Funding Improved Building Safety, Resilience, and Sustainability
As the frequency and severity of hazard events increase, household energy bills grow and the nation looks to reduce energy related emissions, U.S. federal grant programs are now available to assist state, local, tribal, and territorial (SLTT) governments in implementing solutions. These grants are either exclusively or significantly designated for building code related activities.
The Code Council stands ready to work with SLTT governments to access these funds. We’ve also established relationships with other industry leaders to provide a suite of solutions that can meet any jurisdiction’s needs.
Jurisdictions may be able to use funding to support these goals
- Adopt a new code or update their current building codes
- Support custom code development through consultant services and publication (including stretch codes)
- Train code officials, designers, and contractors on code provisions
- Fund code official certifications
- Seek building department accreditation
- Develop and implement software tools
- Build departmental capacity and capabilities including through digitization
- Implement innovative approaches to enforcement
- Conduct compliance studies
- Access codes electronically through Digital Codes Premium, to provide continuity of services during public health or disaster events.
- Enhance plan review capacity through ICC NTA Plan Review Services
Why use your funding for building codes?
Building codes are the foundation for safety in the built environment. A 2019 report, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves, by the congressionally-established National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) found that adopting and enforcing the 2018 International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC) provides communities with an $11 benefit for every $1 invested. These benefits represent avoided casualties, property damage, business interruptions, first responder expenses, and insurance costs, and are enjoyed by all building stakeholders – from developers, titleholders, and lenders, to tenants and communities. The NIBS report also found that retrofitting structures to current codes’ flood mitigation requirements can provide $6 in mitigation benefits for every $1 invested and that retrofitting structures to the Code Council’s Wildland-Urban Interface Code could provide $2 to as much as $8 in mitigation benefits for each $1 invested.
Communities that regularly adopt energy codes like the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) save money for residents and businesses and improve community health and resilience. According to the DOE Pacific Northwest Laboratory (PNNL), the 2021 IECC represents a 9.4% site energy savings improvement and an 8.7% improvement in carbon emissions for residential buildings relative to the 2018 IECC, saving homeowners an average of $2,320 over the life of a typical mortgage. Although there is significant evidence of the value of energy code implementation, studies also show millions of dollars of untapped energy savings in states across the country. DOE has also observed, across 7 states studied, that training code officials on adopted codes can help reduce annual energy costs due to varying levels of code compliance by an average of about 45 percent.
FEMA affirmed NIBS findings in their Building Codes Save: A Nationwide Study, stating that, “...adopting building codes is the single most effective thing we can do! One change in building codes can save lives and protect property for generations to come.” The study found that if all new buildings across the U.S. were built to modern editions of the I-Codes, the country would save more than $600 billion by 2060.”
Embracing technology solutions to simplify code enforcement and compliance will give communities a wide array of new solutions that provide better economics and efficiency in workflows and continuity during disasters. Investment in Digital Codes and digital codes practices gives 24/7 access to the codes and standards that the building and safety community are founded on. Electronic collaboration tools can support consistency in code enforcement and identification of common compliance challenges and training needs. Embracing technology solutions to simplify code enforcement and compliance will give communities a wide array of new solutions that provides better economics and efficiency in the workflows and continuity during disasters. Digital solutions can produce lasting reductions in operational costs and permitting timelines. The Code Council has found a 20 percent increase in code department productivity by moving from paper to electronic inspection logs. Reduced processing times leads to savings for both consumers and the construction industry.
Assessing the current construction practices, establishing compliance and enforcement goals, and accessing intake plan review inspection tools are the first steps to successful compliance and enforcement. Training requirements are equally important. The gap that exists between the efficiency levels required in codes and the efficiency levels achieved in the field is influenced by the extent of code official training on the energy code. Although about two-thirds of states require code official certifications, only seven states require training on energy code provisions.
Current Funding Programs & Deadlines
Energy Focused Grants
Fire Focused Grants
Resilience Focused Grants
Pro Tip: Bookmark this quarterly updated page to stay up to date on availability of federal funding programs for building departments.
How to apply for federal funding for building safety
The grant application process can be daunting if you don’t know where to start. Some tips are provided below to start the process. The Code Council, working with other leading solution providers, can help identify eligible activities and work with jurisdictions to develop their grant applications. For common building safety strategies including training, personnel certifications, department accreditation, and department modernization, we’ve developed templates to help start the application process. We also can work with jurisdictions to develop innovative strategies to address specific challenges.
- Research which grants you are eligible for and make a spreadsheet of all available grants and their deadlines; set calendar notifications to remind yourself.
- Develop relationships with potential partners, co-applicants and entities responsible for submitting state level grant applications (state energy offices, state hazard mitigation officers, state building code departments, etc.)
- Understand the proposal criteria including award limitations, scoring, formatting and deadlines. Pay particular attention to any cost-share requirements and what can be applied to fulfill these requirements.
- Note which building codes in your jurisdiction are out of date and familiarize yourself with the up-to-date versions of those codes.
- Assemble all the necessary supporting documents you’ll need to apply for the grants.
- Identify the government entity or department with authority to apply for the grant and discuss the opportunity and the importance of submitting the application.
- Be clear on your needs and your asks when developing your applications.
- Clearly articulate your desired outcomes and how external funding is needed to achieve those outcomes. Also focus on how initiatives will be maintained once funding is no longer provided.
- Identify potential public and private sector partners to help develop the grant application and implement the funded activities.
- Begin filling out your applications and have someone proofread them thoroughly.
- Make yourself available for any follow-up from the grant administrator.
- Set up a grant tracking spreadsheet including expense tracking and project management tools.
- Maintain discussions with co-applicants and other stakeholders to assure a smooth ramp up upon receiving the award.
- Be prepared for audits.
This fall ICC is launching a Grant Basics for Code Officials training which will be available for members. If you are interested in hosting this training for your community, chapter, or at a conference please fill out this interest form.
Other resources for communities applying for grants
The following resources will help you get organized and make the grant application process easier.
- How to apply for federal grants
- Tools to assist with FEMA Grants
- Tips and advice for better grant seeking.
- National League of Cities Grant Application Bootcamp
- Federal Funding to Help Municipalities Implement Modern Energy Codes
Contact the Code Council for Assistance on Developing Your Grant Application
- Innovative technical and policy-driven solution development with the ICC Centers of Focus
- Grant application development assistance
To leverage our expertise and for information concerning federal grants contact firstname.lastname@example.org.