In my job leading the Risk Management Directorate within the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, I see the true impact of building codes and standards every day as my team works to improve resilience across the country. That’s why I’m so excited about May being National Building Safety Month, a time to reinforce the good work generations of planners, engineers, building code officials, and local advocates have put into protecting lives and communities across the country.
After all, natural and man-made disasters can cause significant human suffering and billions in damages. While the month acknowledges the significant advances made to building code standards, it does not signal building code professionals are resting on past laurels. Building codes continue to play an important role in improving public safety by increasing awareness about how building codes and code officials improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship, and play.
Regardless of your level of familiarity with building codes, we all benefit from higher standards. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional engineer, a teacher, a firefighter, a law enforcement officer, a chef, etc.; we all understand that rebuilding stronger and safer post-disaster will pay dividends down the road when the next hurricane threatens the Gulf coast or the Caribbean, or when the next earthquake strikes the west coast.
At home or at work, if you’re considering renovating, remodeling, or building from the ground up, look for the latest in technology and make sure it is based on the codes and standards that put safety and efficiency first.
It’s important to note that hazard mitigation, including building beyond code requirements, in your renovation or new construction project provides a genuine return on investment of $6 for every $1 invested, on average, according to the National Institute of Building Sciences in their recent Natural Hazard Mitigation Saves: 2017 Interim Report.
FEMA’s Building Sciences Branch developed a How to Series to help property owners and contractors learn about construction techniques to protect their building, home, or business from future disasters. This is free guidance available for building industry professionals and do-it-yourself property owners to learn how to build, rebuild or retrofit to be disaster-resistant.
FEMA is committed to investing in mitigation activities, and our leadership team sees mitigation – the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters – as the cornerstone of how we build more prepared communities. To learn more about the Evolution of Mitigation and how FEMA and our partners use building codes to protect communities, check out this video on our website at: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/videos/153336.
If you’re starting a project and want to learn more about making your home or business as disaster-resistant as possible, visit FEMA’s Building Codes resources page. You can also email FEMA Building Sciences or contact the Building Science Helpline at (866) 927-2104.