Disaster mitigation strategies that exceed code could save billions

Four dollars saved for every dollar spent, says NIBS report.

January 23, 2018 |

Specific disaster mitigation strategies that go beyond the requirements of the 2015 International Codes model building codes could save the nation billions of dollars, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences just issued Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report.

Investing in hazard mitigation measures to exceed select code requirements can save the nation $4 for every $1 spent, the report says. The report comes on the heels of the nation’s worst year of natural disasters in terms of cost. There were 16 events in 2017 with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of about $306 billion, surpassing the record losses in 2005 by $100 billion.

Effective strategies to exceed minimum requirements of the 2015 I-Codes include:

– For flood resistance (to address riverine flooding and hurricane surge), building new homes higher than required by the 2015 International Building Code (IBC).

– For resistance to hurricane winds, building new homes to comply with the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) FORTIFIED Home Hurricane standards.

– For resistance to earthquakes, building new buildings stronger and stiffer than required by the 2015 IBC.

– For fire resistance in the wildland-urban interface, building new buildings to comply with the 2015 International Wildland-Urban Interface Code (IWUIC).

NIBS notes that while mitigation represents an excellent investment, not everyone is willing or able to bear construction costs for more resilient buildings, even if the long-term benefits exceed the up-front costs. Programs to help finance mitigation projects should align incentives from finance, insurance, government and other stakeholders, NIBS says.

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