Weak building codes no match for recent natural disasters, say industry experts

The recent floods and wildfires in Alberta are being cited as proof.

August 24, 2016 |

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A group of construction industry experts that met in Calgary, Alberta called for more disaster-resilient infrastructure, citing recent floods and wildfires in Alberta.

The province experienced two of the worst natural disasters in its history in recent years. In 2013, a flood ravaged southern Alberta, and fires struck the area around Fort McMurray earlier this year. Both events caused billions of dollars of damage. 

Weak building codes are resulting in major losses, said Aris Papadopoulos, founder and chair of the Resilience Action Fund. Current codes rely on providing rapid escapes for people to exit buildings. Stronger codes that prevent buildings from being destroyed can be cost effective, according to Papadopoulos.

The renovation of the ground floor of the Enmax District Energy Centre in Calgary, which was damaged by flood waters, provided an example of beefed up disaster resilience. Two-inch thick glass and steel-reinforced mullions were installed on all low-level glass to prevent the force of any future flood water from breaching the building's exterior.

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