Codes at the core: Pathways to climate resilience at COP26
In November, national governments and interested parties from other levels of government and leading non-profit and non-governmental organizations will gather in Glasgow, Scotland, for the Global Climate Change Conference. The International Code Council will be participating in this upcoming 26th annual Conference of the Parties (known as COP26) to help ensure that participants recognize the essential role that buildings play in achieving greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions and enhancing resilience to climate-related hazards and the importance of building and energy codes as a foundational policy solution.
Communities are facing unprecedented challenges in responding to the increasing number, intensity and frequency of disaster events, many driven by climate change. In response, governments are seeking solutions to stem GHG emissions that continue to drive changes in climate, while also looking for solutions to curb the impacts of such events. The built environment is central to both enhancing resilience and mitigating GHG emissions. Buildings are our shelter against the storm, the homes of our governments and institutions, drivers of economies, and symbols of our ideals. At the same time, buildings are also significant users of energy and materials, accounting for 37 percent of global energy-related emissions.¹ Building codes and the activities that support their effective use are central to the realization of a climate-resilient future.
In recognition of the core role that modern building codes and standards play in climate resilience, the Code Council has developed a white paper entitled Pathways to Climate Resilience: The Central Role of Building Codes in Climate Adaptation and Mitigation. The report — which is scheduled for publication by the end of October and will be launched at COP26 — highlights the various global policy mechanisms, targets and goals established by governments and leading international organizations to take action to combat, mitigate and adapt to the detrimental impacts of the changing climate. The paper takes a deep dive into the importance of tackling climate mitigation and adaptation in the context of disaster events and promotes the benefits of adopting and enforcing buildings codes, including findings of the Congressionally established National Institute of Building Sciences, which concluded that the regular update of building codes saves $11 for every $1 invested.
At COP26, Code Council staff will be actively promoting the important role that building codes play in helping governments and local jurisdictions around the world meet their nationally determined contributions. On Nov. 5, 2021, Code Council Vice President of Innovation Ryan Colker will present the contents of the white paper and introduce domestic and global perspectives on building codes as a climate-resilient strategy at the Buildings Pavilion — a space dedicated to highlighting the important role of buildings in addressing climate change. The presentation will include an introduction from Code Council Board of Directors President Cindy Davis on the important role of the International Codes and the organization’s commitment to achieving climate resilience. The presentation will also feature a message from Verne Emmanuel, director of the Saint Lucia Bureau of Standards and former vice chair of the Regional Project Team for the Development of the CARICOM Regional Energy Efficiency Building Code (CREEBC), to discuss the CARICOM Regional Organization for Standards and Quality’s engagement in selecting the International Energy Conservation Code as the model code to develop the CREEBC and the importance of energy codes to support climate and other national goals in the Caribbean.
There are also plans to launch a major report from the Global Resiliency Dialogue, a consortium of building code development and research organizations from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States — of which the Code Council is a founding member — about the integration of climate science into building codes to enhance resilience. This report is also being finalized and is scheduled for publication on the Global Resiliency Dialogue website in conjunction with COP26 events.
The International Code Council calls on all governments to adopt and enforce building codes aligned with domestic and international goals for reduced GHG emissions and enhanced resilience.
More information on the Code Council and its involvement in COP26, including links to join the live stream of Code Council presentations in Glasgow, can be found at www.iccsafe.org/UNCCC.