Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Civil Engineering


Klotz, Leidy

Committee Member

Putman , Brad

Committee Member

Chowdhury , Mashrur

Committee Member

Mobley , Catherine


Hurricanes and tropical storms continue to damage the United States coastline where population migration increases and tourism thrives. Extended dry spells, high winds, and hot summers in the Mountain and Pacific West regions promote ideal conditions for seemingly uncontrollable wildfires. Additionally, the increased frequency of unstable climate conditions foretells signs of Mother Nature not letting up. With recent events such as Superstorm Sandy and the Waldo Canyon wildfires in mind, there is a strong need to improve hazard mitigation techniques in residential homes and encourage resilient building methods. Research within this field is challenging due to the lack of descriptive historical data, difficulty of performing experimental studies, and unpredictable nature of natural hazards. However, the potential benefits have a strong impact on the safety and security of human lives.
Resilient building efforts generally seek to be more resistant to natural hazards; still, there is a need to prioritize resilient efforts and focus on the elements most vulnerable to damage. To fulfill this need, this research uses the Delphi method to identify the most vulnerable house elements and site conditions by obtaining weightings from three surveys rounds with eighteen wildfire and eleven flood expert participants. These weightings are a critical component of the Resilient Scoring Utility (ReScU), a performance-based resilient rating system for residential homes currently being developed.
The expert weightings were interpreted to provide a better understanding of how wildfire and flood perils influence the vulnerability of residential homes. For wildfire, the results indicate that the most vulnerable areas can be easily protected with proper planning and maintenance. Therefore, wildfire mitigation efforts are effective during pre- and post-construction phases. In contrast, flood perils are effectively mitigated with resilient building techniques incorporated within the design phase such as building elevation and foundation design. These results are limited to the opinions of the experts who participated in the Delphi surveys. Thus, alternative research methods collected secondary data to measure the validity and reliability of the Delphi results using the Spearman Rho rank coefficient and Mann-Whitney U test.
While this research advances the understanding of how residential homes are vulnerable to natural hazards, future areas of research have also been identified. These topics include concepts that support the development of a historical damage database, collection of additional data from full-scale controlled experiments, testing ReScU on residential buildings, and expanding it to other natural hazards.