Two men are lifting a piece of wall out of a tank containing water, bacteria, and mold spores.

ERDC-CERL engineers remove a wall assembly from an exposure tank containing mold and bacteria to simulate flood waters.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have teamed up to test the resiliency of historic materials to flood waters. Engineers at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL) in Champaign, Illinois are implementing tests to determine the resilience and durability of traditional construction assemblies that are common to historic buildings located in flood-prone areas. They are using a Standard Test Method for Water Immersion and Drying for Evaluation of Flood Damage Resistance (ASTM-E3075) in the study.

The wall assembles are exposed to moving, black water inoculated with mold and sewage surrogates for a period of 72 hours. Then researchers weigh the wall immediately after exposure and for days afterwards. Subsequently, they swab the walls for signs of mold and bacteria growth.

Four women standing in front of a research building in Champaign Illinois in the snow.

From Left: Jenifer Eggleston, Jenny Parker, Jennifer Wellock, and Mary Striegel conduct a site visit the the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL).

Staff from the NPS offices of Technical Preservation Services and NCPTT had an opportunity to visit ERDC-CERL and observe some of the tests. The data gathered from this study will help classify materials of interest according to FEMA guidance. NPS will use the study to create best practice guidance for sustainability of historic materials, and to develop a preservation brief on the topic.

The site visit was also an opportunity to discuss possible future research collaborations.

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119