While natural disasters may be inevitable, disastrous consequences are not, if policy-makers, designers and builders plan successfully. This theme was explored on May 12 at a one-day workshop in Washington, D.C., convened by the National Building Museum, which is laying the groundwork for a major exhibition in fall 2011 to examine how communities can improve planning to resist the consequences of natural disasters. Event planners looked for guidance from the museum’s Industry Council for the Built Environment, comprising about 60 owners and association representatives.
“Disasters don’t have to be unmitigated disasters,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenaur (D- Ore.), vice chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and an active congressmen on national resiliency. The federal government could help improve the nation’s resiliency with “a natural defense policy” that creates disincentives for localities which fail to engage in effective land-use planning and building code enforcement, Blumenaur said. Further, it should incentivize individuals and communities that plan for mitigation and resilience. He suggested that, for example, utilities should be able to pass the cost of increasing system resiliency to ratepayers.