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Safer Living Home unveiled in Niagara

Dec 17, 2008

House designed to withstand increasingly destructive weather

FORT ERIE, ON, Dec. 17 /CNW/ - As climate change brings about
increasingly destructive weather patterns, we need to adopt safer living
standards for our homes. And that's exactly what the innovative Designed...for
safer living program is all about. Today, the program celebrated the
completion of Canada's third safer living home, designed to withstand extreme
winds and severe winter weather, in Fort Erie, Ontario.
Designed...for safer living is a partnership between the Institute for
Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and The Co-operators. The Co-operators
funded the construction of the home to standards beyond what is called for in
current building codes, which involved special building material and methods
from the foundation to the roof.
"The insurance industry sees first-hand the devastation that increasingly
frequent natural disasters are causing. In financial terms, the cost of damage
from natural disasters has doubled every five to seven years since the 1960s.
In human terms, more and more families are suffering unnecessary losses," said
Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators and chairperson of the
ICLR. "We feel a responsibility to respond to the realities of today's weather
by promoting safer living standards in Canada. We hope this encourages all
stakeholders to embrace safer standards."
The house on the shore of Lake Erie, which was insured by The
Co-operators, was destroyed by fire. It was rebuilt from the ground up,
designed to withstand the most hazardous weather conditions in the area:
extreme winter weather, high winds and rain storms.

Special construction features include:

- steel hurricane clips and strapping to secure the trusses to the
framing, and braced gable ends to withstand high winds;
- reinforced rebar in the foundation;
- wider foundation footings;
- triple-glazed windows and doors;
- laminate shingles installed with additional nails;
- ice and water shield over the entire roof;
- spray foam insulation; and
- 5/8-inch fire rated drywall.

"Canadians have a tradition of building strong homes, yet we have the
knowledge to build homes that are even more resilient to extreme weather
events, which are increasing in frequency and severity," said ICLR executive
director, Paul Kovacs. "We need to harness that knowledge to build safer homes
for future generations of Canadians. This home - and the other two before it -
stand as models as we work to build more resilient homes and communities right
across the country."
The two other safer living homes that have been built since the program
was launched in 2006 are in West Point, Prince Edward Island and Sudbury,
Ontario. In the months and years to come, additional safer living homes will
be built in regions of Canada. They will be designed to be resilient to the
local weather perils in their area, which may include earthquakes, prairie
wildfires, tornadoes and hail storms.

About the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction:

Established in 1998 by Canada's property and casualty insurers, ICLR is
an independent, not-for-profit research institute based in Toronto and at the
University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. ICLR is a centre of
excellence for disaster loss prevention research and education. ICLR's
research staff is internationally recognized for pioneering work in a number
of fields including wind and seismic engineering, atmospheric sciences, water
resources engineering and economics. Multi-disciplined research is a
foundation for ICLR's work to build communities more resilient to disasters.
Ongoing ICLR funding is provided by the insurance community, The University of
Western Ontario and a number of other partners.

About The Co-operators:

Based in Guelph, Ontario, Co-operators General Insurance Company is the
leading Canadian-owned multi-product insurance company. The company is part of
The Co-operators, a national group of companies owned by a group of
Canadian co-operatives and like-minded organizations, that offers insurance
and investment products. An Imagine Caring Company, The Co-operators is well
known for its philanthropy and community involvement.

For further information: Leonard Sharman, The Co-operators, 1-877-795-7272, ext. 2707, Cell: (519) 820-4133; Glenn McGillivray, ICLR, (416) 277-5827

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