The Whole Building Design Guide revises recommendations for safety of storefronts and public places

Updated: Aug 16

The Whole Building Design Guide (https://www.wbdg.org/) was created by the National Institute of Building Sciences as "a gateway to up-to-date information on integrated 'whole building' design techniques and technologies. The goal of 'Whole Building' Design is to create a successful high-performance building by applying an integrated design and team approach to the project during the planning and programming phases."

Established by the United States Congress, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) mission is to serve the public interest by advancing building science and technology to improve the built environment. NIBS partners with seven federal agencies and dozens of academic, professional and industry institutions to publish the WBDG and update it regularly on dozens of topics.


In July 2022, the Whole Building Design Guide chapter on "Secure/Safe" buildings was updated to include the revised data from the Storefront Safety Council on storefront crashes and vehicle-pedestrian incidents in public spaces. The chapter can be found HERE but the section itself reads as follows:

Storefront and Public Space Safety According to the latest data from the Storefront Safety Council, Vehicle-into-Building crashes occur 100 times a day causing nearly 2,600 deaths and more than 16,000 injuries annually. Further, forty-six percent of all storefront crashes result in an injury and eight percent result in a fatality. These figures, reviewed by Lloyd's of London, equate to more than 36,000 storefront crashes every year in the United States.

While we may think these happen only to private sector shops and stores, consider that many federal, state, and local government buildings are also located on city streets or in retail settings, which make them vulnerable to these crashes as well.


Vehicle crash in a Dollar Store in Chico, California. The value of crash rated bollards, planters, and site furnishings in protecting pedestrians, outdoor dining patrons, shoppers, and employees inside stores from out-of-control vehicles cannot be disputed. Incidents where a vehicle is employed by terrorists to inflict mass casualties at large gatherings like parades, marathons, and holiday festivities further reinforce the need for and high value of crash rated barriers. More recently, intentional vehicle crashes have increased significantly, caused by disgruntled customers, angry drivers, and thieves intent on stealing the contents of shops and stores.


Vehicle crash into a restaurant patio and dining area in New York City. While restaurant and store owners may be reluctant to pay the cost of these barriers, they should weigh in the losses they face when their place of business is closed for reconstruction after an incident and for the personal injury and wrongful deaths suits for which they may be liable.

For more information on this topic see the Storefront Safety Council.

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