Resilient Building Codes

Building codes are regulations used to establish minimal life safety requirements for the construction of new buildings and retrofits to existing structures. They underpin how we design and construct housing and other building types. While ubiquitous, the details of their requirements, governance, and overall application vary state to state and, even within the state, from town to town.

While the intent of building codes originally focused on life safety, there has been a shift to think more broadly, incorporating aspects of both sustainability and resilience. The recent uptick in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events has made these concepts even more relevant.

Why Focus on Building Codes?

  • Building codes underpin the key health and safety aspects of our built environment.
  • They are a combination of operational expectations and physical requirements, with variations in interpretation and application based on geographies.
  • They are governed at the state and local level but nearly always reference international and national codes and standards.
  • Climate change is a new risk that is not commonly addressed in existing codes and standards.

As Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) and CDBG Mitgation (MIT) grantees look to build back from disasters in more resilient ways and seek to mitigate the damage from future hazards, understanding the role building codes can play in meeting their goals should not be underestimated. The following Resilient Building Codes Toolkit and Webinar Series are meant to guide the reader to determine what steps make the most sense for their communities to pursue in order to achieve resilience.


View the Resilient Building Codes Toolkit

Webinars

In this webinar series, CDBG-DR and CDBG-MIT grantee staff will learn how upgrading local building codes to reflect resilient construction strategies can position them to better withstand the threats of natural hazards and severe weather events. Participants will learn why resilient building codes matter, how they can build the business case for upgrading their codes, and dive into the various strategies for upgrading codes.

Making the Business Case

April 28, 2022

Participants will:

  • Develop a common understanding of what building codes are and why they are important
  • Understand the role resilient building codes play in climate preparedness and community resilience
  • Understand how a non-resilient building stock could negatively impact the local tax base and economy
  • Become familiar with the business case for climate-resilient building codes

A Practitioner's Guide

May 19, 2022

Participants will:

  • Learn current building code provisions for each hazard (wind, flooding, wildfire, and extreme temperatures)
  • Learn beyond-code best practices to account for climate risk
  • Become familiar with common challenges and suggested solutions at the practitioner level

Action at the Community Level

May 26, 2022

Participants will:

  • Become familiar with how building code governance works at the national, state, and local levels
  • Gain insight into how state-level code adoptions influence local actions
  • Learn what options communities have to enhance resilience within building codes, including an outline of the steps involved