With this year's hurricane season approaching, it's worth taking a look back at the lessons of last year's devastating Hurricane Ike. One success story in particular stands out: the performance of U.S. Coast Guard barracks buildings on the island of Inagua in the Bahamas. Ike hit Inagua as a Category 4 storm, with winds topping 135 mph. And the low-lying island, surrounded by water, is in a top exposure category, with little if any protection by hills, built-up areas, or forestation. Many buildings on the island were badly damaged. But a set of prefabricated concrete barracks stood up to the storm with only light cosmetic damage.

Coast Guard prefabricated concrete barracks under construction on the island of Inagua in the Bahamas. The 2000-square-feet units have four bedrooms each, plus a common area. They were built as half-modules at the Florida manufacturing facility of Royal Concrete Concepts, shipped to the island on barges, and set in a few hours using cranes. It's a quick and economical method for the military's remote construction needs. However, the concept also works for more complex civilian homes. And it offers consistent speed and quality control for institutional buildings such as schools, or for commercial construction. If you want to learn more, there's an extensive gallery of photos showing the plant's tilt-up methods for making modular units, as well as field construction techniques, at the Royal Concrete Concepts website