the building instead of inside. For non-residential structures in a floodplain, there are two options to flood proof the enclosed area below the BFE, dry flood proofing and flood venting, also referred to as wet flood proofing. Dry Flood Proofing is defined as making the building watertight, substantially impermeable to floodwaters. Because FEMA discourages dry flood proofing when flood depths are in excess of 3 feet, and because of the cost and liability associated with a dry flood proofed design, flood vents were specified as the flood proofing measure.
To make the crawl space compliant with the building codes and NFIP/FEMA regulations, the flood vents needed to be installed around the perimeter of the foundation to relieve the hydrostatic pressure that occurs during a flood. Flood vents allow the floodwater to flow in and out of the enclosed space during a flood event; this equalization of pressure maintains the structural integrity of the building.
After extensive research, it was clear that the SMART VENT(r) Foundation Flood Vent System was the right choice for this project. SMART VENT's dual function design is certified to provide flood protection and ventilation, making it the perfect solution for homes or commercial buildings with a crawl space. Certified by the International Code Council Evaluation Service (ICC-ES) and accepted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), SMART VENT meets all flood venting and air ventilation code requirements necessary for this project.
The combined square footage for the two crawlspaces was roughly 47,400 square feet. The project utilized nineteen of SMART VENT's 4x3 custom frames and one 3x3 custom frame. A french drain system was designed in around the inside perimeter of the foundation to assist with drainage in the event of a flood.
SMART VENT's custom configuration frames are ideal for commercial applications where there is a need to provide flood venting for a large square foot of area.
In-depth CAD files are available for the custom frames, making it easy for architects and other design professionals to incorporate the vents right into their project designs.
"Because the application was over a crawlspace, the project needed to meet the air ventilation code requirements, along with the flood venting requirements, since the building was being built in a flood zone. After reviewing SMART VENT's website, it was clear that SMART VENT was the right product for the job. The SMART VENT products allowed us to meet the functional requirements of the crawl space, as well as providing an aesthetic character that worked well with the exterior building" said Bill Fleming.