Every dollar spent on disaster mitigation prevents $6 of damage, including health costs, structural repair and rebuilding, etc., according to a 2017 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences. Considering that the annual damages from lightning alone add up to $5 billion, the cost of investing in lightning protection systems (LPS) may be worth a second look.
According to the study, natural hazards present risks to communities across the United States. Fortunately, there are measures that can be taken to reduce the impact of such events. For example, mitigation strategies the project team studied include relocating flood-prone communities, adding hurricane shutters or tornado safe rooms, strengthening structural components to better withstand earthquakes, and replacing combustible roofs in wildfire areas with fire-safe products.
While the study did not specifically address lightning hazards, the six-fold return cited for other mitigation efforts is a reasonable estimate of the ROI on LPS. The economic benefit is especially high for public facilities like hospitals and police stations that must remain operational during natural disasters, and on structures that are critical for business continuity and community resilience. Compared to some of the other mitigation proposals, LPS is affordable and can last the life of a structure; but the cost of lightning damage or the loss of a life can be devastating.