Building Science Success Stories

Building and construction success stories that result after disasters often start when a community has properly enforced building codes and standards. For homeowners, building professionals, or elected officials, it is important to realize that building codes are a minimum standard and that it is essential to build above the baseline.

This page highlights numerous stories from around the nation where individuals, communities, and even states have taken action to increase their building safety.

Explore these case studies and success stories on our interactive Building Science Success Stories story map.  If you have a case study or success story worth sharing, please email us.

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At 4:30 a.m. on January 17, 1994, the M6.7 Northridge struck in the San Fernando Valley, roughly 20 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Although the duration was only 10 to 20 seconds, the ground motions included a reading of 1.82g, the highest ever recorded in an urban area in North America, and the MMI was IX (violent). The earthquake resulted in around 60 fatalities, and damage estimates were as high as $50 billion.
The State of Florida first adopted a statewide minimum building code in 1974. However, that code allowed local governments to adopt one of four different codes that they could amend and enforce as they saw fit. When Hurricane Andrew struck south Florida in 1992, it broke all records for insured losses and became Florida’s worst insurance crisis in history. It quickly became obvious that Florida’s building code system was not adequate and that improvements were needed for the entire state.
In 1995, within two weeks, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) were hit by Hurricane Luis and Hurricane Marilyn. Hurricane Luis caused $300 million worth of damage, while Hurricane Marilyn caused even more of an impact. Marilyn was responsible for eight deaths and the loss or damage of 21,000 homes, including 75% of the residences on St. Thomas. As a result, USVI damage estimates from Hurricane Marilyn were $2.1 billion.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s devastating impact on Florida in 2022, the need for information on resilience and mitigation against future disasters became abundantly clear.
At 6 a.m. on Feb. 9, 1971, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck outside Los Angeles in the foothills above the San Fernando Valley. An estimated half a billion dollars in damages and 65 deaths were attributable to the earthquake. Most of the deaths occurred in two nearby hospital complexes, Olive View and Veterans, both of which suffered significant damage. 
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