Mitigation: Every Dollar Above Code Multiplies in the Face of Disasters  

 It pays to invest in disaster mitigation. That was a message from the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS), in issuing the most recent report for its multi-year study, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2018 Interim Report. The report was released this week during Building Innovation 2019, NIBS’ 2019 annual conference, taking place in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 report highlights the significant savings that result from implementing mitigation strategies around safety, the prevention of property loss and disruption of day-to-day life—all matters that NIBS experts say have become increasingly expensive, especially in recent years.

“In 2017 we saw 16 natural disasters causing a billion dollars or more in damages,” Ryan Colker, NIBS vice president tells USGNN.com™’s sister publication, DWM magazine. “Coupled with that, over $300 billion in damage from those 16 events in 2017, which far exceeds any number in the past.” But in time those numbers are slated to increase farther, Colker suggests.

NIBS’s recent report is a compilation of the project team’s results to this point and includes findings from a prior 2017 Interim Report, released in January 2018, along with a second report, Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: Utilities and Transportation Infrastructure, which was released in October 2018.

The project team found a national benefit of $11 for every $1 invested.

Based on the project team’s estimates, communities that consistently meet the latest editions of commonly adopted code requirements, culminating in the 2018 IRC and IBC, have added 30,000 new jobs to the construction-materials industry and an approximate 0.3 percent increase in utilization of domestically produced construction materials for each year of new construction (over what would have been if buildings were designed as they were in 1990).

The code-related mitigation strategies the project team studied demonstrated that:

  • For resistance to hurricane winds, complying with roofing and a variety of openings, including doors and windows, as well as connection detailing requirements in the 2018 I-Codes saved $10 for every $1 invested.
  • For resistance to earthquakes, building new buildings stronger and stiffer relative to complying with the 2018 I-Codes saved $12 for every $1 invested.

The report determined that these benefits carry over to all building stakeholders, from developers, title holders and lenders, to tenants and communities.

“Disasters are only expected to increase in frequency and severity, so as an industry we need to work collaboratively on how to adapt the built environment to face even greater challenges,” said Code Council CEO Dominic Sims.

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