13:20 - 14:10
28 October 2020

The Business Case for Building Codes

Strategic Issues / Public Policy

This session will earn 1.0 PDH

Abstract: U.S. disaster losses from floods, wind, earthquakes, and fires now average $100 billion per year, and in 2017 exceeded $300 billion—25% of the $1.3 trillion building value put in place that year. Fortunately, there are affordable and highly cost-effective strategies that policymakers, building owners, and the building industry can deploy to reduce these impacts. Leading those strategies is the adoption and enforcement of the latest building code requirements, and their continual improvement. To do so is affordable and reduces society's total cost of owning buildings. But it can be a struggle to get communities to sign on to the latest codes, let alone to enforce them.

Large studies by the USGS and National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) offer a strong economic argument for better buildings. But the International Code Council has found that broader political realities constrain code adoption and enforcement. A new public-information campaign by FLASH ("No code. No confidence") attempts to mobilize grass-roots support for code adoption. NIBS is developing a package of incentives that may make it easier for building owners to afford better buildings. NIST is developing recommendations to the US Congress on how better to ensure functional recovery of new and existing buildings and other infrastructure. Civil engineers are on the front lines of engaging clients and designing projects and are respected and trusted members of their community. This session will provide attendees with insights and tools to help create resilient communities.

Learning Objectives: 

  • Learn who benefits and who pays for stricter code adoption and enforcement.
  • Learn how well the public's interest align with those of the groups with the greatest say in code development.
  • Learn how developing ideas about functional recovery may affect the building code and the economics of new and existing buildings.