Encourage disaster preparedness through resiliency
In recent years, natural disasters have increased drastically in frequency and severity. In 2017, the costliest year thus far for natural disasters in U.S. history, more than $200 billion in damages and thousands of deaths occurred. Hurricanes Florence and Michael, along with wildfires in the western U.S., destroyed lives and communities all over the nation in 2018.
Last year, two bills that will dramatically reform how state and federal governments can prepare for natural disasters were passed. The first, signed into law in February, creates incentives for states to implement resiliency measures, like adopting and enforcing modern building codes, before natural disasters. The second measure, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), signed into law in October, will arm states and communities across the country with a massive amount of new resources to mitigate against the risk of flooding, wind damage, wildfires and other catastrophic events. By encouraging states to build stronger, the DRRA is designed to stop the endless cycle of destruction that results in homes rebuilt after disasters to the same standards that failed to prevent destruction.
The International Code Council worked closely with its members, partners the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Congress on both pieces of legislation The DRRA provides new resources to support the implementation of modern codes, such as the International Codes (I-Codes), both pre- and post-disaster. For the first time, the DRRA authorizes pre-disaster mitigation (PDM) grants to be used for code adoption. The law also further incentivizes modern codes adoption and application by increasing jurisdictions’ chances of receiving PDM awards based on their adoption and enforcement of the latest edition of the I-Codes
A 2018 study by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) validates Congress’s investment in pre-disaster mitigation and modern code adoption, finding that adopting the 2018 I-Codes generates a national mitigation benefit of $11 for every $1 invested. The NIBS project team found that the national mitigation benefit-cost ratio associated with code adoption is $6 to $1 for floods, $10 to $1 for hurricanes and $12 to $1 for earthquakes, with benefits coming through avoided casualties, post-traumatic stress, property damage, business interruptions and insurance premiums. The results show that all building stakeholders benefit from regularly updated codes — from developers, titleholders and lenders, to tenants and communities.
The International Code Council and the Alliance for National & Community Resilience (ANCR) also released its community resilience benchmarks on buildings during Building Innovation 2019: The National Institute of Building Sciences Seventh Annual Conference and Expo. This pilot document, the first in a series of community benchmarks, focuses on providing communities with a mechanism to evaluate their current state of resilience and a guide for areas in which they can improve. These benchmarks are especially critical in providing community leaders the necessary tools to create safer and more resilient structures. The buildings benchmarks consist of nine requirements aimed at increasing the resilience of our communities, including the adoption, administration and enforcement of building codes. In particular, the benchmarks encourage local governments to adopt building codes and to provide the human, technical and financial resources necessary to support permitting, plan review and inspections.
As a longtime advocate for resiliency to mitigate against the risk of flooding, wind damage, wildfires and other catastrophic events, the International Code Council joins others organizations in establishing and supporting the first week of September as “Resiliency Week” and encouraging the adoption of resiliency measures by states to undertake a review of their current resiliency programs and begin improving those measures. By establishing Resiliency Week, states can encourage disaster preparedness with the dual results of saving state funds and increasing access to federal funds in the wake of disasters.