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On May 10, 2016, the White House hosted a Conference on Resilient Building Codes to highlight the critical role of building codes in furthering community resilience and the importance of incorporating resilience and the future impacts of climate change in the codes and standards development process. As part of the event, the Obama Administration highlighted federal and private-sector efforts aimed at advancing the principles of resilience in building codes and standards, and building design.

New federal actions include the following:

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced it will review, through the department’s executive-level Climate Council, its existing building construction requirements with the goal of aligning program requirements with the most recent model building codes and standards for resilient construction. This action responds to the 2014 HUD Climate Change Adaptation Plan recommendation to update building standards to incorporate sustainability and resilience measures.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced its support for an effort by the National Institute of Building Science to revisit and extend the 2005 Mitigation Saves study that demonstrated that for every dollar spent on hazard mitigation, society saves $4. This new study seeks to update the original Mitigation Saves study data and to study the cost effectiveness of private-sector mitigation.

FEMA committed to further explore incentivizing the adoption and enforcement of building codes at the state and local level through a disaster deductible requirement for the Public Assistance Program. In January 2016, FEMA published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking introducing the deductible as a general concept and soliciting input from stakeholders. FEMA is currently evaluating the extensive input that was received and is developing a more detailed plan, to be put forth for additional public discussion in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The revised plan would allow states to earn credits toward their deductible requirement through adoption and enforcement of building codes.

General Services Administration (GSA) committed to systematically incorporate climate change risk management into its Capital Investment Program and the P-100 Facilities Standard. In addition, GSA committed to develop a decision-making framework to help GSA customers identify and manage climate-related risks to their supply chains. These efforts support best value decisions by addressing climate change vulnerabilities and ensuring that the initial public investment is fit for purpose over the asset life.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), in coordination with FEMA and other federal agencies, is developing state-of-the-science tornado hazard maps, which will underpin a new performance-based standard for design of buildings and other structures to better resist tornadoes. These tornado maps and standard will help design professionals ensure that future buildings are better equipped to withstand the impacts of high winds and debris.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers launched a website (usace.army.mil/Missions/Sustainability/BuildingResilience.aspx) to promote more resilient communities through use of the latest standards and criteria, building codes, and recent climate science.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release (fall 2016) the Office of Sustainable Communities Smart Growth Code Fixes for Climate Adaptation report. This report will give communities a menu of changes they can make to zoning and building codes and related policies to prepare for and adapt to climate change while bringing other environmental, economic, social, and health benefits.

The federal interagency Mitigation Framework Leadership Group (MitFLG) will release in FY2016 the Implementation Strategy for Increasing Disaster Resilience Through Federal Support for Building Code Adoption and Enforcement. This strategy identifies several activities federal departments and agencies can use to align programs, resources, and coordination efforts in the pursuit of increased resilience through building code adoption and enforcement.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Infrastructure Protection will release the Community Infrastructure Resilience Toolkit (CIRT) in late 2016. The CIRT will help communities develop a Community Infrastructure Resilience Plan that will provide actionable guidance for building critical infrastructure resilience considerations into planning and resource allocation decisions at the community level.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development will review its existing building construction requirements with the goal of aligning program requirements with the most recent model building codes and standards for resilient construction.

U.S. Department of Transportation, in partnership with the GSA, is seeking an exchange partner to redevelop the 14-acre John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (Volpe Center) in Cambridge, Mass., using principles of resilient design on the new federal building portion of the project.

New Private-sector actions highlighted at the conference included the following:

American Institute of Architects will create a resilience curriculum for the professional development of architects, including resilient design and decision-making on hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resilience.

American Society of Landscape Architects committed to publishing a resilience toolkit that will include research, guides, projects, and other resources to help professionals design resilient landscapes at various scales.

Associated General Contractors of America committed to supporting a coordinated national strategy to invest in infrastructure and provide education and outreach to construction professionals on resiliency initiatives.

ASHRAE committed to utilizing member research funding to support research related to resilience in buildings and building systems.

In 2016, the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute is launching a comprehensive resilience education program incorporating web-based tools and local learning resources to convey best practices for resilient design and construction.

Federal Alliance for Safe Homes is launching a new 2016 national hurricane resilience initiative, #HurricaneStrong, through collaboration with FEMA, NOAA/National Weather Service, The Home Depot, and The Weather Channel.

Florida International University committed to releasing peer-reviewed publications that provide benefit/cost analyses on building code enforcement and effectiveness to inform community decisions to replace, relocate, or retrofit their homes.

Green Building Initiative will convene a resilience task force as part of its efforts to update and revise its ANSI/GBI 01-2010 Standard, an assessment protocol for green commercial buildings.

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety is committed to working with FEMA, other federal agencies, and state and local jurisdictions to increase public awareness and use of FEMA P-804, Wind Retrofit Guide for Residential Buildings.

International Code Council will co-lead an effort to organize an inclusive, nationwide coalition to create and develop the country’s first whole-community metric for resilience.

National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies will lead creation of a national strategy for investing in mitigation.

National Concrete Masonry Association committed to developing materials supporting a refined articulation of resilient construction as construction designed and built to survive foreseeable catastrophic events and continue near normal operation within a short recovery period.

National Institute of Building Sciences committed to convening key industry stakeholders to develop recommendations to advance resilience and long-term performance in codes, standards, and other policies.

Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) committed to incorporating resilience practices into the RICS Practice Statements with which all RICS members are required to comply.

Urban Land Institute will launch in 2016 a Returns on Resilience website, which will spotlight design and development leaders in the real estate industry and highlight the business case for resilient buildings.

U.S. Green Building Council committed to actively engaging through its partnership in Resilient Communities for America and additional efforts to promote resilient building codes in communities across the country.

U.S. Resiliency Council will launch a Building Rating System for Earthquakes in 2016 through which it will advocate for safe buildings and a better public understanding of building performance.

Information provided by the White House (whitehouse.gov).

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