A wide range of design and construction industry groups are joining forces to push for stronger building codes and standards to better withstand the effects of climate change.
The organizations—including the American Institute of Architects, the Laborers' International Union of North America, the U.S. Green Building Council, the American Society of Civil Engineers and the National Institute for Building Sciences—met at the White House on May 10 to highlight the progress and future plans for incorporating resilience and the future impacts of climate change in developing codes and standards.
Senior officials from the White House, the U.S. Army, the Dept. of State, and the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development joined mayors, scientists and industry leaders on panels discussing opportunities for, and challenges to, institutionalizing resilience in buildings and infrastructure across the country.
Robert Ivy, the American Institute of Architects’ CEO, who spoke on one of the panels, said, “Building codes are a powerful tool architects can use to incorporate lessons learned form natural disasters, technology development and building science innovation. Yet we can do more to address the challenges of a changing climate.”
Kenneth Kunkel, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s research professor at North Carolina State University said that using historical climate data alone to evaluate future risk is limited. “We can say with virtual certainty that current design values based solely on historical data are underestimates of the actual future risk,” he said.
At the federal level, agencies are working on a variety of fronts to improve resiliency. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is planning to release a proposed rule that would provide incentives to adopt and enforce state and local building codes through a disaster deductible requirement for the Public Assistance program. The plan would allow states to earn credits toward their deductible requirement by putting codes in place and enforcing them.
The General Services Administration is committed to systematically incorporating climate change risk management into its capital investment program and the P-100 facilities standard.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, working with FEMA and other agencies, announced that it is developing tornado hazard maps to underpin a new performance-based design standard for buildings and other structures that will better withstand the impacts of high winds and debris.
A coalition of industry groups is building on a 2014 commitment to focus on incorporating resiliency into design and construction considerations.
AIA announced that it is developing a resilience curriculum for architects that will include resilient design and decision-making on hazard mitigation, climate adaptation and community resiliency. The curriculum is targeted for phased implementation beginning in 2017.
The U.S. Green Building Council recently launched a set of resilience-focused pilot credits into its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design green building program. The credits aim to ensure design teams are aware of vulnerabilities and address the most significant project-design risks, including the building's functionality if there are lengthy interruptions in power or heating fuel.