As investments help improve and maintain the U.S. built environment, technically robust standards that reflect the contributions of a wide range of interested experts contribute to the success of both public and privately funded projects. To that end, standards are designed to be continuously monitored and updated, thus supporting the quality and performance that can provide good returns on infrastructure investment.

At the recent World Standards Day 2018 Capitol Hill event on June 14 in Washington, D.C., expert discussions focused on codes and standards and their significant role in supporting strong, practicable and resilient 21st century infrastructure solutions. Hosted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the event provided insights on hazard mitigation strategies and the built environment, and senior staffers speaking on behalf of representatives Peter Welch (VT) and David McKinley (WV) — the chairs of Congress’s High Performance Building Caucus — commented on the growing recognition of the importance of investing in infrastructure.

Bryan J. Soukup, executive director of the Alliance for National & Community Resilience and regional manager of the Code Council’s government relations department, spoke about building codes as the foundation for resilience, and noted that ICC supports federal legislation and regulations promoting the adoption and proper administration of current codes. He highlighted the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) assessment of buildings post hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, which found that buildings built using modern codes performed better.

He also noted that the Code Council supports the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), which the U.S. House of Representatives approved in April and which the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved on June 13. The DRRA makes new resources available to support the adoption and implementation of current model codes. The Code Council is currently working closely with members of Congress and their staff to highlight the importance of pre-disaster mitigation and adoption of the latest building codes. The Code Council recently helped lead a coalition of state/local government, construction industry and emergency management stakeholders in promoting adoption and implementation of modern codes in disaster recovery reform legislation, as one of the most reliable means to enhance community resiliency.

During a collaborative presentation — Standards: Important Tools for Innovative Infrastructure Solutions — Martina T. Driscoll and Zachary Burns of Wiss, Janney & Elstner Associates spoke on behalf of ASTM International and explained ASTM’s role in supporting industry through standards, which help ensure safety, quality, and reliability of products and processes.

Chiara (Clarissa) Ferraris, leader of the inorganic materials group of the materials and structural systems division of NIST, presented on “Resilience and Innovative Technology,” and highlighted materials and structures that are key to resilience and developments in concrete 3D printing. She shared NIST’s objective, which includes the development of measurement science tools (metrologies, standards and guidance documents) for reliable construction.

Ryan Colker of NIBS shared findings on the frequency, costs and growing impacts of natural disasters, and discussed benefit cost ratios by hazard and mitigation measure. He also shared insights from NIBS’s publication, “Developing Pre-Disaster Resilience Based on Public and Private Incentivization,” which notes, “The most cost-effective manner to achieve resilience is through a holistic and integrated set of public, private, and hybrid incentivization programs, including mortgages, insurance, finance, tax incentives and credits, and grants.” He also highlighted recommendations, including investing in mitigation to reduce future federal obligations, and encouraging state and local governments to adopt and enforce the latest building codes.

The World Standards Day 2018 Hill event fit into the larger High Performance Building Week activities that took place from June 11–15, 2018. As an active member of the High Performance Building Coalition, the Code Council was honored to have been a part of the celebrations and various events on Capitol Hill to help increase awareness and share insight with policy makers on the importance of high performance buildings for community resiliency and sustainability. Click here for full descriptions of the events and here for the bipartisan resolutions introduced in the U.S. Senate.