Standard for Presidential Libraries Includes Lightning Protection

With Barack Obama’s departure from the White House, work on the newest Presidential Library moves forward in earnest. It is being designed in accordance with “Architectural and Design Standards for Presidential Libraries” published by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The Guidelines include:

3.61.4 Lightning protection: Lightning protection must be evaluated in accordance with NFPA 780. Buildings in the “moderate to severe” category of exposure and higher must be equipped with a UL listed lightning protection system.

Air terminals are visible at the top level of the roof of the Clinton Library. The lower levels of roof have exposed steel rails that are used as strike termination devices in lieu of air terminals.

Credits: Michael Rivera (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Lightning Protection Featured in New Magazine

Building Enclosure Magazine was launched in 2016 as a source for authoritative news and information on walls, roofs, and the things that separate a building’s inside from its outside. It is geared towards architects and other building industry professionals and is published by BNP Media. Two articles about lightning protection systems (LPS) have appeared in it, establishing that LPS is part of the building enclosure. Check out the articles:

“Lightning Protection is Work of Art”, a cause study of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

“Lightning Protection – Both Roofs and Lightning Protection Systems Protect Buildings Against Weather Damage”


LPS Installer Wins Award for Innovation

Adam Smith, Vice President of BASE Lightning Protection, received a Finny Award from the Lightning Protection Institute for his innovative through-roof penetration assembly. His design used a through-roof penetration device from East Coast Lightning Equipment. The device connects a rooftop lightning conductor cable through the roof deck to the inside of the building where it connects to a down conductor leading to ground. ECLE’s UL-listed assembly contains a threaded steel rod with clamps at each end to connect to conductors. The top clamp is attached to a cap which is placed over a two-inch-diameter PVC pipe. The pipe is then flashed with a flexible booted that helps to waterproof the assembly.

Smith’s innovation is to fill the PVC pipe with sealer. This complements to boot by creating a secondary waterproof barrier and assure against water entering through the roof penetration. Other LPS installers at the February LPI convention agreed that the innovation is a cost effective method to improve the performance installations.

Lightning Strike via Computer and Headphones

In an interview on National Public Radio, author Rowan Hisayho Buchanan tells that while writing her novel, Harmless Like You, “I was editing the sort of final, final draft of the novel to send out before publishers, and it was night time. And suddenly my vision went white, and I had this incredible pain in my face. And it turned out what had happened was that lightning had hit the barn we were staying in, and it had gone through all of the electrical boxes. And it went up through my computer and through my headphones that were plugged in, into the side of my face.”

Although she survived, her experience demonstrates the importance of lightning protection.

Lightning Warning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing

The Slogan, “When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors”, has helped countless people understand how to protect themselves from lightning. But this slogan doesn’t resonate with those who can’t hear. Realizing there was a gap, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and organization serving the deaf and hard of hearing have introduced a new slogan based on sight rather than sound. They produced a public service announcement to promote, “When You See a Flash, Dash, Inside!”

Lightning in Paradise

Planning a vacation in Hawaii? Watch out for lightning!

While lightning activity in the Islands are less frequent than in other parts of the US, consider this: “In May 2011, O‘ahu experienced a particularly impressive storm with an estimated forty thousand cloud to ground lightning strikes over a 30 hour period. In March 2012, lightning struck the hull of a 36-foot catamaran in O‘ahu, and the boat sank to the bottom of Keehi Lagoon Boat Harbor. A storm in Dec 2013 on the Big Island of Hawai‘i yielded an estimated ten to twenty thousand lightning strikes.” While no injuries were documented during any of these incidents, the risks are high because of the time people spend outdoors.

And if you are visiting a volcano, make note that lightning can accompany eruptions.

Source: “Tropic Lightning: Myth or Menace?” by John McCarthy, MD

Photo: Oliver Spalt, CC-BY-2.0

He Learned the Hard Way

As founder and producer of the AEC – Science and Technology conferences, George Borkovich helped a generation of designers and builders learn about computers and other electronic tools. Yet there was one lesson he had to learn the hard way: All those gadgets upon which we depend are vulnerable to lightning.

His security system, phones, appliances, computers, and other electronics were all damaged when lightning struck his home and office. Fortunately, no one was hurt, and he has since had a complete lightning protection system installed.

The next AEC-ST events will be in 2018 in Anaheim, CA and Washington, DC.

Lightning Protection at Orlando Theme Parks

The Theme Park University website suggests, “Next time you are at an Orlando theme park, look at the roofs of nearly every building. Lightning rods dot the rooftops of nearly every single building in Orlando theme parks. Many of the air terminals are cleverly disguised as part of the building’s theme. For example, atop the Crossroads of the World at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the ear of a giant Mickey Mouse statue is made of copper and acts as a strike termination device.

Is lightning protection really required? Take a look at this video from a theme park and decide for yourself.













Photo: CL Photographs (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Lightning Science Enters Space Age

While East Coast Lightning Equipment brings lightning down to earth, our sister company, Scientific Lightning Solutions, reaches into space.

SLS uses rockets, for example, to trigger actual lightning strikes for research and testing. The firm is active in the aerospace industry and its team members have extensive experience designing lightning protection systems for mission-critical applications for NASA, the Air Force, and other rocket launch facilities.

SLS also provides state-of-the-art systems for lightning surveillance systems to pinpoint where it strikes. In December 2016, the launch of the CYGNSS satellites was able to continue its countdown despite fierce lightning at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station just days before the scheduled deployment. Officials with NASA’s Launch Services Program were concerned that lightning would delay the mission by requiring avionic systems on the launch vehicle and payload to be tested for damage. The delay and cost of testing were avoided, however, when SLS proved that the lightning was not as close to the launch vehicle as feared, and that transient currents induced by lightning were well within acceptable limits. The system includes sensitive current and voltage sensors inside the aircraft plus exterior electromagnetic sensors to measure the effects of nearby lightning. SLS also monitored the Cape Canaveral airstrip with two of the firm’s Optical Jupiter high-speed, zero dead-time cameras that are triggered by lightning strikes.

To read more about how lightning safety came to the aid of CYGNSS, see article here.