Why Americans Aren’t Concerned About Building Codes (even though they should be)

If building codes are the foundation of disaster resilience, and they are, then why don’t consumers demand them when they buy or build homes? Why isn’t building code status a top feature on real estate sites like Trulia or Zillow? Why do some, but not all, local and state leaders adopt and enforce codes to ensure the safety, welfare, and resiliency of the communities they serve?

These are the perennial questions posed by the disaster safety and resilience movement because we know that one cannot reliably protect families and homes without the use of current codes and standards. It is impossible.

Learning from the 2017 Disasters to Create a Reliably Resilient U.S.

Building failure investigations have proven again and again that codes are the first and most important line of defense from natural disasters, yet far too many communities overlook this proven tool to ensure swift and successful “bounce back” after earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, or wildfires. The breakdown not only occurs before the disasters strike, but often during disaster recovery as well.

This sets up a cycle known as “Build-Destroy-Rebuild” where we build either without codes or with outdated codes, then natural disasters destroy our buildings, and we then rebuild them the same way, thereby perpetuating the cycle.

We have worked as a disaster safety and resilience movement for many years to overcome this problem, and we have enjoyed clear successes. But is there a more systematic way to accomplish our goals? Is this breakdown as simple as a communication problem? Do leaders and homeowners simply not know how important codes are to survivability from the storm?

The Status of Texas Residential Building Codes

This paper aggregates building officials and stakeholder survey responses regarding the history, status, and improvement potential of Texas residential building codes. The respondents’ feedback addressed the impact of the TRCC on residential codes in cities and counties and lessons learned from the TRCC. It also assessed the potential to improve the safety and performance of Texas homes.

The discussion is material as Texas has a deadly history of natural disasters and remains vulnerable to a wide spectrum of extreme weather. Many in the public and private sector are concerned with the ability of the Texas residential built environment to withstand severe weather events and provide minimum life safety and property protection. 


The Case for Preserving Florida’s Building Code System

Florida Senate Bills 1312 and 1372 would critically weaken the built environment in Florida in ways that are not immediately obvious. On its face, it appears to streamline the process of updating the Florida Building Code (FBC), but in effect, it creates a system that blocks the regular incorporation of updated consensus-based, industry building codes and standards and, in turn, leaves Florida behind on building and weather science and safety innovations. After Hurricane Andrew, Florida learned the lessons of an inadequate building code system. This bill will leave Florida, a uniquely populous and catastrophe-exposed state, back in a pre-Andrew system and vulnerable to the next tropical storm or hurricane to again prove the value of strong minimum construction standards.   

DisasterSmart Leadership - Leadership for a Resilient Future

Creating communitywide disaster resilience is a broad-based undertaking. Leaders at every level of government can promote life safety, economic stability, and overall welfare in the face of natural disasters. Putting proactive policies in place before earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, and other natural disasters strike will help save lives, decrease financial losses, and ensure that communities bounce back swiftly following an event. Action ahead of disaster also can mitigate secondary impacts like fire, power outages, transportation interruption, and water contamination. 

Understanding the Intersection of Resilience, Big Data, and the Internet of Things in the Changing Insurance Marketplace

There has been a recent explosion of data and technology, affecting every aspect of society. The resilience movement is no different. This paper examines the intersection of big data, including efforts to measure resilience and telematics, and the Internet of Things (IoT), including smart home technology.

Disaster Resilience Rising Means the Time is Right

After a decade that included Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy, the resilience movement is evolving the definition of disaster survival success from basic building survival to resilient communities overall. We must conform the U.S. building code system accordingly by redefining success from buildings that deliver minimum life safety to structures that allow people to survive, recover swiftly, and build back even stronger. 

Building Codes: The Foundation for Resilience

As our nation rightfully seeks enhanced community resilience in the face of natural disasters and climate change, it’s time to embrace the most essential aspect to resiliency—an uncompromising system of building codes and standards that guarantee a minimum level of home safety, durability and sustainability