Federal Announcement: Efforts to Increase Community Resilience

On May 10, 2016, the Obama Administration announced public and private sector efforts to increase community resilience through building codes and standards. The White House announcement states the importance of establishing the building code as a “baseline for the safe design and construction…providing the minimum requirements to adequately safeguard the health, safety and welfare of building occupants.” The month of May has been declared “National Building Safety Month” to recognize and reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to uphold effective building safety standards.

Commitments for action from the public sector include FEMA and NIBS updating the Multi-hazard Mitigation Council Study, “Mitigation Saves” (2005), FEMA exploring incentivizing the adoption and enforcement of building codes through a disaster deductible requirement for the Public Assistance Program, and NIST developing tornado hazard maps.

The federal announcement outlines private sector commitments for action from organizations including the Concrete Reinforcing Steel Institute, International Code Council, National Concrete Masonry Association, and the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, which is taking the lead on the creation of a national strategy for investing in mitigation. The American Institute of Architects will create a curriculum for the professional development of architects including resilient design and decision-making on hazard mitigation and community resilience. Additional actions were outlined by organizations including the Urban Land Institute and the US Green Building Council.

The US Resiliency Council’s “Building Rating System for Earthquakes”, based on the USRC’s technical resources incorporates added dimensions of damage and recovery in addition to building safety. One goal of this rating system is to provide information so that the public has a better understanding of building performance, and the rating system creates a link between the building and the broader context of community resiliency.

A few months ago PEER Director Khalid Mosalam discussed the critical role of performance-based design for objectives that encompass more than the “baseline” of life-safety and that are relevant to a broader goal of community resiliency.